order to cover the widest possible front of operations, and to obtain such information in regard to hostile movements as might enable us to act advisedly, detachments were sent off to the right and left of the main column, scouting in all directions.
, we were arrested by the armistice concluded between Generals Sherman
, though not till after the city had fallen into our possession.
During my conference with Generals Cobb
and G. W. Smith
, on the evening of the 20th of April, I received conclusive information in regard to Lee
's surrender, and the course of events in Virginia
The commanding officer
of our advanced guard, moving rapidly, had taken possession of this place, and after securing his prisoners, had confined the generals in a building occupied by them as headquarters.
On my arrival, late at night, at the place where the leading officers were confined, General Cobb
protested in the strongest manner against his capture, claiming the protection of the alleged armistice.
For reasons not necessary to recapitulate here, I declined to entertain this protest, and decided to hold him and his command as prisoners of war; but remarked, “If an armistice is in force, there must be some reason for it, and I can imagine none which will justify it except the capture or destruction of Lee
This remark drawing out no reply, I asked squarely if Lee
still declined to answer, whereupon I turned to G. W. Smith
, a graduate of West Point
, and formerly in the regular army, and repeated the question, remarking that my future course would depend materially upon his reply.
also hesitated, but seeing that it was wiser to be frank, he acknowledged that Lee
's army had been defeated and compelled to surrender.
I replied at once, “If that is the case, every man killed hereafter is a man murdered,” adding, “I shall govern my command in accordance with this principle, and shall wait here a reasonable time for specific orders from General Sherman
, in a subsequent conversation with me, remarked that the relations established at West Point
seemed to be like those of Free Masonry, adding, “When you asked me if Lee
had surrendered, I stood silent, and no consideration could have induced me to confirm your suspicions in reference to that matter; but when you turned to General Smith
with the same question, he answered frankly and without hesitation, telling you the whole truth as clearly and without equivocation as if he had been under oath.”
It must be remembered, however, that Cobb
was a politician and the other a soldier.
The situation of my command was peculiar.
Originally organized as a corps under General Sherman
, the commanding general