July 20, 1863
Paris, Virginia

John Sloper
35th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry

White's battalion had ridden east through Ashby's Gap and as the unit passed through Paris towards Upperville, the Union force could be seen.

"There they are."

"That is a passel of bluebellies."

"Wagon trains?"

Captain Myers was using his binoculars. "Too well guarded."

"So what can we do for fun?"

Lige White: "We can let'em know we're here. Forward!"

White's men rode toward the approaching blue horde. Nearing the forward skirmishers, White led by example, pulling a revolver and opening fire. The 35th let loose with their best "wild Indian" whoops as they fired upon the bluecoats. One Yankee was killed. The skirmishers returned fire. John heard a bullet whizz by uncomfortably close.

"Yankee cavalry comin'."

Lige White: "That will do for the time being. Back to the gap, boys."

Having demonstrated its presence, the unit retreated back through Paris to Ashby's Gap, there to maintain a watch on the Federal advance, looking for opportunities for more mischief.

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Nathan Bradley
130th New York Infantry

The boys in Nathan's platoon became quite animated and vocal when they beheld a band of graycoats charge upon the skirmishers like wild Indians.

"Look, see those rebel horsemen?"

"Yes! See how they ride!"

"That's the way to fight a war!"

Pointing away: "Look, there's some of our boys!"

"Cavalry! Hurrah!"

"When we get our horses, that will be us!"

"You boys may disagree, but those rebel cavalrymen made a much more dashing impression."

"One of'em had a plume in his hat."

"How very Ivanhoe."

"No, more like Three Musketeers."

A snort. "Southerners."

"Looked like one of their horses had a Union saddle blanket on."

"Thieving guerilla bushwhackers."

"Well, we will out-dash and out-ride those, yes, those thieving rebel guerilla bushwhackers!"

"You can have your dash. Hell, you can have mine, too. I just wanna ride. I am sick and tired of this foot marching business."

This last sentiment was well received all around. But Uncle Nathan had misgivings....

Sergeant Nathan Bradley was having, shall we say, a bad crotch day. Actually, one bad crotch day in a string of bad crotch days. He still suffered aftereffects from the surgeon's treatment for his gonorrhea. His urethra and bladder still felt raw from the silver nitrate. That treatment had cleared the symptoms in his urinary tract, but the disease was still in him, and continuing to evince itself in uncomfortable ways. His left testicle still hurt; not as badly as it had early in the morning, but boy, had it hurt like the dickens then. As he looked at the rebel cavalrymen galloping away, he imagined himself trying to ride with sore balls. He couldn't help but wonder if the regiment's conversion to cavalry might create a whole new world of hurt for him. He remembered the adage: "Be careful what you wish for, for you might get it."

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Francis and Harrison Howe
141st New York Infantry

Farther back in the march were the Howe boys (brother and uncle of Lottie Howe, George's friend in Caton). They never saw or heard a thing of White's demonstration.

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