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The last charge from the Danville, Va., Bee, April 20, 1907.

Of the 14th Virginia Cavalry at Appomattox C. H., Va., April 9, 1865, and its battle flag.

Interesting incidents of the retreat.

[Captain Bouldin is a well-known member of the Virginia Bar, and has contributed to past volumes of this serial.—Ed.]

In his address to the veterans and ‘daughters’ here Thursday night, Captain Morton, their Inspector General, referred to the battle flag of the 14th Virginia Cavalry, which is among those returned by the Government. Yankee Sgt., J. Donalson, Company L., 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry, who had turned over the old war worn banner to the United States Government, claimed that he captured it on the 9th of April at Appomattox and pinned a paper on the flag to that effect, which was found by Captain Morton, when he took the flags out of their care for exhibition in the Capitol. The interesting local feature about the flag is that it was Captain E. E. Bouldin's regimental flag, and he says it was not captured, but picked up after the color-bearer, James Wilson, was killed and the regiment left the field. There was no capture at all. This statement was vouched for by two letters produced by Captain Morton, one to him by Sgt., J. Scott Moore, of Lexington, Va., and the other by W. L. Moffett, of Augusta County, Va., in a very interesting letter to Captain Bouldin, which was referred to by the speaker and is reproduced here:

Steels' Tavern, Augusta Co., Va. April 6th, 1899.
Captain E. E. Bouldin, Co. B., 14th Va. Cavalry.
Dear Sir,—I note your letter in the Rockbridge News of recent date, asking members of the 14th Va. Cavalry, to write [14] you at Danville what they remember of the last charge of the 14th at Appomattox C. H.

The ever memorable day of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia by Gen. R. E. Lee, to Gen. U. S. Grant. Let us go back in the history of the regiment for a time. * * *

After a few days the retreat from Petersburg and Richmond was commenced, the battles of Butterwood Creek and Dinwiddie C. H., and Five Forks, and they were hot and we had it all the way to Appomattox C. H.—skirmish, picket, scout — with very little to eat and no forage for our horses, scarcely. It was an awful retreat. Yankees, by the thousand, after us, and on our flanks. The day and night before we reached Appomattox—we were covering the retreat of Lee's Army—about ten or eleven o'clock the bugle sounded ‘Mount your horses,’ and we passed the whole of our army to the front and formed into line of battle, were dismounted and ordered to stand and hold horses and keep awake. You were in command, having joined the regiment a few days before from Camp Chose, Ohio, where you went the previous July from Morefield, without your own consent. You never will forget Morefield, will you? I won't.

Just as the daylight was dawning a shell from our front shrieked over our heads, and to mount was sounded by our bugler. At the same time Col. W. T. Poague's regiment of artillery just to our left opened (he told me afterwards) sixteen guns on the woods in our front and the shells passed over our heads, as we went by fours down the little slope towards the hill from where the shell had come that started us. As I now remember we went slow at first, then at a trot and as Poague's guns ceased firing we charged the woods and captured the battery, four brass howitzers, and horses and men. The battery belonged at Philadelphia, and was a light battery with a cavalry brigade that had reached our front. We captured a lot of prisoners in the charge and brought them out. I was ordered to guard them fellows, and when I got rid of them, the regiment had gone somewhere, I did not know where. But I did know I was left with some yankees, and could only see the dust you all were making to my right and to the yankee's left. General W. H. F. Lee came along my way as I stood with the prisoners, and I asked him where the command was. He answered me: ‘It has gone; [15] you turn them fellows aloose and come with me,’ and I came. As I looked over my shoulders, as I went down the hill we had charged up, I saw a regiment of Yanks riding by front of line with their carbines slung, and carrying a white flag in the middle of the regiment and gradually expanding around our camp. The battery we had captured was moving back towards their lines, and one fellow said to me as they passed, ‘Guess you did not keep us very long, Johnny, did you.’ I followed General Lee down and back the way we came and found Generals R. E. Lee and Gordon and Pendleton and Pickett and Longstreet at the apple tree where General W. H. F. Lee joined his father, and I was told it was all over.

There I was; not a 14th man to be seen, and I felt like I was in a strange land, hungry. Pretty soon Captain Bill Smith who had as you may remember been in charge of the picket line, the night before, and we had not been relieved where we came from rear to front of Lee's army up to me and said: ‘Moffett, where is the regiment: what are you doing here,’ all in the same breath, to which I answered ‘I don't know, do you?’ ‘They say we have surrendered,’ he said. I said, ‘Well I am not going to surrender.’ Just then Gen. R. E. Lee, passed near us and Smith said to him, ‘General, what is the matter? I am not going to surrender; can't I leave here?’ Gen. Lee said, ‘I have surrendered this army; I cannot give you permission to leave, and captain you ought not to leave; stay with the rest of us.’ But Bill Smith said, ‘I am going to get out of here or die, and he did leave and got out and lives to this day, the same brave, daring and every inch a man. He was at the regiment as I came back with those prisoners. I came by where Sam Walker was lying wounded in charge of John Whitmore who said he was mortally wounded. He died that evening. Near him was James Wilson, our color sergeant, and he too, poor fellow, had seen his last on earth. His beautiful bay mare stood near him, and the colors of our old regiment were furled and leaning against a tree never again to be unfurled. I do not remember who was with him, but I think it was his brother. I knew he was dying; my heart sunk within me when he said to me,’Moffett, it is hard to die now just as the war is over. But it was his [16] fate. I think the colors fell into the hands of the enemy, as I never heard of them afterward.

In due time those of us who were left got home, many and many changes since the surrender that Sunday morning, April 10, 1865. But those who were there will never forget it and never ought to. Then after the dark days of reconstruction we must be good fellows down South to have stood it all. But we did, and when the next war came our Fitzhugh Lee and Wheeler and a host of others joined the lines again to fight for the flag we fought from 1861 to 1865.

Yours truly,

W. L. Moffett, Private in Co. D., 14th Va. Cavalry.

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