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Behind the lines before the burning.

While Sheridan occupied Harrisonburg, his wagon-trains and their escorts were constantly harrassed along the Valley pike by a small, impromptu troop led by the gallant Captain John Q. Winfield, of Broadway. This handful of men was composed of members of several cavalry commands, who happened to be on furlough or cut off by Sheridan's advance. Some of these were McNeill's men, a number of them were Linvill's Creek boys—the Pennybackers, Bowmans, Shoups, Sites, Showalter's, Houck's, of Harrisonburg; the Ackers, one of them being the stalwart Jake Acker, kindhearted and gentle and true, but when aroused, brave beyond prudence.

Rendezvousing always by appointment somewhere toward the Valley pike, they broke ranks every evening, and retired for the night about the mouth of Brock's Gap, out of the way of scouting parties of the enemy.

One day we hung on the flank of a wagon-train all the way from Mount Jackson up to Tenth Legion, but the train guard was strong and kept too well closed for assault. We usually had twenty-odd men. At another time we made a dash on a train and guard of apparently [99] two hundred men down the lane from the hill just west of Sparta—now Mauzy. The wagons, going northward, had just gone over the little eminence in the road at the place and were barely out of view as we struck the pike, most of the guard with them. We had miscalculated a little. Four men only were in Sparta. One was cut off by our movement and was now in our rear, the other three made haste to escape—were chased hotly to the brow of the little eminence, losing their hats in the close run, and as we drove yelling into full view of the train, seeing and hearing this confusion, the entire guard fell from their horses right and left and took to wagons and fences with their carbines to meet this sudden onset. Instanter we turn tail and back at full gallop to Lacy Spring, two miles distant. We were a mile away before, glancing backward, we could see any movement to find out where the Rebs had gone to. They then began to come back over the little eminence to Sparta. This prisoner rode with us to Brock's Gap. He evidently believed us bushwhackers. On the way he tremblingly asked if we were going to take his life. I told him we did not make war that way. He talked about his wife and children. We started him on foot through the mountains with the chance to escape. However, McNeill caught him over in Hardy and he was brought back after Sheridan's retreat and so got to Richmond after all. His horse was traded off to Dr. C. for ten gallons of apple brandy. A high, long, lean Rosinante of a horse he was—and a most unfortunate transaction it was, for while the brandy lasted the men refused to rendezvous for service.


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Philip Sheridan (3)
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