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From Petersburg to Appomattox. From the Times-dispatch, October 28, 1906.

Lampkin's Battery of Artillery and how it fought on famous retreat. A glimpse of General Lee.

Fight near Farmville and splendid service of the Second Rockbridge Battery.

The account below of the retreat of Lampkin's Battery from near Fort Harrison, on the north side of the James, to Appomattox, is by Lieutenant Fletcher T. Massie, of that splendid company of artillery.

It is interesting in its incidents, and particularly so in the account it gives of the gun and caisson captured on the morning of surrender with their commanding officer and their men.

It is shown by the report of General W. H. F. Lee, which has come to light, that two guns were captured that morning by Beale's and Robins's Brigades ot his division. In the assault General Beale was wounded, and Wilson and Walker, of Rockbridge, were killed. One of the two guns was thrown over in a ditch, as other accounts have made known. The one gun and the caisson, which were brought into Lee's lines, were each drawn by six horses. It is possible, if not, indeed, probable, that this gun and caisson were counted by some onlookers as two guns, for some accounts say that four guns were captured. It is needlessly to go farther into this question now, and it suffices to remark that this account of Lieutenant Massie is valuable, so far as it goes, in fixing the circumstances under which the gun and caisson were brought into Lee's lines, and that being put in charge of Lieutenant Massie and his ten men, were turned over by him in a short time after the surrender to the officer and men from whom they were taken.

Lieutenant Massie is an active and vigorous man, enjoying excellent health at his home in Amherst County.

Captain Lampkin, a gigantic grenadier, who would have been picked out on sight by Frederick the Great for one of his guards, and who made a great name while gallantly commanding his guns [244] in battle, is still living in Amherst, and he and Lieutenant Massie still look as if they would hear the bugle call of battle with relish and satisfaction.

My name is Fletcher T. Massie, and I was a second lieutenant in Lampkin's battery of artillery, which was organized in Nelson county, Va.

In the retreat from Petersburg the men of the battery, under Captain Lampkin, were near Fort Harrison, on the north side of the James. We had nearly a hundred men in the battery at the time of the last operations, and had been using mortars at Fort Harrison. We left Fort Harrison in the night and crossed Mayo's Bridge at daylight next morning, the day the enemy took possession of Richmond. We were on foot, and eight or ten mortars were carried along with us in wagons. We were attached to Lieutenant-Colonel Haskell's artillery battalion. We had neither swords nor muskets. As we progressed on our march, we crossed the river near Flat Creek, in Amelia county, when a man in Confederate uniform rode up to Haskell's battalion and told them to take the road leading to Paineville. He then rode off.

Attacked from ambush.

As we got nearer Flat Creek a body of Federal cavalry suddenly dashed from the front with a battalion yelling and shooting. There were several hundred of them. I did not then have time to count. We had no infantry support, and one gun of Ramsey's battery, which had been gotten into position to fire, was run over and captured by the cavalry and the battalion dispersed. They also got all of Ramsey's guns, which were four fine English rifle pieces. They also got all of our mortars, and these two bateries, Ramsey's and Lampkin's, constituted the battalion at this time. Captain Lampkin was soon captured. I escaped to the woods, and when the affair was over I went back to the scene, where I found wagons cut down, the teams gone and ten men of my battery.

I am satisfied that the man who gave the order for us to take the road to Paineville was a Yankee scout in disguise. Sergeant James F. Wood, of Lampkin's battery, saw him, after he was captured in the affair with the Yankees, and said he was undoubtedly one of them.


A sight of General Lee.

I told the men to supply themselves with rations out of the cut clown and broken up wagons which the Yankees had left near Flat Creek, and we had a plenty of raw provisions for the time being.

We marched on together, crossing Appomattox River on a ferryboat near High Bridge, and got to Farmville on Thursday evening. Our rations had now given out, but a Confederate commissary at Farmville gave us a new supply, which lasted us to the end. We spent that Thursday night in Farmville.

On the next morning (Friday) I took my ten men and marched towards the county bridge that crosses the Appomattox, not far from Farmville. I met General Pendleton on the eastern side of the bridge and inquired for Haskell's battalion. He told me that it was coming on, and in a short time I met Colonell Haskell on the Richmond side of the bridge with two batteries of his battalion, which had been marching with him. About this time General Robert E. Lee rode up at the head of a column of infantry. He halted the men on the eastern side of the river to stop their progress along the line of our subsequent march towards Appomattox. (General Lee looked as he always did, and showed no sign of any discomfiture whatever.

The fight near Farmville.

We were now about a quarter of a mile from Farmville, and we marched about a mile farther on the road to Appomattox. I now saw a section of artillery—that is, two guns of the Second Rockbridge Battery—on a hill in action, and which appeared to be a small brigade of infantry supporting them. A spirited skirmish was going on. I never saw men work guns better or more efficiently than did that section of that artillery. The infantry receded at one time behind the battery, where they were formed, and, advancing in fine trim, they charged and drove the enemy. It seemed to consist of infantry and artillery. I did not see any cavalry.

The result of this action was the capture of some seven hundred Federal prisoners, and the enemy were thrown back and defeated. I do not know what command the Confederate infantry belonged to.

We remained in this position the afternoon of Friday. The Yankee prisoners were collected under a hill, and the skirmishing, mostly with artillery, continued until about dark. The missiles [246] from the Yankee artillery swept over the top of the hill behind which the Yankee prisoners were lying down, and struck into the hill behind them. The prisoners naturally stuck pretty close to the ground, and some of them said ‘they were damn-fool Yankees shooting those guns,’ for they were very dangerous to their own men.

At nightfall we resumed our march towards Appomattox. During Saturday we were on the march, without incident of importance. In the evening we heard the guns of a skirmish near Appomattox. We halted about nightfall, about a mile before reaching Appomattox, and for the first time during the retreat the harness was taken off of the horses that carried Colonel Haskell's guns.

Thin gray line at Appomattox.

On the morning of April 9th, the day of surrender, we were early in arms — that is, those who had them. My ten men had none, and Haskell's battalion marched in the rear of Field's division to Appomattox Courthouse. Passing through the village, Colonel Haskell's guns were placed in position in the line of battle formed on the western side of the courthouse. I cannot say at what point Field's division was put in position. As my ten men had no guns to serve, nor small arms to use as infantry, I kept them near the courthouse. There I met a lieutenant of Ramseys's battery. We walked out of the village, where we could see the Confederate line, and I remarked to the lieutenant how slender it looked, and how many openings there were in it, covered by their infantry or artillery. Most of our artillery were in the hollows behind the infantry, and it was evident that the army, as one of the generals said, ‘had been worn to a frazzle.’ We turned after surveying the scene to rejoin our men in the village, when we heard the guns of a skirmish in the direction of the Lynchburg front. Soon after that, a Yankee gun, the brass Napoleon of Company M, United States Regular Artillery, and the caisson also, each hauled by six horses, were brought into the village by a Confederate cavalry escort on horseback, the Yankee detachments going along with the guns, and the Yankee drivers being in the saddle. A Federal lieutenant of artillery rode along—with them. A little later I met General Alexander, chief of artillery of Longstreet's corps, in the village. He said to me, after our greetings: ‘I am sorry, Lieutenant, [247] you have not your guns with you, for I am putting the guns in position now to meet the enemy.’

General Lee appears.

“I am sorry,” I said, ‘but I have got ten men here who can serve a gun, and I saw a Yankee gun just now coming into the village, and I would like to have that, for my men can handle it.’ ‘Very well,’ said he, ‘come with me and I will turn it over to you.’ So we went together and found the gun with the Yankee company, which had been captured, and some of the cavalry that had it in charge, and I took possession of it with my ten men and got ready to carry it into position as soon as General Alexander should tell me where to place it.

Before any further orders came from General Alexander, I saw General Lee ride up into the village with two Federal officers, one riding on each side of him. He came from the Lynchburg side of his army. I knew from seeing these officers with General Lee that the whole thing was about up. Soon after this the news came that the army had surrendered. Before we heard what the terms of surrender were, a group of us, consisting of my men, myself, Colonel Haskell, and a number of officers, agreed together that we would not go to prison, would cut our way through the lines some way or other, but we would not surrender to be captured and carried off. Then came the farther news, circulated from lip to lip, that we would be paroled under the terms of surrender that had been agreed upon.

When my men took charge of the captured Napoleon gun, the men of the company were turned over to the Confederate provost-marshal, but as soon as the surrender was over the Federal lieutenant who commanded it and many of his men returned to where I was. He was as hot as pepper about having lost his gun that morning, but he greeted me kindly, though at first he did not seem in a humor for talk. In a little while his temper improved, and when I turned the gun over to him, he had it and the caisson hitched up, put his men in charge of it and drove off. Before he left us he said he had been deceived that morning, having been told that the way was open to him. No sooner had he got in the brush than the Confederate cavalry swooped down on him and down around him, and he didn't have a chance to fire a shot before he and his gun were captured. We had taken the Yankee horses for the most part, [248] that brought out the gun and caisson and swapped them off to cavalrymen or officers, whoever wanted them, and had put in their place the worn and haggard Confederate horses that they had ridden down. When the lieutenant looked at the new horses we had provided for him, he evidently knew what had happened, but he never said a word about it.

Fletcher T. Massie, Second Lieutenant, Lampkin's Battery.

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