Civil War Transcendence, part 422


How could we get into Baltimore and do damage without it resulting in death to the local populace or our raiders?  I thought on it long and hard and came to the conclusion that Baltimore was too far behind enemy lines to accommodate a one-day raid that would cripple commerce.

So, I began to look at other targets, but nothing came to mind other than another landmark in Washington City. It finally came to me that the U.S. Treasury was located next to the White House. So instead of scaring Lincoln, why not burn the White House after getting all the occupants out and letting them see the destruction?

This could result in one of two outcomes. One is fear of how we were able to penetrate deep into Union territory and destroy portions of the U.S. Capital. Two is that it could make the North madder than a wet hen and strengthen their resolve.

I began to make specific plans for the foray. Our logistics required that we have some kind of tools to disassemble the treasury machines; that we have some sort of accelerant for the fires we would be setting; that we wear Union cavalry uniforms; and that our horses have U.S. brands on them. In addition, we had to carry the accelerant in our saddle bags and our tools on our horses. We couldn’t afford to have a pack animal. We had to move fast.

The most important part of the logistical supplies had to be the accelerant. What could we use? I came up with the idea of Greek Fire, which was used back in the 7th century AD by the Byzantine Empire. However, to this day no one has been able to replicate it. So, I needed to see if Kann Mer Ray liked our plan and could provide us with portable hand held Greek Fire weapons. If we were able to show Lincoln that the South had this advanced weapon, it might lead to the war being brought to a halt.

I went to work on the Washington area maps that I was able to accumulate from the cavalry over the last few months. I determined the distance from Harpers Ferry to Georgetown, where the C & O Canal Path becomes Bridge Street, was about 120 miles. I needed to know how many Yankee camps and posts were along the C & O byway in that 120 mile stretch. So, I boarded Stonewall and rode to the telegraph office.

When I entered the office, the private stood and saluted. I returned his salute and asked him to send a message to Major Mosby about the Yankee emplacements along the C & O path south of here and toward Washington City.

I got an answer almost immediately from Major Mosby that he would find out and send a message via the telegraph with the data. Before I left, I glared at the private and made it quite clear to have someone come to Ferry Hill with the message from Major Mosby; and not let anyone else see it, no matter if they were of the military or civilian persuasion.  The private gulped and nodded vigorously that he understood.

I left the telegraph office, mounted Stonewall and rode north out of town about a mile where no homes or barns were visible. I dismounted and let Stonewall mosey. Then, trying my best to visualize Kann Mer Ray in my mind, I mentally stated, “I need to speak with you.” No acknowledgement came to me, so I tried it again. I guess the second time’s the charm sometimes, because I received a mental answer, “I will be with you momentarily.”

Image via TeenyScarlett on

In just a matter of seconds a greenish glimmer appeared a few feet in front of me and then Kann Mer Ray appeared in the flesh, so to speak. Unfortunately, San Cirr Ray was with him.

I nodded at the male and gave a quick glance to his assistant, but without acknowledging her. I could feel the heat of her anger from the slight and almost smiled, but was able to stifle it at the last moment.

I believe that Kann Mer Ray had enough of our one-upmanship contest because he said, “If we are going to be able to help this planet and save lives, you two must work in harmony.”

Looking at me he stated, “Jim, if you would be so kind to let yourself believe in the project we have proposed, and that we are here to help you, I would appreciate it.”

Turning to San Cirr Ray, he uttered, “Cirr, Jim has more than proven himself worthy of being our human agent in this endeavor. He has eluded Druids and has killed to protect his friends and family. I believe you need to show him some respect and quit dallying with him.”

San Cirr Ray looked at Kann Mer Ray for a long time. It seemed she was running through a list of details in her mind. Finally, she turned to me and said, “I apologize for the dalliances. I have to admit that you intrigued me. Your actions do speak louder than words.”

She came to stand in front of me, raised her hand toward me and asked, “If you will forgive my foolishness and work with me to accomplish our mission, I would be most thankful.”

I was astonished at the warmth and feeling of her words and emotion. I gulped and grasped her hand in friendship and stuttered, “I accept your apology, but only if you will accept my apology for being such a stubborn mule.”

She smiled and said, “Done.”

I grinned, and Kann Mer Ray gave a sigh of relief. Even Stonewall got in on the act with one of his famous whinnies.









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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.







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Civil War Transcendence, part 420

It took a while for the war news to be cussed and discussed by Mosby’s group. At long last the discussion got around to the expected arrival of a new Hager in the world. I had been dreading this conversation, but took a deep breath when Major Mosby asked, “When did Mrs. Douglas become a spiritualist?”

I was shocked by his straightforward question. It took me a few seconds before I responded, “Major, I don’t think that she has joined that freakish cabal. She stated that she only started to get visits from her deceased husband just before I arrived in Shepherdstown.”

Major Mosby looked at me for a long moment, and nodding his head, replied, “I can believe that.”

I looked at him with a confused expression. He didn’t elaborate, and I didn’t question his response.

He delicately asked, “I take it that Daphne has accepted Mrs. Douglas’ prophetic names for tha baby?”

I let out a sigh and said, “Yes, she has. I really don’t have tha belief that our baby will be a girl, but, if we do have a girl, Jamie Lee is a beautiful name. If that makes Daphne happy, then so be it.”

Major Mosby and the rest of the gentlemen nodded their agreement.

Then I added, “Ya know, Major, the old saying: If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

This brought a hearty laugh from all members of our little group. I happened to look up to see all the women staring at us. Our exuberance must have intruded on their dialogue. Daphne gave me an inquisitive look, and I just grinned sheepishly.

The ladies quickly turned back to their symposium, and our group began to discuss what was happening out west in the Indian Territories, plus New Mexico and Arizona.

I have to admit that I hadn’t kept up with the news from those areas. Mosby said that there had been a small cavalry division from El Paso that had plunged into New Mexico. The unit was commanded by General Thomas Munford, and they had marched across southern New Mexico into Arizona to take the settlement at Tucson.

I have to admit I was struck dumb. In my universe, Munford was serving with the Army of Northern Virginia and was in charge of Confederate Cavalry at the Battle of Sharpsburg, which had never occurred in the universe I presently inhabited.

I also listened to Mosby tell of Confederate General Stan Waite, who was an Cherokee Indian, leading soldiers from the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma against Union forces that had invaded from Kansas. General Waite had achieved success in defending Oklahoma’s northern border by driving the Union invasion force back to Wichita.

Mosby must have become aware of my shocked expression with all the western war news because he asked, “Jim did ya have any questions? Ya seem to be stunned by tha developments.”

I took a few deep breaths and replied, “No, it’s just I didn’t know we had achieved such success out west.” I looked up to see everyone looking at me, so I quickly added, “It’s very gratifying.”

That must have been answer enough for them, because they all turned back to look at Mosby for more western war information.

I have to admit I tuned out the rest of the men’s conflab. In my mind I began comparing what little I remembered of the Civil War fighting in the west that had occurred in my universe with the history of what had transpired in this universe.

As I remember from my brief reading about the far west Civil War campaigns, General Waite had repelled Union forays into Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas.  However, the other information about the Confederate invasion of the New Mexico territory, which included Arizona, didn’t jive with what I had understood happened. I know that, in my universe, Munford didn’t have anything to do with the Confederate far west operations.

Finally, I gave up trying to remember what I had read about during the 1862 Confederate campaigns in New Mexico and Arizona and thought I better just concentrate on what was happening in the here and now.

Mosby and the rest of our group had run out of things on which to comment, and several of the baby celebration attendees were beginning to take their leave by going to Daphne and wishing her well. Then they descended on me, and it seemed that I shook hands for hours, but it was only a few minutes.

All of a sudden, the parlor was empty except for Daphne, Mrs. Douglas, Willie and me. Even the servant ladies and Anna were in other parts of the house attending to the packaging of food stuffs for depositing in the coolness of the cellar, plus the cleaning of dishes.

The four of us grabbed seats in the parlor, and I believe in a few moments, were all napping or about to go to sleep after a busy morning of celebrating and fellowship.

Daphne and I were on a two person sofa. I had put my arm around her, and she had laid her head on my chest. Just before I drifted off into the land of dreams, I looked down on her beautiful face and uttered a quick prayer of thanks for all my blessings.

Daphne gave a deep sigh and squeezed my chest. After a few seconds, all I heard was her heavy breathing.




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Civil War Transcendence, part 419

Once the prayer was over, Anna, Ezra and John Lee were asked to join us at the table, which they did. The servant ladies waited on all of us.

Forks, knives and spoons began flying as we cleaned the table of food like a swarm of locusts. When we were through, everyone just sat back in their chairs and sighed. We were stuffed and were too full to waddle into the left parlor for coffee.

I guess to fill the awkward silence, Major Mosby said, “Did y’all have a chance to pick out names?”

Daphne looked bashfully down in her lap. I looked at her, but she wouldn’t look at me. I looked up at Mrs. Douglas and she was beaming from ear to ear. I shifted my attention to Hattie and she was smiling like a cat that had eaten the canary.

I said out loud, “Ah, come on now. Not Jamie!”

Daphne turned a bright shade of red and pleadingly looked up at me.  She had tears in her eyes, and I expected the phantom hankie would make its appearance any second.

I looked stonily at Daphne for a few seconds, but as tears began to run down her cheeks and she dabbed them with the phantom hankie, I raised my hands in surrender. I turned to the Major and answered, “Jamie is the baby’s name.”

Mosby looked from me to Daphne. Then he scanned the room to find Mrs. Douglas and Hattie both looking smugly pleased.  He frowned and knew that some family differences of opinion had just been resolved.

He arched his eyebrow, and clearing his throat, said, “That’s a very loving name for a child.”  Tilting his head in curiosity, he entered the realm of the Transcendental by asking, “How did you happen on it?”

Daphne glanced at Mrs. Douglas, wiped the tears from her cheek, gave a sigh and recited, “Mrs. Douglas’ dearly departed husband appeared to her in a dream and told her that we would have a baby girl…and that her name will be Jamie Lee.”

I don’t think I have ever seen Major Mosby completely at a loss for words. His eyes popped open to their full extent, his ears laid back and his lower jaw dropped.  He had a stupefied look on his face.

I had to avert my gaze and cough to keep from laughing at his expression.

Daphne looked at him with a defiance that would brook no negative comment.

Finally, he conquered the shock of Daphne’s statement and brought his facial expression back to normal. He looked at me with an “is this true?” look.

I just nodded my head.

Mosby, having regained his composure, remarked, “Well, that is very interesting.”

At that moment, Mrs. Douglas stood up and asked, “Shall we retire to the parlor for coffee?”

This fortunately broke the eerie mood that had fallen on the breakfast table occupants.

Ezra, John Lee and Anna excused themselves and left to attend to their duties. The rest of us walked over to the left parlor and immediately lined up to be served coffee by the servant ladies from a huge ewer on a table in the middle of the room.

Once everyone had received their beverage, we all broke up into smaller groups and found places to sit. Two conversation groups assembled. One was Mosby’s group, of which I was a participant that discussed the latest war news. The other was the women’s group which moved from topic to topic with the speed of an attacking cheetah.

I must say, it was a great time of fellowship. We thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.




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Civil War Transcendence, part 418

I woke the next morning and didn’t move, but just looked at the vision of loveliness cuddled up next to me. A strain of long black hair lay across her cheek and obscured her face, so I gently reached up and pushed it off her cheek, trapping it behind her ear. With that accomplished, I had an unobstructed view of her beautiful face. For a few moments, I studied her features and tried to memorize every facet of her countenance.

After a while, she stirred and moved to where she could drape her arm across my chest. In a sleepy voice she said, “Are ya awake?’

I put my arms around her, pulled her closer to me and answered, “Yep.”

She raised her head and looked at me with one eye closed. Then she declared, “I’m starving. Ya want some breakfast?”

I laughed and replied, “Always.”

She yawned and said, “Well, I guess we better get up.”

We leisurely got dressed and went downstairs to the right parlor, which is where breakfast is usually served. I pulled the doors open and was astounded when a crowd of people began clapping. I turned to Daphne and she began to laugh.

Almost on cue, the whole herd of people said, “Congratulations!”

I gave Daphne a bewildered look and asked, “Did ya tell ‘em?”

Enjoying my comical expression, she teasingly said, “Of course not.”

I stammered, “Well, how did they know?”

She put her right index finger to her chin and looked at the ceiling as if contemplating a most important question and said, “I wonder?” Then, acting as if the answer popped in her head, she snapped her fingers, looked at me and laughingly said, “It must have been the boisterous exclamations that emanated from our room last night.”

Everyone had been watching and listening to us. When Daphne answered my question, the whole room began to laugh. I got a sheepish grin on my face, turned a bright scarlet, and after a moment, joined in the laughter.

Then everyone came forward to shake our hands. There were John Lee, Anna, Ezra and the ladies that waited on Mrs. Douglas, Willie and Daphne. Apparently the word had gone out late last night, or early this morning, because Jonah and Jeremy Sage and their father were in attendance. Even Major Mosby and Sergeant Kirkland had come to bestow congratulations. And last but not least, Al Madigan accompanied by Hattie Gray came forward to wish us well.

When everyone had congratulated us, Mrs. Douglas came to us. She hugged Daphne and tearfully said, “Y’all stay here as long as ya like. It’ll be wonderful to have the patter of little feet in this house again.”

Daphne produced her phantom hanky and began to cry. Then she said, “Ya been like a mama to me. I love ya so much.”

That really got to Mrs. Douglas and she began to cry also.

I just stood there, like a bump on a log, not knowing what to do.

Major Mosby came to my rescue and stated out loud, “It would be a sin to let all these vittles get too cold. How about someone asking the prayer and let’s eat?”

For the first time I looked at the dining room table, it was laden with a huge amount of eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, and ham steaks.

Daphne reached out and grabbed my hand. She motioned for me to continue the gesture. I did so and each person grasped the hand of the person next to them until we had a completed chain of fellowship.

Mrs. Douglas looked at Major Mosby and asked, “Sir, would you return thanks for us?”

He nodded and said, “I’d be glad to.”

We all bowed our heads and Mosby prayed, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your gift of life and for the new life that we celebrate today.  Please bless this food so lovingly prepared and freely given.  Also please bless the families represented here and give them traveling mercies as they make their way back home. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen”

All of us repeated, “Amen.”

Then Willie Douglas added, “Bless the Lord and Holy Ghost and bless the one that eats the most. Amen”

This brought an abundance of laughter and a reprimand from Mrs. Douglas.

Then we lit into the vittles like a bunch of starving wolves.


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Civil War Transcendence, part 417

Taking my life in my hands, I admitted, “I went to Martinsburg to see about a place to house the spy we captured, and I ended up repulsing a Yankee patrol just north of here.”

Daphne’s eyes widened, and she seemed to have trouble comprehending what I had said. She stared at me for a moment, took a gulp and said, in a bewildered voice, “How did one lead to tha other?”

I offered, “Since it is a long story, and it is so late, why don’t we wait until tomorrow for me to explain?”

She gave me a knowing look and said, “And let ya come up with an outlandish story? Not on yar life, Jim Hager! Y’ar gonna come clean tonight!”

She grabbed me by the hand and hauled me into the left parlor. I thought that I would be given the Third Degree in private, but I wasn’t that lucky. Every person who had to endure her worry-wart ways over the last ten hours considered it their just compensation to have an explanation of what I had been up to; plus, if there was to be retribution carried out against me, they wanted to witness that, too.

Over the next hour, I was subjected to an interrogation that would have made Perry Mason proud. When she had extracted every detail of the day’s event, she looked at the collected audience and declared, “Do ya see what I have to contend with?”

Many muttered affirmative sounds came from what, for all practical purposes, was a jury impaneled to render a verdict of guilty that my actions had caused her excessive worry.

Finally, I had enough and abruptly stood up. All members of the ad hoc jury cringed when they saw my facial expression. I said in a very clear and distinct voice through gritted teeth, “I’m going to bed.”

Then I stormed out of the room.

As I climbed the stairs to our temporary bedroom, I heard Daphne enter the hallway and head up the stairs as fast as her 19th century accoutrements would allow, calling, “Wait on me Jim. Wait on me.”

I disregarded her voice and, once I had gotten to the second floor, went immediately to our room and shut the door.

She burst into the room a moment later and cried, “I was scared to death. I thought ya might have been killed. I’m sorry, but ya have been shot, hacked with a saber, and lord knows what else, while we were courting and since we been married. I’ve had to nurse ya back to health both times and it tears me up to see ya near death’s door. I died a little each time that ya have been hurt. Now we got a baby on the way, and I wonder if she will ever get to see her papa.”

You could have hit me with a sledgehammer and I don’t think I would have been anymore stunned. My jaw dropped open, and I gaped at her like a goofy goat.

She put her face in her hands and started crying into the phantom handkerchief which had suddenly appeared in her hands.

I stumbled toward her and took her in my arms.

She grasped me desperately and sobbed into my chest while I stroked her back and said, “There, there, liebschen. I’m not gonna get killed.”

Slowly I took her by the shoulders and moved her back so I held her at arms’ length, I asked with a big grin on my face, “We’re gonna have a baby?”

She smiled through the tears and said, “Uh Huh.”

I looked at the ceiling and shouted, “I’m gonna be a father.”

Daphne laughed despite herself and said, “Yeah, ya are.”

I pulled Daphne to me, picked her up and danced around the room with her in my grasp, yelling, “Wahoo! Wahoo!”

Daphne began to laugh, and we finally fell onto the bed.

I looked down at her and said, “I am so sorry that I have been so unthinking about what ya have had to deal with, in regards to my having been the subject of so much violence. I promise that I’ll do everything I can to stay out of harm’s way.”

She pulled me down to her and kissed me so passionately that I thought I was going to pass out from the loss of oxygen.

When we broke from the kiss, I suddenly asked, “How long have ya known?

She laughed and said, “Today was the first time that I was really sure.”

Then I got a puzzled look on my face and asked, “Ya said SHE while ago. How did ya know it’s gonna be a girl?”

Daphne took my face in her hands and said, “A mother just knows those things, ya big lug.”



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Civil War Transcendence, part 416


After a few minutes of blissful silence, I stirred and asked, “Major, may I have a few sheets of paper, a pen and some Ink? I need to write my report and have a copy sent to Major Murphy. I promised him I would send him a copy of my report by courier.”

Mosby looked at me for a long time, and breaking into a grin, said, “Y’all sound like ya want to get yar stories straight before they go to tha high brass.”

I grinned and replied, “Something like that.”

Mosby chucked and yelled, “Corporal, take Captain Hager to tha headquarters tent and provide him with writing material. Also, as soon as he is finished, bring his report to me for consideration.”

The Corporal immediately pulled a flap back on the tent and said, “Captain, if you will follow me, I will take ya to tha headquarters tent.”

I dutifully stood, saluted Major Mosby, who returned my salute, and followed the Corporal.

About an hour and a half later, the report was written, accepted by Mosby and sent by courier to Major Murphy at the Martinsburg garrison.

It was late at night before I mounted Stonewall and said, “Ferry Hill, old pal.”

He snorted, and we plodded our way to the Maryland Mansion and my beautiful bride.

I don’t know what time we reached Ferry Hill, because it was too dark to see the face of my pocket watch.  However, I was amazed that almost every light in the mansion was lit. I suddenly got a sinking feeling that I was in for one of Daphne’s famous tongue lashings.

As we neared the front of the manor house, I saw a figure sitting on the front porch steps smoking a pipe. He stood up when we came into view. I recognized John Lee and saw that he had a shotgun in his possession.

As we stopped in front of the estate, John Lee only shook his head and said, “I’m so glad that I’m not in yar shoes.”

I replied, “I’m afraid of what is waiting for me inside, but in my defense we did repulse a Yankee Patrol and killed, wounded or captured all of ‘em.”

John Lee just shook his head again and stated, “I da not think yar story will hold water with Ms. Daphne. She’s been worried sick ‘bout ya.”

I nodded and said, “I’m sorry ya had to wait up for me and Stonewall, but I really appreciate it.”

John Lee said, “Better give Stonewall to me, and I’ll takes care of ‘im. He looks like ya done worked ‘im to death.”

“We’ve traveled a long way and had many adventures today. That’s for certain,” I returned.

I dismounted and gave Stonewall’s reins to John Lee. Stonewall was too tire to even snort.

Then I muttered to myself, “Into tha valley of death rode tha six hundred.”

I mounted the porch steps and opened the front door of the mansion. As soon as I entered the house, Anna, who happened to be crossing the hallway from the left parlor to the right parlor, yelled, “He’s back.”

I stopped as both parlors emptied their occupants to view the prodigal son.

Daphne broke through the people in front of the left parlor and rushed toward me. She flew into my arms and gave me one of her crushing hugs.

Resting her head on my chest she said, “I was so scared that you had been waylaid. I’ve been out of my mind with worry.”

She let go of me, which allowed me to catch my breath, and backed up so she could look at me.

Then she asked in a perplexed voice, “Where have ya been?”





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Civil War Transcendence, part 415

It took us an hour to get the prisoners disarmed and their names copied plus interrogated.  We gleaned a lot of good information from the questioning.

Once this process was completed, the prisoners were utilized to dig graves for the Yanks and Rebs. We held a combined Union and Confederate service for the departed, culminating in the singing of ‘Rock of Ages’ by everyone present.

Sergeant Kirkland, being the best organizational whiz I had ever encountered, had all our horses ready for travel back to the Confederate camp near Shepherdstown. He also had borrowed some wagons from the local residents for transportation of our seriously wounded.

We bid farewell to Major Murphy and his men about dark and began our trek back to Shepherdstown.  It didn’t take us too long before we were back at the Confederate camp.

I was surprised to find Major Mosby when we arrived. He immediately ushered me and Sergeant Kirkland into his temporary headquarters tent for debriefing. I related the day’s operation and Sergeant added the portions that dealt with his actions.

As usual, Major Mosby didn’t interrupt our reports until we had conveyed all that we could remember about our mission.

When we were finished, the Major looked at the floor of the tent for a few moments and then, looking up at Kirkland and me, stated, “That was some good soldiering by both of you and Major Murphy. Y’all acted immediately to the Yankee threat, and not only shattered their mission, ya killed, wounded or captured their entire contingent. I’m gonna recommend both of ya for commendations to Colonel Daniels.”

I looked shocked at the Major’s declaration and turned to look at Kirkland. He was grinning from ear to ear.

I had to smile at his enthusiasm. I reasoned that this was his first engagement and he was proud of his success in ‘Seeing the Elephant’.

The Major stood and we followed suite. He extended his hand to Kirkland and said, “I will forward the necessary papers to Headquarters in Richmond to have you transferred to our regiment.” They shook hands and Mosby added, “If you will allow Captain Hager and me to have a brief conversation, you are dismissed.”

Then he bellowed, “Corporal, have a tent erected for Sergeant Kirkland.”

The Corporal yelled back, “At once, Major,” and scampered off to the quartermaster.

Sergeant Kirkland saluted and was beaming with a young man’s pride of having passed his first test of manhood.

Major Mosby returned the salute, and Kirkland vacated the tent.

Mosby sat down, waited a few moments for Kirkland to get out of earshot and asked, “How on the spur of the moment did ya happen to choose Kirkland to add to our flock?”

I chuckled and answered, “Let’s just say that I had an inclination that he was a soldier that we could count on.”

Mosby narrowed his gaze at me and stated, “Well, ya have good judgment of talent and character. I’m thinking of seeing if I can get Kirkland promoted to Lieutenant and made my second in command. I need a good organizer and fighter.”

I smiled and said, “Well, ya better keep him busy, because he was chomping at the bit to get into some fighting and away from the desk job he was assigned to. He is a natural born leader, and I think he already is viewed by the men with awe.”

“How so?” queried Mosby.

I related the incident of Kirkland’s taming of his horse, Rowdy.

This peaked Mosby’s interest and he said, “I would have enjoyed witnessing that feat. Thanks for adding that bit of information.”

We sat in awkward silence for a moment and then Mosby said, “Oh yes, I had a new telegraph machine delivered to me, and I had it connected to the lines at the old telegraph office in town. We found a trooper that had telegraph experience, and we are now in communication with Martinsburg, Harpers Ferry and Richmond. As a precaution, I have an armed guard stationed at the telegraph office at all times.”

I uttered with great exuberance, “Awesome!”

Mosby looked at me in surprise.

I quickly amended, “I mean, that’s wonderful”


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Civil War Transcendence, part 414

Being very hard pressed and outnumbered, my men were starting to fall back from our battle line when I heard a new sound. It was the thunder of horse hooves. It caught everyone’s attention. All fighting stopped as all eyes turned toward the new resonance.

Suddenly a whole line of Confederate cavalry broke from the woods to our rear and began to warble the Rebel Yell. The result of their appearance created a mixed bag of reactions. Some Yanks ran back across the road to the woods from which they had launched their attack. Others dropped their weapons and raised their hands in surrender. A few took potshots at our line of reinforcements and were soon either killed or wounded.

I saw Major Murphy as he rode by us and led his men into the trees after the retreating enemy. I heard some more firing and then silence ensued.

A few minutes passed before a gaggle of Yanks were herded from the woods into the dirt road that once was the no-man’s land between our opposing forces.

Sergeant Kirkland had almost immediately organized our men into parties that were disarming the surrendered Yanks, tending to the wounded, and gathering scattered weaponry.

When Major Murphy came across the road, I yelled at him and he directed his horse in my direction.  As he rode toward me, I saluted and declared, “Major, yar a sight for sore eyes.”

He returned my salute and stated, “I’m sorry, Captain, that it took so long to get here. We got on a wrong road for a while, but we picked up a guide, who directed us here. Ya’ve had a hard fight on yar hands this day.”

I smiled and replied, “But we got tha job done.”

He grinned and added, “That we did, Captain. That we did.”

In a curious vein I asked, “How many troopers did ya bring?”

“’bout forty,” he responded.

Pointing to the Yank’s woods, I inquired, “Did ya get all the Yanks that retreated in thar?”

“Yep, we did. There were a few that didn’t wanna give up, but they are now mortified souls and gone to meet their maker,” he told me.

“Then we’ve make a clean sweep of the whole Yank patrol,” I mused.

“I ‘pect we did,” he added thoughtfully.

“Whacha gonna do with the prisoners?” I asked.

“I’ll take ‘em and imprison them at our garrison until they can be exchanged,” he informed me.

I nodded and said, “I’m gonna transport my wounded and dead back to Shepherdstown. I’ll make my report to Major Mosby. Who is your immediate superior that ya’ll be reporting to?”

“Colonel Daniels at Harpers Ferry,” he stated.

I grinned and said, “I know tha Colonel very well. Why don’t cha let me write my report to Major Mosby and share it with ya? That way we can get the story of our mission straight before we submit them to our commanders.”

The Major smiled and said, “That sounds like a very good idea, Captain.”

I smiled and added, “I’ll write my report tonight and get it to ya tomorrow.”

The Major nodded and reached his hand down toward me. I immediately shook his hand. He added, “Captain, I asked for some action and you were Johnnie on the Spot with it. I ‘spect I’ll keep in touch with ya, ‘cause it seems fighting just follows ya around.”

I chuckled and said, “I’ve been told that on numerous occasions by my wife.”

The Major laughed and gave me a salute, which I returned. Then he rode off to tend to his men.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 413

The din from the fight Sergeant Kirkland’s men were putting up had grown to a crescendo and tapered off. Either our men had stopped the Yank’s flanking move, or they had been overrun. If it was the former, then we could probably be safe for a while. If it was the latter, we would be hit in our flank momentarily.

I ordered our men to reload their pistols, if they had any extra loaded cylinders, and to have their carbines loaded and within arm’s reach as a backup.  I gave them a few minutes and then crab-walked down the line to check each trooper’s weaponry. They had all complied and were ready for any more Yank advances.

There was a lull that hung over the skirmish lines for about thirty minutes.

Abruptly I heard a low voice from our rear say, “Capt’n don’t shoot. It’s me.”

I jerked around to see Sergeant Kirkland and four of his men crouching behind some trees to our rear. I motioned for them to come forward.

Once they joined our battle line, I said to Kirkland, “Report.”

He related, “Well, tha Yanks tried to outflank us and weren’t ‘specting us to have men to meet ‘em. We didn’t lose any men, and we took down two Yanks. They scurried back to a tree line east of here. Then they got word to bring about eight of their men to join back up with the main force facing you here. I thought we ought to get back here to reinforce ya, ‘cause I believe they’s gonna try to overrun us again. I left four men to protect our left flank, if’n they try another flank attack.”

As usual, I was in awe of Kirkland’s descriptions.

Finally, I asked, “How do ya know the Yanks were told to pull men out and send ‘em back to their main force?”

He gave me a baffled look and uttered, “I heard a messenger give tha sergeant in charge of tha flanking force orders to send some of his men back to tha Yanks confronting y’all. I also heard Yanks leaving their position.”

I didn’t have time to interrogate Kirkland further in regard to his keen sense of hearing. He had been right the last two times he had given me information, so I just nodded my head and said, “Tell yar troopers to use their pistols first when tha Yanks charge and then use their carbines.”

He nodded and scurried down the line to his four men to tell them which weapons to initially use in the upcoming attack.

Crouching close to the ground, I moved down our line and told the men to not return fire when the Yanks volley, but to shoot only when they come out of the tree line and head across the road.  Then I returned to my position to the far left of our line.

We didn’t have long to wait.

I heard someone utter, “Psst.”

I turned to look down our line of troops and saw Kirkland, who had stationed himself about midway of the line, pointing toward the tree line across the road. I immediately cocked the hammers on my pistols. The trooper next to me looked in my direction and followed suit.

Starting from my position in a chain reaction, troopers began cocking the hammers on their Colts.

The Yanks began by laying down a field of fire from the tree line across the road.

However, they made two mistakes. First, they used their carbines, which were one shot weapons. It took them a few seconds to reload. Second, we were ready for their initial volley by either hiding behind trees or sprawling on the ground.

The Yank attacking force surged across the road hoping to follow up on their volley fire. I straightened up to a kneeling position from having laid flat on the ground and began to fire one Colt at a time at the Yank line of battle. Everyone down the line began firing, also.

The Yanks weren’t ready for our sustained fire and began to take casualties. I saw five of their number go down, which staggered them. They halted for just a second and began to move forward again. Two more went down and then their line began to retreat.

However, the Yanks that had been their base of fire reinforced them and they surged forward again.

I ran out of bullets and didn’t have time to reload. A Yank suddenly appeared in front of me and swung the stock of his carbine in an arc to hit me in the face with a butt-stroke.

At the last second I took a step 90 degrees to my right. The Yank was right-handed and my movement took me to his left and out of range of his swing. Almost simultaneously, I brought the Colt in my right hand up and down on his head. There was a loud smack and the Yank fell face down on the ground. He was out like a light.

I turned to see what had befallen the rest of my men. A few were in hand to hand combat. Others were still firing at a gaggle of Yanks, who had stopped in the road.

Needless to say, we were in dire straits.



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