The doctor whispered to the apothecary, and his gesture dismissed those who stood around her waiting in silence.
Early in October the Union Cavalry began their favourite pastime of “chasing” Stuart. General Pleasanton with a small force and a horse battery began it, marching seventy-eight miles in twenty-four hours; but Stuart marched ninety in the same time. He had to.
About ten o’clock in the morning of October tenth, General Buford, chief of cavalry, set the 6th Pennsylvania Lancers galloping after Stuart. Part of the 1st Maine Cavalry joined the chase; but Stuart flourished his heels and cantered gaily into Pennsylvania to the amazement and horror of that great State, and to the unbounded mortification of the Union army. He had with him the 1st, 3d, 4th, 5th and 9th Virginia Cavalry; the 7th and 9th North Carolina, and two Legions; and after him went pelting the handful that McClellan could mount. A few tired troopers galloped up to Whitens Ford just as Stuart crossed in safety; and the gain of “chasing” Stuart was over. Never had the efficiency of the Union Cavalry been at such a low ebb; but it was low-water mark, indeed, and matters were destined to mend after a history of nearly two years of neglect, disorganisation, and misuse.
Bayard took over the cavalry south of Washington; Pleasanton collected the 6th Regulars, the 3d Indiana, the 8th New York, the 8th Pennsylvania, and the 8th Illinois, and started in to do mischief with brigade head-quarters in the saddle.
The 8th New York went with him, but the 8th New York Lancers, reorganising at Orange Hill, were ordered to recruit the depleted regiment to twelve companies.
In August, Berkley’s ragged blue and yellow jacket had been gaily embellished with brand-new sergeant’s chevrons; at the Stone Bridge where the infantry recoiled his troop passed over at a gallop.
The War Department, much edified, looked at the cavalry and began to like it. And it was ordered that every cavalry regiment be increased by two troops, L and M. Which liberality, in combination with Colonel Arran’s early reports concerning Berkley’s conduct, enabled the company tailor to sew a pair of lieutenant’s shoulder-straps on Berkley’s soiled jacket.
But there was more than that in store for him; it was all very well to authorise two new troops to a regiment, but another matter to recruit them.
Colonel Arran, from his convalescent couch in the North, wrote to Governor Morgan; and Berkley got his troop, and his orders to go to New York and recruit it. And by the same mail came the first letter Ailsa had been well enough to write him since her transfer North on the transport Long Branch.