Civil War Transcendence, part 375


John Lee and I retired to the back of the hotel, while the ladies climbed the stairs to Mrs. Douglas and Hattie’s room.

Once at the back door, I said, “We need to get out of here without being seen by this killer. He probably knows both of us by sight, so let’s split up and go to tha livery stable separately to get our horses. Since we may be getting there at different times, why don’t ya go to tha top of Bolivar Heights and look for tha best vantage points for a sniper to cover tha road to Halltown or tha River Road? I’ll go across to tha Maryland side and check out the road from Sandy Hook north to Sharpsburg.”

John Lee nodded, and we exited the back of the hotel to an alleyway behind the buildings fronting on Shenandoah Street. John Lee went left, which was south, and I went right, which was north.

I stayed in the alley and proceeded to where it ended north of the hotel and emptied into a street angling back to the west.  Although it was out of the way, I turned and followed this new street. Keeping close to any buildings and under any porches they provided, I quickly walked about two blocks before I turned and headed south toward the livery stable.

I frequently looking over my shoulder for anyone paying close attention to me, but no one seemed to pay me any mind.  I saw John Lee leave the livery as I approached. He waved, and I waved back as he headed out for Bolivar Heights.

Stonewall must have been expecting me. His head was sticking out the top part of his stall door, and he let loose with one of his famous whinnies when I entered the livery. He could sense my mood of urgency and possible danger, for he was quivering all over while I saddled him.

The alien said he was my animal spirit guide. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I know our relationship was unique. I also know that I consider him a friend.

Once I brought him out of the stall, I swung up into his saddle. I had to rein him in because he wanted to burst out of the building like a rocket.  Keeping a firm grip on the reins, I stroked his neck and said, “Gently, my friend. We don’t want people to take any notice of us. We are just gonna meander around and go for a ride to see if we can either sight tha sniper, who wants to kill us, or find tha shooting positions he could use.”

I swear Stonewall quit his high-spirited antics and became as docile as an old mule.

I grinned from ear to ear and said, “That’s it, boy. You got tha right mood.”

Stonewall snorted, and I nudged him to proceed. He began a slow walk out of the barn, and as we maneuvered toward the bridge across the Potomac, we appeared to be just your regular local citizen on his horse heading toward Maryland.

Continuing the laissez-faire attitude, I directed Stonewall to the entrance of the railroad and wagon bridge that crosses into Maryland. However, I stopped him short of the bridge entrance, took off my hat and wiped sweat off the inside of my hat band while looking up at Maryland Heights located on the other side of the Potomac. Continuing the visible recon, I scanned the precipice from its beginning, near the bank of the Potomac, north along the narrow road to Sharpsburg. I concluded that there were, at least, twenty five places that would accommodate a great vantage point for a sniper. However, I didn’t see anyone lurking on the face of the bluff.

Finally, I put on my hat, shook my head, turned Stonewall around, and headed back to the hotel. Taking Stonewall back to the livery stable, I unsaddled him and said, “I hope John Lee had more success than we did.”

He snorted his reply.

I waited for about 30 minutes and ran out of patience. I patted Stonewall on the neck and said, “I’ll be back to feed ya.”

Turning to the opening of the livery, I began walking to the entrance, when John Lee trotted into the building from the opening on the other end.

He trotted his cayuse up to me and said, “I catched a glimpse of a man sittin on a black horse at the nawth end of Bolivar Heights. He’s a-lookin’ down at Harpers Ferry, but he seemed as still as death. If his hawse hadn’t moved once or twice, I’d figured him for a statue.”

“Sounds like our man,” I concluded. “Did he see ya?” I queried.

John Lee thought for a moment and then said, “He didn’t act like he seen me, but he must have felt me looking at ‘im, ‘cause he gently nudged his horse and rode off toward tha River Road.

“I bet he saw me looking at Maryland Heights,” I determined.






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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