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General Hampton.

We had stopped for the night at Strayhorn's, nine miles from Hillsboro. This was a long, low farm house on the south side of the Hillsboro road, the stables, barns and lot being on the north side of the road. Here the staff horses were being fed and attended to, the officers of the staff doing their own feeding and such rubbing as the horses got. My servant, ‘Lambert Owens,’ who had followed me faithfully throughout the war, and was as good a Confederate soldier as we had, though the blackest negro I ever saw, was engaged with my horses, which was the reason I was able to be sitting on the veranda of the Strayhorn residence and talking to the chief. Raising my eyes, and looking up the road, I exclaimed:

“Yonder comes the commissioners!” when General Hampton rose from his seat to walk out to the front gate, saying simply, ‘Introduce me.’ I went out with him as they drove up and did as he had requested. The conversation that ensued was of an ordinary character. It was evident, however, that Governor Graham, who was spokesman, was detailing the facts of his recent visit to Sherman with a reserve, and I, who had known and honored them both from my boyhood, could easily guess what it was. He did not tell Gen. Hampton of what had passed at his interview with Sherman. They drove on, and we returned to our seat on the porch, when General Hampton, turning to me with a puzzled expression, asked ‘what do you think of all this?’ I answered, laughingly, that I had ‘expected him to have asked them in!’ He instantly exclaimed, suspiciously, ‘What do you mean?’ I replied, ‘Why, couldn't [166] you see that Governor Graham had a letter in his pocket to Vance?’

In a moment the soldier was alive in him, and with an order in a sharp and decisive voice: ‘Go and get your horse, sir,’ he went into the house and began to write hurriedly. Calling for an orderly to accompany me, I soon reported for duty. He gave me two letters, one for Governor Graham and one to General Joseph E. Johnston. My verbal instructions were “to overtake Governor Graham and give him that letter” (of course a demand for the letter he had for Vance). If, not, to follow him to Hillsboro and if possible secure it before its delivery to Governor Vance. If I failed to do so, take Governor Graham on an engine to General Johnston at Haw River and deliver him with the second letter. The night was very dark and stormy and I could not ride as rapidly as I should have done, and, therefore, I did not overtake the Rockaway, but on my arrival went immediately to the station to secure an engine, and wire Haw River. Meeting Major Johnson, the quartermaster of the cavalry corps at the station, I told him of my disagreeable duty and begged him to accompany me; arriving at Governor Graham's residence we were promptly admitted, and found the Governor with Mrs. Graham in the sitting-room. He said: ‘My dear, you had better retire, as these gentlemen doubtless wish to see me on business.’ I silently handed the Governor General Hampton's letter. He read it; his face flushing angrily. Drawing himself up to his full height, he exclaimed: ‘I am ready to accompany you, sir!’ I said: ‘Governor, had you not better hand me that letter?’ He replied: ‘I have already delivered it to Governor Vance, sir!’ His whole manner then instantly changed and laying his hand on my shoulder he said in a feeling voice: ‘I understand, I know how you feel your position.’ I returned to the station, but having failed in my mission, did not feel it liberty to take the engine, but proceeded on my horse to General Johnston at Haw River in accordance with instructions to report facts, through rain, mud and the darkest night I ever saw. I rode the eighteen miles, arriving at daylight.


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