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[71] troops were drawn up in line across the road to offer some resistance to their advance, soon after which General Lee himself appeared on the hill beyond us, where the disordered remnant of his rear guard had halted, and ordered the senior officer to move them on, saying that General Mahone's troops were coming to protect the rear of the army, and, as he expressed it, would not let ‘those people’ trouble them; meaning, of course, the Federals, for whom that was his favorite expression.

On General Mahone's arrival, General Lee instructed him as commander of the rear guard of his army to cross the Appomattox at the ‘High Bridge’ and destroy the bridges, which included the railroad bridge and a wagon bridge close by it, being careful to see that all troops, artillery and wagon trains had passed before setting fire to them. The Engineer troops were ordered to move ahead of General Mahone's command, prepare the bridges for burning, and set fire to them when ordered to do so by General Mahone, or one of his staff officers.

On the morning of April 7th all the troops, artillery and wagon trains being apparently across the river and no orders having been received to set fire to the bridges, Lieutenant-Colonel Blackford, of the First Regiment of Engineer troops, was sent in search of Gen. Mahone to solicit the orders for which we were waiting. He found him on the road about four miles beyond the High bridge, and returned with instructions to burn the bridges just as the enemy's skirmish line was approaching, and a battery unlimbered on the eastern hills. Both bridges were set on fire, but our skirmish line was driven back and the wagon bridge was captured before it had been seriously injured. Two spans of the railroad bridge were burnt. General Long, in his Memoirs of General Lee, refers to his chagrin at the failure to burn a bridge over the Appomattox river, but it was a more important one higher up the river near Farmville, and not the one referred to.

The 7th and 8th of April were uneventful days for the Engineer Troops, but on the morning of the 9th, when General Gordon was trying to cut through the Federal lines, it was reported that a force of Federal cavalry was threatening the wagon trains in Gordon's rear, and acting on general instructions to make the Engineer troops useful wherever they could be of most service, they were moved southward from the road to Appomattox Courthouse across a small creek, and deployed on the left of a section of artillery which was occupying an isolated position.

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