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[557] follow, and, if Grant directed his march so as to put his forces between Danville and those of Lee, it was quite possible for him to effect it. This was done, and thus Lee was prevented from carrying out his original purpose, and directed his march toward Lynchburg. The enemy, having first placed himself across the route to Danville, at Jetersville, subsequently took up the line of Lee's retreat. His large force of cavalry, and the exhausted condition of the horses of our small number of that arm, gave the pursuing foe a very great advantage; worn and reduced in numbers as Lee's army was, however, the spirit it had always shown flashed out whenever it was pressed. A division would turn upon a corps and drive it; General Fitzhugh Lee, the worthy successor of the immortal Stuart, with a brigade of our emaciated cavalry, would drive a division of their pursuers. These scenes were repeatedly enacted during the long march from Petersburg to Appomattox Courthouse, and have been so vividly and fully described by others that I will pass to the closing event.

Lee had never contemplated surrender. He had, long before, in language similar to that employed by Washington during the Revolution, expressed to me the belief that in the mountains of Virginia he could carry on the war for twenty years, and, in directing his march toward Lynchburg, it may well be that as an alternative he hoped to reach those mountains and, with the advantage which the topography would give, yet to baffle the hosts which were following him. On the evening of the 8th General Lee decided, after conference with his corps commanders, that he would advance the next morning beyond Appomattox Courthouse, and if the force reported to be there should prove to be only Sheridan's cavalry, to disperse it and continue the march toward Lynchburg; if infantry should be found in large force, however, the attempt to break through it was not to be made, and the correspondence which General Grant had initiated on the previous day should be reopened by a flag, with propositions for an interview to arrange the terms of capitulation. Gordon, whose corps formed the rear guard from Petersburg, and who had fought daily for the protection of the trains, had now been transferred to the front. On the next morning, before daylight, Lee sent Colonel Venable, one of his staff, to Gordon, commanding the advance, to learn his opinion as to the chances of a successful attack, to which Gordon replied, ‘My old corps is reduced to a frazzle, and, unless I am supported by Longstreet heavily, I do not think we can do anything more.’ When Colonel Venable returned with this answer to General Lee, he said, ‘Then there is nothing left me but to go and see General Grant.’

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