Just then the cornstalks to either side of the road erupted
with a fiendish roar. A blunt volley of conical steel, emptying
saddles: Southern saddles. The bloodiness of the thing seemed
awful, splattering red spray, groans and thudding to the ground,
horses braying pitifully. Wheeler’s troopers eventually managed
to saw themselves around, flailing with sabers, pouring lead into
the thinning cornstalks and then tearing out and back the way
they’d come. Now it was their turn to seek the solace of friendly
lines. The roadway began erupting just as the rebel regiments
galloped back from the point of the ambuscade. Hanley’s field
pieces belching iron—explosions ripping up the road and the
adjoining corn fields, creating a protective curtain. Colonel
Wheeler drew back rearward, ensuring that his troopers had
all escaped, all except for those still laid out on the road or
amongst the brush. Falling back at length with his men, the
colonel periodically glanced back to see if their enemies were
pursuing—nothing so far. Briefly another rider drew up along
side. It was his begrimed adjutant general, Colonel McGuirk.
“Colonel Wheeler, we’ve lost the prisoners.”
“In all the confusion, Colonel, they skedaddled into the
“What of our causalities? How bad?”
“It could’ve been a lot worse, considering…maybe twenty.
Lieutenant Clanton was hit and is not expected to live.”
Wheeler’s adjutant general reported.
“Unfortunate for us; he was a good soldier, reliable.”
“The 3rd Alabama got hit the worst. Company “F’ lost ten or
twelve, including Captain Cathey.” Colonel McGuirk reported
hesitantly. Colonel Wheeler slumped, a painful expression
etched on his face.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, Sir; it was Cathey alright.