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[269] often felt at the loss of some noble comrade whose life blood had gone forth for the cause we were defending upon the other. Leaving Lynchburg for Charlottesville and standing on the platform of the car and looking toward the hills of Appomattox, the scenes of the ‘surrender of Lee to Grant’ April 9, 1865, came vividly to mind. For a long time forgotten as a dream, they reappeared with lifelike freshness.

That was a panorama to stir the soul to its deepest depths. Lee, with his grand army of Northern Virginia reduced to about 8,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry and artillery, hungry almost to famishing, having been for days without rations, ill clad but resolute to the last, on that Sunday morning that will be immortal in history, found the army of General Grant (numbering about 100,000) investing every road near us, leaving only surrender or inevitable destruction. The smoke of battle drifted away, the booming guns were hushed. White flags of truce appeared.

Along the road which our line of battle crossed, while our men were resting on the ground, General Lee rode forth with some members of his staff, passing our command—the Second Georgia battalion—and it was whispered along the line, ‘our grand old hero has gone to the front to make terms for our surrender.’ Doubt, sadness, gloom, settled upon our hearts.

Two hours, perhaps, or more and our General came riding slowly back. Soon as he reached our line, many of the soldiers gathered about him, and eager inquiries from numbers of them came, ‘General, are we surrendered?’

The answer seemed to give him pain. ‘Yes, my men, you are surrendered. The odds against us was too great. I would not lead you into fruitless slaughter. Private property will be respected; officers will retain their side arms and horses. All will be paroled and transported to your homes, and may you find your families and loved ones well. Good-bye, my men, good-bye.’ With tears flowing down his face, and dropping his bridle reins on his horse's neck, shaking hands right and left, he rode out from our midst, and the face of one of the grandest heroes of all time we never saw again. Old soldiers, battle-scarred by many fields of blood and carnage, dropped on the ground and wept.

May the patriotism, self-sacrifice, toil and blood, so nobly lavished by both sides in that fearful war, become the common heritage of a united, just, generous, and noble people.


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