As the men mounted, I turned to Al and said, “I ain’t never done this before. However, I ‘spect we can send out 10 men as advanced scouts about 200 yards ahead of the company and have flankers of 5 men on each side of the road if the foliage will allow it.”
“I need you to take over this job and command the advance scouts. You will need to have men ride about a half mile down any side road we come to and check for any Yank contingents. Use the flankers to perform this and hold up your advance until they come back with a message that the side roads are all clear.”
“Send me a courtier for us to hold our advance whenever you check out a side road. I will bring up the rest of the company, which will act as a reserve force. If we hear firing we will advance to your aid.”
I turned to the two men that were familiar with the roads in the area and motioned them to us. I queried, “What’s y’all’s names?”
One man was very young, probably about 18 years of age. He was tall and gangly with a crop of red hair. He answered, “Private Milton, sir.”
The other trooper seemed more mature because he had a chaw of tobacco tucked in the right cheek. He was short and stout with a lined face. Raising his hand, he answered, “Private Gunner.”
I pointed to Gunner and ordered, “I want you to go with Sergeant Madigan, and if he asks you about any of the area roads or landscape, give him the information to the best of your remembrance.”
He returned, “Yes, sir.”
I turned to the Pvt. Milton and instructed, “I want you to stay with me.”
He nodded and said, “Yes sir.”
I looked at Al and said, “Pick you 20 men, form ‘em up and move ‘em out.”
Al gave me one of his grins and retorted, “Yes, sir.” Then he rode out to the assembled troops.
With Pvt. Milton in tow, I rode up to First Sergeant Billings and told him how we were forming up and that Al would be in command of the advance scouts. I gave him an idea of how we would be operating and then directed, “You will be in command of the reserve force. If you hear any firing, advance and give assistance to Sergeant Madigan. When the advance scouts move out, wait about 5 minutes and then follow them.”
Sergeant Billings saluted and moved to the head of the reserve unit.
I watched Al move out and went to find Mosby. He was in front of the church and had most of the four remaining companies in a column of two’s and formed up to move out. I saluted and gave him the information I had imparted to my company.
He nodded and asked, “When do we move out?”
I answered, “The advance scouts have moved out. My reserves will follow momentarily. When they advance, wait a few minutes and follow with the rest of the troops.”
He nodded and returned to getting the companies formed. I rode back along the rest of the companies, the artillery and our one lone wagon.
Mosby had put the artillery between the third and fourth company. I stopped and said to the artillery sergeant, “How goes it?”
He answered in his gruff voice, “As well as can be expected, I guess.”
I looked at his horses. They didn’t look tired and seemed to be itching to go.
I rode to the supply wagon and waved at the driver. “How ya doing Jake?”
He grinned that I remembered his name. “My team is going real good. They’re rested and ready to go.”
I smiled back and said, “Good to hear it. I’ll see ya later on today. Take care.”
I turned Stonewall back toward the front of the column and we loped to our position next to Mosby.
Private Milton hadn’t uttered a word, but was following me like a shadow.