There was a narrow space of cleared ground immediately in front of the line, but beyond that dense woods from which came hoarse cheers, characteristic of the Federal troops, indicating that the enemy were close at hand and an attack imminent. Soon afterwards a Federal cavalry officer coatless, and revolver in hand, dashed from the woods ahead of his men, called on us in very uncomplimentary terms to surrender, and fell under a scattering fire which was delivered contrary to orders not to fire until the word of command. Immediately thereafter orders came from General Gordon to cease firing for a flag of truce was out. The artillery on our right and one of Mahone's brigades which had joined our left, being withdrawn, the Engineer troops withdrew across the creek, which was picketed as the line of demarcation between the two armies during the truce. It chanced that General Lee noticed the movement which was not far distant from where he was waiting before his meeting with General Grant, and being told that it was the Engineer troops sent for me, and in the short interview which followed, he stated the situation, saying that he felt it to be his duty to meet General Grant for the purpose of negotiating terms of surrender, and stopping further sacrifice of life. While General Lee was waiting to hear from General Grant, a crowd was accumulating, including some Federals who had come through the lines, and by order of Colonel Walter H. Taylor of of General Lee's staff, a cordon of sentinels was placed around the space temporarily occupied as headquarters, and maintained until after General Lee returned from his interview with General Grant. This was the last military duty the Engineer troops were ordered to perform. I happened to be where I was and among the first to meet Gen. Lee as he returned from Appomattox Courthouse, and he kindly stopped to inform me of the terms of surrender and of Grant's promise to send rations, telling me to keep my command together and make them as comfortable as possible until paroled.
T. M. R. Talcott, Colonel of Engineers.