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‘Try it, sir.’

Never did troops show better discipline or fight more obstinately and bravely than those men under their heroic old general. As we approached the home of Mr. Joseph B. Wilson, of Amelia county, we halted and formed lines in the open fields surrounding his house, and the writer, who knew him and his family well and had often shared their hospitality, rode up to the house and warned them to seek safety in the cellar, as we would attempt to check the enemy there. Whilst conversing with Mr. Wilson, his little girl, Judy, ran up and threw her arms around my neck, exclaiming, ‘Oh, don't let the Yankees come!’ I never wished so heartily that I had been ‘a host within myself.’ I had not the heart to tell her that we could only keep ‘those people’ back for a little while and then we must retreat.

So I gently disengaged the child's arms, and told her we would try, but she must make haste and hide, for we would soon be fighting [307] all around her house. Thus reassured, she quickly dried her tears, and ran back into the house. After a short and sharp skirmish we moved on, and the next morning reached the courthouse. We passed Wise's Brigade, drawn up in line, on the road just before we reached the village, and one of our men jokingly said: ‘Oh, you need not be forming line there, we could break through you.’ The old General, who heard the remark, exclaimed in that deep voice of his: ‘Try it, sir;’ and the cavalry gave the old man a hearty cheer, for they knew how often the exultant enemy had tried in vain to break those lines on that march.

Reaching the village, I beheld the first signs of dissolution of that grand army which had endured every hardship of camp or march with unshaken fortitude, and, with immortal daring, wrestled with its giant antagonist on every field of battle from Manassas to Petersburg, when, looking over the hills, I saw swarms of stragglers moving in every direction.

Whilst the command rested there I rode over to my old home, which lay near the road (farther on) over which we were retreating. There I filled my haversack, and was resting when I heard the thunder of exploding magazines of ammunition. I knew but too well what this meant, and, bidding a hasty adieu to my relatives, who till then had known nothing of ‘war's rude alarms’ save the echoes from distant fields, soon rejoined my command. At Amelia Springs we fought and drove the enemy's cavalry, who had broken in on our wagon-train near Flat Creek, burned many wagons, and scattered Lamkin's mortars, which were being transported in wagons along the road. The familiar occupation of Lamkin and his boys was gone, but they readily dropped into other arms of the service as they had changed from field to mortar battery before, and faced the enemy again on the last day at Appomattox.


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