A young corporal was ushered into the room. The bright yellow piping on his Confederate uniform signified he was in the cavalry.
He saw me and advanced to within a few feet of the bed, saluted and uttered, “Sir, I have orders from Colonel Daniels for you. I am to wait for your reply, sir.”
He handed me an envelope, saluted and left the room.
I immediately broke open the seal and unfolded three sheets of papers. The first one read:
“There has been an attempt on Major Mosby’s life. He was shot from ambush and was grievously wounded. It was not a mortal wound, but it will take time for him to heal. He talked with me and requested specifically that you take over his post as soon as possible. He indicated you had knowledge of a possible organization operating in the area that was responsible for his being shot and for other traitorous acts. I have acceded to his appeals and the enclosed attachments authorize your new post. You were to be promoted to Captain for your efforts during the mission to Frederick, MD in one month, but circumstances have required this advancement in rank to be as of October 25, 1862.”
I quickly shifted to the second sheet of paper. In very calligraphic writing it read:
“Lieutenant James Hager is hear-by promoted to the rank of Captain with said rank to be established as of October 25, 1862.”
The third sheet of paper was in the same handwriting as the first, and I presumed it, too, was written by Colonel Daniels:
“You will immediately report to me at Harpers Ferry Garrison. Your new post will be Executive Officer under my command. You shall occupy this post until Major Mosby has recuperated. I will brief you on your specific duties when you arrive.”
Colonel William Daniels
Commander, Harpers Ferry Garrison
Confederate States of America
I nodded and a great determination came over me. As the tumblers of my mind locked into place, I became resolved to implement a complete eradication of all the covert and open hostile forces in our area of Virginia.
I began to get up, but Daphne said, “Y’are not well enough to go to Harpers Ferry!”
I stopped and declared, “Daphne, I’m in tha cavalry. I have been ordered to return to my post. I have to go.”
She gave me a look of dismay and then just shook her head. Then, her face lit up as she gained an insight to the problem. She declared, “We’ll take ya in tha carriage. That way ya won’t have as hard a trip as on horseback.”
I looked at her for a long few seconds, debating the pros and cons of her announcement. One, Ahab would not hazard killing me while in the company of Daphne. Two, although I would like to be back in the saddle, it would behoove me to take it easy as long as I could. Three, the carriage had a decent suspension system by 19th century standards and would make for a less bumpy journey.
Daphne was looking at me with much trepidation, but when I smiled and nodded my head in affirmation, she grinned and let out a sigh of relief. Immediately, she turned to Ahab and Bessie, who had entered the room to see what the hubbub was about, and said, “Get the carriage ready for travel to Harpers Ferry and load our things plus Lt. Hager’s possessions.”
I held up my hand in abeyance. Every eye turned toward me. I stated emphatically, “I want Stonewall saddled in my presence. He will be allowed to accompany the carriage at his leisure. Is that clear?”
The bluntness of my orders shocked Daphne, while it made Ahab’s face break into a wolfish grin.
I met his grin with an evil smile, while gently raising the Colts against the sheets that covered my weapons of mass destruction.
His grin turned to a look of pure hatred. Then he left the room to begin the packing of baggage for our trip. Bessie had witnessed our ethereal exchange without any sign of emotion. She abruptly turned and exited the room to begin her duties.
Daphne viewed the exchanges with a look of fear.
I turned to her and said, “Please have the courtier sent to me.”
She hurried from the room, and almost immediately, the courtier entered the room and saluted.
I saluted and directed, “Please relay to Colonel Daniels that we will leave for Harpers Ferry instantly. We should be there by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.”
The courtier responded, “Yes, sir.”
He saluted, which I returned, and he left the room.