Civil War Transcendence, part 383


It really wasn’t a silver hat band with a silver star that was the give-away that this was our man. It was the rifle that was stuck in a carrying case that was positioned behind his saddle. You could just make out the viewing end of a telescopic sight.

I drew a Colt with my right hand, cocked it and hid it behind my right leg. Gently I nudged Stonewall with my knees and said, “Slowly.”

He took on his tired cayuse personification and we meandered toward the killer. I kept my wide-brimmed cavalry hat pulled down to hide my face as much as possible, but still allowing one eye to have a view of the street before me.

The assassin was about ten yards from me when he suddenly stopped and looked to his right. I glanced that way and saw three cavalry troopers fanned out in a semi-circle and headed toward him.

I clamped my knees into Stonewall’s side and said, “Let’s go.”

I leaned forward to keep from being thrown from the saddle as Stonewall exploded headlong toward the killer. I believe if Stonewall had been competing against a GTO in a drag race, he would have beat the muscle car.

The killer had already drawn his rifle and was beginning to sight it toward the three troopers when he heard, rather than saw, us galloping toward him.

I raised my Colt and fired. Then I continued to cock the hammer and pull the trigger as we closed the distance to the marauder. It seemed that, in slow motion, the gunman was jolted as if he had been slammed in the chest.

Three things followed in sequence. He dropped his rifle.  His horse reared, and he fell to the road.

I suddenly heard the crowded populace in the streets screaming and yelling, which was followed by a mass exodus from the area of the shooting.

I had been a fool to confront this killer in the middle of Harpers Ferry with a large crowd of town’s people in the vicinity.  I looked around for any citizen that might be collateral damage, but I had lucked out. No one seemed to be hurt.

The three troopers appeared immediately and began to direct the populace away from the sight of the shooting.  I had ridden past the sniper and now turned Stonewall back to the fallen enemy.

Dismounting Stonewall, I walked to the body. Stopping and looking down on the dead man, I saw where his left lung and part of his heart were located there was a large red spot that was growing. Also his right shoulder had a wound, which probably was why he dropped his rifle.

One of the troopers uttered, “Good shooting Captain.”

I just nodded and looked up to see Al Madigan grinning at me. I extended my hand to him and asked, “Where ya been?”

“Well, I was waiting for ya in Shepherdstown, but a courier give me word to come down here. I just arrived last night, and we set up a trap for this dry-gulcher. But as usual, ya shot him before we could get a bead on ‘im,” he noted.

Al told the two troopers under his command to carry the body to the local mortician and report back to the cavalry camp.

We both turned to walk away and Stonewall nudged Al with his nose.  Al turned and said, “Well, if’n it ain’t Stonewall. How ya doing ole pal?”

Stonewall whinnied one of his loud outbursts, which made Al laugh and pat my cayuse on his neck.

Al whistled and his horse came to him. I smiled at the same rapport he had with his horse.

We mounted and rode back toward the hotel our party had vacated just a few hours ago. I looked at him and said, “I made a big mistake shooting in all this crowd.”

“Yep, but ya hit what ya were aiming at, and no civilian was injured. Yar probably gonna  get a tongue lashing and a warning ‘bout it, but that’ll be about all,” he predicted.

I nodded and uttered a quick prayer that no one other than the killer had been shot.









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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