Had I known then, though, that which I discovered later on, that Mahone
's division was not between me and the enemy, I do not know that I should have dined with so much sang-froid, or tarried with my hospitable general so long.
It seems that sometime during the night Mahone
's division had passed my little party, and put us again, without my knowledge or consent, in its rear or between it and the enemy, reversing the position which had afforded us such satisfactory sense of security the day before.
, however, knew where his troops were and where the enemy was, and as soon as we had finished our dinner, he said: ‘It is time we were off.’
I rode with him leisurely for an hour or so, perhaps, before we came up with our men, talking more of the past, in which we had many pleasant things in common, than in the future in which neither of us saw much of promise, when he reined up his horse, and looking quietly and gravely at me, said: ‘Doctor
, what command are you attached to and what are you going to do?’
I told him that I was without any especial attachment, that I had received orders to proceed to Amelia Courthouse via Goode
's bridge, and to conduct a few surgeons and hospital attaches, and a wounded officer or two who came out of Petersburg
with me, to that point, where I would receive rations and transportation to some other point, I knew not where.
He said to me: ‘Take my advice, send your detachment along under one of your surgeons and stay with me. If any troops get out of this trouble, Mahone
's division will get out—it will get through.’
I looked back over the country which we had traversed, and there was a cloud of dust which could not have been made by our troops (for all of them had passed on), and some long blue lines could be seen in the far distance, and I asked the general what that meant.
‘Yankees,’ he said, ‘I suppose.’
‘We will have to stop here.’
The sun was about sinking down behind the high hills and dark pines that skirted them, and things looked very peaceful but for those blue lines which I felt boded no good.
And I had great confidence in Mahone
and his resources, and his men, scarred and bronzed in battle and campaign for four long years of war—I believed in him and I believed in them—but my little company had gone on, we could reach Amelia Courthouse that night or the next morning, there was no enemy in front that I knew of, and I thought I had better follow them.
So I said: ‘General, you have a very good surgeon on your staff, haven't you?’
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘there is Wood