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[168]

Vance's anger.

After breakfast he proposed a walk. When out of sight and earshot he turned on me and said in a tone of cruel mortification and wrong: ‘I came here to explain that Sherman letter, and they wouldn't hear me. Me in communication with the enemy, me making terms for my State unknown to the authorities! Of all men, sir, I am the last man they can accuse of such infamy!’ Poor fellow — as the tears rolled down his cheeks—the strong man in his agony, mortification and shame put upon him by those whom he had served so grandly and so nobly! As he covered his face with his hands the words Et tu Brute came with force to my mind. For four long weary years we had fought and struggled and given our all for the cause that now was lost—but God forgive me, as I gazed on this strong man in his agony of the shame put upon him, I felt all the bitterness of resentment, and for the first and only time, I, a soldier of the Confederacy, was untre and disloyal to its colors.

With one little story of this last meeting of the leaders of our cause, I will conclude this story of a letter! At dinner time we had these gentlemen for our guests. Of all the miserable faces I ever saw, that of General Wade Hampton was the worst as the hour of dinner approached. He was absolutely without even Marion's rations, the potatoes with which he dined the British officer! Calling for my horse, I said: ‘General, I think I can find relief in town among my friends; wait until I return.’ I rode over to Colonel Cadwalladar Jones's. This beautiful old home of a hospitable race—noted for a century for all that was grand and good in human nature—and I laid the situation in the strongest language I could command before the venerable lady, who, bowed down in grief at the loss of a son, Robin Jones, killed at the head of his men under the command of the noble soldier who was now begging through me, bread of his broken-hearted mother with which to feed the chiefs of the cause for which he had so nobly given his life. She instantly arose to the occasion and said: ‘William, go back and tell General Hampton not to be troubled, I will have everything prepared in time and send it over.’ At the hour named a plantation wagon was driven up to General Hampton's headquarters, loaded with servants, glass, china, and such a dinner as only a Southern matron could provide. We never see them now, they live only in tradition, but the twenty-five pound turkey that graced that dinner I'll never forget this side of the grave.


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Wade Hampton (3)
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