Civil War Transcendence, part 314

 

I thanked Mr. Anderson, who quickly left the barn and reentered his house. Then, I quietly woke Zeke and Skeeter and told them to saddle only their regular mounts.  We were leaving the Yank horses behind.

Once the scouts and I were ready to go, we left the Anderson’s barn, and utilizing all the side streets we could find, we vacated Jefferson, Maryland.

We headed southeast and picked up the Mountville Road. I was hoping to run into the Yank Patrol that had gone through Jefferson, but they must have made a loop from Middletown down to Jefferson and then up to Frederick.  They didn’t venture east of Jefferson.  Once we had traveled down the road toward Adamstown, we stopped and rested the horses for an hour.  Then we mounted and proceeded southeastward.

We didn’t see anything but scattered farm houses and barns as we traveled. I didn’t push the horses or men. We had been through enough in the last week. We walked the horses most of the way.

It was getting toward sunrise when we heard a colt pistol hammer cock and a voice order, “Halt.”

We immediately stopped and I waited for further instructions.

“Who goes there?” was the next challenge.

“Friends of the South,” I replied.

“What’s the password?” demanded the voice from a tree line next to the road.

“I don’t know the password. We been scouting for Major Mosby and left his column at Burkittsville. I’m Lieutenant Hager with Privates Milton and Williams with reports for Major Mosby.”

“We heard you’d be jinin’ us. Come on in,” said the voice in the dark.

We continued to the tree line until the sergeant of the guard stepped out in the road and held up his hand.

We halted and he said, “I ‘spect you’d be wantin’ ta see Major Mosby. He’s straight ahead and in a big two story house at the very end of the town square. His whole bunch just got here about two hours ago.  They’s plum tuckered out.”

“What’s y’all been doin the last few days?” queried the sergeant.

“Sergeant, it’d take too long to tell. Maybe some other time. I got to get this information to the Major,” I replied.

“Sorry for the holdup Lieutenant. We’ll talk later,” responded the sergeant.

I nodded, and we trooped into the camp and then the small hamlet of Adamstown.  We found the house in which that Mosby was billeted. I told the scouts to dismount, tie up their horses and follow me.

As I got down off Stonewall, I muttered, “Get some rest. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”  He just snored and went immediately into his meditative state.

The men must have caught my little conversation with Stonewall because they looked at me with questioning looks. I just grinned and walked through the gate to Mosby’s headquarters.

314-ashby

General Turner Ashby

We were ushered into the main dining room where a huge map of Maryland was spread over a large table.  Mosby was looking at it with an older man who had a long black beard and a frock coat indicating a general’s insignia.  I deduced he was General Turner Ashby.  Junior officers from our contingent were present and other officers that I didn’t recognize were also. I reasoned they were General Ashby’s men.

All conversation ceased when we entered the room.  I saluted Mosby and he returned my salute.  He turned to General Ashby and said, “These are the scouts I’ve been waiting for.”

Turning back to me he ordered, “Report!”

I turned and pointed to Skeeter and said, “I’m gonna let Private Williams report our findings. He’s got a way of keeping numbers in his head.”

Mosby was a little flustered, but recovered and ordered, “Okay, private, report.”

Skeeter took one big gulp and then stated our gathered information, “Sir, we observed tha Yank column to tha west of Middletown. There were four Yank companies of about 85 men each that had cleared Turner’s Gap on South Mountain. They had six cannon with an ordinance train of four wagons.  Six supply wagons had passed through the gap with probably thirty more to follow.  By this time all of the Yankee force is in Middleton.”

Major Mosby nodded approvingly of the clearly stated information and said, “Good report.”  Turning to me, he asked, “Lieutenant, do ya wish to add anything?”

“Yes, sir,” I answered. “We ran into some Yanks that were either on a scouting mission or were given leave to visit their family midway of Burkittsville and Middleton. We killed two of ‘em and turned over tha other three to a local farmer. He promised to keep tha three men, who were tied and gagged, for five hours before releasing them. I don’t believe he did. That’s why we took all tha Yank horses and used ‘em as reserve mounts until we got to Jefferson last night.”

“The farmer didn’t have any horses to give tha Yanks once he let ‘em go.  So they were on foot.  That allowed us to get a good look at tha Yank column without any interference.  A Yank patrol came through Jefferson late last night, but they must have gone north to Fredericksburg instead of going east.  From tha prior information we’ve gathered, this Yank contingent is supposed to turn south and rendezvous at Burkittsville with another Yank column coming over South Mountain at Crampton’s Gap.”

“That Yank contingent was dealt with by Quantrill. The Yank column at Middleton will be on our flank when we advance to Frederick.”

“How did ya know about tha Yank patrol in Jefferson?” asked the Major.

“We’s bedded down in a barn in Jefferson, when the Yanks rode through. They didn’t know we were therah. When we headed southeast out of Jefferson, we didn’t find any sign of the Yanks moving ahead of us to the east,” I answered.

“Well, we’re gonna assume tha Yanks know about us, and we’ll proceed with that in mind,” stated Mosby.

General Ashby nodded in agreement.

Mosby turned to me and said, “Thank ya, Lieutenant. You and yar men are dismissed.”

Zeke, Skeeter and I saluted and left the house. We moseyed around in the early morning light until we found our camp and asked the quartermaster for forage for our horses. We were amazed that he actually had some to issue us.

We found a place to settle down, unsaddled our cayuses, fed and watered them and tied them up…except for Stonewall. Then we found some bits of food left from the early morning breakfast that we rapidly consumed.  Finding a good place to lie down, we unfurled our bedrolls and laid down for a nice nap.

 

 

 

 

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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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