The following letter, written to the Lynchburg Virginian
by an officer in Roads
's brigade, will be found very interesting.
It describes the interviews and ceremonies attendant on the of truce by the enemy to get possession of their killed and wounded:
At four o'clock Monday morning the 15th, we moved silently to the front and relieved Jackson
's old division.
At day break the grandest fight.
I have ever seen broke upon my view.
Our line extended along the railroad, which ran parallel with the edge of the words for two miles, and was raised about four feet from the general level of the ground, thus affording fine protection to our men. The country in front stretched out in one unbroken plain for a distance of a mile or more.
In this vast field the army of the enemy was drawn up in battle array, presenting a magnificent sight.
They also had three lines which were dressed as accurately as if on dress parade.
These lines glittering in the light of the rising sun presented a sight which was grand in the extreme.
In front of either army were the skirmishers lying on the ground, not more than 150 yards apart, the first lines of battle being not more than 500 yards distant from each other.
So near were they that the buzz of conversation was distinctly heard.
The pickets did not molest one another at all, though their aim at that distance would have been sure.
At 10 o'clock I was sitting with Gen.
R., when a man was seen advancing, from the enemy with a white handkerchief fixed to a stick General sent me forward to our picket line to receive it.--The bearer of the flag of truce introduced himself as a Lieutenant, sent by a Brigadier-General
, asking leave to enter our lines for the purpose of attending to their wounded, who lay between our first line and the pickets in great numbers, and whose cries were piteous.
Upon communicating with Gen.
R. I was sent again to refuse the demand, but with authority to grant it if it was made a general truce, and came in due form from Burnside
With this answer he withdrew, saying that he would communicate with his commanding officer.
About 3 o'clock P. M. a very handsomely dressed officer, accompanied by a mounted escort, rode slowly down to the front, having a lancer with him hearing a white flag.
I went forward to meet him mounted also, taking an escort, which I left at our line, and advanced alone to meet the flag.--The officer accompanying it and myself immediately exchanged cards and we commenced our negotiations.
He was an aid to Gen. Franklin
Left Grand Division U. S. Army."’ and was authorized by Gen. Burnside
to treat for a cessation of hostilities.
I went in again to report to Gen.
R., and was referred to Gen. Jackson
, who said that the proposal must be in writing.
When I returned the Yankee
officer presented the written authority required, and we were arranging the matter when one of the enemy's batteries, a few hundred yards off, opened on our line.
Hereupon I broke off the business very abruptly, and refused to proceed until this firing was stopped and a suitable apology rendered.
The Yankee Major, for such was the rank of my inter seemed much mortified by the accident, and soon returned, making the necessary apology.
I allowed his ambulance corps to advance to our picket line when our men met them bearing their dead and wounded, I paroling the latter as they passed.
I had much pleasant conversation with the Yankee
officers, many of whom advanced to the front.
Our men came forward in crowds and mingled with the enemy.
It was curious to see the difference between them.
were all nicely dressed, but had a cowed look.
They seemed all ashamed to look our men in the face, whereas our poor dirty fellows went about among them with uplifted and defiant looks.
When they took leave, our men expressed the hope that they might ‘" set to- morrow in battle,"’ at which the Yankees
gave a ghastly smile and but the sentiment.
They all without execution, man and officers, professed themselves utterly sick of the war, and delayed their desire to see it and in any way. I gave them my views plainly and they were obliged to acknowledge I was right.
I had many newspapers given me by the Yankee
officers several of whom offered to exchange cards, with which I was fortunately provided.
I have rarely met a more pleasant fellow than the Yankee Major
with whom I negotiated.
I had a good deal of conversation with him and the correspondent of the Associated Press
, who was of the party.
They all offered to send me papers containing an account of the affair.
The Yankee Major was a great friend of Major Gen. Stuart
, who soon come down to see him, and hailed him very cordially as ‘"Bob,"’ the other in turn calling him ‘"Jeb
Our time was now cut, and both sides withdrew; the men ceased their trading and went to their posts again, left then with the Major
, took leave with the salutation of au re
There were thirteen hundred and fifty dead Yankees in a two acre field.
My horse could not make his way through them.
I have seen battle-fields, but never anything to equal this.
Our loss in the same quarter was not small.
Our artillery was posted on hill, our infantry at the bottom, in entrenchments.
Altogether I never enjoyed anything more than I did the whole day. * * I was convinced that these men would never trouble us much more.
Their spirit is broken, and a more dejected set of wretches I have never seen.
The immediate cause I did not fully know until the next day. * * At day break Tuesday morning, the 15th the sun instead of revealing the Yankee
lines, showed merely the vacant field.
It had rained furiously during the night and availing themselves of the additional concealment thus afforded, they had decamped.
As soon as their departure was well ascertained, Gen.
R. directed me to push forward his whole line of skirmishers, and discover the whereabouts of the enemy; so on I went with my line, nearly a mile from flank to flank.
Upon reaching the heights overlooking the river we saw the last of the villains crossing, and received a few shots from their artillery on the opposite bank.
In my advance I picked up about two hundred prisoners. In one tent we found a full hand of musicians with their instruments, who asked us if it was
They were when informed they are prisoners. * * * * *
day I got leave to accompany a brother officer to Fredericksburg
, whither we cautiously advanced without a shot from the enemy, still on the other bank.
Just about the Gunnery Spring
, and in front of Mr. Marye
's house, was the principal scene of the battle near town.