upon the route of the infantry columns, delaying them for half a day at a time: so that, from this and other reasons, the march had to be mainly conducted by night, which added the want of rest to the sum of miseries accumulating fast and faster on the hapless host of fugitives.
Dark divisions, sinking in the woods for a few hours' repose, would hear suddenly the boom of hostile guns and the clatter of the hoofs of the ubiquitous cavalry, and they had to up and hasten off as fast as their wearied limbs would carry them.
Thus pressed upon on all sides, driven like sheep before prowling wolves, with blazing wagons in front and rear, amid hunger, fatigue, and sleeplessness, continuing day after day, they fared towards the setting sun—
Such resting found the soles of unblest feet!
V. Ultimo suspiro.
When, on the night of the 6th, the Army of Northern Virginia had put the Appomattox
between it and its pursuers, a group of the chief officers met around the bivouac-fire to take counsel together touching their fortunes.
alone was not of the number.
The result of the interchange of views was to reduce the possibilities of the situation to three lines of conduct.
1. To disband, allowing the troops to make their way as best they might to some fixed rallying point.
2. To abandon the trains and cut their way through the opposing lines.
3. To surrender.
But it was soon seen that, in reality, two of these courses were excluded.
To disband would be to give up all; for there was little likelihood that the troops could ever be rallied, while their dispersion over the country would necessarily entail unnumbered ills upon the inhabitants.
To cut their way through was more easy to talk about than to do;