Civil War Transcendence, part 316

 

316_sergeant_chevrons

We got directions to the camp of Greenley’s former company, which is now commanded by First Sergeant Billings.  We rode to the camp in a matter of minutes.  I asked the first trooper we met where the sergeant was located. He directed me to a tent at the beginning of the company street of tents.  We quickly went down to the sergeant’s abode.

Once there, I said in a loud voice, “Sergeant Billings, are ya therah?”

We heard a gruff, “Yeah, what cha want?”

“We want to enlist ya in a raid of Frederick City,” I intoned.

This brought him out of the tent at the double quick. “What?” he sputtered.

When he saw it was me and that I had a smile on my face, he toned down and shrugged, “Oh.”  Then he queried, “Ya ain’t serious about a raid are ya?”

“I’m afraid so, Sarge. Can ya get tha men ready with 60 rounds of ammo and enough food for 3 days?” I asked.

“Yes sir. But what ‘bout the horses?” he questioned.

“We’ll have to live off tha land,” I countered. “We need to be on tha road within tha next thirty minutes. Can ya get tha men outfitted by that time?” I solicited.

“Yes sir. We been resupplying since early this morning. By the way, who authorized this herah raid?” he judiciously asked.

“Major Mosby with General Ashby’s blessing. We just got the word a few minutes ago. Our raid is the event that will bring the Yanks into our clutches,” I added.

“Well, I ‘spect we need to get going. If’n therah is anything I want to get in our clutches, it’s some Yank troopers,” he joked. “Which road are we takin?”

“We’ll be going out tha Ballinger Creek Pike,” I informed.

The sergeant walked out into the middle of the company street and suddenly yelled, “All troopers get yar gear and saddle up. We’re moving out.”

Zeke, Skeeter and I moved out of the company area and went to where the pike we would be following left the small hamlet of Adamsville. We dismounted, and I began to give Stonewall one of his massages. In the distance we could hear the other units being called to get ready to move out.  Stonewall snorted his distain of having to move out after so many days of fighting and riding.

I grinned and whispered, “Just wait til this is over. I’m gonna get ya a bushel of oats and a bale of hay.”

He opened his eyes to see if I was joking. I gave him one of my most sincere looks and nodded my head in the affirmative. He just snorted and closed his eyes again.

In just a few minutes, Billings arrived at the head of his troop. He saluted and I returned his salute. I requested, “How many men reporting for duty and how many are too sick to come along?”

“We have 59 men reporting for duty and 3 under a surgeon’s care,” he answered.

I nodded, and pointing to Zeke and Skeeter, said, “These are Privates Milton and Williams. Private Milton is familiar with this region. We will use his knowledge for the lay of the land and for directions.  If for some reason I can’t command, you will take over.

“Our mission is to raid Frederick City and to cause as much havoc as possible. However, we don’t know the strength of the Union force there. In any case we don’t want to get caught in a sustained fight with a larger force. We want the Frederick garrison to contact the larger Union force that is west of here at Middletown to come to their aid.

“General Ashby and Major Mosby are gonna ambush ‘em at Braddock Heights, which is west of Frederick. Ya got any questions?”

“Lieutenant, what cha mean by a sustained fight with a larger force?” Sergeant Billings asked.

I smiled and explained, “If’n we run into a larger force, we will make a runnin’ retreat of it. No need to get in a fight with a superior force.”

The Sergeant smiled at my in-depth explanation.

“Well, we better head out. Sergeant, please send four scouts forward. We will need to move rather quickly so let’s move at the gallop,” I directed.

Sergeant Billings saluted and began obeying his orders. Zeke, Skeeter and I rode ahead of the troop as the four scouts moved pass us and out on the pike.

I sighed, which made Stonewall look back at me. He whinnied loudly as I nudged him into a gallop.

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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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