John Sloper
35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry
July 14, 1863
Shenandoah Valley

White's Rebels crossed the Potomac on July 14. John Sloper exulted, "It feels good to be on our side of the river again!"

Pete Johnson shared the feeling. "Home!"

John pointed to the Blue Ridge Mountains. "Just the other side of the mountain." Folks sometimes referred to the Blue Ridge as one mountain. "I wish we were over there, protecting our county."

Pete concurred. "That's what I signed up for."

"That's what we all signed up for." Elijah White had recruited the boys as partisan rangers, to operate independently in one of the northernmost counties of Virginia - the border, the no-man's land, between Confederate and Union states. Just like John Singleton Mosby's rangers. But the damned government had designated White's men the 35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, and had ordered the unit to partake in military campaigns. Yet Mosby's 43rd Battalion was permitted to continue operating, essentially as partisan rangers, throughout northwestern Virginia. It wasn't fair.

Elijah V. White and J.E.B. Stuart

Now that the 35th Battalion was back in Virginia, Colonel Lige White immediately went to General Jeb Stuart and asked permission to cross the Blue Ridge Mountains and operate independently for a while in Loudoun County. Jeb permitted the plan. The Federals were moving south into Loudoun in order to flank the retreating Army of Northern Virginia's movements up the Shenandoah Valley. Resistance to the Yanks' advance sounded pretty good.

White's Rebels were ecstatic at the news. Finally, they were going to do what they'd signed up to do.

Lige set course for Castleman's Ferry, where they would cross the Shenandoah, from thence over the Blue Ridge at Snicker's Gap.

Pete Johnson pointed south. "On to Castleman's Ferry!"

Jim Tribby shouted, "Loudoun!"

John was grinning. "Home!"

* * *

© 2019 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be re-published without written permission of the author.