[The bridge had been burned May 10, 1864, and was rebuilt of such green wood and so little frame work that it would not burn.] The mounted men and all mounted officers must have crossed, of course, elsewhere.
On this the diary is silent.
The neighbors said that General Stoneman had stopped the destruction of the bridge, telling his men that they [the Federals] would want it themselves.
No one seemed to know where the Federals were.
Our battalion crossed over, passed the army and camped on the macadamized road, six miles from New River.
The weather was very bad, rain falling continually.
Next day (10th) we remained in camp all day.
On the 11th we marched before day in the direction of Salem.
We had not marched very far until it was rumored that very bad news had been rceived; that a courier had ridden from Lynchburg to Echols' army on the previous night, at the rate of fifteen miles per hour, and that Lieutenant Houston, having come that night from Salem, had asked Major McLaughlin if he had heard “the news,” and that Major McLaughlin had interrupted him and prevented him from making known to bystanders what the news was. About daylight it began to be rumored that we were entirely cut off, and finally at Christiansburg the startling news spread instantly through the army that General Lee had surrendered.
Our wildest conjectures had never suggested this explanation of the mystery.
Those who knew said that, as far as we were concerned, “two days would tell the tale.”
Some one remarking that we had only three days rations.
Lieutenant Houston said we would want no more.
At last it was rumored that we were marching down to surrender.
It certainly was a mysterious march.
We were the only (?) organganized troops in the State of Virginia.
The enemy was on every road, and still we were penetrating deeper into the country.
Why was it, if not to surrender?
But why should we seek to surrender?
I expressed the opinion that Echols himself did not know exactly why he was making the march.
“When we arrived at a beautiful bottom about two miles south of Big Spring Depot, the army was halted in the road and a council of war held.”
[When the column halted and huddled like sheep Sergeant A. J. Patton
stood up in his stirrups and, looking forward, turned pale and said: ‘This is the end, right here!’
And such was virtually the case.
Then and there was formed the resoution practically to disband next day.]
We then bivouacked and