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[454]

An incident of Lee's surrender.

Colonel William W. Blackford, of the First Regiment of Engineer Troops, Army of Northern Virginia (formerly a member of the staff of General J. E. B. Stuart), furnishes us with the following account of a scene witnessed by him on the 9th April, 1865:

During a large part of the day of the surrender at Appomattox, General Lee and his staff remained in an apple orchard near the village. The road from this orchard to army headquarters lay through a little valley, and upon the hills on either side a considerable portion of our forces were encamped.

After arranging the details of the surrender, Lee mounted his horse to return to his quarters. Always an imposing figure, his appearance that day was particularly noble and striking in the full-dress uniform he had put on, with sword and sash. He rode his favorite horse, Traveller, a superb iron gray, so well-known in the army, and his seat in the saddle was the perfection of firmness and manly grace.

One of Traveller's peculiarities was, that when the troops cheered his master, as they invariably did when he passed, the animal appeared to appreciate the compliment, as paid in part to himself, and would toss his head at every shout. The men relished the joke so much that they sometimes repeated their cheers to see the horse ‘bow’ to them, as they called it. Upon this occasion, when their great commander appeared, the men came running down to the road along which he was approaching, and the writer, seeing that something of interest was about to happen, mounted his horse and followed. In a few moments a wall of men had formed on each side of the road as far as the eye could reach. At first they began cheering as he passed, and Traveller tossed his head at almost every step, but presently sobs mingled with the cheers, and, before half the distance was passed, choked all other utterance.

Taking off their hats reverently, they abandoned all attempt at control over their feelings, and grim, bearded veterans wept aloud. General officers, who had followed the men to the road, sat their horses, hat in hand, with tears streaming from their eyes. Many words of affection and sympathy were heard. One man, extending both arms with an impressive gesture, said, ‘I love you just as well as ever, General Lee.’ After he had passed, many, throwing themselves on the ground, covered their faces and cried like children.

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Appomattox (Virginia, United States) (1)

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Stephen D. Lee (4)
J. E. B. Stuart (1)
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April 9th, 1865 AD (1)
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