, about one hundred yards ahead of the wagon train; Crenshaw
, with his marines, about the same distance in rear of them, and Shippey
commanding the center, with the wagon train.
Fortunately we met no stragglers or foraging parties of the enemy, and were not disturbed, and after a good day's march, we bivouacked in good spirits and very tired.
The following day's march was without incident worthy of mention, an occasional false alarm or seeking the cover of woods to screen us from chance observers.
Indeed, we were out of the line of travel, the Federals
did all their business at City Point
, and there was little more to attract anyone to this part of the country than to the Siberian deserts.
During the night the weather turned very cold, and our poor, tired fellows lay close to the fires.
I have to laugh yet to think of poor Williamson
's sky-rocket feat.
He was lying close to a fire, and as I passed about midnight I saw that his coat-tail was on fire, and called him somewhat hurriedly from a sound sleep.
He started up and rushed wildly through the woods, the fiery tail streaming out behind, and for awhile all efforts to stop him were futile, but we finally succeeded in capturing him, extinguishing the fire with the loss of one skirt of his coat.
He afterwards cut off the other skirt and made it more uniform
The following morning we took up our march in the face of a storm of sleet, and we had to stop after a few hours, the sleet being so blinding that our mules could not make headway, besides the road being frozen and slippery.
We took shelter in an old deserted farm-house only a few miles from our rendezvous on the Blackwater
, once, doubtless, the happy home of some Southern family, now changed into the rude scenes of a soldiers' bivouac.
While resting and ‘thawing out’ here by the warmth of bright fires in big fireplaces, impatiently awaiting the breaking up of the storm and anxious to continue our journey, a young man in gray uniform came in and informed us that our plan had been betrayed and that Lewis
was at the ford to meet us, according to promise, but accompanied by a regiment of Federals lying in ambuscade and awaiting our arrival, when they were to give us a warm receiption.
Had it not been for the storm and our having to take shelter we would have marched into the net spread for us, and most likely all have been killed, or suffered such other worse
punishment as a court-martial should inflict.
This young man had been a prisoner of war at Fort Monroe
, and from his window heard the conversation between Lewis
and the Yankee