I got to thinking that it would be dangerous if we moved to town. The local Union spy ring could try to have me killed, and Daphne might be injured as collateral damage. However, I couldn’t think of a way to delay moving to our rented cottage without telling her the reason. No doubt her treatment of Throckmorton would be different if I told her of his duplicity, and that would alert Throckmorton. So, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
I got to thinking that I had to put some kind of kink in the Union spy ring that would provide great difficulties for them while enhancing our cause. The only way was to find out who the person that Throckmorton had met behind the old schoolhouse and get him arrested. Hopefully, that man was the go-between with all the local raiders and killers that the spy ring utilized for their terroristic activities. In addition, if that person was the liaison with the Union forces in western Maryland, his removal might really impede any Union activity on the near future.
I began to think of a way to flush out this nemesis. For some reason, I decided that Al would be the man to help in this project.
I arrived at the Potomac Bridge and provided the correct password to cross over to the Maryland Shore. Proceeding up the steep hill toward Ferry Hill, I stopped and looked a few hundred yards to the east and observed the Confederate battle line. The soldiers were changing the watch in the barricade that had been constructed on the main road to Sharpsburg. The main Confederate camp was located on the Maryland shoreline, just east of the C & O Canal path and near the Potomac Bridge. Soldiers waved at me as they began their trek to the main camp.
I doffed my hat and rode on to Ferry Hill. I continued through the main yard of the mansion and went to the stables. John Lee looked up from working on a harness and smiled.
In a leisurely manner, I dismounted, unstrapped Stonewall’s saddle and hefted it off his back. Once shed of this encumbrance, he automatically walked to his stall and began to drink water and crunch on some oats that John Lee had set out for him in the stall.
I placed Stonewall’s saddle on a saddle rack outside his stall and walked back to where John Lee was working and stated, “We got some more trouble headed our way.”
He jerked his head up from his labor and retorted, “How so?”
“There’s a spy ring in Shepherdstown that I happened to find out about by accident. They want to get rid of me, which isn’t anything new, but I don’t want Daphne to possibly be hurt as an innocent bystander,” I explained. “I’m gonna try to delay us moving into town until I can get a plan together to either get rid of the spy ring or hurt it so bad that they can’t function for a while.”
I turned and looked at the back of the mansion. No one seemed to be paying attention to us, so I moved to where I shielded John Lee from anyone in Ferry Hill that might be looking at us. Then in a low voice I said, “From now on when ya go into town, I want ya to be on tha lookout for anyone that always seems to be sitting or standing in tha same place and observing ya and tha town traffic.”
He nodded his head that he understood.
I continued, “Ferry Hill is situated too close to tha Confederate lines. If’n tha Yanks decide to hit us, they’re gonna use cannon, and Ferry Hill could be hit. Ya need to set up a way to get tha people off this hill and across tha bridge quickly. I ‘spect Ezra could help with any emergency plan ya come up with.”
Taking my two favorite Colts from my belt and two loaded cylinders from my vest, I handed them to him and promised, “I’m gonna get y’all more Colts and a few carbines. Have ya ever fired a carbine?”
He shook his head that he hadn’t.
“Well, as soon as Al gets back, I’ll get him to show ya how. Also, do ya think Anna and any of her brood could fire a pistol without hurting themselves?” I asked.
John Lee chuckled and said in a low voice, “Anna could, but I don’t believe any of her brood could.”
“Well, ya need to determine who ya want to be a part of yar defense force, and I’ll get Al to help ya with training ‘em. Some don’t need too much training, such as yarself and Ezra. However, I think knowing how to load and shoot a carbine would be a good thing to know,” I explained.
John Lee nodded his head in agreement and then inquired, “When do ya think all this fighting is gonna take place?”
I shrugged and stated, “Maybe in tha next three weeks.”
His eyes opened wide and he gave a gasp.
I just nodded in affirmation of his shock.