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Three desperate men.

The enemy's cavalry charged that part of the line where I stood three times. They were mounted, and we dismounted. A single, well-directed volley scattered them each time, but the second time [309] three Federal officers stood their ground, and attempted to cut their way out. We were not much more than a skirmish line, and here these three desperate men came down right amongst us, whilst our men were reloading, cutting and slashing with their sabres as they came. A sight so unusual puzzled our men at first, but soon finding these fellows to be in earnest, some one cried out, ‘Kill the d——d Yankees,’ and instantly the three men went down as if they had suddenly melted away. I remember seeing the dust fly from their coats behind as the bullets passed through their bodies. One of these officers proved to be General Theodore Read, of the Federal army, who was in command of the detachment. I have since learned, through a lawyer friend, Walter Sydnor, of Hanover county, Va., an interesting fact concerning this officer. He says that after the war he was a student at the University of Missouri, and there met Dr. Daniel Read, the father of General Read, an elegant old gentleman, who was then the president of that institution, and that the old gentleman blamed General Grant for the death of his son, and never forgave him. He told my friend that his son was on the staff of a corps commander under General Grant, and being yery young, and ambitious of distinction, but, having had little opportunity to distinguish himself on the staff, he begged to be given the command of that detachment, believing the war nearly over, and his opportunities almost gone, this, perhaps, was his last, as he thought. Grant yielded, and gave it to him. The old gentleman said Grant well knew that in so doing he was throwing his boy in the path of Lee's whole army, and that his chances of ever coming out alive were few; that as commanding officer, he should not have sacrificed the boy in that manner. He was very bitter towards Grant, says my friend.

It was a sad day for this ambitious youth when he sought distinction by throwing himself in the path of those harassed veterans of Lee, even though they were on the road to Appomattox. Those grim warriors of Brandy Station and Trevillian's little knew and little recked of this ambitious youth or his hopes. He had crossed the retreating lion's path and he must meet his doom.


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