accompanied me a few hundred yards down the road.
As I started, our colonel said: “This is an important matter, and I hope you will succeed.
If you do, I will see that you have a furlough for as long a period as you wish.”
The officers soon left me, and the guide accompanied me half a mile further to where the road forked.
He indicated the route I should travel which was to the right, as we were going, and then telling me that the Federal
pickets were at a point half a mile beyond, he turned back.
By this time, it must have been nearly five o'clock.
To the normal human being in times of peace and quiet, the love of life is so natural and so strong that it is difficult to appreciate, until one has passed into and through it, that strange and unusual mental condition in which the value of existence becomes a minor consideration.
I look back upon this occasion as the one supreme moment when I came nearest to the elimination of every selfish consideration from the motive with which I was then actuated.
I do not overstate the case in saying that death was preferable to life with failure in the accomplishment of my errand.
I had determined, if halted, to ride over every obstacle at full speed, and not to fire my pistol unless in dire extremity, although I had taken it from the holster and had it cocked and ready for quick use. I was riding a splendid horse, strong, swift, and mettlesome, and so alert that nothing escaped his quick observation.
I have no means of knowing how far I had gone, probably half a mile or more, when suddenly I felt my horse check himself as if he were about to change his gait.
This movement told me that he had seen something more than the ordinary inanimate object.
At the same instant he lifted his head, and in such a knowing way, that I was convinced the moment had come, and that the Federal
outposts were here.
Without waiting to be halted, I tightened the reins, and crouching down close to the saddle and the horse's neck, touched him with the spurs, and