hovering around as ill-omened birds of prey, awaiting their opportunity.
Within range of my eye, there were a great number of muskets stuck in the ground by the bayonets, whose owners, heart-sick and fainting of hunger and fatigue, had thrown them away, and gone, none knew whither.
God help the poor fellows and forgive them!
Four years of peril and fatigue and fighting had proved their mettle; but gaunt hunger had, at last, overcome their manhood, and they had scattered throughout the country, to any house or hut that promised a piece of bread.
I saw men whose rations for days had been corn, stolen from the horses' feed, and parched and munched as they retreated and fought.
I said to Colonel
P——: ‘Does General Lee
know how few of his soldiers are left, or to what extremities they are reduced?’
‘I do not believe that he does,’ was his reply.
‘Then whose business is it to tell him, if not his first Inspector's?’
‘I cannot,’ he replied, ‘I cannot.’
For the first time my faith and my fortitude failed me, and, choking with tears, I said to my little party: ‘I cannot see of what further use we can be here; let us push on ahead, may be we can get to Johnston
's army, may be, beyond the Mississippi
, some leader will raise the stars and bars, and liberty will find there a rallying point and a refuge!’
Comrades, my faith in the Confederate
cause was strong, and when the sun went down, a few hours later, behind the hills of the Appomattox
, I looked upon life as a bauble, and the only blessed ones those brave men who were sleeping in soldiers' graves without knowledge of defeat, without taste of the ignominy of walking under the victor's yoke.
As I rode along, classic readings, in the halcyon holidays of the happy past, haunted my memory, and I thought of Ulysses, after the siege of Troy
, wandering the world, a wrecked waif, and of Homer
Happy, thrice happy, who in battle slain,
Pressed in Atrides cause the Trojan plain.
had I died before that well fought wall,
Had some distinguished day renowned my fall,
Such as was that when showers of javelins sped,
From conquering Troy around Achilles' head.
. 5, verse 306.
And I thought of the grand epic, in the words of which I began this story, and of the laments of the unhappy Aeneas
and his song,