A thousand incidents of daring and hardihood and a thousand scenes of exciting incident might be described.
The flash and roar of artillery, the terrible crash of the breech-loading carbines, the headlong charge and shout of armed men, the neighing of warhorses, the wild excitement of victory, the confusion of night fighting, the burning of military stores and store-houses, the building of bridges, the passage of rivers in the light of burning cotton bales and gin-houses, and last, though not least, the appealing faces of the colored people, who hailed the advancing Union cavalry with transports of delight, and whose eyes were blinded with tears as the hurrying squadrons passed into the darkness, not heeding their prayer to be led out of the land of bondage, all conspire to make this one of the most exciting campaigns of the entire war.
On the evening of the 11th day of April, while the cavalry corps was marching from Selma
, an officer of the advance guard sent in copies of the Montgomery
papers of the 6th and 7th, containing brief accounts of the operations of General Grant
, and from which, making allowance for rebel suppressions, it was supposed the Army of the Potomac had gained a decisive victory.
It was stated that Davis
and the rebel government had already gone to Danville
, but that their cause was not yet lost.
On the 14th and 15th information was received confirmatory of Lee
's defeat, and the evacuation of Richmond
It was also reported that Grant
was pressing the rebel army back upon Lynchburg
From these facts, together with the many rumors from all quarters, indicative of unusual excitement among the rebels, there was little room to doubt that they had met with a great disaster in Virginia
; but, as a matter of course, no definite or reliable information as to the extent of the disaster or the probable course that would be adopted by the rebel government could obtained.
It was assumed, however, that the rebel leaders would either endeavor to concentrate the remnant of their forces in North Carolina
, and make further head against our armies, or that they would disband and endeavor to save themselves by flight.
In either case it was clearly our duty to close in upon them by the line upon which we were moving, with the greatest possible rapidity, so as to join in the final and decisive struggle, assist in sweeping up the fragments of the wreck, and capture such important persons as might seek safety in flight.
Accordingly our march from Montgomery
, a distance of two hundred and thirty-five miles, including the passage of the Chattahoochee
and Flint rivers
, and the capture of the two fortified towns of Columbus
and West Point
, was made in less than six days. In