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[242] rotten cornmeal filled with black bugs, without salt or anyway, to cook it. Our comrades were dying by squads daily, the dead house was filled all the time with the corpses. Scores of cats would enter through holes and prey upon the dead. Some of us would put bags over the holes through which the cats entered, and some would go in with clubs, and soon we would have a full supply of cats. They were eaten ravenously by the starving officers, as Lieutenant Peary's men ate their comrades. At last we were ordered back to Fort Delaware. The remnant of the six hundred left that Yankee hell, where Southern braves cried for bread and fed on cats, gorged with the corpses of their dead comrades. We reached Fort Delaware a short time before the surrender. One morning I was aroused by a familiar ‘rebel yell’—looked out and saw the flags dropping at half mast and heard that Booth had killed Lincoln. Soon all privates and line officers were paroled, and sixty field officers were held in prison until August.

In conclusion I will say that some years ago Captain James Bumgardner, of Staunton, who was an officer in the Fifty-second Virginia Regiment, next on the left of the Forty-ninth, told me that his regiment also had only three officers and eighteen men left. Thus and there at Bethesda Church well nigh perished one of the grandest corps of men the world has ever known-made up of the best young blood of Virginia, fighting for their ‘Lares and their Penates’—their exploits would brighten the fairest name upon the roll of Battle Abbey, and vie with the knightliest of any age. A brigade that had been led to victory by General Early and others on a hundred battlefields; that had swept everything before it like a tornado; a brigade under whose flag you had fought and bled; a brigade that had furnished to the Confederacy four or five generals: Early, William Smith, A. P. Hill, J. A. Walker and J. B. Terrell (whose commission was on its way to him when he fell), thus to be slaughtered. The absent wounded returned; the ranks were recruited by conscription, but this historic old Fourth Virginia Brigade died then and there at Bethesda Church.

Your friend and comrade,

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