Civil War Transcendence, part 350


The Colonel’s gaze rested on me after his perusal of my attire. “You aren’t in military uniform Lieutenant,” he asserted.

“That’s correct Colonel Daniels. Major Mosby wanted me to act as a scout and a behind tha lines spy. So he told me and my associates to wear civilian clothes,” I explained.

The Colonel took a moment to let the information sink in.  Then he said, “Let’s take a walk.”

I thought this was very unnerving. It was totally different from the meeting I was expecting.

We walked about 50 yards toward the bluff overlooking the Shenandoah River. When out of ear shot of the soldiers, the Colonel turned and spoke in a low voice, “Colonel Mosby told me to trust ya explicitly and he cautioned me to be very discreet when talking with ya. Do ya know what happened to tha Major?”

“I only know that someone tried to assassinate him and that he survived. Is he alright?” I asked.

“Tha Major is recovering nicely and should be back in his billet in a week. He was shot in tha left arm from ambush while he was riding on a patrol up tha river road,” the Colonel explained.  He continued, “There were 10 men on tha patrol, but he was tha only one shot at.”

“Our old friend from Shepherdstown,” I mused.

“What do ya mean, Lieutenant?” he asked.

I related the assassination of Marshal Wells and the basic investigation I had made as to the identity of the assassin.

“You believe tha killer of tha marshal and tha shooter of Major Mosby is one and tha same?’ queried the Colonel.

“Yes sir, I do. Plus, they tried to kill me, my financee and two servants last night on the road to Halltown,” I explained.

The Colonel gasped at my information. I gave him a quick summation of what had happened, “A few weeks ago, someone murdered tha telegraph operator at Shepherdstown and wrecked tha telegraph equipment to prevent word of tha Yankee assault of Ferry Hill being sent to y’all here in Harpers Ferry. We ultimately had to send a courtier to get tha message to ya.”

“There is an extensive spy ring in this area,” I added. “We even had a captain that was a spy and in command of one of tha companies hat participated in tha trap we set for tha Yankee force coming out of Boonsboro. I could give you some other examples of my reasoning, but Sir, please believe me, we have to find tha ring leader to crush this ring.”

The Colonel crossed his arms and lowered his chin to his chest. I thought he had gone to sleep because he stayed in this position for a long time. Then he raised his head and asked, “Do ya have a plan to catch this leader?”

“I have been thinking of a way to lure him into a trap. I do believe he is located in Shepherdstown. All tha problems with Union forces have occurred there, except for tha wounding of Major Mosby,” I stated.

“What are yar immediate plans?” he requested.

“Well, Sir, I would return to Shepherdstown and my job as school teacher. I would reestablish tha telegraph office and raise a local militia force as protection for tha town. During tha time we were instigating these plans, I would send one of my scouts to Sharpsburg, Boonsboro and maybe even Hagerstown to find out who tha assassin is. I have a rough description of him, but we need to find him to get to tha leader,” I explained.

The Colonel returned to his head down thinking mode, and then looking up, declared, “These are strange times that require strange tactics. I want ya to implement yar plan, but ya must do it within tha next two weeks. I know that is not giving ya much time, but Harpers Ferry will probably be hit from two directions in tha next three weeks. We believe there will be a force come across tha Potomac at Shepherdstown and attack from tha north while another force will come through Pleasant Valley from Boonsboro and hit us from tha East. If you can muster a force to stop tha Yanks at Shepherdstown, it would help us protect this part of Virginia.”

I was shocked that the Yanks had recovered so quickly to be able to hit us again in such a short time, especially after the thumping we gave them in Pleasant Valley and near Fredrick, Maryland.  The surprise must have shown on my face because the Colonel nodded in grim affirmation.  “Yes, they’re back with a vengeance,” he affirmed.

GEN Turner Ashby, CSA

“Can we get any help from General Jackson or General Johnston?” I probed.

“We understand that General Turner Ashby will be sending two companies of cavalry and General Jackson will be sending a regiment of Virginia infantry along with one battery of artillery to us presently,” the Colonel admitted.

I nodded, and taking my military life in my hands, asked, “Will Maryland Heights and Loudoun Heights be occupied?”

The Colonel looked at me in surprise and inquired, “Why do ya ask?”

“Colonel,” I began in a pleading tone, “I know that a lowly Lieutenant isn’t supposed to make any comments to a high officer like yarself, but I believe if we can stop tha Yanks from getting tha high ground to look down on Harpers Ferry, we can beat ‘em back and keep the Shenandoah Valley from being entered by tha Yanks.”

The Colonel looked at me for a long time and then said, “Lieutenant, I will consider it. Now let’s return to camp.”

We walked back to the Colonel’s tent in silence. I was wondering if I had overstepped the bounds of military etiquette by my request. When we arrived at the Colonel’s office and abode, I asked, “May I have the scout that Major Mosby assigned to me during tha last campaign? His name is Sergeant Alfred Madigan.”

The Colonel nodded in agreement and asked, “Where do ya want him to meet ya?”

“At tha Shenandoah Hotel,” I answered.

The Colonel then asked, “What do ya have planned for tonite?”

I smiled and said, “I’m getting married.”



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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