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[112] in the agony of hunger. These poor beings had painfully struggled to this narrow strip of dry land in their deluge of ruin, and now wet, exhausted and shivering, were still bearing themselves with fortitude in their forlorn plight. Hard must have been his heart who could push them back into the cruel waters. I do not envy that man, “despite his titles, power and pelf” who could find it in his nature to withhold from them pity and respect.

These refugees had brought with them whatever trifling remnant of their lost fortunes or mementoes of their loved homes they could manage to save from the wreck — jewelry, silver, pictures, and other heirlooms, silk dresses, valuable shawls and lace; in short, whatever had been saved and could be sold were disposed of to Jews and blockade-runners' agents, and the pittances thus realized sufficed to keep away actual starvation. Every house was packed to overflowing with occupants. To save these poor non-combatants from pillage (for no one, or very few, apprehended the utter destruction which it is since known was then deliberately planned,) it was determined to hold our ground as stoutly as possible against any attack that might be made. We were not kept long waiting, for soon some of the advancing columns of Sherman's army, with the remaining ones in supporting distance, were encountered. I am unable to give an accurate, technical account of the military operations, and therefore shall not make the attempt. I would say, however, that some rather tall fighting, in a smallish sort of way, took place, and that we made it as hot for them as our limited numbers would admit of. When did troops, who had had the proud honor of being a part of the army of Northern Virginia, ever fail to do their duty gaily when the grand thunder of battle pealed? When our beloved Lieutenant-General put himself at our head, his manly form dilated with enthusiasm, and his eyes flashing, and called, “Troops from Virginia, follow me!” I almost believe our horses would have charged riderless, and I know that his cavaliers would then as now, and always, follow him for life or for death. Soon, however, it became apparent that in spite of all efforts we could not for long withstand the overwhelming numbers against us. We checked them for a time, but retreat was unavoidable unless reinforcements could be sent us, which was impracticable. Oh! it was sad and humiliating for strong men to know that they must turn their backs upon the city and leave its helpless population to their fate, though the terrible doom awaiting them was not imagined. Our intrepid leader had blown in vain his last bugle-blast for the sorely needed succorers; he was forced to submit reluctantly to the inevitable.

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W. T. Sherman (1)
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