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Rosser to the front.

Swerving from our purpose, sweeping down from our wooded hilltop, straight over a road crossing our ridge, gobbling up a poor devil, who, unfortunately for him, happened to be crossing here; voices of men behind him; voices of men before him; on we fled up the companion peak, hustling our prisoner with us. This was near Trissel's church. Here a citizen, Tom Lambkin, recognized the prisoner as the man who just before had tried to burn his barn, but the women dissuaded him from it. We expect every moment to be discovered, as we are driven from pillow to post. We endeavored now to get to the mountain road. We are met by a volley and driven back. There is no way out—the enemy are on all roads. A long time we lay crouching in Limekiln Hollow, a narrow, deep ravine, often almost discovered by straggling horsemen driving cattle through the cedars on the steep hillside above us. At last, venturing southward, we rode, almost before we knew it, into Rosser's cavalry in full pursuit.

“Huzza for the Laurel Brigade!” we cried. ‘Huzza! Huzza!’

What did we do with our prisoner? We turned him over to Rosser's provost-marshal. A stolen horse he rode, leading his own, was afterwards restored to its owner, A. Showalter. Taking his carbine from him I handed it to Lieutenant Bradshaw, of McNeil's Rangers, who was with us that day without other weapon than his sword. The prisoner was killed next morning while trying to escape, I learned. He told me he was from Vermont, and had a wife and two children there.

Rosser's men were tired and the horses jaded from long marching. Lieutenant E. R. Neff and myself, separating from our little band (which never rendezvoused again), pushed our fresh horses on, passing the troops, passing our own Twelfth Cavalry, then halted in Horn's meadows, their horses biting the grass—passing everything in full trot to reach Coote's store, where firing was heard, and where we had friends for whom we felt concerned that day.

It was almost sunset. There lay then in the middle of the wide mountain road a mammoth stone, perhaps ten feet high and long and wide, a little south of Coote's store. The road divided, and a track ran on each side of this rough boulder, as the road descends here rapidly to the river a half mile distant. Trotting by this place we were called to halt by a small group of horsemen, and not noticing [102] them in our haste and their official stamp and bearing, we were called again in tones less mild, to ‘Halt.’

Asked who we were, my comrade N. answered, ‘I am one of Rosser's men.’

“Do you know me,” then inquired a tall, square-shouldered officer, sitting as if to rest a little on the very top of this great stone and lowering for a moment the glass with which he was scanning the river road intently for the retreating foe.

“I do not,” N. said. ‘Quite strange, sir, you are one of Rosser's men and do not know General Rosser,’ was the quick and sharp rejoinder.

It was explained that my comrade had left his company before General Rosser took command, and had been on detailed duty at Harrisonburg, and for myself, he remembered me.

Pointing out our destination just in front, N. added we had taken a barn-burner prisoner that day. It was an ill-considered speech, for our men were in no fine humor at Sheridan's wholesale wanton destruction of private property that day. On hearing this General Rosser became enraged and retorted, fiercely rising, ‘Sir, if you take a barn-burner prisoner, I'll take you.’

Further explanation, however, turned aside his anger. We were surrounded and well-nigh prisoners ourselves when we crossed this man.

Then finding we knew all this country, he desired us to make a scout that night to the enemy's rear, and report to him at that same stone at sunrise next morning. Custer had turned down the river at Cootes' store, leaving the mountain road. Would he continue down the Valley on one of the middle roads next day, or was he making for the Valley pike, to join the main force at New Market?

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