Civil War Transcendence, part 306


When we turned to go back to Burkittsville, Greenley’s men arrived at the eastern part of the gap. I halted them and said, “Tha Yanks have been repulsed and won’t be bothering us anymore.”

The First Sergeant asked, “What happened?”

“I’ll tell ya later,” I replied.  Then extending my hand, I ventured, “First Sergeant, I don’t know your name.”

“Sergeant Billings,” he said. Then he shook my hand.

“I guess we’ll be working together as advanced scouts for Major Mosby,” I said. “This man riding double with me is Sergeant Al Madigan. When we get back to Burkittsville, get the men together and come to Major Mosby’s headquarters at the town church. I’ll go over the operation then.”

He saluted and turned his men around and rode back down the mountain.

I let Stonewall meander down the steep roadway at his leisure and then proceeded to Mosby’s headquarters.  When got there, Al’s horse was standing in front of the church.

I said, “Well, at least we didn’t have to go looking for ‘im.”

Al responded, “Yeah, thank heavens for that.

We both dismounted and entered the church. Major Mosby was dictating to two courtiers and was still getting everything and everybody organized to move out.

He saw us and asked, “Are the Yanks coming?”

I shook my head and said, “No Sir, but I think Quantrill will have us in hot water before this here campaign is over.”

I then proceeded to tell him the goings on at the gap.

Mosby responded, “Well, we can’t do anything about it now. We need to get out of here. Are y’all ready to go?”

I answered, “Sergeant Billings and his men will be meeting us here momentarily. I’m gonna give ‘em a short synopsis of our scouting mission. Then we’ll ride out. I’ll have a man, and Al will have a man that will act as courtiers to relay any needed info to ya. I hope this is what you had in mind.”

Mosby nodded his head and commanded, “Go to it, Lieutenant.”

We both saluted and walked out of the church.  Stonewall and Al’s horse were standing in front of the church. Stonewall was in one of his meditative states. Al’s horse was looking at all the folderol going on throughout the town.

As we came down the front steps, I went to Stonewall and began to massage his jaws and rub his forehead. If he had been a cat, I believe he would have purred.  I whispered, “I sure hope you got caught up on some sleep last night ‘cause we are gonna be riding a lot in tha next few days.”

Stonewall just snorted and nudged me a little.  I kept up the massage until Sergeant Billings arrived with his men.

I quickly counted the sergeant’s men. There were 56 troopers. A few had some bandages on their head, but they looked healthy enough to ride.  I had them dismount and gather around the bottom of the church steps. Al and I stood on the top step.

I addressed the men, “We are gonna be the scoutin’ company for the battalion.  Sergeant Madigan and I will be the overall commanders on this mission, but Sergeant Billings will be commanding you in the field. If’n ya get an order from Sergeant Madigan or me, ya need to obey it. Sergeant Madigan has been this way before and will be our guide. We will be proceeding southeast from here on tha main road to Jefferson, Maryland. Once we get there, we’ll pick up another road and ride further southeast to Adamstown, Maryland where we’ll join General Turner Ashby’s main column.  I ‘speck we’ll be headed toward Frederick City once we combine our forces. Any questions?”

The men were silent so I guess I answered any queries they might have had.

Suddenly, I asked, “Any of y’all ever been this way before?”

Two men raised their hands. I pointed at them and said, “You two men will be our courtiers. Y’all need to ride with Sergeant Madigan and me.”

They nodded.

I looked at Sergeant Billings and ordered, “Sergeant, get the men mounted and in a column of twos.”

He yelled, “Ya heard what he said. Get mounted and formed up.”

Men began scurrying for their horses.

About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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