Civil War Transcendence, part 429


I fired my Colt into the floor between Eldredge’s feet. He jumped about a foot, screamed, and threw up his hands in front of his face. He remained in that position for a while and then began to cry. He opened his eyes and looked at me like I was the devil incarnate. Between sobs he pleaded, “Please don’t shoot me. I’ll tell ya everything. I promise. Don’t shoot me.’

I wasn’t the least bit moved by his performance. I reasoned that the spy ring with which he was affiliated was responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of our soldiers, as well as causing civilian casualties.

Without a preamble I demanded, “How about telling me how long Throckmorton has been a spy for the Union?”

Eldredge batted his eyes and said, “I don’t really know.”

I cocked and fired my pistol again only this time I came a little closer to his right foot.

Eldredge screamed again and yelled, “Sometime in 1859.”

I gave him a look of sheer revulsion and asked, “When did ya join ‘im?”

He hesitated, and I cocked my Colt.

He put his hands up in front of his body and quickly answered, “In 1859.”

“So y’all were in cahoots before the war,” I stated.

Eldredge lowered his head and looked at the floor.

“Where are ya originally from?” I challenged.

Without looking up, he said in a low voice, “Ohio.”

Changing the subject quickly, I rasped, “Who does Throckmorton get his orders from?”

Eldredge looked up and saw that I had the Colt pointed at his chest. He began to cry again and said between snivels, “At first it was tha Colonel over in Boonsboro. Then it was Captain Devlin, but now I don’t know who it is. Don’t shoot me. I promise that I don’t know who it is.”

“When does he get his orders, and how are they delivered to him?” I rejoined.

“He gets ‘em different ways. Sometimes it’s a customer that comes in and gives me papers along with a deposit or withdrawal. I take ‘em to him and he tells us what to do,” Eldredge divulged.

“Who has brought him orders like that in tha past?” I demanded.

He looked at me pleadingly and said, “If’n I tell ya, he’ll have me killed.”

I leaned forward and said, “Al, when was it that Eldredge was shot, trying to escape?”

“Oh, any minute now,” Al answered.

Eldredge’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. He gasped for breath and then stuttered, “It was three men. One was Mr. Mills from Keedysville. Another was Mr. Kirby from Sharpsburg. I remember another was Mr. Hawks.”

The last name made Al and I look at each other in surprise.

Standing up and looking down on Eldredge, I asked with gritted teeth, “What other ways did he get orders from tha Yanks?”

Eldredge looked up at me in horror. He shrank down in his seat and put up his hands as if to ward me off.

“How?” I roared.

“Sometimes he got messages delivered to his home late at night,” Eldredge revealed.

“What operations did he carry out with Marshal Gill from Harpers Ferry and Marshal Wells from Kearneysville,” I bellowed.

“Well, he, ah, let tha Yank cavalry know when Miss Newcomer was out riding,” he confessed.

In a sarcastic voice, I yelled, “Is that all?”

“No, he gave information about tha best time to raid and burn tha town; where to find and attack ya after tha school dance; when to dynamite tha Potomac Bridge; and when ya crossed tha Potomac and headed into Maryland,” he disclosed.

“He also employed tha sharpshooter that killed Marshal Wells; took a potshot at me; and wounded Major Mosby, didn’t he?” I shouted.

Eldredge hid his head in his hands and nodded vigorously.

I felt the anger turn from raging hot to bitter cold. I stood up straight and looked down on the Yankee spy with an icy gaze.

Al must have been watching me closely and knew what that meant because he said in a low voice, “If’n ya kill ‘im, we’ll never find out all tha people that helped ‘em and where Throckmorton is likely to run to.”

I turned to look at Al. He looked me in the eyes and didn’t flinch.

Finally, I turned back, looked at Eldredge and said over my shoulder, as I began to walk toward the bank’s front door, “Ya keep him company. I’m gonna telegraph Mosby to come pick ‘im up.”

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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