Civil War Transcendence, part 421


We must have napped for about twenty minutes before the four of us began to stir. Daphne gave a big sigh and sat up. I stood up and helped her to her feet. Mrs. Douglas and Willie both yawned and got to their feet. Like a herd of cattle we all moseyed into the main hall. Daphne, Mrs. Douglas and Willie went toward the back of the house. I kissed Daphne on the cheek and told her I was going into town to do some work at the schoolhouse. She gave me a big hug and left to accompany the Douglas clan.

I went out the backdoor and walked toward the stables. I heard Stonewall give me a welcoming whinny as I entered the front of the livery. I gave him his accustomed massage, saddled him and mounted. We rode out the building and used the steep backdoor trail to the Potomac River. At the bridge, the Confederate pickets quickly passed me through, and in a few more moments, we rode up into the school yard In Shepherdstown. I dismounted and let Stonewall have his head. He wandered over to a patch of new green grass and began to graze.

Going into the school, I was amazed at how dusty it had gotten in just a few months. It took me about an hour to dust and sweep out the building. Then I settled down to construct the plan that was requested by Kann Mer Ray.

As I contemplated the logistics, I began to have ideas come to me with the rapidity of a Gatling gun. Most were idiotic, but after a few hours, the seeds of a plan germinated. The object of the whole mission was to create fear and trepidation in the Northern Psyche.

I finally decided that multiple strikes should be made simultaneously. One attack needed to be against the seat of government, Washington City. One needed to be against Baltimore and the last needed to be destruction of the C & O canal at various points.

The next puzzling aspect was what to do while in Washington City to give enough impetus that would cause chaos. I didn’t want to even think of assassinating anyone. I was thinking more about destruction of some object that would cause wide spread hysteria. A few things came to mind, but the one thing really seemed the best goal was the destruction of the Union money printing presses in the Treasury Department and burning of any currency we could get our hands on. I didn’t believe just robbing the Capitol of its capital (no pun intended) would serve any purpose, because more currency could be minted in short order.

The goal in Baltimore was the port area. If we could start a raging fire in the warehouses along the wharf area, I believe we could have the city in a state of panic.

Lastly, the aqueduct over where the Monocacy River joins with the Potomac River would be the main object of destruction.

So what information had to be procured?  For one thing; we didn’t know how much of the C & O Canal Path the Yanks occupied north of Leesburg, Virginia.  I figured that we could kill two birds with one stone if we advanced a force south on the C & O path and took the area around the Monocacy. One part of the force could start work on the destruction of the aqueduct, and another could continue down to invade Washington City to destroy their mint.  Since we didn’t want this to be a suicide mission, I believed the only way we could get safely into the Union Capital, and out again, was to be wearing Yankee uniforms. As an afterthought, I seemed to remember that the Treasury Department was located close to the White House in 1862. Maybe our foray could scare Lincoln also.

In my mind, the best way to egress the Capitol was to go back the way we came, which was up the C & O Path

In regard to the Washington City portion of the plan, this incursion had to be completed in one day. We had to come in at night, destroy our designated target, and get out before daylight.

After coming to the above conclusions about the assault on the Capitol, I began to think of probably the greatest hindrance to any bold plan against the enemy; and that was talking the higher brass into allowing us to have enough men and equipment to conduct the raid. Old men with closed minds were the bane of audacious military plans. Invariably, worst case scenarios automatically infested their psyche and resulted in the shaking of their heads before they ever heard the complete details of any new way to wage war.

After a few moments, I shook off this negative invasion from my monkey mind by verbally saying, “Shut up and leave me alone.”

Then I began to think about the Baltimore part of our mission.







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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