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[607]

Haskell explained that Fitz-Lee had sent in a report that he had found a road by which the army could escape, and that Longstreet had ordered him to overtake Lee, before he could send a note to Grant, and to kill his horse to do it. Longstreet, in his book, says that Haskell's arrival was too late, that the note had gone. But Humphreys's narrative shows that Col. Whittier, who took the note, witnessed Haskell's arrival before the note was finished. Lee, however, had not credited the report, and a later messenger soon came to say that the report was a mistake.

When Field's division had been halted by the flag of truce, Humphreys's corps was within a half-mile, and under his orders it soon appeared to be making preparation for a further advance. Field, meanwhile, went to intrenching. Grant had instructed Humphreys not to let the correspondence delay his movements.

In Longstreet's front Gordon had all the morning been engaged with Sheridan, and firing, both of musketry and artillery, was still in progress. Lee had at first neglected to give authority to ask for a truce, but later sent it to Gordon who sent Maj. Sims of Longstreet's staff to request one. Sims met Custer who had himself conducted to Gordon, and demanded the immediate and unconditional surrender of the army, which Gordon refused. Custer said: —

Sheridan directs me to say to you, General, if there is any hesitation about your surrender, that he has you surrounded and can annihilate your command in an hour.’

Gordon replied: —
‘There is a flag between Lee and Grant for the purpose of surrender, and if Gen. Sheridan decides to continue the fighting in the face of the flag of truce, the responsibility for the bloodshed will be his and not mine.’

On this, Gordon says, Custer rode off with Maj. Hunter of Gordon's staff, ‘asking to be guided to Longstreet's position.’ Finding Longstreet, he made the same demand for immediate and unconditional surrender. I have told of this scene elsewhere1 more at length, but did not know until the recent publication of Gordon's book, that it was Custer's second attempt that morning to secure the surrender of the army to himself. Longstreet

1 Century, April, 1903.

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