‘Well, then, as you have no need of my service, I believe I will go on, though I appreciate your kind attention and will not forget you.’
He replied: ‘Go on then, but you will be sorry that you did not remain with Mahone
The denouement, as we shall see later in my story, proved the wisdom of his words.
We went into camp that night about a mile from the courthouse, were undisturbed during the night, and rising early next morning I rode to the courthouse alone, to view the prospect and to receive my orders.
There I found, or rather just before reaching there, a bivouac of officers high in command, one or two generals amongst them, at breakfast around a fire, and I recognized Maj. Thos. Branch
, who introduced me to several officers whose names I do not remember, and who asked me to breakfast.
I politely declined this civility and made known to the major the object of my visit.
He could not tell me where General Lee
was or where or how I could get further instructions, but I was informed that the train, which, it was expected would be there with rations for the army, had gone on to Richmond
through some blunder of somebody, and that it would probably supply the Yankee
commissary instead of ours.
Worse than that, the railroad for a short distance beyond the courthouse was torn up and probably in the hands of the enemy, and that a fight was imminent and necessary if the army proposed to follow the left, the road parallel to the one on which my little cortege was resting on the right.
Indeed, some desultory firing just then began on the left, and there was a general move, the officers going forward and Major
B—— and I turning back to the road on which I had spent the night.
I found the road filled with a long line of quartermaster wagons, ambulances, stragglers, &c., and saw that they had been ordered to follow the same road, where there would probably be less interruption from the enemy.
I got my wagon, ambulance, buggy, &c., into line after some scrouging and swearing, and we took up our march, we scarcely knew whither.
Only those who have followed a large army can know how slowly and with how many halts, a wagon-train can move.
A broken axle or a balking horse can detain the whole line, as there is rarely afforded an opportunity for one wagon to turn out and pass another, indeed, the attempt is met with such a storm of obloquy and opprobrious language that one's nerves become demoralized, if nothing worse.
Being well mounted on a fine black mare, which I got from an