Civil War Transcendence, part 406

United States Military Academy at West Point


We proceeded into the Major’s office, and he immediately called for his sergeant.

When his NCO arrived, he said, “Prepare orders for Sergeant Richard Kirkland to be transferred to tha Third Virginia Cavalry and to report to Captain Jim Hager forth with.”

The sergeant just stood and gawked at the Major until he said, “Do it now.”

Quickly the sergeant saluted and said, “Yes sah. Right away sah.” Then he left the room in a blur.

The Major and I smiled at the sergeant’s reaction. No doubt the rumors would be flying once the sergeant had a chance to tell all his buddies the local gossip from the Major’s office.

Once peace and quiet was again restored, I asked, “Were ya ever at West Point?”

The Major grinned and said, “Does it show that bad?”

I answered, “I wasn’t trying to demean ya. It’s just that yar bearing conveys that of a leader.”

The Major gave me a sarcastic grin.

To which I responded, “I mean it. When I first saw ya, I thought West Point. Ya have that type of impression. I truly meant it as a compliment.”

The Major blushed and said, “Thank ya for tha commendation. However, I haven’t had a chance to exercise any leadership qualities in this base. That’s why I wanted to get into some action and do fighting.”

I returned, “Don’t worry. There will be enough action for all of us. This war isn’t gonna be over any time soon.”

Major Murphy rejoined, “I hope yar right.”

To change the subject I asked, “Speaking of bearing, who’s tha lieutenant that’s in command of yar post in Martinsburg?”

The Major sighed and said, “That’s Lieutenant Ames. His father is on tha Staff of General Jackson. His father got him a commission, and I had to put him in charge of some detail just to get him out of my hair.”

I nodded my head in understanding.

The Major got a worried look on his face and asked, “Did he give ya any problems?”

I chuckled and answered, “No. I asked him about yar brig, and he said I would have to have orders from my commander to obtain a cell for my prisoner.”

The Major laughed and said, “I can believe he would have made that requirement. He really doesn’t know how to grease tha wheels to make tha wagon move smoothly. I learned how to get things done while serving out west.”

I perked up at that bit of information and queried, “Where were ya out west?”

He began, “I got a commission in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry, once I had graduated from West Point. It was a newly created unit. We were sent west, by boat and train, to St. Louis. Then we traveled southwest, by horseback, across Missouri and parts of Arkansas into west Texas. I was assigned to Camp Cooper.”

“We had many skirmishes with tha Commanche tribes. Our biggest fight was in 1857 with a combined Commanche and Apache force at Devil’s River. We were commanded by Lieutenant John Bell Hood, who is now General Hood. Our force won and we had a reprieve for some time from incursions by tha hostiles.”

“I was a young second Lieutenant and, in 1858, was transferred to California. When tha war started, I resigned my commission and came back east to offer my services to my state of Virginia. I was given a commission as a Major and assigned to Richmond as a staff officer of General Joseph Johnston. About a month ago, I was given command of this backwater post. I’ve been trying to find a way to get in tha fight ever since I came back east.”

I looked intently at the Major and prophesied, “Major, I think ya will have all yar wishes for action granted.”

He looked at me and said, “I surely hope so.”

About that time the Major’s NCO rushed into the room and trumpeted, “There’s a Yankee patrol been sighted across tha Potomac River from Williamsport. A local citizen saw them and came into tha post to report it.”

I looked at the Major, smiled and quipped, “See what I mean.”






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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