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[375]

But the end was approaching. In the Confederate Senate I remember listening to an animated discussion in regard to enlisting negro troops in the army.

It was urged by some of the senators that we should enlist and arm fifty thousand negroes, of course with a pledge of freedom.

I knew we could not possibly arm five thousand. The Ordnance Department was exhausted. One company of negroes was formed, and I witnessed the drill in the Capitol Square, but I understood as soon as they got their uniforms they vanished in one night.

As the spring of 1865 approached, the officers often discussed the situation. We knew that Lee's lines were stretched to breaking, we knew the exhausted condition of every department and we knew the end was near.

Sunday, April 2d, was a bright, beautiful spring day, and Richmond was assembled at church. I was at St. Paul's church, about four pews in front of me sat President Davis, and in a pew behind him General Gorgas, Chief of the Ordnance Department, and my chief. During service and before the sermon, the sexton of the church, a well-known individual in the city, stepped lightly forward, and touching Mr. Davis on the shoulder, whispered something to him.

Mr. Davis immediately arose and walked out of the church with a calm expression, yet causing some little excitement. In a moment the sexton came back and called out General Gorgas. I confess I was made extremely uneasy, and was reflecting on the probable cause, when, being touched on the shoulder, and looking around, the sexton whispered to me that a messenger from the War Department awaited me at the door.

I instantly felt the end had come.

I was ordered to report to the War Department, where I soon learned General Lee had telegraphed that his line was broken and could not be repaired, and that the city must be evacuated at 12 o'clock that night.

I was ordered to remove the stores of the arsenal, as far as could be done, to Lynchburg, and was informed that the President and chief officials would proceed to Danville, and the line be reestab-lished between Danville and Lynchburg.

I immediately had the canal-boats of the city taken possession of, and began to load them as rapidly as possible with machiney, tools, stores, etc., to be carried to Lynchburg.

As a large supply of prepared ammunition could not be taken, I

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