Civil War Transcendence, part 317


I looked at Sergeant Billings and directed, “Send out four troopers as scouts ‘bout a mile in front of us, with two troopers half way between tha scouts and tha main body. I need ya to stay with tha troop. I’ll be between tha two troopers and yar command.”

He nodded his affirmation and loudly called, “Troop A, four men forward as advance scouts with two men as courtiers between us and tha scouts, Move out at tha gallop!”

The advance troopers headed out in a very orderly manner.  The Sergeant timed the advance scouts departure and then sent the two courtiers forward. Zeke, Skeeter and I left just a few minutes later with the main body to follow.

We had about 10 miles to go before we entered the southern outskirts of Frederick City. I reckoned there were at least 1000 Yanks garrisoned there. We were probably outnumbered 20 to 1. Our raid would be like a flea biting an elephant. However, it would depend on where a flea would bite that would draw the attention of our elephant.

In my prior visits to Frederick, I remember there was a main street that housed a large church and other government buildings. I figured that the Union garrison would be located away from the city, probably on the National Pike to the east of the Frederick downtown area.  I also believed the Yanks had a contingent of men on Braddock Heights because it would need to be defended, since it was the gateway to eastern Maryland.


We would be coming into town from the south. If we switched to a road coming in from the southwest, we could raise enough Cain before we got to downtown Frederick to pull men off Braddock Heights to the west and from the Union garrison that is probably situated to the east. Then we could hightail it north and pull a bunch of the Yanks away from Mosby’s main thrust on Braddock Heights.

Once we knew they were on our trail, we would circle back to the west and then south to Burkittsville. It was a crazy plan and I felt that I would end up like John Hunt Morgan did in my universe. However, I was committed.

We had ridden about four miles with me deep in thought as to what we were going to do in Frederick, when one of the two courtiers came riding back to report a possible Union contingent ahead. I told the courtier to continue to the main body and tell them to halt until further notice.

Zeke, Skeeter and I trotted ahead for about a half mile. We found the second courtier along with the four advance scouts to the side of the road with pistols drawn.

We quietly rode to where they had taken up position.

“What’s going on?” I questioned.

A corporal piped up and informed, “Sir, we was just coming to a bend in tha road and saw tha tail end of a Yank patrol cross our road from a side road. They came from tha east and headed west.”

“Did ya see how many Yanks there were?” I asked.

“We didn’t see tha full patrol, but I figure ‘bout 20 troopers. It seemed they’s just riding tha area and didn’t seemed to be in a big hurry or ‘specting anything,” he added.

I turned to the second courtier and told him to ride like the wind and pull the main body up at the gallop.

Then I left one advance scout to tell Sarge Billings to follow my trail and took three of the advance scouts along with my two constant companions and rode after the Yank patrol.

The Yanks were proceeding to the west and could possibly run into Mosby’s advance guards. Our unit had to pull the Yanks away from the west and get them to chase us toward the east.

We didn’t have far to travel before we saw the tail end of the Yank patrol. I slowed the men to a walk and whispered, “We’e gonna charge tha Yanks. I want ya to empty yar pistols into ‘em. Then we’s gonna hightail it back tha way we came, and hopefully our main body will be therah to cover us. So, come into battle line.”

We reconfigured to where we were six abreast.

“Draw pistols. Let’s give ‘em tha ole Rebel Yell. Charge!”

We rode forward at the gallop, screaming like banshees and firing our Colts.

The Yanks were taken completely by surprise.


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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