Stonewall’s gait was a steady lope. We ate up the mile of road back to the Confederate outpost in Martinsburg.
As we approached the outpost, I yelled, “Stop at tha outpost.”
Stonewall didn’t acknowledge my request, but when we made it to the front of the small station, he stopped.
I dismounted and patted him on the neck and said, “Thanks.”
As usual, he snorted.
I hurried up the stairs and entered the office. Sergeant Kirkland was seated, but when he saw me, he said, “Captain Hager, what can I do for ya?”
I snapped, “Ya still wanna join my unit?”
He beamed from ear to ear and uttered, “Yes Sah.”
I returned, “Well, get yar hardware together, and let’s go.”
Sergeant Kirkland acted as if he had been hit by lightning. He gaped at me and said, “Right now?”
I retorted, “Yes, right now.”
About this time Lieutenant Ames entered the room and asked, “What’s all tha hubbub about?
Once he saw me, he came to attention and saluted.
I didn’t return his salute and declared, “I’m confiscating yar sergeant.”
Ames let his hand slowly fall to his side and said, “Ya can’t do that. He’s in my squad and assigned to this post with me.”
I retorted, “He’s with me now. The orders will be sent by Major Murphy forthwith.”
I turned, looked at Sergeant Kirkland, who was still stunted and hadn’t moved, and said, “Are ya coming with me or not?”
The Sergeant grinned from ear to ear and began strapping on all his gear.
Once he got to his saber, I ordered, “Leave that here.”
He nodded, took his saber off the belt and got his pistol strapped on.
He looked up at me and indicated he was ready.
I asked, “Where’s yar horse?”
“Out back,” he replied.
“Get him and meet me out front,” I commanded.
He almost ran out the back door to the office to get his horse, which according to orders had to be saddled and ready to ride each day.
At this point Lieutenant Ames stepped forward and demanded, “By what right are ya taking my sergeant?”
“By right of necessity,” I answered. Then I added, “Major Murphy and I are gonna confront a contingent of Yankee cavalry that have invaded Virginia.”
The Lieutenant abruptly stopped his caterwauling and looked as if he had been struck by lightning. I had seen that look before and knew what it meant. I egged on the Lieutenant by proposing, “Ya can come with us. It oughta be a real knock-down and drag-out fight.”
The Lieutenant’s face turned ashen and he hastily added, “No, I’ll stay here and protect the outpost.”
I gave him a knowing grin and retorted, “If’n yar gonna do that Lieutenant, ya better get ya some more pistols and carbines.”
The Lieutenant gulped, quickly entered his office, and latched the door.
I laughed, headed out the front door and got on Stonewall. Sergeant Kirkland was there and waiting on me.
“Try and stay up,” I said, then nudged Stonewall.
Away we went toward Shepherdstown.