previous next

[357] in calm and stern repose, ready to die with their harness on, —warriors every inch, without fear, without stain. Around the little hamlet of Appomattox Courthouse is gathered the remnant of the Army of Northern Virginia,—less than 8,000 men with arms in their hands,--less than 27,000 all told, counting camp followers and stragglers; and around them in massive concentric lines the army of Grant, flushed with success and expectation—more than 80,000 strong upon the field, and with each hour bringing up re-inforcements. ‘The environed army, with a valor all Spartan, stand ready to die, not indeed in response to civic laws denying surrender, but obedient to the lofty impulse of honor.’ Can they cut through? Does the dream of a saved Confederacy yet beckon them on beyond the wall of steel and fire that girdles them? Can they find fighting ground in the Carolinas with Joseph E. Johnston, who, amongst the first to meet the foe, proves amongst the last to leave him? Can these dauntless foemen yet cleave a path to the inner country, and renew the unequal strife?

Not till that hope is tested will they yield!

As the day dawns, a remnant of the cavalry under Fitz. Lee is forming, and Gordon's infantry, scarce two thousand strong, are touching elbows for the last charge. Once more the thrilling rebel cheer rings through the Virginia woods, and with all their wonted fierceness they fall upon Sheridan's men. Ah! yes, victory still clings to the tattered battle-flags. Yes, the troopers of our gallant Fitz. are as dauntless as when they followed the plume of Stuart, ‘the flower of cavaliers.’ Yes, the matchless infantry of ‘tattered uniforms and bright muskets’ under Gordon, the brave, move with as swift, intrepid tread as when of old—Stonewall led the way. Soldiers of Manassas, of Richmond, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, of the Wilderness, of Spotsylvania, of Cold Harbor, of Petersburg—scarred and sinewy veterans of fifty fields, your glories are still about you, your manhood is triumphant still. Yes, the blue lines break before them; two cannon and many prisoners are taken, and for two miles they sweep the field towards Lynchburg—victors still!

But no, too late! too late! Behind the flying sabres and rifles of Sheridan rise the bayonets and frown the batteries of the Army of the James, under Ord—a solid phalanx stands right athwart the path of Fitz. Lee's and Gordon's men. Too late! the die is cast!

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
G. W. Gordon (3)
Sheridan (2)
Fitzhugh Lee (2)
J. E. B. Stuart (1)
Ord (1)
Joseph E. Johnston (1)
Frederick Grant (1)
Fitz (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: