Major Murphy abruptly stood and ordered the sergeant, “Bring tha person reporting of tha Yankee patrol here to my office. Then, go get my horse saddled. Have tha first five squads draw four loaded pistols and a carbine with twenty rounds. Be ready to ride in thirty minutes.”
The sergeant just stood looking at the Major with a dazed expression.
The Major declared, “I mean now, sergeant.”
The Major’s added impetus broke the sergeant’s trance. He saluted the Major and said, “Yes, sah. Right away, sah!” Then he hurried out of the room.
The peril of the enemy presence awoke the old Indian Fighter mentality in the Major. His transition from a bored bureaucrat to a man of action was a beautiful thing to behold. His eyes gleamed with the promise of a combat. His backbone straightened. His facial expression became hawkish in nature. His persona shouted to all the soldiers around him, “I am your leader. Follow me.”
Almost immediately, an older civilian was ushered into the Major’s office by the sergeant, who introduced the man to the Major. “Major, this is Mr. Williams from Williamsport, Maryland. He has information ya might want to hear.”
The Major turned to Mr. Williams, extended his hand and said, “Sah, we are grateful to you for bringing us word of a Yankee foray into our area. Can ya tell me about how many men ya saw in tha Yankee patrol?”
Mr. Williams shook the Major’s hand and stated, “Yes sah. There were about twenty-five of ‘em that crossed tha low water ford at Williamsport. I happened to be on tha west side of tha Potomac, and was headed for tha ford, when they rode by and crossed tha river in front of me. They were out of sight in just a few minutes and headed inland toward Falling Waters, Virginny.”
The Major listened intently to all of Mr. Williams information and then asked, “On yar way here, did ya see tha Yank patrol again?”
“Naw,” Mr. Williams replied, but then added, “But when I got to Falling Waters, I asked a man on tha main road through town if’n he’d seen any Yanks in tha area. He told me that he hadn’t.”
The Major thought a moment and, offering his hand, said, “Thank ya so much for yar information Mr. Williams. It means a great deal to us, and we really appreciated it.”
Mr. Williams shook the Major’s hand and was ushered out of the Major’s office.
Major Murphy looked at me and said, “The Yanks either went west or east. I doubt they would come south. Twenty-five men aren’t enough to attack our garrison.”
I nodded and said, “They’re on a reconnaissance mission. If they went east, they’re headed due north of Shepherdstown and surveying tha best way to invade tha town from tha north. If they went west, they probably will be skirting Martinsburg, and then swinging east toward Harper Ferry, to check out tha roads leading into that garrison. If I were a betting man, I wager they’re checking out the roads north of Shepherdstown. We’ve been hit three times in tha last four months. I believe they want to take over the town. It is as strategic point in the area.”
The Major nodded and said, “Well in that case, I’m gonna take my men east and try to herd tha Yanks south. Can ya get together a force that can come north? We can get ‘em in a pincher move and really hurt ‘em?”
I nodded at the Major and stated, “I’ll get some kind of a force together to act as tha anvil to yar hammer.”
The Major grinned from ear to ear. I gave him a snappy salute, which he returned and left his office on the run. I exited the building via the back door and yelled, “Stonewall!”
He came galloping around the side of the building and stopped abruptly in front of me. I mounted, and challenging fate, I uttered, “Take us home by tha shortest and fastest way.”
There was no delay in his movement. He immediately took off toward Martinsburg. As usual, I had to grab hold of the saddle’s pommel to keep from being thrown off the back of my cayuse. I just hoped that putting my trust in this animal was the right thing to do.