railway is located at Jetersville, and with it the control of Lee's line of communication with Johnston's army. The crossing of the Appomattox having been effected and the bridges destroyed, the Engineer troops moved on to Amelia Courthouse on April 5th, where they overtook the main body of the army, which was soon after in motion westward from that point, without the rations which should have been there, and not in the direction originally contemplated by General Lee, but towards Amelia Springs, the road to which crossed Flat creek some miles north of Jetersville, which by that time was in possession of the enemy. Soon after leaving Amelia Courthouse we received orders from General Lee to move rapidly ahead, and on arrival at the crossing of Flat creek we found that the county road bridge over that stream had given way, so that neither artillery nor wagons could cross it. General Lee was himself on the ground, and evidently considered the situation critical enough to require his personal attention. He explained his anxiety by saying that General Stuart had captured a dispatch from General Grant to General Ord, who was at Jetersville, ordering an attack early the next morning, and did not leave until he was assured that material for a new bridge was close at hand. [Major Robert W. Hunter, ‘Secretary of Military Records for Virginia,’ in a communication in the Times-Dispatch of January 8, 1905, gives a more definite account of this dispatch:
The dispatch referred to was taken by General Gordon's orders from a ‘Jessie Scout,’ who, with the dispatch concealed in the lining of his coat, had boldly ridden to the head of Gordon's column, representing himself and companion as soldiers of General Fitz Lee's cavalry returning from furlough and wishing to be informed as to the location of their command. The circumstances which aroused suspicion and led to their capture are given with appropriate accuracy by General Gordon in his ‘Reminiscences,’ pages 424-428. The captives expected to be executed as spies, but naturally preferred to be shot instead of being hung. Desiring to avoid the useless sacrifice of life, General Gordon with General Lee's concurrence, awaited developments, and the spies were held as prisoners until the surrender, when they were delivered with other prisoners to the Union forces.