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[27] impressing officer who had taken her from a gentleman's farm near the Courthouse the day before and which was too high strung for artillery service, I rode leisurely up and down the long lines of wagons, meeting an acquaintance now and then, and exchanging views in reference to the situation. I soon became convinced that unless our pursuers were the most listless and unenterprising of men, our wagon, ambulance and baggage train would soon come to grief, and I determined to make my personal arrangements accordingly. Riding back some half mile along the line, I came to my party, and to the usual halt. Calling up Romulus, the colored boy who had been my house-servant and pet, the one whose mother had bade him ‘follow master to the end of the earth,’ I said: ‘Boy, no Yankee shall ever claim that he gave you your freedom. I will set you free right here.’ And getting down from my horse, I wrote his free-papers, gave him a knife as a memento of his master, such money as I could spare, and told him to stay with me as long as he found it agreeable and safe, but that when things became too hot to skedaddle in any direction which should prove the safest. He pocketed my bequests, but evidently thought the whole thing a good joke, and went back to his place in my buggy beside a young man named Venable, and J. V. Tucker, Esq., who was one of the attaches of the Confederate hospital that made up our little gang. In less than an hour Romulus and Venable and Tucker were all captured and in the hands of the enemy. But, I forestall my story.

Stopping just then on the road to talk to some friends who occupied that portion of the line, the wagons, &c., moved off, my party with them, and knowing that I could overtake them any time in five minutes, I loitered in good company half an hour, perhaps, and then rode on. I had gone not more than a mile when I came to an open place on the side of the road, where some one had camped the night before, and seeing some excellent forage left unused, I dismounted, took the bit out of my horse's mouth, and thought I would give her a square meal, as I did not know when or where she would get the next. She had hardly begun to eat when I heard some one cry, ‘The Yankees are coming,’ and saw a general rush, pell-mell, of teamsters and stragglers back to the rear. I remembered when I traded for my black mare the day before with Sergeant Harrison, the impressing officer, he told me that she was hard to bridle. I thought of this and looked down the road, where I saw coming up from a cross-road a few hundred yards away, a company of Yankee cavalry, apparently about fifty, and as they got into our

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W. H. Venable (2)
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