near Mount Jackson
, far in advance of his troop, he was mortally wounded by a shot from the rear.
This is believed to have been accidental, though it has been charged that the shot was from a recent recruit, and in revenge for some incident of company life.
The famous captain died at Harrisonburg
a few weeks later.
His son, Lieut. Jesse C. McNeill
, succeeded to the command, but on account of his youth General Early
hesitated to give him full control.
Chafing under this lack of confidence, young McNeill
was anxious for some opportunity to display his daring, and finally it was presented.
The adventure which he proposed in February, 1865, was no less than to enter the town of Cumberland
, on the Potomac
, and Baltimore & Ohio railroad, pass unchallenged through the garrison of 6,000 or 8,000 soldiers, and make prisoners Gens. George Crook
and B. F. Kelley
. Comrade J. B. Fay
, of Maryland
, had proposed such a scheme to the elder McNeill
, and he took part in the planning of the expedition.
was a native of Cumberland
, and several times during the war had entered it, even remaining at one time in safety an entire week.
On account of his well-known courage and discretion, it was agreed that he should reconnoiter, ascertain the location of pickets, the sleeping apartments of the generals, and gain all other information necessary to success.
A lad from Missouri
, C. R. Hallar
, a member of the Rangers, whose coolness and courage had been often tested, accompanied Fay
, and without loss of time the north side of the Potomac
was reached, friends were found and interviewed, the situation around Cumberland
ascertained, and when the night of this adventure ended the two bold Confederates were safely away near Romney
, enjoying breakfast with their friend, Vanse Herriot.
had been engaged during this time in selecting and preparing 25 men, well mounted and armed, whom he moved slowly toward the Potomac