We began our journey to the Yankee horse corrals by going south and then east, staying well into the woods that skirted the Yank camp. Once we got around to the east of their camp, I signaled for my 10 troopers to stay put in the woods while I rode Stonewall forward, with Skeeter and Zeke at my heels, to take a gander of the situation.
There were definitely three horse corrals, and they were full of unsaddled horses.
The enclosures were situated about 25 yards apart. They began about 50 yards from the edge of woods, from where I was positioned. The next corral was about 25 yards further west from the one in front of me, and the last one was another 25 yards from the middle corral. The northern edge of the Yankee camp was about 50 yards south of the corrals. There were three Yank troopers acting as guards at each corral.
I took one last survey, and the three of us rejoined the men.
I dismounted and gathered the men around me. I gave them an idea of the lay of the land and the number of guards.
Then I directed, “We are gonna go a little further nawth of here and then swing east toward tha corrals. I want to put tha corrals between us and tha Yankee camp. We’re gonna break from cover and ride like tha wind toward tha first corral.”
I pointed to two of tha men and said, “Y’all will be in charge of getting tha corral gate open and stampeding the horses out. The rest of us are gonna be shooting at tha guards and then we’ll ride to tha next corral.”
I pointed to another two men and said, “Y’all will be in charge of getting tha second corral open and stampeding tha horses. The rest of us will be shooting at tha guards, and then we’ll ride to tha last corral and do tha same thing.”
I pointed at two more men and said, “Y’all will be getting tha Yank horses out of tha last corral. We’ll be covering ya and waiting at tha last corral for tha four men detailed to stampede tha horses at tha first two corrals. Once we have everyone, you will follow me. I will take you back tha way we came, or we will proceed further west and try to join our main body of troops. We might even take off and go through Frederick raising Cain. Just keep an eye on me and obey my commands. Is that clear?”
They all nodded that they understood.
I then asked, “Any questions?”
They all shook their heads.
I added, “We’re gonna have a lot of help from tha main body of our troops. They’re gonna be hittin’ tha Yank camp and causing havoc while we hit tha corrals.”
This brought smiles from the men.
I smiled back and said, “Mount up and let’s get this show on tha road.”
It didn’t take much to get the men inspired. They were happy to do some damage to the Yanks in their own backyard.
We walked our horses to the edge of the woods. I stopped the men, who I had arranged in a column of two’s with our rustlers on the outside rank, pulled two pistols from my belt, put Stonewall’s reins in my teeth, cocked the hammers on the Colts and nudged Stonewall with both knees. He broke from the woods like a comet and the men behind me followed suit.
We made it to about fifteen yards of the first corral before the Yank guards heard us. I guess the wind was from the south and covered the noise of our thundering herd.
The three Yanks were at the south side of the corral where the gate was located and had to run around the corral to see what was causing such a hullabaloo.
I shot the first Yank that appeared and another one went down from the fire of my men. The third Yank took off running like a streaking comet for the Yankee camp, screaming for help.
Zeke and Skeeter were right behind me in a column of twos. I waved for them to follow me to the second corral.
The Yank guards at second corral came around the eastern side of the corral in time to see the two guards at the first corral go down and to come under fire from me and Skeeter, who was in the rank closest to the second corral. Looking down the barrels of four Colts and about to be run over by charging cavalry, convinced them to skedaddle to the Yank camp.
About this time we heard bugles blowing for ‘Assembly’. Then another wonderful sound erupted from the woods to our east as Sarge Billings led our main body of troopers down two company streets of the Yank camp. The Rebel Yell was distinctively heard followed by a multitude of gunshots. Both had their desired effect, because Yanks began hightailing north out of the Yankee camp. Some were running to get to their mounts while others were just running away.
I motioned for the men to continue to follow me to the third corral.
The influx of fellow Yankee soldiers gave the three guards a measure of gumption to stand their ground. I fired first one pistol and then another as we galloped toward the corral, but I could tell we wouldn’t be able to capture this enclosure. I veered off to the north and circled back to the second corral with the men following me closely. By this time the two men detailed to empty the first corral had succeeded and were riding to join us. The men at the second corral were still trying to get the Yank cayuses moving out of the pen. About half of the horses had vacated the area when we arrived.
I halted our men at the second corral and yelled, “Cover our men while they get their job done.”
We set up a line on the north side of the corral and shot over the fence at any Yanks that came toward us. It didn’t take but a few minutes for the corral to be emptied. Our two men had stayed mounted while driving the horses out of the pen, and when the last of the horses escaped, they broke from the corral and rode around to the east to join us.
I turned to the north and waved the men to follow me as we headed into the southern edge of Frederick.