officer, in which the former betrayed us, and the plan to capture the whole party, and having perfected his plans of escape, resolved to put them in execution that night, and, if possible, frustrate his designs by giving us information of his treachery.
After a hurried council of war it was decided that we should go back about a mile and find a hiding place in the woods, efface our tracks, and remain concealed, while Lieutenant Read
should make a reconnoissance to satisfy himself that things were as bad as had been reported, and if indeed we would have to return to Richmond
without accomplishing our object.
Accordingly we hitched up and filed out into the road and took it back, and when we thought we had gone a safe distance turned into the woods and camped—Read taking leave of us, disguised, and saying he would rejoin us the next day, when if he did not by sunset we were to conclude he was captured and make our way back to Richmond
The night passed drearily away, the weather being very cold and we afraid to make fires for fear of exposing our situation should they be already on the hunt for us, as we had no doubt they would be as soon as they discovered we were not going into their trap, and the following day, though but a short winter one, seemed endless, so great was our anxiety for our leader, who had thrust his head into the lion's jaws.
At length, about 4 P. M., Read made his appearance in camp, cool and collected as ever, and told us that what we had heard was true, and gave orders to hitch up, form line, and retreat.
The enemy's cavalry was already scouring the country in search us and every road of retreat was guarded.
We marched by night, avoiding main roads, and during the following day halted and concealed ourselves in the woods.
Headed off at one turn, we took another and pursued our way, resolved to sell our lives dearly, should the enemy fall upon us. Every path now seemed guarded, and our retreat apparently cut off, when an old gentleman in citizens clothes and a ‘stove-pipe,’ hat on, who had joined us as guide, determined to take us through the water of the Appomattox
, and thus ‘take roundings’ on them.
There was a horse-shoe bend in the river, which, by fording, we could pass through between their pickets and reach our picket-lines This was decided upon, and our guide lead off and marched us to the ford.
It was not a pleasant prospect, that of taking water with the thermometer hanging around freezing point, but it was better than falling in the hands of Yankees, so of the two evils we chose the least.
My teeth chatter yet to think of that cold wade through water waist deep, covered with a thin coat of ice, but we passed it successfully,