that the Confederates
required negro laborers to work under fire, and to their credit be it said that they performed their task with apparent willingness.
The engineer troops were the last to leave the city of Petersburg
, for the destruction of the bridges devolved upon them.
They retired from the north bank of the river early in the morning of April 3, 1865, under a scattering fire from the advance guard of the Federals
Then followed a day's march to Goode's Bridge, and the crossing of the Appomattox River
at that point, not only of the army and its wagon trains, but also of a large number of other wagons, carriages, buggies, and riders on horseback, Government and State officials, bank-officers with their specie, and many private individuals seeking safety for themselves and their belongings.
It had been planned to use the newly built Bevill's Bridge, which was the nearest to Petersburg
, for the troops and trains from that point, Goode's Bridge for troops from Richmond
, and a pontoon bridge at Genito
for all not connected with the army; but by reason of high water, which covered the approaches, Bevill's Bridge was useless.
The pontoons for Genito
, which were ordered from Richmond
two days before, failed to arrive, and thus everything converged at Goode's Bridge and the railroad bridge at Mattoax
This awkward situation was relieved to some extent by hurriedly laying a rough plank flooring over the rails on the railroad bridge, which made it practicable for vehicles to cross at Mattoax
The crossing to the south side of the Appomattox River
having been effected in some confusion, but, owing to the light of the moon, without accident, both the railroad and pontoon bridges were destroyed before daylight; and the engineer troops moved on to Amelia Court House
, where some rest but very inadequate rations awaited them.
Soon orders came from General Lee
to push on to Flat