Civil War Transcendence, part 412


Riding and fighting had resulted in our battle line formation going to heck in a handbasket.

I yelled at the top of my voice, “Follow me,” and headed for a road due north and east of the pond. Coming to a small tree line on the other side of the road, I ordered, “Dismount. Secure your mounts, draw carbines and form battle line.”

The men dismounted, but didn’t draw carbines nor secure their mounts. So I had added a little oomph to my orders by yelling, “Tha next man that doesn’t obey orders is going to be court-martialed! Now listen to me!”

That got their attention, and they quickly tied their mounts to trees away from the prying eyes of the Yankees, drew their carbines and formed battle line in the small tree line.

I responded, “That’s more like it.”

I swiftly counted off the number of our troopers. There were twenty of us, counting me and Sergeant Kirkland. Our force and the Yanks were about even in numbers.

I looked for Sergeant Kirkland and saw him lined up about the middle of our battle line. I nudged the trooper next to me and said, “Pass it down tha line for Sergeant Kirkland to report to me.”

Dutifully, the trooper passed on the message and abruptly Kirkland dropped to a knee beside me. I had been kneeling and trying to see where the Yanks were located, but to no avail.

Turning to Kirkland, I said, “We need to keep tha Yanks engaged until Major Murphy arrives, but I don’t know where tha Yanks are.”

Kirkland responded, “Oh, they’re over in tha tree line. One bunch of them has set up a base of fire and another is moving to flank us on our left.”

I looked at Kirkland as if I had seen a ghost.

He grinned and said, “Captain, if’n ya will hold this position, I’ll take eight men and stop thar flanking force.”

It was all I could do in my shocked state to nod my head in abeyance.

Kirkland turned to the men and said in a low voice, “The next eight men in line follow me. The rest of you men join up with the Captain.”

Kirkland moved off toward our east and his designated eight men followed.

The rest of the men moved to where I was kneeling.  I motioned for them to look at me and said, “Tha Yanks are moving toward us. We must hold this position at all costs. We don’t want to let tha Yanks get our horses, plus we want to protect Sergeant Kirkland’s flank.”

Just about that time bullets began to fly from the woods south of the road and hit around us. The trooper next to me yelled and fell dead at my feet. Rage filled my heart to see one of my men killed by these invaders.

I yelled, “Open fire,” and began to shoot my pistol at the smoke created by the Yank volley.  I quickly emptied my pistol and reached for my second Colt.

At that time a Yank force began to cross the road toward our position.

I stood up next to the tree I had been kneeling behind and fired my Colt as fast as I could at the advancing horde. My men were also peppering the Yanks with fire from their carbines.

Four Yanks went down, and the rest of their number retreated into the trees from whence they came. Two of the Yanks weren’t moving, but two were dragging bloody legs as they crawled back to their line.

I looked down my line of troops and counted the number still standing. Another of my men was lying on the ground, but was being attended by his fellow troopers.  I moved in a crouch along our line and reiterated to each trooper, “If’n they charge again, use yar pistol first until it’s empty. Then use yar carbine.”

They all nodded they understood. When I got to the downed trooper, I stopped and viewed his wound. He had been shot in the fleshy part of his shoulder. It had bled a lot but the bullet hadn’t hit an artery. By the time I had gotten to him, his fellow troopers had staunched the bleeding and had the wound bandaged.

I asked the wounded man, “How ya doing?”

“Tolerable well, Capt’n,” he answered. Then pointing toward the road with his good arm, he boasted, “One of them Yanks out thar in tha road is my doing.”

I smiled and said, “Good job.”

He grinned back.

Suddenly there was a clash of arms to our east. Kirkland and his men had made contact with the Yank flanking force.


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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.





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Civil War Transcendence, part 410


Once mounted, Kirkland turned to me and said, “I guess I gotta new horse.”

I grinned at him and said, “No doubt, and ya definitely earned it.”

I thought for a moment and asked him, “Whatcha gonna call ‘im?”

He looked at me for a moment, as if he were lost in thought, and said, “I guess I’ll call ‘im, Rowdy ‘cause he’s so cantankerous.”

I chuckled and returned, “Sounds like a good name for ‘im.”

The Confederate guards were still cheering Sergeant Kirkland. I guessed that they would be embellishing Kirkland’s handling of Rowdy around the campfire tonight.

I raised my hand to bring their praise to a halt. They began to quiet down just as we heard a sound like thunder from the C&O Canal path. Momentarily, twenty troopers came riding into view with the sergeant, who had promised to gather a cavalry unit, in the lead.

The sergeant brought his contingent to a halt in front of me and saluted. I returned his salute.

He declared, “Sah, Sergeant Williams reporting with twenty troopers.”

I smiled and said, “Good job sergeant. Ya will be in command of tha troop. I will be tha overall commander and (inclining my head toward Kirkland) Sergeant Kirkland will be tha second in command.”

I continued, “Sergeant Williams, are ya familiar with tha area north of Shepherdstown?”

Before he could answer Sergeant Kirkland piped up, “I am, sah. I know tha area from here to Williamsport like tha back of my hand.”

I turned to Kirkland and said, “Major Murphy and I believe a Yank patrol is scouting north of Shepherdstown to find a way to attack tha town.”

“Do ya know where tha Yanks are now?” Kirkland asked.

“No, but I bet they’re close to tha northern part of tha town by now,” I replied.

“Well, they must’ve come down on Scrabble Road, which will feed into Shepherd Grade Road, north of town,” he speculated.

I thought for a moment and declared, “Then we’ll have to hold them up long enough for Major Murphy to hit ‘em in tha rear. Sergeant Kirkland, lead us to tha road that tha Yanks would probably take, if’n they was to proceed into Shepherdstown.”

“Yes, sah,” Kirkland returned and then shouted, “Follow me.”

Kirkland nudged his new cayuse, and the animal took off like a whirlwind. Not to be out done, Stonewall did the same. It was all I could do to stay in the saddle.  As Sergeant Kirkland directed his cayuse through the less traveled back streets of Shepherdstown, Rowdy and Stonewall competed for the lead of the pack. I had never seen Stonewall act the way he did. It seemed as if the two stallions were vying for the privilege of being the Alpha of the horses.

We left the twenty troopers in our dust as our chargers raced north toward the outskirts of town.

Once we began to see just a few scattered homes and a lot of fields, Sergeant Kirkland brought Rowdy to a lope, then a trot, and finally, a walk. Stonewall matched Rowdy’s gait step for step.

We proceeded at this pace for a few minutes. Kirkland kept looking over his shoulder for the rest of our party to catch up.  After a few minutes the twenty troopers came into view and quickly joined up with us.

When the troopers were again aligned in a column of twos, Kirkland looked back at the pack and put his forefinger to his lips. The silent order was handed down the line for everyone to be quiet.

We proceeded in this discreet manner for about one hundred yards. This allowed the horses to get their breath back plus Kirkland seemed to be constantly turning his head from side to side, as if he was trying to hear a specific sound.

We continued for about another 150 yards when, suddenly, Kirkland stopped and turned to me. He gave me a ‘come hither’ movement of his hand. So, I maneuvered Stonewall close to him and leaned so we could whisper to each other.

“The Yanks are up ahead. They’ve probably split up and are traveling parallel roads that head toward tha Potomac River. Although both roads dead-end before they reach tha river, I believe they’re trying to find a suitable place to land troops from troop barges coming down tha Potomac River,” whispered Kirkland.

I looked at him for a long moment and returned in a low voice, “How’d ya come to that conclusion?

He shrugged and whispered, “It’d be what I’d do, if’n I wanted to attack Shepherdstown from tha north.”

I gazed at him for another long moment and then asked, “How do ya know they’re up ahead?”

He looked at me with a frown and replied, “I can hear ‘em. Can’t ya?”

I gave him a perplexed expression and then shook my head that I couldn’t.

He nodded and whispered, “Believe me Captain. They’re up there.”

I looked at him for a long time. I took in every body, facial and eye nuisance that he emitted. Finally, I said, “How close are tha two roads to each other?”

“About one hundred yards, when they branch off the road we are on, but the distance between ‘em widens out tha closer they get to tha Potomac,” he whispered.

“Take us to the southernmost road that they are on,” I commanded.

Kirkland smiled at me, and turning back to the troops, motioned for them to follow him.



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Civil War Transcendence, part 409


Stonewall must have a very strong heart because he kept up a steady pace of loping about two miles, and then walking about half a mile, all the way to Shepherdstown.

Sergeant Kirkland’s cayuse wasn’t used to this kind of pace and fell behind. I couldn’t wait on him. I had to get to Shepherdstown, round up as many cavalrymen as possible, and head north to hit the Yank reconnaissance unit.

We rode into town, and proceeding down German Street, I went straight to the guards who were on duty at the Potomac Bridge. Yelling like a banshee, I had every soldier scurrying toward me to see what in tarnation was going on.

Seeing a sergeant on duty that appeared to be the Sergeant of the Guard, I pointed at him and commanded, “Sergeant, I need a contingent of thirty men with two pistols and a carbine ready to ride north in fifteen minutes. There is a Yank Patrol that has crossed the Potomac near Williamsport, and they’re headed this way.”

Ruins of the bridge over the Potomac at Shepherdstown

The sergeant looked at me like I had lost my mind. Finally, I yelled at the top of my voice, “Move, or I’ll get someone that will follow orders to take yar place.”

That little soliloquy, which was paraphrased from an old movie, motivated the sergeant to get a move on. He yelled for the corporal of the guard to take over the bridge guard and ran for his horse. He literally jumped into his saddle, saluted me and yelled, “Sah, I’ll have ya as many men as I can gather from our camp in ten minutes.”

He headed his mount toward the guard camp and tore across the bridge toward the C&O canal path.

I grinned and turned just in time to see Sergeant Kirkland ride toward us. His horse was really huffing and puffing when he came to a halt in front of me. He saluted, and once I returned his salute, I asked, “How many pistols do ya have?”

“Just one, sah,” he replied.

I turned to two guards that were assigned to the bridge and motioned them over to me.

They saluted and I returned the salute. (I was really getting tired of all this military falderal.) Reaching my hand toward them, I said, “Give me yar pistols. My Sergeant is gonna need ‘em on this little foray we’re going on.”

Reluctantly they handed me their two pistols, which I took. Turning to Kirkland I handed him the pistols and said, “Ya’ll need these.”

He gathered them from me and was trying to decide where to put them when I opened my coat, and he saw three pistols stuck in my belt. He took the hint and, throwing military protocol to the winds, stuck the pistols in his belt. He looked up, and I gave him a big grin. He grinned back and we both chuckled.

Kirkland’s horse was still breathing pretty heavily. Apparently our little seventeen mile ride from Martinsburg had just about done in his cayuse.  I turned to one of the guards and said, “Give Sergeant Kirkland yar horse. He’s gonna be gallivanting all over the region, and I don’t think his mount is up to it.”

The guard pointed to a brown horse that was tied to a tree on the road into Shepherdstown and said, “He’s yars if’n ya kin make him mind.”

Kirkland dismounted and took his horse to the where the other horse was tied up. He tied his horse up and walked to where his supposed new mount was positioned. I looked closer at the brown horse and saw that it had white stockings on all four legs and was rather a beautiful animal. However, it laid its ears back when Kirkland got close to it. I was wondering if he noticed.

Abruptly the horse pulled its reins loose from the tree and lunged at Kirkland. I was amazed at how quickly the sergeant responded. He stepped to the side and slapped the attacking animal on the nose. It must have been very hard blow, because the horse squealed and danced around shaking its head.

However, Kirkland wasn’t through with his new mount. He ran at the horse, draped his right arm over the horse’s neck, and acting like a yoke, he pulled the horse’s head down. Then he grabbed the left ear of the horse with his left hand, and pulling it toward him, bit down on the horse’s ear.

My eyes nearly popped out of my head with this last maneuver.

The horse immediately stopped all his whinnying, jumping around and trying to rear up. Letting go with his teeth, Kirkland held on to the horse’s ear and said something to his new mount. Then he let go of the horse in stages to see if the cayuse was going to be tame.

The horse didn’t move so Kirkland mounted without any mishap.

Suddenly a cheer went up from the guards on the bridge. I even joined in. It was the greatest job of taming a horse I had ever seen.

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Civil War Transcendence, part 408


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.”

Battle of Shepherdstown

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.





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Civil War Transcendence, part 407

Major Murphy abruptly stood and ordered the sergeant, “Bring tha person reporting of tha Yankee patrol here to my office. Then, go get my horse saddled. Have tha first five squads draw four loaded pistols and a carbine with twenty rounds. Be ready to ride in thirty minutes.”

The sergeant just stood looking at the Major with a dazed expression.

The Major declared, “I mean now, sergeant.”

The Major’s added impetus broke the sergeant’s trance. He saluted the Major and said, “Yes, sah. Right away, sah!” Then he hurried out of the room.

The peril of the enemy presence awoke the old Indian Fighter mentality in the Major. His transition from a bored bureaucrat to a man of action was a beautiful thing to behold. His eyes gleamed with the promise of a combat. His backbone straightened. His facial expression became hawkish in nature. His persona shouted to all the soldiers around him, “I am your leader. Follow me.”

Almost immediately, an older civilian was ushered into the Major’s office by the sergeant, who introduced the man to the Major. “Major, this is Mr. Williams from Williamsport, Maryland. He has information ya might want to hear.”

The Major turned to Mr. Williams, extended his hand and said, “Sah, we are grateful to you for bringing us word of a Yankee foray into our area. Can ya tell me about how many men ya saw in tha Yankee patrol?”

Mr. Williams shook the Major’s hand and stated, “Yes sah. There were about twenty-five of ‘em that crossed tha low water ford at Williamsport. I happened to be on tha west side of tha Potomac, and was headed for tha ford, when they rode by and crossed tha river in front of me. They were out of sight in just a few minutes and headed inland toward Falling Waters, Virginny.”

The Major listened intently to all of Mr. Williams information and then asked, “On yar way here, did ya see tha Yank patrol again?”

“Naw,” Mr. Williams replied, but then added, “But when I got to Falling Waters, I asked a man on tha main road through town if’n he’d seen any Yanks in tha area. He told me that he hadn’t.”

The Major thought a moment and, offering his hand, said, “Thank ya so much for yar information Mr. Williams. It means a great deal to us, and we really appreciated it.”

Mr. Williams shook the Major’s hand and was ushered out of the Major’s office.

Major Murphy looked at me and said, “The Yanks either went west or east. I doubt they would come south. Twenty-five men aren’t enough to attack our garrison.”

I nodded and said, “They’re on a reconnaissance mission. If they went east, they’re headed due north of Shepherdstown and surveying tha best way to invade tha town from tha north. If they went west, they probably will be skirting Martinsburg, and then swinging east toward Harper Ferry, to check out tha roads leading into that garrison. If I were a betting man, I wager they’re checking out the roads north of Shepherdstown. We’ve been hit three times in tha last four months. I believe they want to take over the town. It is as strategic point in the area.”

The Major nodded and said, “Well in that case, I’m gonna take my men east and try to herd tha Yanks south. Can ya get together a force that can come north? We can get ‘em in a pincher move and really hurt ‘em?”

I nodded at the Major and stated, “I’ll get some kind of a force together to act as tha anvil to yar hammer.”

The Major grinned from ear to ear. I gave him a snappy salute, which he returned and left his office on the run. I exited the building via the back door and yelled, “Stonewall!”

He came galloping around the side of the building and stopped abruptly in front of me. I mounted, and challenging fate, I uttered, “Take us home by tha shortest and fastest way.”

There was no delay in his movement. He immediately took off toward Martinsburg. As usual, I had to grab hold of the saddle’s pommel to keep from being thrown off the back of my cayuse. I just hoped that putting my trust in this animal was the right thing to do.









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Civil War Transcendence, part 406

United States Military Academy at West Point


We proceeded into the Major’s office, and he immediately called for his sergeant.

When his NCO arrived, he said, “Prepare orders for Sergeant Richard Kirkland to be transferred to tha Third Virginia Cavalry and to report to Captain Jim Hager forth with.”

The sergeant just stood and gawked at the Major until he said, “Do it now.”

Quickly the sergeant saluted and said, “Yes sah. Right away sah.” Then he left the room in a blur.

The Major and I smiled at the sergeant’s reaction. No doubt the rumors would be flying once the sergeant had a chance to tell all his buddies the local gossip from the Major’s office.

Once peace and quiet was again restored, I asked, “Were ya ever at West Point?”

The Major grinned and said, “Does it show that bad?”

I answered, “I wasn’t trying to demean ya. It’s just that yar bearing conveys that of a leader.”

The Major gave me a sarcastic grin.

To which I responded, “I mean it. When I first saw ya, I thought West Point. Ya have that type of impression. I truly meant it as a compliment.”

The Major blushed and said, “Thank ya for tha commendation. However, I haven’t had a chance to exercise any leadership qualities in this base. That’s why I wanted to get into some action and do fighting.”

I returned, “Don’t worry. There will be enough action for all of us. This war isn’t gonna be over any time soon.”

Major Murphy rejoined, “I hope yar right.”

To change the subject I asked, “Speaking of bearing, who’s tha lieutenant that’s in command of yar post in Martinsburg?”

The Major sighed and said, “That’s Lieutenant Ames. His father is on tha Staff of General Jackson. His father got him a commission, and I had to put him in charge of some detail just to get him out of my hair.”

I nodded my head in understanding.

The Major got a worried look on his face and asked, “Did he give ya any problems?”

I chuckled and answered, “No. I asked him about yar brig, and he said I would have to have orders from my commander to obtain a cell for my prisoner.”

The Major laughed and said, “I can believe he would have made that requirement. He really doesn’t know how to grease tha wheels to make tha wagon move smoothly. I learned how to get things done while serving out west.”

I perked up at that bit of information and queried, “Where were ya out west?”

He began, “I got a commission in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry, once I had graduated from West Point. It was a newly created unit. We were sent west, by boat and train, to St. Louis. Then we traveled southwest, by horseback, across Missouri and parts of Arkansas into west Texas. I was assigned to Camp Cooper.”

“We had many skirmishes with tha Commanche tribes. Our biggest fight was in 1857 with a combined Commanche and Apache force at Devil’s River. We were commanded by Lieutenant John Bell Hood, who is now General Hood. Our force won and we had a reprieve for some time from incursions by tha hostiles.”

“I was a young second Lieutenant and, in 1858, was transferred to California. When tha war started, I resigned my commission and came back east to offer my services to my state of Virginia. I was given a commission as a Major and assigned to Richmond as a staff officer of General Joseph Johnston. About a month ago, I was given command of this backwater post. I’ve been trying to find a way to get in tha fight ever since I came back east.”

I looked intently at the Major and prophesied, “Major, I think ya will have all yar wishes for action granted.”

He looked at me and said, “I surely hope so.”

About that time the Major’s NCO rushed into the room and trumpeted, “There’s a Yankee patrol been sighted across tha Potomac River from Williamsport. A local citizen saw them and came into tha post to report it.”

I looked at the Major, smiled and quipped, “See what I mean.”






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Civil War Transcendence, part 405


The sergeant returned in a jiffy, ushered me into Major Murphy’s office, and left us posthaste.  I removed my hat, came to attention and saluted the major.

The Major was impressed that a person of my supposed covert nature would pay him such respect. He heartily returned my salute and motioned for me to take a chair located across from his desk.

We eyeballed each other for a few seconds, and I was able to attain a first impression of the Major, based upon his physical appearance and bearing.

He was about five feet, ten inches tall and thin. His uniform fit him like a glove. He couldn’t have weighed more than 150 pounds. He had a full head of hair that was jet black, and I placed his age at twenty-nine. He sat very rigidly in his chair, and his focus on me was intense. His face showed the signs of maturity beyond his years. I guessed he might have been a West Point Cadet at one time. His hawk-like nose and deep set eyes gave me the impression of a wizard from one of my favorite sci-fi movies. His uniform had yellow piping, which indicated this was a cavalry garrison.

Finally, he spoke, “What may I do for ya, Lieutenant?”

I paused before I answered, “We’ve caught a spy in Shepherdstown and don’t have a place to put him. I wanted to have him closer than Harpers Ferry so that we could interrogate him without having to travel too far. I understand that ya have a brig, and I’m here to ask if we may use it.”

The Major looked at me like an eagle getting ready to swoop down and claw me with his talons.

I kept my eyes locked with his, but without any hostility.

Suddenly, he stood and said, “If ya would follow me Lieutenant, we will inspect tha brig.”

I stood, and he ushered me out of his office and down the hall to a back door. His sergeant followed us down the hall, but the Major said, “We will be back in a few minutes. Ya need to remain here and take care of tha office”

The Sergeant saluted and said, “Yes sah.”

The Major returned the salute, and we stepped out into the space behind his office that I decided acted as a drill field.  Once outside, he pointed at a building about fifty yards ahead. He directed me behind his office and began walking toward the brig.

I followed.

After about twenty paces, he said, “We’ve heard rumors about yar exploits both in Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown, Pleasant Valley, and tha attack on Fredrick City. I understand that ya and Major Mosby have worked in close contact over tha last few months during all these combats. Why do ya still refer to yarself as a Lieutenant? I understand that yar a Captain.”

I was shocked that he knew my real rank and didn’t know how to answer for a few seconds, but then I explained, “I guess I didn’t really think I had earned it.”

The Major stopped, turned and looked at me as if I had just grown horns out of my forehead.

I stopped also and met his gaze. What I said was the truth. I had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and had survived. I wasn’t brave or courageous. I was cursed.

He just shook his head and started walking again. His whole demeanor changed after our little exchange. He didn’t have the chip on his shoulder anymore. He had let down the walls that he had erected between us.

As we came close to the brig, he said, “Well Captain, ya are welcome to use tha brig, and if there’s any way I can help ya in tha future, please let me know.”

I stopped and turned to look at the Major, and extending my hand, said, “Thank ya so much, Major, for yar cooperation. I really appreciate it.”

We shook hands as colleagues and, I might say, as friends.

We took a look at the brig, which was very clean. It consisted of two jail cells with a hall between the cells. There were no windows and each cell had one bunkbed.

As we exited the brig, I said, “Major Murphy, there’s one thing that would help me immensely. May I have one of yar sergeants assigned to me and act as liaison between our units?”

The Major clasped his hands behind his back and bent over slightly as we ambled back to his office. At length he asked, “Who do ya have in mind?”

“I was wondering if I we could have Sergeant Richard Kirkland to act as our go-between?” I replied.

The Major thought for a moment and said, “Only if ya will let me work with ya in tha area. We replaced tha company that was here and was part of yar fights in Pleasant Valley and Fredrick City. We haven’t seen any fighting, and we’re aching to see combat.”

I turned to the Major and responded, “I’d definitely appreciate yar help in combatting tha Yanks in this area. I believe Major Mosby would be inclined to include ya in any of our missions. I will talk to him about it.”

The Major smiled from ear to ear and declared, “Then ya can have Sergeant Kirkland.”






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Civil War Transcendence, part 404


Stonewall snorted at my last statement and turned to look back at me, as if asking, “What now?”

I quickly said, “We need to go to the Martinsburg garrison.”

Stonewall nodded his head up and down. Then he trotted north out of town on the road that ran in front of the outpost.

I had to look at him in bewilderment and ask myself, “How’d he know to go north?”

Finally, I just quit speculating, sat back in the saddle, and let Stonewall dictate the route.

About thirty minutes later, the outline of the garrison appeared in the distance. As we approached the encampment, I could see a cluster of buildings, tents and a corral of horses. The entire layout of the camp was open. It must have covered about four acres. There were no walls, but guards appeared to be on patrol in many areas.

I picked out the biggest building and said to Stonewall, “Go straight ahead to the building in front of you.”  Believe it or not, he headed us to the aforementioned structure.

Of course, there was the ever-present guard station between us and what I hoped was the garrison’s telegraph office.

Right on cue, the guard stopped his marching, faced me, came to Port Arms and ordered, “Halt! Who goes there?”

Stonewall stopped without me telling him to, and I answered, “Lieutenant Hager to see the Garrison Commander.”

The guard immediately yelled out, “Sergeant of the guard. Post one.”

In a nearby tent, I heard rustling, as if someone was getting out of a cot and getting dressed. Momentarily a sergeant emerged from the tent fully dressed and walked toward us.

Since I wasn’t in uniform, he didn’t salute when he came to where Stonewall and I were located. The Sergeant looked us up and down. Then he asked the guard, “Why did ya call me?”

The guard inclined his head toward me and responded, “Lieutenant Hager wants to see Major Murphy.”

The sergeant jerked his head toward me and gave me a withering glare. Whereupon he sarcastically asked, “Why aren’t ya in uniform, Lieutenant?”

I smiled, dismounted Stonewall, walked to where I was about a foot in front of the sergeant, and looking him straight in the eye, said in a calm voice, “That’s none of yar business, Sergeant. Now do I get to see tha Garrison Commander or do I tell Major Mosby that ya have interrupted my mission, which he has specifically ordered me to conclude on his behalf?”

Bullies are so predictable.  The sergeant was completely taken back by my blunt and forceful elocution. He backed up and turned red in the face.

I kept looking at him without blinking, just daring him to give me anymore grief. I had, just about, had enough from the Martinsburg garrison personnel.

The sergeant turned to the guard, who was trying not to smile, and said, “Take this person to headquarters to see if he is who he says he is.”

Then he turned and went back into his tent.

The guard grinned at me, saluted, and pointing at the largest building in the encampment, said, “Lieutenant Hager, Major Murphy’s office is in that building.”

I returned his salute, mounted Stonewall, and rode to the indicated structure.

Once in front of the building, I dismounted and let Stonewall go. He immediately went to the nearest patch of green grass and began to grab a bite to eat. I entered the building and was stopped by another sergeant, who said, “What cha want?”

“If it isn’t too much trouble, I would like to speak with Major Murphy?” I said in a slow deep Southern accent.

I happened to have let my coat come unbuttoned, and when the sergeant saw the two Colts in my belt, he gaped at me with fear and trepidation.

I looked down to where his gaze was fixed on my pistols, and for some reason had the impulse to say, “My name is Lieutenant Hager of the Confederate Secret Service and I need to see Major Murphy on a matter of national security.”

The sergeant gulped, stood, saluted and promised, “I’ll get him immediately, sah.”

Then he briskly walked to the end of the hall, and after knocking on the door, entered the lair of the head honcho of Martinsburg Garrison.

I had to duck my head and put my hand over my face to keep from laughing out loud. For once in my life, bureaucracy had been thwarted and made a fool of at the same time.






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Civil War Transcendence, part 403

The lieutenant nodded so hard he looked like a bobble-headed doll. Then he uttered, “Yes, sir, I can keep a secret.”

I crossed my legs and placed my hat on my knee.

“Well, Lieutenant,” I began, “I have a conundrum.”

“We’ve caught a spy in Shepherdstown, and we’re so close to Maryland that there is the possibility of a Yankee raid to free him. What we need is a place we can jail him that is a little farther inland from the Potomac. Do you have any kind of prison or jail that is available?”

If I had stunned the lieutenant before, it was nothing compared to the shock that I now bestowed on him. He looked at me for a few moments before he cleared his throat and rasped, “Yes sir. We have a stockade that we can put the spy in. It is empty at this time, but we can provide guards as needed.”

I smiled broadly and said, “That’s wonderful. When can we bring him here for imprisonment?”

“Well, sir, we would have to have orders allowing us to provide for the spy’s imprisonment,” he intoned in the haughty voice of a true bureaucrat.

I sighed and said, “Is your telegraph still operating?”

He nodded and replied, “Yes, it is.”

“Well, direct me to it. I need to contact Major Mosby to get ya tha orders ya need,” I stated.

He gulped and said, “Our telegraph office is at our main camp on tha north edge of town. It is where tha stockade is located also.”

“How far is it from this outpost?” I questioned.

“About a mile. Take tha road out front and follow it north. You can’t miss it,” he responded.

I picked up my hat, uncrossed my legs and stood up. The lieutenant followed suit.

I extended my hand and the lieutenant shook it in a soft grip, which was reminiscent of woman’s grasp.

Then he saluted, and I returned his salute. I turned and left the officer’s quarters without looking back.

As I walked past the sergeant’s desk, he looked up at me with an appealing glance, rose from his chair and saluted. I returned his salute. Then looking surreptitiously toward the lieutenant’s office, he motioned outside.

We walked out the door together onto the small porch. Abruptly, he turned to me and asked, “Captain, if there is any way ya could see yar way to lettin’ me join yar unit, I would appreciate it.”

I looked at him for a long moment and queried, “Why?”

He looked back toward the building and said, “I’m sick of being a nursemaid. I want to be a part of tha action.”

“If’n ya join me, ya could get yarself quickly and permanently dead. The hours are long, and the risks are many. My people are fighters and we protect each other,” I stated.

“I know Cap’n. I heared of all the scraps y’all have been in. I’m from this part of Virginny, and I know people and places that can help ya. What do ya say?” he asked like a true salesman.

“Let me think it over. I promise I will get back to ya one way or the other,” I promised. By the way, what’s yar name?” I questioned.

“It’s Richard Kirkland,” he stated.

My eyes nearly bulged out of my head. I took a gulp and mumbled to myself, “You aren’t supposed to be here.”

Kirkland inclined his head toward me, thinking I had said something to him, and asked, “I’m sorry sir, but I didn’t hear what ya said.”

I snapped out of my mental stupor and said, “Sergeant, you will definitely be hearing from me.”

He grinned from ear to ear and gave me a snappy salute. Then he walked back into the outpost.

I returned his salute and staggered down the steps to the road. Stonewall suddenly appeared in front of me, and in a trance, I mounted.

Stonewall just stood there waiting for my instructions. I looked back at the outpost and muttered, “Well, old friend. Looks like we are gonna be getting another member added to our band of brothers. Little did I know that tha Angel of Marye’s Heights was from Virginia in this universe.”


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