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The last battle of the war.

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat publishes an interview with a Mr. W. C. West, which is headed, ‘The Last Shot of the War.’ The gist of the interview is as follows:

‘I know that the late General Kirby Smith fired the last shot in defence of the Confederate flag. I participated in the matter referred to—on the Federal side—which was fought at Palmetto Ranch, Resca Chica, Texas, near the mouth of the Rio Grande, May 13, 1865. On the day of the battle General Smith had retreated to the Texas line, with a force of 600 cavalry and some light artillery. Colonel Barrett, [227] of the Thirty-fourth Indiana Infantry, assisted by four companies of the Sixty-second United States Colored Infantry, attacked the Confederates. The result was a defeat for the Union forces, and the last battle was not a victory for the Union, as has been generally reported. Colonel Barrett could not rout the Confederate cavalry, protected as they were by six-pounders, and they were compelled to retreat to the cover of the siege guns, which were at Brazos Santiago.’

This interview is reprinted in the Montgomery Advertiser in May, 1893, and other Southern papers, and is apt, therefore, to go the rounds unquestioned. Mr. West does not assert that he saw General Smith fire the ‘last shot,’ but he knows it. Unfortuately for that knowledge he is mistaken, for the reason that General Smith was not in that battle. The Confederate forces were under command of General James E. Slaughter, who was postmaster at Mobile a few years ago, and now lives in Washington. General Slaughter has always claimed that he fought the last battle of the war. He says of it:

‘I commanded at the last battle, and captured as many Federals as I had Confederate soldiers. I had heard of General Lee's surrender and did not want to fight, but as the enemy advanced upon my forces I attacked and routed them. After the battle I told my prisoners they were at liberty to return to Brazos, Santiago, or go with me to Brownsville, and they elected to accompany me. I had regular rolls made of my prisoners, and sent them back on a steamer. I really did not consider them as captives, as we passed a very pleasant time together.’

General Slaughter claimed, moreover, that when the fighting was all done, every command but his had surrendered, and he had no superior officer and no government. He was for the time being an absolute monarch—lord of all he surveyed. He learned that General Smith had surrendered on May 26, 1865, but his situation was such that there was no one to whom to surrender; and, besides, he had on hand a large body of Federal prisoners, the number being equal to his own force. The locality and the circumstances forbade disbandment, and so he held his forces together for a week or more, until opportunity offered for laying down his arms at Brownsville, Texas. At that time he issued the following order:

‘Soldiers, the war is over. Go home and try and make as good citizens as you have soldiers. And do more. I hope that the result will prove that our enemies were right and we were wrong.’

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