in the suburbs of the city—where a small force was drawn up, still ardent, hopeful, defiant, and saluting the shells, now bursting above them, with cheers and laughter.
It was plain that the fighting spirit of his ragged troops remained unbroken; and the shout of welcome with which they received him, indicated their unwavering confidence in him, despite the untoward condition of affairs.’
That Sunday night, the 2d of April, 1865, under cover of darkness, Lee
and turned the head of his army, along both banks of the Appomattox
, to Amelia Court House
, on the line of the Richmond & Danville railroad, which the officials of the Confederate government had passed over, late in the day, after General Lee
had telegraphed to President Davis
, when in church at Richmond
, near the middle of the day, that his lines were broken and he must evacuate Petersburg
The forces in front of Richmond
, under Ewell
, were called in and marched across the James
, by two roads, also toward Amelia Court House
, after unwisely setting fire to the storehouses of Richmond
and destroying, in conflagration, a large part of the city which for four long years army after army of invaders had tried in vain to capture.
The cheerfulness with which a veteran soldier accepts whatever the fortunes of war may bring him, was well illustrated by Lee
's soldiers in the beginning of this, their last march.
One of their comrades writes of them: ‘In excellent spirits, probably from the highly agreeable contrast of the budding April woods with the squalid trenches, and the long, unfelt joy of an unfettered march through the fields of spring.
shared this hopeful feeling in a very remarkable degree.
His expression was animated and buoyant; his seat in the saddle erect and commanding, and he seemed to look forward to assured success in the critical movement which he had now undertaken.’