ch were now concentrated upon the narrow path.
The darkness of the night at last put an end to the conflict, and we found ourselves with small loss masters of the situation against vastly superior numbers.
Early on the morning of the 25th the contest was renewed, and for several hours we had very hot work, until about eleven A. M. we were relieved by our infantry, and enabled to take some rest from our exhausting duties.
During the afternoon I received from Fitz Lee's Quartermaster, Major Mason, as a mount for my negro servant William, an excellent grey mule, which was among our captures at Catlett's Station, and will often be mentioned in succeeding portions of this narrative.
It will be recollected that some of the spolia opima of Catlett's Station were greenbacks and gold.
As these were contained in solid iron safes, of which the key had been lost, it was not the easiest matter in the world to get at them.
It was thought, however, a profitable employment of our earliest le
d, and especially Fitz Lee's brigade, had suffered severely from the continuous marching and fighting we had undergone, from the inclement wintry weather, and from scarcity of food.
Many of our horses had been killed, and many more, broken down or lame, could only be led along.
All the sick and disabled men, making up a body of nearly 500 non-combatants, were formed together into a corps which was jokingly called Company Q, and had been put in charge of Fitz Lee's gallant quartermaster, Major Mason.
I felt no little anxiety until I saw the last of this large squad of limping men, leading crippled horses, safely on the other side of the river.
I had often to urge the stragglers along by saying, The Yankees are close upon you, when they lingered to pluck the fruit of the numerous persimmon trees on either side of the road-fruit which the recent frosts had brought plentifully to perfection, and which furnished a welcome though meagre repast of our famished troopers.