I eased back to the men. They had remained still and quiet, which was really not amazing, because they and their horses were exhausted.
They all turned toward me as I rode amongst their midst. I motioned for them to gather around me. Once they had assembled, we resembled a wheel. I was the hub, and the men were the spokes.
I said in a low voice, “Thar’s gonna be a disturbance in a few minutes. I want ya to not be scared, but to follow me. We are going to quickly cross tha Urbana Pike and head sowth. Once over tha pike, we’ll ride at tha gallop for a few hundred yards, and then walk our mounts for a good ways. We have about eight miles to get to Adamstown. So stay close to me and watch me for directions. Do y’all understand?”
I looked at each one in turn, and they all nodded. I rode to the edge of the tree line and studied the ground between us and the pike. It was flat and not an impediment in sight.
All of a sudden, two winds whipped up: one to our left and one to our right. They created funnel clouds that swirled and screamed like banshees. These anomalies of nature produced walls of wind and dust with a gap of about 75 yards in between for us to ride through.
I yelled at the top of my voice, “Follow me,” and nudged Stonewall forward.
At first he didn’t want to go, but I kicked him and yelled, “Let’s go boy.” He started slowly, but picked up speed as I directed him between the pillars of dust and wind. I felt like a member of the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea. I turned to see if the men were following me. Most of them had trouble getting their mounts to move forward, but once Stonewall moved out, they reluctantly followed.
We all made it through the gap and galloped like scared jack rabbits for about three hundred yards. I had a hard time getting Stonewall to stop. He was scared out of his wits. Finally, he stopped running because he basically ran out of gas.
I dismounted and began to lead him down a road that paralleled the Monocacy River. His reserve of adrenalin was gone. It was all he could do to stumble along behind me.
All the men had dismounted and began leading their cayuses on our trek south. I think they and their horses were in the same shape as Stonewall. I motioned to Zeke to take the lead and direct us south.
He nodded and took the point position. Suddenly the roar of the twin tornado-type funnel clouds ceased. San Cyrr Ray had fulfilled her part of the bargain. Now it was up to me to fulfill my part of it.
After about half a mile, I stopped our band of exhausted men and horses.
“Let’s take a rest,” I ordered.
They all willingly tied their horses to trees along the road and lay down in the road for a brief rest. Soon snores permeated the air.
I nodded off for a few minutes, but soon awoke with a sense of urgency to get back to our camp in Adamstown. I roused all the men and didn’t have too much trouble in getting them back in the saddle and onto the road heading south. They were fearful of running into a Yank patrol and wanted to get further south and out of harm’s way.
It didn’t take us too long to travel to the where the side road we were traversing crossed the Buckeystown Pike. At this point, Zeke directed us south on this pike for about two miles and then west on another side road that brought us to Adamstown just as the sun was setting. We meandered into town to find the small provost contingent guarding our camp.
The men reached their tents and began the process of getting their mounts unsaddled, fed and watered. I told Zeke and Skeeter to join them and to take care of Stonewall for me. They gladly took those orders to heart.
I walked back to the house that was General Ashby’s headquarters. Only a quartermaster sergeant was manning the control center. I asked him the dumb question of the day, “Have ya heard anything from Major Mosby?”
He gave me a ‘how dumb can you be’ look and uttered, “No.”
I returned, “Did they give ya any indication before they left as to when they would be back?”
“No sir,” he answered.
I nodded, left the sergeant to his work and began walking back to the company camp. I made it just in time to see Stonewall being fitted by Skeeter with a nosebag filled with oats. Once he had attached the nosebag, Skeeter went into a tent on the company street.
As I approached Stonewall, he turned his head, looked at me, snored and returned to the delectable contents of his nosebag. As I walked toward him I saw a brush on the ground that I picked up and began the age old process of grooming. He munched contentedly and enjoyed my efforts of combing his wet hide.
After a few minutes I didn’t hear anymore munching, so I walked to where I could look Stonewall in the face. He was fast asleep. I grinned as I removed the nosebag. He didn’t even stir. I was too tuckered to find a tent. I just laid down in a patch of grass near Stonewall and went sound asleep as soon as my head hit the ground.