previous next

Chapter 6: Appomattox.

The darkest hours before the dawn of April 9, 1865, shrouded the Fifth Corps sunk in feverish sleep by the roadside six miles away from Appomattox Station on the Southside Road. Scarcely is the first broken dream begun when a cavalryman comes splashing down the road and vigorously dismounts, pulling from his jacket-front a crumpled note. The sentinel standing watch by his commander, worn in body but alert in every sense, touches your shoulder. “Orders, sir, I think.” You rise on elbow, strike a match, and with smarting, streaming eyes read the brief, thrilling note, sent back by Sheridan to us infantry commanders. Like this, as I remember: “I have cut across the enemy at Appomattox Station, and captured three of his trains. If you can possibly push your infantry up here to-night, we will have great results in the morning.” Ah, sleep no more. The startling bugle notes ring out “The General” --“To the march.” Word is sent for the men to take a bite of such as they have for food: the promised rations will not be up till [231] noon, and by that time we shall be perhaps too far away for such greeting. A few try to eat, no matter what. Meanwhile, almost with one foot in the stirrup, you take from the hands of the black boy a tin plate of non-descript food and a dipper of miscalled coffee;--all equally black, like the night around. You eat and drink at a swallow; mount, and away to get to the head of the column before you sound the “Forward.” They are there-the men: shivering to their senses as if risen out of the earth, but something in them not of it. Now sounds the “Forward,” for the last time in our long-drawn strife. And they move — these men — sleepless, supperless, breakfastless, sore-footed, stiff-jointed, sense-benumbed, but with flushed faces pressing for the front.

By sunrise we have reached Appomattox Station, where Sheridan has left the captured trains. A staff officer is here to turn us square to the right, to the Appomattox River, cutting across Lee's retreat. Already we hear the sharp ring of the horse-artillery, answered ever and anon by heavier field guns; and drawing nearer, the crack of cavalry carbines; and unmistakably, too, the graver roll of musketry of opposing infantry. There is no mistake. Sheridan is square across the enemy's front, and with that glorious cavalry alone is holding at bay all that is left of the proudest army of the Confederacy. It has come at last,--the supreme hour. No thought of human wants or weakness now: all for the front; all for the flag, for the final stroke to make its meaning real-these [232] men of the Potomac and the James, side by side, at the double in time and column, now one and now the other in the road or the fields beside. One striking feature I can never forget,--Birney's black men abreast with us, pressing forward to save the white man's country.

We did not know exactly what was going on. We did know that our cavalry had been doing splendid work all night, and in fact now was holding at bay Lee's whole remaining army. I was proud to learn that Smith's Brigade-our First Maine Cavalry in the van-had waged the most critical part of the glorious fight.

Ord's troops were in lead, pushing for the roar of the guns to bring relief to our cavalry before Lee's anxious infantry should break through. The storm-center was now on the Lynchburg Pike, a mile or so beyond Appomattox Court House. The Fifth Corps followed, Ayres' Division ahead; then our old Third Brigade of the First Division,once mine, since Bartlett's; next, my command, my own brigade and Gregory's; at the rear of the column Crawford's fine division, but somehow unaccountably slow in its movements and march.

I was therefore in about the middle of our Fifth Corps column. The boom of the battle thickened ahead of us. We were intent for the front. Suddenly I am accosted by a cavalry staff officer dashing out of a rough wood road leading off to our right. “General, you command this column?” --“Two brigades of it, sir; about half the First Division, Fifth Corps.” --“Sir, General Sheridan [233] wishes you to break off from this column and come to his support. The rebel infantry is pressing him hard. Our men are falling back. Don't wait for orders through the regular channels, but act on this at once.”

Of course I obey, without question. Sending word forward to Griffin, in command of our Fifth Corps, that he may understand and instruct Crawford to follow the main column and not me, I turn off my brigade and Gregory's and guided by the staff officer, push out to see if we can do as well on a cavalry front as we had at their heels. My guide informed me of the situation. Ord's troops were holding Gordon's hard on the Lynchburg Pike; this latter command was now a formidable force, having taken in the heart of Stonewall Jackson's and A. P. Hill's corps, and what was left of Anderson's. But the rear of this column pressing on had made a demonstration indicating that they were now about to try a final forlorn hope to cut through near the Court House while the head of their column was engaging Ord. General Sheridan, to thwart this attempt, had taken Devins's Cavalry Division back to meet them, at least until our infantry could be brought up. The barrier of cavalry alone could not withstand the desperate Confederate veterans essaying their last hope, and in fact was slowly receding. This explained the reason of our summons.

Sharp work now. Pushing through the woods at cavalry speed, we come out right upon Sheridan's battle flag gleaming amidst the smoke of his batteries [234] in the edge of the open field. Weird-looking flag it is: fork-tailed, red and white, the two bands that composed it each charged with a star of the contrasting color; two eyes sternly glaring through the cannon-cloud. Beneath it, that stormcenter spirit, that form of condensed energies, mounted on the grim charger, Rienzi, that turned the battle of the Shenandoah,--both, rider and steed, of an unearthly shade of darkness, terrible to look upon, as if masking some unknown powers.

Right before us, our cavalry, Devins' division, gallantly stemming the surges of the old Stonewall brigade, desperate to beat its way through. I ride straight to Sheridan. A dark smile and impetuous gesture are my only orders. Forward into double lines of battle, past Sheridan, his guns, his cavalry, and on for the quivering crest! For a moment it is a glorious sight: every arm of the service in full play,--cavalry, artillery, infantry; then a sudden shifting scene as the cavalry, disengaged by successive squadrons, rally under their bugle-calls with beautiful precision and promptitude, and sweep like a storm-cloud beyond our right to close in on the enemy's left and complete the fateful envelopment.

Ord's troops are now square across the Lynchburg Pike. Ayres and Bartlett have joined them on their right, and all are in for it sharp. In this new front we take up the battle. Gregory follows in on my left. It is a formidable front we make. The scene darkens. In a few minutes the tide is turned; the incoming wave is at flood; the [235] barrier recedes. In truth, the Stonewall men hardly show their well-proved mettle. They seem astonished to see before them these familiar flags of their old antagonists, not having thought it possible that we could match our cavalry and march around and across their pressing columns.

Their last hope is gone,--to break through our cavalry before our infantry can get up. Neither to Danville nor to Lynchburg can they cut their way; and close upon their rear, five miles away, are pressing the Second and Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac. It is the end! They are now giving way, but keep good front, by force of old habit. Halfway up the slope they make a stand, with what perhaps they think a good omen,behind a stone wall. I try a little artillery on them, which directs their thoughts towards the crest behind them, and stiffen my lines for a rush, anxious for that crest myself. My intensity may have seemed like excitement. For Griffin comes up, quizzing me in his queer way of hitting off our weak points when we get a little too serious; accusing me of mistaking a blooming peach tree for a rebel flag, where I was dropping a few shells into a rallying crowd. I apologize — I was a little nearsighted, and hadn't been experienced in long-range fighting. But as for peaches, I was going to get some if the pits didn't sit too hard on our stomachs.

In a few minutes Griffin rides up again, in quite a different mood. “General,” he says, “I want you to go back and bring up Crawford's Division. He is acting in the same old fashion that got Warren [236] into trouble at Five Forks. He should have been up here long ago. We need him desperately. He deserves to be relieved of his command.” --“General, do you mean to relieve me of mine, and make me a staff officer? It can't come to that.” --“I mean to put you in command of that division,” he answers; “I will publish an order to that effect.” --“General, pardon me, but you must not do that. It would make trouble for everybody, and I do not desire the position. It would make great disturbance among Crawford's friends, and if you will pardon the suggestion they may have influence enough at Washington to block your confirmation as Major-General. Besides, I think General Baxter of the Third Division is my senior; that must settle it.”

This is a singular episode for such a moment. But it may be cited as showing the variety of commotions that occupied our minds.

But now comes up Ord with a positive order: “Don't expose your lines on that crest. The enemy have massed their guns to give it a raking fire the moment you set foot there.” I thought I saw a qualifying look as he turned away. But left alone, youth struggled with prudence. My troops were in a bad position down here. I did not like to be “the under dog.” It was much better to be on top and at least know what there was beyond. So I thought of Grant and his permission to “push things” when we got them going; and of Sheridan and his last words as he rode away with his cavalry, smiting his hands together-“Now smash 'em, [237] I tell you; smash 'em!” So we took this for orders, and on the crest we stood. One booming cannonshot passed close along our front, and in the next moment all was still.

We had done it,--had “exposed ourselves to the view of the enemy.” But it was an exposure that worked two ways. For there burst upon our vision a mighty scene, fit cadence of the story of tumultuous years. Encompassed by the cordon of steel that crowned the heights about the Court House, on the slopes of the valley formed by the sources of the Appomattox, lay the remnants of that far-famed counterpart and companion of our own in momentous history,--the Army of Northern Virginia-Lee's army!

In the meantime Crawford's troops have begun to arrive, and form in between Gregory and Bartlett on our left.

It was hilly, broken ground, in effect a vast amphitheater, stretching a mile perhaps from crest to crest. On the several confronting slopes before us dusky masses of infantry suddenly resting in place; blocks of artillery, standing fast in column or mechanically swung into park; clouds of cavalry small and great, slowly moving, in simple restlessness;--all without apparent attempt at offense or defense, or even military order.

In the hollow is the Appomattox,--which we had made the dead-line for our baffled foe, for its whole length, a hundred miles; here but a rivulet that might almost be stepped over dry-shod, and at the road crossing not thought worth while to bridge. [238] Around its edges, now trodden to mire, swarms an indescribable crowd: worn-out soldier struggling to the front; demoralized citizen and denizen, white, black, and all shades between,--following Lee's army, of flying before these suddenly confronted terrible Yankees pictured to them as demon-shaped and bent; animals, too, of all forms and grades; vehicles of every description and nondescription,--public and domestic, four-wheeled, or two, or one,--heading and moving in every direction, a swarming mass of chaotic confusion.

All this within sight of every eye on our bristling crest. Had one the heart to strike at beings so helpless, the Appomattox would quickly become a surpassing Red Sea horror. But the very spectacle brings every foot to an instinctive halt. We seem the possession of a dream. We are lost in a vision of human tragedy. But our light-twelve Napoleon guns come rattling up behind us to go into battery; we catch the glitter of the cavalry blades and brasses beneath the oak groves away to our right, and the ominous closing in on the fated foe.

So with a fervor of devout joy,--as when, perhaps, the old crusaders first caught sight of the holy city of their quest,--with an up-going of the heart that was half paean, half prayer, we dash forward to the consummation. A solitary fieldpiece in the edge of the town gives an angry but expiring defiance. We press down a little slope, through a swamp, over a bright swift stream. Our advance is already in the town,--only the narrow street between the opposing lines, and [239] hardly that. There is wild work, that looks like fighting; but not much killing, nor even hurting. The disheartened enemy take it easy; our men take them easier. It is a wild, mild fusing,--earnest, but not deadly earnest.

A young orderly of mine, unable to contain himself, begs permission to go forward, and dashes in, sword-flourishing as if he were a terrible fellow, --and soon comes back, hugging four sabers to his breast, speechless at his achievement.

We were advancing, tactically fighting, and I was somewhat uncertain as to how much more of the strenuous should be required or expected. But I could not give over to this weak mood.

My right was “in the air,” advanced, unsupported, towards the enemy's general line, exposed to flank attack by troops I could see in the distance across the stream. I held myself on that extreme flank, where I could see the cavalry which we had relieved, now forming in column of squadrons ready for a dash to the front, and I was anxiously hoping it would save us from the flank attack. Watching intently, my eye was caught by the figure of a horseman riding out between those lines, soon joined by another, and taking a direction across the cavalry front towards our position. They were nearly a mile away, and I curiously watched them till lost from sight in the nearer broken ground and copses between.

Suddenly rose to sight another form, close in our own front,--a soldierly young figure, a Confederate staff officer undoubtedly. Now I see the white [240] flag earnestly borne, and its possible purport sweeps before my inner vision like a wraith of morning mist. He comes steadily on, the mysterious form in gray, my mood so whimsically sensitive that I could even smile at the material of the flag,--wondering where in either army was found a towel, and one so white. But it bore a mighty message,--that simple emblem of homely service, wafted hitherward above the dark and crimsoned streams that never can wash themselves away.

The messenger draws near, dismounts; with graceful salutation and hardly suppressed emotion delivers his message: “Sir, I am from General Gordon. General Lee desires a cessation of hostilities until he can hear from General Grant as to the proposed surrender.”

What word is this! so long so dearly fought for, so feverishly dreamed, but ever snatched away, held hidden and aloof; now smiting the senses with a dizzy flash! “Surrender” ? We had no rumor of this from the messages that had been passing between Grant and Lee, for now these two days, behind us. “Surrender” ? It takes a moment to gather one's speech. “Sir,” I answer, “that matter exceeds my authority. I will send to my superior. General Lee is right. He can do no more.” All this with a forced calmness, covering a tumult of heart and brain. I bid him wait a while, and the message goes up to my corps commander, General Griffin, leaving me mazed at the boding change. [241]

Now from the right come foaming up in cavalry fashion the two forms I had watched from away beyond. A white flag again, held strong aloft, making straight for the little group beneath our battle-flag, high borne also,--the red Maltese cross on a field of white, that had thrilled hearts long ago. I see now that it is one of our cavalry staff in lead,--indeed I recognize him, Colonel Whitaker of Custer's staff; and, hardly keeping pace with him, a Confederate staff officer. Without dismounting, without salutation, the cavalryman shouts: “This is unconditional surrender! This is the end!” Then he hastily introduces his companion, and adds: “I am just from Gordon and Longstreet. Gordon says ‘For God's sake, stop this infantry, or hell will be to pay!’ I'll go to Sheridan,” he adds, and dashes away with the white flag, leaving Longstreet's aide with me.1

I was doubtful of my duty. The flag of truce was in, but I had no right to act upon it without orders. There was still some firing from various quarters, lulling a little where the white flag passed near. But I did not press things quite so hard. Just then a last cannon-shot from the edge of the [242] town plunges through the breast of a gallant and dear young officer in my front line,--Lieutenant Clark, of the 185th New York,--the last man killed in the Army of the Potomac, if not the last in the Appomattox lines.2 Not a strange thing for war,this swift stroke of the mortal; but coming after the truce was in, it seemed a cruel fate for one so deserving to share his country's joy, and a sad peace-offering for us all.

Shortly comes the order, in due form, to cease firing and to halt. There was not much firing to cease from; but “halt,” then and there? It is beyond human power to stop the men, whose one word and thought and action through crimsoned years had been but forward. They had seen the flag of truce, and could divine its outcome. But the habit was too strong; they cared not for points of direction, it was forward still,--forward to the end; forward to the new beginning; forward to the Nation's second birth!

But it struck them also in a quite human way. The more the captains cry, “Halt! The rebels want to surrender,” the more the men want to be there and see it. Still to the front, where the real fun is! And the forward movement takes an upward turn. For when we do succeed in stopping [243] their advance we cannot keep their arms and legs from flying. To the top of fences, and haystacks, and chimneys they clamber, to toss their old caps higher in the air, and leave the earth as far below them as they can.

Dear old General Gregory gallops up to inquire the meaning of this strange departure from accustomed discipline. “Only that Lee wants time to surrender,” I answer with stage solemnity. “Glory to God!” roars the grave and brave old General, dashing upon me with an impetuosity that nearly unhorsed us both, to grasp and wring my hand, which had not yet had time to lower the sword. “Yes, and on earth peace, good will towards men,” I answered, bringing the thanksgiving from heavenward, manward.

“Your legs have done it, my men,” shouts the gallant, gray-haired Ord, galloping up cap in hand, generously forgiving our disobedience of orders, and rash “exposure” on the dubious crest. True enough, their legs had done it,--had “matched the cavalry” as Grant admitted, had cut around Lee's best doings, and commanded the grand halt. But other things too had “done it” ; the blood was still fresh upon the Quaker Road, the White Oak Ridge, Five Forks, Farmville, High Bridge, and Sailor's Creek; and we take somewhat gravely this compliment of our new commander, of the Army of the James. At last, after “pardoning something to the spirit of liberty,” we get things “quiet along the lines.”

A truce is agreed upon until one o'clock--it is [244] now ten. A conference is to be held, or rather colloquy, for no one here is authorized to say anything about the terms of surrender. Six or eight officers from each side meet between the lines, near the Court House, waiting Lee's answer to Grant's summons to surrender. There is lively chat here on this unaccustomed opportunity for exchange of notes and queries.

The first greetings are not all so dramatic as might be thought, for so grave an occasion. “W ell Billy, old boy, how goes it?” asks one loyal West Pointer of a classmate he had been fighting for four years. “Bad, bad, Charlie, bad I tell you; but have you got any whisky?” was the response,not poetic, not idealistic, but historic; founded on fact as to the strength of the demand, but without evidence of the questionable maxim that the demand creates the supply. More of the economic truth was manifest that scarcity enhances value.

Everybody seems acquiescent and for the moment cheerful,--except Sheridan. He does not like the cessation of hostilities, and does not conceal his opinion. His natural disposition was not sweetened by the circumstance that he was fired on by some of the Confederates as he was coming up to the meeting under the truce. He is for unconditional surrender, and thinks we should have banged right on and settled all questions without asking them. He strongly intimates that some of the free-thinking rebel cavalry might take advantage of the truce to get away from us. But the Confederate officers, one and all, Gordon, [245] Wilcox, Heth, “RooneyLee, and all the rest, assure him of their good faith, and that the game is up for them.

But suddenly a sharp firing cuts the air about our ears-musketry and artillery-out beyond us on the Lynchburg pike, where it seems Sheridan had sent Gregg's command to stop any free-riding pranks that might be played. Gordon springs up from his pile of rails with an air of astonishment and vexation, declaring that for his part he had sent out in good faith orders to hold things as they are. And he glances more than inquiringly at Sheridan. “Oh, never mind!” says Sheridan, “I know about it. Let 'em fight!” with two simple words added, which, literally taken, are supposed to express a condemnatory judgment, but in Sheridan's rhetoric convey his appreciation of highly satisfactory qualities of his men,--especially just now.

One o'clock comes; no answer from Lee. Nothing for us but to shake hands and take arms to resume hostilities. As I turned to go, General Griffin said to me in a low voice, “Prepare to make, or receive, an attack in ten minutes!” It was a sudden change of tone in our relations, and brought a queer sensation. Where my troops had halted, the opposing lines were in close proximity. The men had stacked arms and were resting in place. It did not seem like war we were to recommence, but wilful murder. But the order was only to “prepare,” and that we did. Our troops were in good position, my advanced line across the road, [246] and we stood fast intensely waiting. I had mounted, and sat looking at the scene before me, thinking of all that was impending and depending, when I felt coming in upon me a strange sense of some presence invisible but powerful-like those unearthly visitants told of in ancient story, charged with supernal message. Disquieted, I turned about, and there behind me, riding in between my two lines, appeared a commanding form, superbly mounted, richly accoutred, of imposing bearing, noble countenance, with expression of deep sadness overmastered by deeper strength. It is no other than Robert E. Lee! And seen by me for the first time within my own lines. I sat immovable, with a certain awe and admiration. He was coming, with a single staff officer, 3 for the great appointed meeting which was to determine momentous issues.

Not long after, by another in-leading road, appeared another form, plain, unassuming, simple, and familiar to our eyes, but to the thought as much inspiring awe as Lee in his splendor and his sadness. It is Grant! He, too, comes with a single aide, a staff officer of Sheridan's who had come out to meet him. 4 Slouched hat without cord; common soldier's blouse, unbuttoned, on which, however, the four stars; high boots, mud-splashed to the top; trousers tucked inside; no sword, but the sword-hand deep in the pocket; sitting his saddle with the ease of a born master, taking no notice of anything, all his faculties gathered into intense thought and mighty calm. [247] He seemed greater than I had ever seen him,--a look as of another world about him. No wonder I forgot altogether to salute him. Anything like that would have been too little.

He rode on to meet Lee at the Court House. What momentous issues had these two souls to declare! Neither of them, in truth, free, nor held in individual bounds alone; no longer testing each other's powers and resources, no longer weighing the chances of daring or desperate conflict. Instruments of God's hands, they were now to record His decree!

But the final word is not long coming now. Staff officers are flying, crying “Lee surrenders!” Ah, there was some kind of strength left among those worn and famished men belting the hills around the springs of the Appomattox, who rent the air with shouting and uproar, as if earth and sea had joined the song! Our men did what they thought their share, and then went to sleep, as they had need to do; but in the opposite camp they acted as if they had got hold of something too good to keep, and gave it to the stars.

Besides, they had a supper that night, which was something of a novelty. For we had divided rations with our old antagonists now that they were by our side as suffering brothers. In truth, Longstreet had come over to our camp that evening with an unwonted moisture on his martial cheek and compressed words on his lips: “Gentlemen, I must speak plainly; we are starving over there. For God's sake! can you send us something?” [248] We were men; and we acted like men, knowing we should suffer for it ourselves. We were too short-rationed also, and had been for days, and must be for days to come. But we forgot Andersonville and Belle Isle that night, and sent over to that starving camp share and share alike for all there; nor thinking the merits of the case diminished by the circumstance that part of these provisions was what Sheridan had captured from their trains the night before.

Generals Gibbon, Griffin, and Merritt were appointed commissioners to arrange the details of the surrender, and orders were issued in both armies that all officers and men should remain within the limits of their encampment.

Late that night I was summoned to headquarters, where General Griffin informed me that I was to command the parade on the occasion of the formal surrender of the arms and colors of Lee's army. He said the Confederates had begged hard to be allowed to stack their arms on the ground where they were, and let us go and pick them up after they had gone; but that Grant did not think this quite respectful enough to anybody, including the United States of America; and while he would have all private property respected, and would permit officers to retain their side-arms, he insisted that the surrendering army as such should march out in due order, and lay down all tokens of Confederate authority and organized hostility to the United States, in immediate presence of some representative portion of the Union Army. Griffin [249] added in a significant tone that Grant wished the ceremony to be as simple as possible, and that nothing should be done to humiliate the manhood of the Southern soldiers.

I appreciated the honor of this appointment, although I did not take it much to myself. There were other things to think of. I only asked General Griffin to give me again my old Third Brigade, which I had commanded after Gettysburg, and with which I had been closely associated in the great battles of the first two years. Not for private reasons, however, was this request made, but because this was to be a crowning incident of history, and I thought these veterans deserved this recognition. I was therefore transferred from the First Brigade, of which I had been so proud, to the Third, representing the veterans of the Fifth Corps. The soul-drawing bugle-call “Lights out!” did not mean darkness and silence that momentous evening; far into the night gleamed some irrepressible camp fire and echoed the irrepressible cheer in which men voiced their deepest thought,--how different for each, no other knows!

At last we sleep-those who can. And so ended that 9th of April, 1865-Palm Sunday,--in that obscure little Virginia village now blazoned for immortal fame. Graver destinies were determined on that humble field than on many of classic and poetic fame. And though the issue brought bitterness to some, yet the heart of humanity the world over thrilled at the tidings. To us, I know, who there fell asleep that night, amidst memories of [250] things that never can be told, it came like that Palm Sunday of old, when the rejoicing multitude met the meekly riding King, and cried: “Peace in heaven; glory in the highest.”

Morning dawned; and then, in spite of all attempts to restrain it, came the visiting and sightseeing. Our camp was full of callers before we were up. They stood over our very heads now,--the men whose movements we used to study through field-glasses, or see close at hand framed in fire. We woke, and by force of habit started at the vision. But our resolute and much-enduring old antagonists were quick to change their mood when touched by appealing sentiment; they used their first vacation to come over and see what we were really made of, and what we had left for trade. Food was what was most needed; but was precisely what we also most lacked. Such as we parted with was not for sale, or barter; this went for “old times” --old comradeship across the lines. But tobacco, pipes, knives, money-or symbols of it, --shoes,--more precious still; and among the staff, even saddles, now and then, and other more trivial things that might serve as souvenirs, made an exchange about as brisk as the bullets had done a few days ago. The inundation of visitors grew so that it looked like a country fair, including the cattle-show. This exhibit broke up the order of the camp; and the authorities in charge had to interpose and forbid all visiting. All this day and part of the next our commissioners were busy arranging for the reception and transportation of surrendered [251] property and the preparation of parole lists for the surrendering men. It was agreed that officers should sign paroles for their commands. But it took work and time to get the muster rolls in shape, not for “red tape” reasons, but for clear and explicit personal and public record. On our part most of us had time to think,--looking backward, and also forward.

Most of all, we missed our companions of the Second and Sixth Corps. They were only three miles away and were under orders to move back at once to Burkeville. It seemed strange to us that these two corps should not be allowed that little three-mile march more, to be participants of this consummation to which they perhaps more than any had contributed. Many a longer detour had they made for less cause and less good.

But whatever of honor or privilege came to us of the Fifth Corps was accepted not as for any preeminent work or worth of ours, but in the name of the whole noble Army of the Potomac; with loving remembrance of every man, whether on horse or foot or cannon-caisson, whether with shoulder-strap of office or with knapsack,--of every man, whether his heart beat high with the joy of this hour, or was long since stilled in the shallow trenches that furrow the red earth from the Antietam to the Appomattox!

It may help to a connected understanding of these closing scenes, if we glance at the movements of that close-pressing column for a day or two before. On the evening of the 7th, General Grant [252] had written General Lee a letter from Farmville, and sent it through General Humphreys' lines, asking Lee to surrender his army. Lee answered at once declining to surrender, but asking the terms Grant would offer. The pursuit being resumed on the morning of the 8th, Grant wrote to Lee a second letter, delivered through Humphreys' skirmish line and Fitzhugh Lee's rear-guard, proposing to meet him for the purpose of arranging terms of surrender. To this Lee replied that he had not intended to propose actual surrender, but to negotiate for peace, and to ask General Grant what terms he would offer on that basis; proposing a meeting at 10 o'clock on the morning of the 9th between the picket lines, for discussion of this question. Grant answered declining the appointment for this purpose, saying in effect that the only way to secure peace is for the South to lay down their arms.

General Grant must have felt that the end was fast coming, even without negotiations; and he seems quite earnest to impress this upon General Lee. For, after all the solicitude about sparing further bloodshed, he in no wise permits his pursuing columns to remit their activity. The natural result of this must be a battle, a destructive and decisive one. Indeed, in the present situation of our Second and Sixth Corps, this battle is imminent. Still, at this very juncture,--Lee being now in his immediate presence, so to speak, close upon Humphreys' skirmish line,--for reasons which he has not made fully apparent but which we of the White [253] Oak Road could without difficulty surmise, General Grant deems it proper to transfer his own personal presence, as he says, “to the head of the column,” or, as Badeau puts it, “to join Sheridan's column.” This was now fighting Gordon's command and Lee's cavalry at Appomattox Court House. Accordingly, General Grant, having sent this suggestive answer to General Lee, took a road leading south from a point a mile west of New Store, for a good twenty-mile ride over to Sheridan, leaving great responsibility on Humphreys and Wright. Lee was repeatedly sending word to Humphreys asking for a truce pending consideration of proposals for surrender. Humphreys answered that he had no authority to consent to this, but, on the contrary, must press him to the utmost; and at last, in answer to Lee's urgency, he even had to warn General Lee that he must retire from a position he was occupying somewhat too trustingly on the road not a hundred yards from the head of the Second Corps column. Lee's reason undoubtedly was that he was expecting the meeting with Grant which he had asked for between the skirmish lines at ten o'clock. Half an hour after the incident, and half a mile beyond this place, the Second Corps came up to Longstreet's entrenched lines three miles northeast of Appomattox Court House; and the Sixth Corps closely following, dispositions were made for instant attack. At this moment General Meade arrives on the ground, and the attack is suspended. For Lee in the meantime has sent a further letter through Humphreys to Grant, [254] asking an interview on the basis of Grant's last letter, and Meade reading this, at once grants a truce of an hour on his own lines, awaiting the response from Grant. But Grant had already left that front. Had he been here, matters could have been quickly settled. A staff officer is sent to overtake General Grant, and at noon, half-way on his journey, the General sends back answer to Lee that he is pushing forward “to the front” for the purpose of meeting him, with the very queer advice that word may be sent to him on the road he is now on, at what point General Lee wishes the meeting to be — that is, by a messenger out-galloping Grant. There is not much choice for Lee now. Grant being on so long a road and at such distance from both of the two “columns,” communication with him is for a time impracticable. In consequence of this necessary delay, Lee sent a flag of truce both to Meade in his rear and to Sheridan in his front, to ask for a suspension of hostilities until he could somewhere meet General Grant, and himself took the shortest road for Appomattox Court House.

To resume my point of time and place, I was most of this day and the next adjusting relations in my changing commands, and with a part of my men, in picking up abandoned guns and munitions of value along the track of the Confederate march. I also had some thoughts which, as this is a personal narrative, it may be permitted to recall. For those who choose, the passage may be passed by. Some people have naturally asked me if I [255] knew why I was designated to command the parade at the formal surrender. The same query came to my mind during the reflections of this day. I did not know or presume to ask those who perhaps would not have told me. Taking the assignment as I would any other, my feeling about it was more for the honor of the Fifth Corps and the Army of the Potomac than for myself. In lineal rank the junior general on the field, I never thought of claiming any special merit, nor tried to attract attention in any way, and believed myself to be socially unpopular among the “high boys.” I had never indulged in loose talk, had minded my own business, did not curry favor with newspaper reporters, did not hang around superior headquarters, and in general had disciplined myself in self-control and the practice of patience, which virtue was not prominent among my natural endowments.

Some of my chief superiors had taken notice of this latter peculiarity apparently, as, when the recommendations for my promotion to brigadier-general after Gettysburg were ignored by the “delegation” at Washington, I found myself very soon assigned to command of a brigade. When, after the sharp tests of the Bristoe and Culpeper campaign, I was sent disabled to hospital from Rappahannock Station, and found on returning to duty that General Bartlett, of the Sixth Corps, sent over to relieve the dearth of generals in the Fifth, had chosen to take my brigade, I cheerfully returned to my regiment. Having [256] in the meantime been applied for to command the Regular Brigade in Ayres' Division, I declined the offer at the request of General Griffin, who desired me to remain with the First Division. So remaining, I was often put in charge of peculiarly trying ventures, advance and rear-guard fights, involving command of several regiments, from Spottsylvania to Cold Harbor. Immediately after this, being still Colonel of the 20th Maine, I was assigned in special orders by General Warren to the command of a brigade of six Pennsylvania regiments, made up of veterans of the First Corps, who had distinguished themselves at Gettysburg by their heroism and their losses, with a fine new regiment of full ranks,--mostly veterans also. I devoted my best energies to the perfecting of this command during the campaign before Richmond and the opening assaults on Petersburg, but in the first battle here was severely wounded leading a charge, after rather presumptuously advising against it. Here General Grant promoted me on the field to Brigadier-General in terms referring to previous history. Returning to the front after months in Annapolis Naval School Hospital, I found my splendid brigade broken up and scattered, and its place filled by two new regiments, one from New York and one from Pennsylvania, both of finest material and personnel, but my command was reduced from the largest brigade in the corps to the very smallest. Although offered other highly desirable positions, I quietly took up this little brigade and with no complaints and no petitions for advancement went [257] forward in my duty with the best that was in me. The noble behavior of these troops was the occasion of the brevet of Major-General, and no doubt in consideration of meekness in small things General Griffin placed under my orders for all the active engagements of this campaign, the fine Second Brigade of the division,--thus giving me a command equal to my former one, or any other in the corps.

So I had reason to believe that General Griffin had something to do with General Grant's kind remembrance, and negative merits appeared to stand for something. Tout vient a point pour qui sait attendre-“Everything comes in good time to him who knows how to wait.”

On the morning of the 11th our division had been moved over to relieve Turner's of the Twenty-fourth Corps, Army of the James, near the Court House, where they had been receiving some of the surrendered arms, especially of the artillery on their front, while Mackenzie's cavalry had received the surrendered sabers of W. H. F. Lee's command.

Praises of General Grant were on every tongue for his magnanimity in allowing the horses of the artillery and cavalry that were the property of the men and not of the Confederacy, to be retained by the men for service in restoring and working their little plantations, and also in requesting the managers of transportation companies in all that region to facilitate in every way the return of these men to their homes. [258]

At noon of the I Ith the troops of the Army of the James took up the march to Lynchburg, to make sure of that yet doubtful point of advantage. Lee and Grant had both left: Lee for Richmond, to see his dying wife; Grant for Washington, only that once more to see again Lincoln living. The business transactions had been settled, the parole papers made out; all was ready for the last turn, --the dissolving-view of the Army of Northern Virginia.

It was now the morning of the 12th of April. I had been ordered to have my lines formed for the ceremony at sunrise. It was a chill gray morning, depressing to the senses. But our hearts made warmth. Great memories uprose; great thoughts went forward. We formed along the principal street, from the bluff bank of the stream to near the Court House on the left,--to face the last line of battle, and receive the last remnant of the arms and colors of that great army which ours had been created to confront for all that death can do for life. We were remnants also: Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York; veterans, and replaced veterans; cut to pieces, cut down, consolidated, divisions into brigades, regiments into one, gathered by State origin; this little line, quintessence or metempsychosis of Porter's old corps of Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill; men of near blood born, made nearer by blood shed. Those facing us-now, thank God! the same.

As for me, I was once more with my old command. [259] But this was not all I needed. I had taken leave of my little First Brigade so endeared to me, and the end of the fighting had released the Second from all orders from me. But these deserved to share with me now as they had so faithfully done in the sterner passages of the campaign. I got permission from General Griffin to have them also in the parade. I placed the First Brigade in line a little to our rear, and the Second on the opposite side of the street facing us and leaving ample space for the movements of the coming ceremony. Thus the whole division was out, and under my direction for the occasion, although I was not the division commander. I thought this troubled General Bartlett a little, but he was a manly and soldierly man and made no comment. He contented himself by mounting his whole staff and with the division flag riding around our lines and conversing as he found opportunity with the Confederate officers. This in no manner disturbed me; my place and part were definite and clear.

Our earnest eyes scan the busy groups on the opposite slopes, breaking camp for the last time, taking down their little shelter-tents and folding them carefully as precious things, then slowly forming ranks as for unwelcome duty. And now they move. The dusky swarms forge forward into gray columns of march. On they come, with the old-swinging route step and swaying battleflags. In the van, the proud Confederate ensign — the great field of white with canton of star-strewn cross of blue on a field of red, the regimental [260] battle-flags with the same escutcheon following on, crowded so thick, by thinning out of men, that the whole column seemed crowned with red. At the right of our line our little group mounted beneath our flags, the red Maltese cross on a field of white, erewhile so bravely borne through many a field more crimson than itself, its mystic meaning now ruling all.

The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least. The act could be defended, if needful, by the suggestion that such a salute was not to the cause for which the flag of the Confederacy stood, but to its going down before the flag of the Union. My main reason, however, was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;--was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?

Instructions had been given; and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, [261] our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier's salutation, from the “order arms” to the old “carry” --the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual,--honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!

As each successive division masks our own, it halts, the men face inward towards us across the road, twelve feet away; then carefully “dress” their line, each captain taking pains for the good appearance of his company, worn and half starved as they were. The field and staff take their positions in the intervals of regiments; generals in rear of their commands. They fix bayonets, stack arms; then, hesitatingly, remove cartridge-boxes and lay them down. Lastly,--reluctantly, with agony of expression,--they tenderly fold their flags, battle-worn and torn, blood-stained, heart-holding colors, and lay them down; some frenziedly rushing [262] from the ranks, kneeling over them, clinging to them, pressing them to their lips with burning tears. And only the Flag of the Union greets the sky!

What visions thronged as we looked into each other's eyes! Here pass the men of Antietam, the Bloody Lane, the Sunken Road, the Cornfield, the Burnside-Bridge; the men whom Stonewall Jackson on the second night at Fredericksburg begged Lee to let him take and crush the two corps of the Army of the Potomac huddled in the streets in darkness and confusion; the men who swept away the Eleventh Corps at Chancellorsville; who left six thousand of their companions around the bases of Culp's and Cemetery Hills at Gettysburg; these survivors of the terrible Wilderness, the Bloody-Angle at Spottsylvania, the slaughter pen of Cold Harbor, the whirlpool of Bethesda Church!

Here comes Cobb's Georgia Legion, which held the stone wall on Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg, close before which we piled our dead for breastworks so that the living might stay and live.

Here too come Gordon's Georgians and Hoke's North Carolinians, who stood before the terrific mine explosion at Petersburg, and advancing retook the smoking crater and the dismal heaps of dead-ours more than theirs-huddled in the ghastly chasm.

Here are the men of McGowan, Hunton, and Scales, who broke the Fifth Corps lines on the White Oak Road, and were so desperately driven back on that forlorn night of March 31St by my thrice-decimated brigade. [263]

Now comes Anderson's Fourth Corps, only Bushrod Johnson's Division left, and this the remnant of those we fought so fiercely on the Quaker Road two weeks ago, with Wise's Legion, too fierce for its own good.

Here passes the proud remnant of Ransom's North Carolinians which we swept through Five Forks ten days ago,--and all the little that was left of this division in the sharp passages at Sailor's Creek five days thereafter.

Now makes its last front A. P. Hill's old Corps, Heth now at the head, since Hill had gone too far forward ever to return: the men who poured destruction into our division at Shepardstown Ford, Antietam, in 1862, when Hill reported the Potomac running blue with our bodies; the men who opened the desperate first day's fight at Gettysburg, where withstanding them so stubbornly our Robinson's Brigades lost 1185 men, and the Iron Brigade alone 1153,--these men of Heth's Division here too losing 2850 men, companions of these now looking into our faces so differently.

What is this but the remnant of Mahone's Division, last seen by us at the North Anna? its thinned ranks of worn, bright-eyed men recalling scenes of costly valor and ever-remembered history.

Now the sad great pageant-Longstreet and his men! What shall we give them for greeting that has not already been spoken in volleys of thunder and written in lines of fire on all the riverbanks of Virginia? Shall we go back to Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill? Or to the Antietam of [264] Maryland, or Gettysburg of Pennsylvania?-deepest graven of all. For here is what remains of Kershaw's Division, which left 40 per cent. of its men at Antietam, and at Gettysburg with Barksdale's and Semmes' Brigades tore through the Peach Orchard, rolling up the right of our gallant Third Corps, sweeping over the proud batteries of Massachusetts-Bigelow and Philips,--where under the smoke we saw the earth brown and blue with prostrate bodies of horses and men, and the tongues of overturned cannon and caissons pointing grim and stark in the air.

Then in the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania and thereafter, Kershaw's Division again, in deeds of awful glory, held their name and fame, until fate met them at Sailor's Creek, where Kershaw himself, and Ewell, and so many more, gave up their arms and hopes,--all, indeed, but manhood's honor.

With what strange emotion I look into these faces before which in the mad assault on Rives' Salient, June 18, 1864, I was left for dead under their eyes! It is by miracles we have lived to see this day,--any of us standing here.

Now comes the sinewy remnant of fierce Hood's Division, which at Gettysburg we saw pouring through the Devil's Den, and the Plum Run gorge; turning again by the left our stubborn Third Corps, then swarming up the rocky bastions of Round Top, to be met there by equal valor, which changed Lee's whole plan of battle and perhaps the story of Gettysburg. [265]

Ah, is this Pickett's Division?-this little group left of those who on the lurid last day of Gettysburg breasted level cross-fire and thunderbolts of storm, to be strewn back drifting wrecks, where after that awful, futile, pitiful charge we buried them in graves a furlong wide, with names unknown!

Met again in the terrible cyclone-sweep over the breastworks at Five Forks; met now, so thin, so pale, purged of the mortal,--as if knowing pain or joy no more. How could we help falling on our knees, all of us together, and praying God to pity and forgive us all!

Thus, all day long, division after division comes and goes, surrendered arms being removed by our wagons in the intervals, the cartridge-boxes emptied in the street when the ammunition was found unserviceable, our men meanwhile resting in place.

Meantime many men had been coming in late in the day, complaining that they had been abandoned by their officers and declaring that they preferred to give their parole in surrender, rather than encounter all the difficulties and hardships of an attempt to escape.

There are incidents of that scene which may be worth repeating. There was opportunity for converse with several Confederate generals. Their bearing was, of course, serious, their spirits sad. What various misgivings mingled in their mood we could not but conjecture. Levying war against the United States was serious business. But one certain impression was received from them all; they were ready to accept for themselves and for [266] the Confederacy any fate our Government should dictate. Lincoln's magnanimity, as Grant's thoughtfulness, had already impressed them much. They spoke like brave men who mean to stand upon their honor and accept the situation. “General,” says one of them at the head of his corps, “this is deeply humiliating; but I console myself with the thought that the whole country will rejoice at this day's business.” “You astonish us,” says another of equally high rank, “by your honorable and generous conduct. I fear we should not have done the same by you had the case been reversed.” “I will go home,” says a gallant officer from North Carolina, “and tell Joe Johnston we can't fight such men as you. I will advise him to surrender.” “I went into that cause” says yet another of well-known name, “and I meant it. We had our choice of weapons and of ground, and we have lost. Now that is my flag (pointing to the flag of the Union), and I will prove myself as worthy as any of you.”

In fact that was the whole drift of the talk, and there is no reason to doubt that it was sincere. Equally so but quite different was the strain of another. I saw him moving restlessly about, scolding his men and being answered back by them instead of ordering them. He seemed so disturbed in mind that I rode down the line to see if I could not give him a word of cheer. With a respectful salutation, calling his attention to the bearing of the men on both sides, “This promises well for our coming good-will,” said I; “brave men may become [267] good friends.” “You're mistaken, sir,” he turned and said. “You may forgive us but we won't be forgiven. There is a rancor in our hearts [here came in an anatomical gesture] which you little dream of. We hate you, sir.” “Oh, we don't mind much about dreams, nor about hates either. Those two lines of business are closed,” was the quiet reply. Then as if a little sorry for his opening, fixing his gaze on two ungainly looking holes in the breast of my coat and a much-abused sleeve, he exclaimed in a milder tone: “Those were ugly shots, General. Where did you get these?” Unfortunately I had to admit that this happened on the first day of the campaign in an afternoon I had the honor of spending with him and his party on the Quaker Road, where there were plenty of quakers and shakers also, and some few runners who left me a parting souvenir. “I suppose you think you did great things there,” he burst in. “I was ordered to attack you and check your advance; and I did it too with a vim, till I found I was fighting three army corps, when I thought it prudent to retire.” I was really sorry to have to reassure him that there was no more than the third part of one corps present on our side. “I know better,” he cries; “I saw the flags myself.” I think that he did stop to count three before he left us, leaving his cap behind. But I could not resist saying: “You saw the flags of three regiments; steady eyes could see no more.” One of his staff officers corroborates this, and for a moment he subsides. Then he breaks out again: [268] “It's a pity you have no lawyers in your army,” --I did not know what was coming now, unless he wanted to make his will,--“you don't know how to make out paroles. Who ever heard of paroles being signed by any but the parties paroled?” I tried to explain to him that this was a matter of mercy and humanity, for if we should keep all their men there till every individual could sign his parole, half of them would be dead of starvation before their turn came. “Nonsense,” he rejoins; “all that is spargere voces; every lawyer knows such a parole as this is a mere brutum fulmen.” “Sir,” I answer, “if by brute thunderbolts you mean a pledged word to keep the peace accepted and adopted by the recipient of the favor, I don't believe your people need any lawyer to instruct them as to the word of honor.” I was about to turn away; he catches the suggestion of the motion and issues a parting order. “You go home,” he cries, “you take these fellows home. That's what will end the war.” “Don't worry about the end of the war,” I answer. “We are going home pretty soon, but not till we see you home.” “Home!” he snatches up the word. “We haven't any. You have destroyed them. You have invaded Virginia, and ruined her. Her curse is on you.” “You shouldn't have invited us down here then,” was the obvious reply. “We expected somebody was going to get hurt when we took up your challenge. Didn't you? People who don't want to get hurt, General, had better not force a fight on unwilling Yankees.” [269]

By this time the thing grew comic. The staff officers both in blue and gray laughed outright; and even his men looked around from their somber service and smiled as if they enjoyed the joke. He turned away also to launch his “brute thunderbolts,” not waiting to receive my thanks for instruction in Law and Latin. “The wise man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself, but the foolish pass on and are punished, says the old proverb.” If there are no exceptions to this rule, then this gentleman was not rightly named.

With this comedy ends, in classic fashion, the stern drama of the Appomattox. A strange and somber shadow rose up ghost-like from the haunts of memory or habit, and rested down over the final parting scene. How strong are these ties of habit! How strange the undertone of sadness even at the release from prison and from pain! It seems as if we had put some precious part of ourselves there which we are loath to leave.

When all is over, in the dusk of evening, the long lines of scattered cartridges are set on fire, and the lurid flames wreathing the blackness of earthly shadows give an unearthly border to our parting.

Then, stripped of every token of enmity or instrument of power to hurt, they march off to give their word of honor never to lift arms against the old flag again till its holders release them from their promise. Then, their ranks broken, the bonds that bound them fused away by forces stronger than fire, they are free at last to go where [270] they will; to find their homes, now most likely stricken, despoiled by war.

Twenty-seven thousand men paroled; seventeen thousand stand of arms laid down or gathered up; a hundred battle-flags. But regiments and brigades-or what is left of them — have scarce a score of arms to surrender; having thrown them away by road and riverside in weariness of flight or hopelessness of heart, disdaining to carry them longer but to disaster. And many a bare staff was there laid down, from which the ensign had been torn in the passion and struggle of emotions, and divided piece by piece; a blurred or shrunken star, a rag of smoke-stained blue from the war-worn cross, a shred of deepened dye from the rent field of red, to be treasured for precious keepsakes of manhood's test and heirlooms for their children.

Nor blame them too much for this, nor us for not blaming them more. Although, as we believed, fatally wrong in striking at the old flag, misreading its deeper meaning and the innermost law of the people's life, blind to the signs of the times in the march of man, they fought as they were taught, true to such ideals as they saw, and put into their cause their best. For us they were fellow-soldiers as well, suffering the fate of arms. We could not look into those brave, bronzed faces, and those battered flags we had met on so many fields where glorious manhood lent a glory to the earth that bore it, and think of personal hate and mean revenge. Whoever had misled these men, we had not. We had led them back, home. Whoever had [271] made that quarrel, we had not. It was a remnant of the inherited curse for sin. We had purged it away, with blood-offerings. We were all of us together factors of that high will which, working often through illusions of the human, and following ideals that lead through storms, evolves the enfranchisement of man.

Forgive us, therefore, if from stern, steadfast faces eyes dimmed with tears gazed at each other across that pile of storied relics so dearly there laid down, and brothers' hands were fain to reach across that rushing tide of memories which divided us, yet made us forever one.

It was our glory only that the victory we had won was for country, for the well-being of others, of these men before us as well as for ourselves and ours. Our joy was a deep, far, unspoken satisfaction,--the approval, as it were, of some voiceless and veiled divinity like the appointed “Angel of the nation” of which the old scriptures tell — leading and looking far, yet mindful of sorrows; standing above all human strife and fierce passages of trial; not marking faults nor seeking blame; transmuting into factors of the final good corrected errors and forgiven sins; assuring of immortal inheritance all pure purpose and noble endeavor, humblest service and costliest sacrifice, unconscious and even mistaken martyrdoms offered and suffered for the sake of man.

Now on the morrow, over all the hillsides in the peaceful sunshine, are clouds of men on foot or horse, singly or in groups, making their earnest way [272] as by the instinct of the ant, each with his own little burden, each for his own little home. And we are left alone, and lonesome. We miss our spirited antagonists in the game, and we lose interest. The weight is taken out of the opposite scale, and we go down. Never are we less gay. And when we took up the long, round — about march homeward, it was dull to plod along looking only at the muddy road, without scouts and skirmishers ahead, and reckless of our flanks. It was tame to think we could ride up to any thicket of woods we pleased, without starting at the chirrup of those little bluebirds whose cadence was so familiar to our ears, and made so deep a lodgment in our bosoms too, sometimes. It was dreary to lie down and sleep at night and think there was no vigilant picket out on the dubious-looking crests around to keep faithful watch and ward. And it seems sheer waste of opportunity and mark of military incapacity, when we emerge from some deep wood or defile and no battery belches destruction upon us from so advantageous a position as the commanding heights beyond.

But slowly these lingering images of memory or habit are lost in the currents of a deeper mood; we wonder at that mysterious dispensation whereby the pathway of the kingdom of Love on earth must needs be cut through by the sword, and why it must be that by such things as we had seen and done and suffered, and lost and won, a step is taken in the homeward march of man.

1 The various accounts that have been since given of the reception of the flag of truce on this occasion might lead to the impression upon readers of history that we were all under great agitation of mind and that our memories were somewhat confused or possibly our habit of truth telling. But those who were acquainted with the facts will not be disturbed in their inferences or judgments. In accordance with Lee's instructions several flags were sent out at important points along his own line, and several came in on our Appomattox front. The flagbearers I refer to were Capt. P. M. Jones, now U. S. District Judge in Alabama, and Capt. Brown of Georgia.

2 It has been claimed that the last man killed in the Appomattox lines belonged to the Army of the James. That may possibly be so, as the reception of flags began on our right, and probably did not reach the extreme left where the Army of the James was until some time after. So there may have been some firing and casualties after the truce had been received on our right. The honor of this last death is not a proper subject of quarrel.

3 Colonel Marshall, chief of staff.

4 Colonel Newhall.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Gettysburg (Pennsylvania, United States) (10)
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (4)
Five Forks (Virginia, United States) (4)
Washington (United States) (3)
Virginia (Virginia, United States) (3)
United States (United States) (3)
Spottsylvania (Virginia, United States) (3)
Sailor's Creek (Virginia, United States) (3)
Appomattox (Virginia, United States) (3)
Antietam (Maryland, United States) (3)
Richmond (Virginia, United States) (2)
Petersburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)
Massachusetts (Massachusetts, United States) (2)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (2)
Malvern Hill (Virginia, United States) (2)
Lynchburg (Virginia, United States) (2)
Gaines Mill (Virginia, United States) (2)
Fredericksburg, Va. (Virginia, United States) (2)
Farmville (Virginia, United States) (2)
Rienzi (Mississippi, United States) (1)
North Carolina (North Carolina, United States) (1)
New Store (Virginia, United States) (1)
Michigan (Michigan, United States) (1)
Marye's Heights (Virginia, United States) (1)
Maine (Maine, United States) (1)
High Bridge (Wisconsin, United States) (1)
Gordon Springs (South Carolina, United States) (1)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (1)
Danville (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Culpeper, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Chancellorsville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Cemetery Hills (Arizona, United States) (1)
Burkeville (Virginia, United States) (1)
Belle Isle, Va. (Virginia, United States) (1)
Annapolis (Maryland, United States) (1)
Andersonville, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Alabama (Alabama, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 9th, 1865 AD (2)
June 18th, 1864 AD (1)
1862 AD (1)
1185 AD (1)
1153 AD (1)
April 12th (1)
March 31st (1)
8th (1)
7th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: