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[503] place within the enemy's works, and showed no disposition to budge an inch, though the enemy was assaulting it with great vigor and resolution. Gillmore was of opinion, that if he held his end of the line firmly where it stood, the enemy would soon be forced to relinquish the advantage he had gained at the other end; especially as, in the meantime, Smith might make, as indeed he did make, the place too hot for him; insomuch that his very advantage was likely to become his adversity. Things standing thus, or moving thus, General Butler sent to Gillmore ordering him to withdraw. Gillmore was very reluctant to do this, as he saw in it nothing less than perdition to the whole enterprise; he, therefore, still lingered, hoping the commander would see cause to waive or suspend the order. But it was not long before a second and more peremptory message reached him, ordering him to retire immediately. This, of course, left him no choice; and he, therefore, withdrew slowly and in perfect order, bringing off everything except some of his killed, and took up a position on elevated ground, some three fourths of a mile this side of the place he had left. Here he effectually covered the retreat of the army, which was gradually withdrawn, and before sleeping-time all were back within their intrenchments at Bermuda Hundred.

Meanwhile, information came, by a Richmond paper, that General Kautz had succeeded perfectly in his undertaking, making havoc of the Danville railroad at a place called Coal Mines, and also blowing up the bridge over the Appomattox, an iron structure, upward of three hundred feet long. So that thus far the movement was a success, the enemy having been thoroughly occupied while Kautz did his work; which was doubtless one of the leading purposes of General Butler in ordering the advance. As to the rest, the movement was a failure, and a bad failure too, inasmuch as it put the enemy in full possession of the Richmond and Petersburg railroad, from which there seems little prospect of driving him again for the present. General Gillmore, and other pretty good military heads, thought at the time, as indeed they still think, that apart from the Commander's positive order, there was no necessity of leaving his position within the enemy's works — that those works might be held, and, with proper engineering, made effective against the fortifications of Drury's Bluff, which, no doubt, are the key to Richmond on this side, as the reduction of them would open the river to Admiral Lee.

For the last eight days, the army, when not at rest, has been mainly occupied in finishing up and enlarging the defences of this place. The principal work is a huge line of intrenchments, composed of earth and logs, and extending nearly from river to river, a distance of about three miles. Both ends of the line are covered by gunboats. The line is not far from six miles back of the landing-place called Bermuda Hundred, which is on the point of land formed by the junction of the James and Appomattox rivers, so that the space now occupied by the army is of a peninsular shape. Most of it is covered with thick woods, though we find here and there openings of considerable extent, which appear to be slovenly and lazily cultivated by a sort of third or fourth rate farmers, or, in the Virginia dialect, planters. I have made a little acquaintance with some of the natives. The first thing I learn from them generally is that they have a pedigree.

The railroad is about three miles in front of our main line of intrenchments; too far to be reached by our guns; besides, the woods are so thick that we cannot see it. The enemy have a considerable force in our front; how large I cannot say. Well, our intrenchments are pretty strong; so strong, indeed, that, well manned as they now are, I think we may safely laugh to scorn almost any force the enemy may pit directly against us, for the ground all along our front is anything but a lovely place to manoeuvre an army in. Some half a mile in advance of our breastworks we have a line of rifle-pits. The rebels have made several pretty fierce attempts to oust us from these and turn them against us. Last Friday morning they did force us from a considerable portion of them.

In the afternoon, Colonel Howell, a regular old war-horse, and one of the finest gentlemen you ever saw, who commands a brigade of General Terry's division, Tenth corps, was thrown against the intruders; and his brave boys soon cleared the rascals out. Several prisoners were taken, and among them Brigadier-General William S. Walker, of Mississippi, was brought in, badly wounded. I had an interview with him the next morning; found him a good-looking and well-spoken man; his age, I should think, about forty. He told me he was a nephew of Robert J. Walker, who was his guardian from the age of twelve years. He said that the day before he would have preferred to die, but that he felt much better now, as everything was done, that could be done, for his health and comfort.

I told General Walker that I believed there was no disposition among us to treat otherwise than with all kindness, any wounded and suffering man who might fall into our hands. His eyes filled with tears at these words. He told me he was a member of the Episcopal Church. When first taken, his behavior was rather savage and fierce, but when I saw him he was very gentle and subdued. I felt no little interest in him. His leg had been amputated, and he expressed himself confident he should recover. This, however, I understand, is rather doubtful. While talking with him, I could not help thinking whether he knew, what I had been well assured of, that right here, in several instances, the rebel bloodhounds had been seen murdering our wounded men whom they found lying helpless before them.

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Q. A. Gillmore (4)
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