Civil War Transcendence, part 411


Sergeant Kirkland pulled one of his Colts with his right hand and looked back at the troop. The troopers all followed suit. As they use to say in the Old West, I “filled my hand” with one of my Colts, too.

Stonewall sensed that I had armed myself. I don’t know if he sensed the added adrenalin that now raced through my body, or if he smelled the gunpowder aroma emanating from my Colt. However, he jerked his head up straight and began to prance toward. I had to put my left hand on his neck and whisper, “Easy.”

This calmed him down, but not a whole lot. I had to add in a low voice, “Quiet.”

Thank Heavens, he didn’t give me one of his famous snorts, and finally, he did slow down.

I turned to see that Sergeant Kirkland had been watching this interaction between us, and he grinned at me. I smiled as we rode on toward the road on which we were going to turn and, hopefully, prevent the Yanks from completing their mission.

Kirkland looked back at the troops and pumped his arm up and down as he nudged Rowdy. His horse tried to bolt forward, but Kirkland anticipated the move and held the stallion to a trot.  We all matched the Sergeant’s gait.

We moved up the road, and in the distance, I could see a road branching off to the right. I looked at Kirkland, who was looking at the road ahead. He must have sensed my gaze, because he immediately looked at me.

Inclining my head at the road in the distance, I gave him a questioning look.

He shook his head that this wasn’t the road on which we would turn.

I nodded, and we proceeded at a canter.

It seemed as if it was taking forever to get to the thoroughfare that we were destined to travel. However, another crossing suddenly appeared in the distance. Kirkland turned to look at me and inclined his head at this new road.

I nodded back that I understood. In just a matter of minutes we reached what appeared to be a path leading to the east and the Potomac River. When we reached the lane I turned to the troops, pointed to the right and entered the narrow road.

The troopers kept their two abreast formation and followed me. I was at the head of the troop on the left, with Kirkland to my right. We moved along at a brisk pace until I saw a small pond off to our left. As we rode pass the pond, I could see a parallel road to our left on the other side of the pond. Yanks were dismounted and letting their horses drink from the pond.

I quickly ordered, “By tha left flank, march.”

My troopers faced left while moving, and we transformed into a battle line.

Next, I yelled, “Charge.”

I let out a whoop and began to fire at the Yank contingent clustered around the pond. My men commenced to do the same.

We caught the Yanks flatfooted. They had no pickets posted, and some of their men were lying under shade trees about twenty-five yards from the pond. Their horses were spooked by our outcries and the noise of our pistols, plus the whizzing of bullets near their heads. Yankee horse handlers were trying to pull their pistols from the holsters, hold on to their rearing and whinnying horses, and duck our bullets.

The Yanks lying under the trees got up and used the trees as cover to return fire. I saw one of our men drop from the saddle. However, three Yank horse handlers at the pond went down. Their horses were released and immediately stampeded to the north, compelling the remaining horses to pull more vigorously to gain their freedom.

We rode straight for the pond and the Yank horses. I wanted to either, capture their means of transportation, or disband it to the point of uselessness.

The remaining horse handlers, realizing that retreat was the better part of valor, finally dropped their horses’ reins and bolted toward the trees and their fellow troopers.

I was on the far right and started yelling, “Stampede the horses. Stampede the horses.”

The men got the idea, and we rode around the edge of the pond, yelling the Rebel Yell to the top of our lungs. This commotion sent the Yankee horse herd running pell mell toward the north.  However, another of my men was shot and fell from his saddle.

I knew we had to get out of this fray and gain some cover of our own. We were outnumbered, but the Yanks would soon be out of ammo because they only had the ammo that they carried on their persons.

We rode past the pond and headed to the north, following the Yank horses.

I felt a bullet hit the pommel of my saddle and another dig into the saddle just behind me.

Stonewall flinched.

I was certain he was wounded.






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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