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Personal reminiscences of the ‘last days of Lee and his Paladins.’

Read before the A. P. Hill Camp, C. V., by request, on the 6th of March, 1890.

By John Herbert Claiborne, M. A., M. D.,
Lately Major and Surgeon, P. A. C. S.
comrades:—‘Arma virumque cano,’—sang the bard of Mantua in epic story, which nineteen centuries have decreed immortal; but it is a story whose stirring incidents pale in shadowy nothing in presence of that mighty drama, whose tragic history you made in the ‘Seven Last Scenes of Lee and His Paladins.’

The poet has not been born nor the orator made, who, with lyre [19] or tongue, has given to the world a fitting recital of that heroic struggle of one short week, in which was lost a cause and country that we had dreamed to be a heritage from heaven, and which we had loved even better than life.

Do not look to me, therefore, for song or story worthy of Confederate fame. I have no flowers of rhetoric to show, no measured lines of epic verse to bring, to your camp fire to-night; I have only a simple story to tell, a tale of personal reminiscence, a recountal of march and bivouac and battle, measured by septenary scenes of suffering, of weariness, of wounds, of want, of hopeless deeds of heroism, of days of disaster, in which the heavens seemed hid, and finally, of a black and starless night, in which the warrior's banner was planted for the last time by warrior hands, and of a coming morning of unspeakable sorrow, when slowly and sullenly it was furled forever.

When, in the memorable campaign of 1864, Lee and Grant, on the 18th of June, confronted each other in the trenches at Petersburg, I was in the city, assigned to duty as senior surgeon, or executive officer, in charge of all general military hospitals at this post, reporting immediately to the general commanding the department.

My duties were scarcely of a professional character at all—I had no opportunity of seeing the sick and wounded except on tour of inspection—but my whole time was consumed in receiving and forwarding morning reports of the number and condition of those under hospital treatment; to see that they had proper and sufficient accommodation; that they were carefully and skillfully attended; that their diet was full and in accordance with regulation; that they were supplied with bedding and clothing; that the sick were carefully apportioned to hospital dimension; that the wounded were removed from under fire as promptly as possible, &c., &c.; in the execution of which my life was no sinecure, and my position not pleasant, not safe, especially after the heavy shelling of the city commenced, and one not especially to be coveted. Few men had the privilege of selecting their places, however, in those days, and my lot was light in comparison with that of many others.

When General Lee assumed command, or rather when he was placed in command, of all the forces and affairs at the post, my duties were increased, and I was required to report at his headquarters, or to forward my reports to his headquarters. I made a friend of his chief surgeon, a frank, genial and generous man, a surgeon in the old army, and I had his support and help in the discharge of some of my onerous and unpleasant duties. And here let me record, that [20] the Confederate Government was liberal, in and beyond its means, in the care of its sick and wounded soldiers. I had permission and authority to make requisitions, at my own will, for money in any amount, and, when money would not buy the necessary supplies, to draw for cotton yarns and snuff, with which I rarely failed to get what I wanted.

But as the months wore on; as the casualties of the siege daily increased; as the hospitals and cemeteries were being constantly filled; as the recruits became fewer and fewer; as the food, gathered and bought or impressed, came in more and more slowly from broken and badly equipped roads; it became evident that our struggle was against hope. The deserters, gaunt and hungry—God help and forgive them, for they had been men and soldiers and patriots once—began to creep away under cover of night, and our attenuated lines could no longer be held.

On the morning of the 2nd of April, 1865 (my quarters then were on Washington street, on the south side, just opposite to the present residence of Mr. Bangley), Col. P—— came galloping down from the direction of Turnbull's farm, the headquarters of General Lee, and reining up in front of my office, informed me that General A. P. Hill had been killed, and that our lines were broken on the Dinwiddie plank road. He would give me no specific information, however, said he had no orders for me, and hurried on to the front on the Jerusalem plank road. He did not tell me—(it was about 11 A. M.)—that General Lee had left his headquarters, nor of the fierce fighting at Fort Grigg. I was soon made fully aware of the situation on the west of the city by one of my assistant surgeons, who having constituted himself a scout, proceeded, without my command, to reconnoiter about a mile up Cox road. He returned with great precipitancy, and, I might say, with haste unbecoming his rank, and informed me that the Yankees were advancing their lines as far as the Whitworth house, now the lunatic asylum, and, swinging around their left, were threatening to encircle the city. There soon came tidings from the hospital at the fair grounds (now West End Park), that things were very unpleasant in that vicinity, and that surgeons and attaches were compelled to resort to the leeward of the large trees, to protect themselves from the enemy's random bullets, whilst the convalescents were disposed to go, and not to stand on the order of their going.

About two o'clock my orders came to leave the city, and to take with me as many surgeons, hospital attaches, servants, &c., as could [21] be spared from hospital service, and to cross the river at Campbell's bridge, take the road to Chesterfield Courthouse, go as far as practicable that night, and to await further orders.

For some months, we had been able to keep open within the corporate limits only two hospitals, the Fair Grounds hospital, and the Confederate hospital on Washington street, at the corner of Jones road; the latter the best organized and equipped military hospital I ever saw, which I had fitted up, without regard to expense, two years before, in a large tobacco factory, that could have been no better adapted for the purpose, if it had been built for a hospital.

The other hospitals in the city, one, the North Carolina hospital, at the present site of Cameron's factory; one on Washington street, the Virginia hospital, in Watson & McGill's factory; one on Washington and Jefferson streets, the South Carolina, now the factory of J. H. Maclin, and one on Bollingbrook and Second streets; the Ladies' hospital we had been compelled to abandon the first month of the siege on account of the shelling, which made them unpleasant and unsafe for the sick and wounded. The Confederate and Fair Grounds hospitals, therefore, were crowded with wounded, and especially during the hard fighting which preceded the evacuation of the city. Therefore, I found, on inspection, I could take but few surgeons or attaches with me, and when I mustered my little force at sunset, in front of the Confederate hospital, found I had four surgeons, as many attaches (white), one ambulance and driver, one wagon, one buggy, and four colored servants, one of whom, a sprightly and smart young lad of sixteen, his mother, who was one of my slaves, brought up just before I left, and with many imprecations and adjurations, told him to follow ‘master to the end of the earth,’ and ‘never to come back unless master came too.’

As I stood at the gate of the hospital and watched my little cortege move off—10th, indeed, to turn my back on home and city, for I felt that I should never see either again as I saw them then, if I ever saw them at all—the wounded were being hurried in from ambulance and upon stretcher, their moans mingling with the cries of women, the shrieking and bursting of shell, and the hoarse orders of men in authority, two scenes caught my eye, which are as idelibly fixed there now as on that holy Sabbath eve, which the great God had seemingly given up to the devils in pandemonium.

A stretcher was borne in the gateway by four soldiers, just from the near front, one of them crying ‘my poor captain; the best man that ever lived.’ A large, finely-made officer he was, his right arm [22] shot away at the shoulder-joint, and the quivering, bleeding flesh soiled with dust, stained with powder and filled with shreds of the gray sleeve that had been hurriedly cut off. Something moved me as the bearers halted, to uncover the face, over which some rude but kindly hand had thrown a piece of dirty blanket. Great God! There lay before me a friend of my earliest boyhood! Years had passed by since we parted—I had known him as the gentlest, most lovable of men, living in a quiet country home, amidst a simple-hearted, peace-loving people, an Arcadia, in which war was not even a dream. But he did not know me. His honest, brave life was fast ebbing away, and the mist was gathering over his eyes, which could only be swept off in the sunlight of that country where the nations shall learn war no more.

As I turned away, heart-sick, from this scene, a poor woman caught me by the hands: ‘Doctor, will you not order somebody to help me to carry my poor husband home. I can take care of him and nurse him better than any one else—there he is.’ And there, lying only a few feet away in the hospital yard, where with many others he had been hurriedly brought in and put down anywhere that space could be found, was a private belonging to the second-class militia, an humble citizen not subject to regular military service, who had been summoned to the defence of the city, when our lines grew so thin. He had fallen not very far away from the little cottage, where, in days of peace, he had lived with his wife and little ones-and now there he lay, a fourth part of his skull carried away with a fragment of shell, exposing his brain, leaving him with some little automatic life, but, of course, without conciousness, whilst his poor wife was striving to get from him some sign of recognition and begging that he might be carried home. I could only stop to tell her that my right to order was at an end, and that if a thousand men were at my beck none could help her now. I could see no more, and mounting my horse I slowly followed my little party, crossed the river and on the heights at Ettricks took one last look at Petersburg — as it was. Here I overtook my cortege, and mustering them found one absentee. This was a yellow, bob-tailed, bob-eared, rough-haired, Scotch-terrier, about twelve years old, who had seen no little service, and who showed it. He was irritable, selfish, self-asserting, frail as to virtue, his name disagreeably associated with any number of scandals, but full of faith in his master, and irrevocably attached to his master's fortunes, or misfortunes. I had given my chief of ambulance orders that whoever should be left behind, [23] Jack must go, and that proper transportation should be furnished him. He had always had too high an appreciation of himself to walk, and had ridden more thousand miles, had fallen out of more vehicles, and been run over oftener, than any other dog in the world —I assert this without fear of contradiction.

He had but few friends, and but little capacity to make friends. Some incompatibility of temper, I suspect, had occurred betwixt him and the chief of ambulance, on the subject of riding, before the start from Petersburg, hence Jack was left behind. I said to the chief: ‘Return at once to the city and bring me my dog, or fall into the hands of the enemy with him.’ The man looked at me for a minute as if he would question such an order, but four years of discipline and obedience had not lost its force on the first night of the retreat, and he turned off and retraced his steps to Petersburg. I never expected to see him again, but late at night and after we had gone into camp, he returned on horseback (he had borrowed a horse —soldiers rarely found any difficulty in borrowing a horse), and leading Jack by a chain of white handkerchiefs. I did not enquire where he got the horse, but having some curiosity to know where he got the handkerchiefs, I ventured to ask him. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘Sir, they are breaking up everything in town and looting the stores, and I found these handkerchiefs at the head of Old street.’

We found, on taking up our march, that some broken sections of artillery had been ordered to take the same road to Chesterfield Courthouse that we were following, and that our retreat was somewhat obstructed by their irregular and tardy movements. The teams were bad, the roads worse, the drivers profane, neither helping themselves nor calling upon Hercules to help when a wheel fell into a hole, and when we had gotten over Brander's bridge, about four miles from the city, one or two caissons were stuck so badly in the mud that the officer in charge of the party, or somebody else, concluded that it would be safer for the caisson to be left there, and it was so ordered, or at least it so occurred. It was now about 9 or 10 o'clock at night, and our little party went into their first camp or bivouac.

We were very tired after the stirring and fatiguing incidents of the day, and the most of us were soon asleep. I do not know how long we had slept, when we were awakened by what seemed quite a heavy firing, both of artillery and musketry, a few miles to our right, exciting our fears of pursuit and capture. It seemed so near, and the danger so imminent, that we thought best to break camp and to continue [24] our march. One tremendous explosion caused such panic in our little party, that Jack, who had slept on my blanket at my side, became demoralized and sought individual safety in individual flight. As he disappeared in the darkness, I never expected to see him again, and never did until after my return some two months later to Petersburg, when he was the first one of my acquaintances to meet and greet me. His subsequent history, though not without interest of detail, would lead me away from my subject, and henceforth he will appear in this narrative no more. He was a poor soldier, always left the line when the firing began, impelled by thirst or some other consideration of a personal character; but his services in civil life entitled him, in my belief, to the right of civil sepulture, and you will find his grave in the section marked ‘Claiborne,’ in the old Blandford Cemetery, and his epitaph in the 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes, 20th and 21st verses.

All of our party moved off in order except Jack, and the next morning, about 11 o'clock, we arrived at Chesterfield Courthouse, and found Mahone's division drawn up in line, at right angles with our road. It received us with a cheer and opened ranks to let us through. With these bronzed veterans behind us, and between us and pursuit, we dismissed all fear, and passing a few hundred rods further, we lay down to rest, and to await further orders.

After waiting several hours, my orders came: ‘Take the right-hand road to Goode's bridge, rendezvous at Amelia Courthouse. There rations and transportation by rail will await you.’ We recommenced our march, but did not reach Goode's bridge that night, bivouaced somewhere on the side of the road, and next day made the bridge. Just before we reached that point, however, we came to a beautiful residence on the side of the road, one of the old-time Virginia mansions, the seat and embodiment of hospitable invitation and luxurious entertainment, and under some patriarchal trees on the well-kept lawn were seated General Mahone and staff, evidently awaiting refreshments. He recognized me and called to me to halt and tie my horse, and come in and get something to eat. My habit of obedience was too firmly fixed, after four years of service, to permit me to refuse, and I dismounted and joined this party. We discussed the situation with as much freedom as a major-general could afford with a subaltern, but there was no sort of restraint when the buttermilk and ash-cake and fried chicken were brought out under the trees, and we enjoyed the hospitable repast as only soldiers could do, who had ‘had nowhere to sleep, and nothing to eat in four [25] days.’ Had I known then, though, that which I discovered later on, that Mahone's division was not between me and the enemy, I do not know that I should have dined with so much sang-froid, or tarried with my hospitable general so long. It seems that sometime during the night Mahone's division had passed my little party, and put us again, without my knowledge or consent, in its rear or between it and the enemy, reversing the position which had afforded us such satisfactory sense of security the day before. Mahone, however, knew where his troops were and where the enemy was, and as soon as we had finished our dinner, he said: ‘It is time we were off.’

I rode with him leisurely for an hour or so, perhaps, before we came up with our men, talking more of the past, in which we had many pleasant things in common, than in the future in which neither of us saw much of promise, when he reined up his horse, and looking quietly and gravely at me, said: ‘Doctor, what command are you attached to and what are you going to do?’ I told him that I was without any especial attachment, that I had received orders to proceed to Amelia Courthouse via Goode's bridge, and to conduct a few surgeons and hospital attaches, and a wounded officer or two who came out of Petersburg with me, to that point, where I would receive rations and transportation to some other point, I knew not where. He said to me: ‘Take my advice, send your detachment along under one of your surgeons and stay with me. If any troops get out of this trouble, Mahone's division will get out—it will get through.’

I looked back over the country which we had traversed, and there was a cloud of dust which could not have been made by our troops (for all of them had passed on), and some long blue lines could be seen in the far distance, and I asked the general what that meant. ‘Yankees,’ he said, ‘I suppose.’ ‘We will have to stop here.’

The sun was about sinking down behind the high hills and dark pines that skirted them, and things looked very peaceful but for those blue lines which I felt boded no good. And I had great confidence in Mahone and his resources, and his men, scarred and bronzed in battle and campaign for four long years of war—I believed in him and I believed in them—but my little company had gone on, we could reach Amelia Courthouse that night or the next morning, there was no enemy in front that I knew of, and I thought I had better follow them. So I said: ‘General, you have a very good surgeon on your staff, haven't you?’ ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘there is Wood.’ [26] ‘Well, then, as you have no need of my service, I believe I will go on, though I appreciate your kind attention and will not forget you.’ He replied: ‘Go on then, but you will be sorry that you did not remain with Mahone's division.’

The denouement, as we shall see later in my story, proved the wisdom of his words.

We went into camp that night about a mile from the courthouse, were undisturbed during the night, and rising early next morning I rode to the courthouse alone, to view the prospect and to receive my orders. There I found, or rather just before reaching there, a bivouac of officers high in command, one or two generals amongst them, at breakfast around a fire, and I recognized Maj. Thos. Branch, who introduced me to several officers whose names I do not remember, and who asked me to breakfast. I politely declined this civility and made known to the major the object of my visit. He could not tell me where General Lee was or where or how I could get further instructions, but I was informed that the train, which, it was expected would be there with rations for the army, had gone on to Richmond through some blunder of somebody, and that it would probably supply the Yankee commissary instead of ours. Worse than that, the railroad for a short distance beyond the courthouse was torn up and probably in the hands of the enemy, and that a fight was imminent and necessary if the army proposed to follow the left, the road parallel to the one on which my little cortege was resting on the right. Indeed, some desultory firing just then began on the left, and there was a general move, the officers going forward and Major B—— and I turning back to the road on which I had spent the night. I found the road filled with a long line of quartermaster wagons, ambulances, stragglers, &c., and saw that they had been ordered to follow the same road, where there would probably be less interruption from the enemy. I got my wagon, ambulance, buggy, &c., into line after some scrouging and swearing, and we took up our march, we scarcely knew whither.

Only those who have followed a large army can know how slowly and with how many halts, a wagon-train can move. A broken axle or a balking horse can detain the whole line, as there is rarely afforded an opportunity for one wagon to turn out and pass another, indeed, the attempt is met with such a storm of obloquy and opprobrious language that one's nerves become demoralized, if nothing worse.

Being well mounted on a fine black mare, which I got from an [27] impressing officer who had taken her from a gentleman's farm near the Courthouse the day before and which was too high strung for artillery service, I rode leisurely up and down the long lines of wagons, meeting an acquaintance now and then, and exchanging views in reference to the situation. I soon became convinced that unless our pursuers were the most listless and unenterprising of men, our wagon, ambulance and baggage train would soon come to grief, and I determined to make my personal arrangements accordingly. Riding back some half mile along the line, I came to my party, and to the usual halt. Calling up Romulus, the colored boy who had been my house-servant and pet, the one whose mother had bade him ‘follow master to the end of the earth,’ I said: ‘Boy, no Yankee shall ever claim that he gave you your freedom. I will set you free right here.’ And getting down from my horse, I wrote his free-papers, gave him a knife as a memento of his master, such money as I could spare, and told him to stay with me as long as he found it agreeable and safe, but that when things became too hot to skedaddle in any direction which should prove the safest. He pocketed my bequests, but evidently thought the whole thing a good joke, and went back to his place in my buggy beside a young man named Venable, and J. V. Tucker, Esq., who was one of the attaches of the Confederate hospital that made up our little gang. In less than an hour Romulus and Venable and Tucker were all captured and in the hands of the enemy. But, I forestall my story.

Stopping just then on the road to talk to some friends who occupied that portion of the line, the wagons, &c., moved off, my party with them, and knowing that I could overtake them any time in five minutes, I loitered in good company half an hour, perhaps, and then rode on. I had gone not more than a mile when I came to an open place on the side of the road, where some one had camped the night before, and seeing some excellent forage left unused, I dismounted, took the bit out of my horse's mouth, and thought I would give her a square meal, as I did not know when or where she would get the next. She had hardly begun to eat when I heard some one cry, ‘The Yankees are coming,’ and saw a general rush, pell-mell, of teamsters and stragglers back to the rear. I remembered when I traded for my black mare the day before with Sergeant Harrison, the impressing officer, he told me that she was hard to bridle. I thought of this and looked down the road, where I saw coming up from a cross-road a few hundred yards away, a company of Yankee cavalry, apparently about fifty, and as they got into our [28] road forming line parallel with it, and pouring their shot into the poor mules and horses of the team. I thought now, if this mare is a fool, I am a goner. But she took the bit very kindly, and in a minute I was on her back. I looked down and saw I had dropped one of a fine pair of military gloves that somebody had given me, and as a glove in those days bore value not at all commensurate with its present worth in money, I started to get down and rescue it. But never did cavalry arrive so rapidly and in such seeming numbers before. I only had time to dash out into the woods and make my retreat through them, parallel with the road, as fast as the impediments of riding through the woods permitted. This, however, was not very fast, and gave me opportunity of remarking again that they were only shooting the horses and mules, and being few in number, had no other idea than obstructing the road and disabling us by destroying the animals.

There were a number of our men rushing back through the woods on line of the road, many of them armed with muskets, and I called their attention to the fact that the Yankees were few in number and only shooting the teams, and begged them to halt and make a stand and save the train. One old soldier looked up at me for a minute, in a sort of a dazed way, and said: ‘If you are fool enough to believe that, you stop, I am going on.’ I thought of the stars on my collar and of the little brief authority of command that they had given me for four years, and thought of endeavoring to enforce my words, but the stream of stragglers rushed by, increasing in numbers and making a panic that was irresistable. In a few minutes we all came out together in the road, a little out of range of the fire, and here a Colonel C——, of the cavalry, stopped in the road, and I with him, thinking that he would be able to exercise some authority and to stay the rout. But they paid no more attention to him than they did to me. Just then my attention was attracted by a captain and quartermaster, who was making the most urgent efforts and appeals to the men to halt and shoot. ‘Shoot,’ he said, ‘one time, and you will drive them away.’ One man, who seemed inclined to halt and make fight, replied, ‘I have no gun.’ ‘There are plenty of guns and ammunition here in my wagon,’ said the captain. Seeing me about this time, he said: ‘Major, you have been to the front, you know how few Yankees there are attacking us, speak to the men,’ and then, jumping upon a log or stump or something, he continued his harangue: ‘Stand men! Stand! Right here! Five determined men can stop this whole rout. Stop! For [29] your country's sake! For General Lee's sake! For God's sake! For my sake!’ In the meantime I was so attracted by his earnestness, if not moved by his elequence, that I did not as accurately note the situation as I should otherwise have done, and I was rather startled into a consciousness of the real condition of things by two or three of the enemy riding up in most disagreeable proximity, and the pop—pop—pop (not at the horses and mules this time) from their carbines, which purported to shoot only sixteen times without being reloaded, but seemed to me then, to shoot nearer sixteen hundred times. My quartermaster, I think, made fight—somebody fired a gun. He soon went down, however, and I heard afterwards with a broken arm, though I never saw him again.

My mare, not relishing the situation, and having been for the first time, I suspect, under fire, whirled with me, and I discovered that, besides the quartermaster, I held the field alone. She discovered the same thing, and several things it seemed, which lent wings to her feet. Without at all consulting my wishes, but in full unison with my desires, she left incontinently, I lying down on her neck, and not knowing at what moment I should receive an inglorious wound in the most objective portion of my person. The fugitives who preceded me must have made good time also, for it seemed nearly a quarter of a mile before I overtook anybody. Then I ran into another quartermaster whom I recognized by his expletives as an old friend from North Carolina, and into a gentlemen with three stars on his collar, whom I recognized as the president of a court-martial that I had attended some few months before. These, with one or two other officers, seemed to be bringing up the rear of the fugitives. Somebody called out ‘fall in company Q,’ but it was received as a piece of pleasantry not appropriate to the occasion. My quartermaster friend suggested that he and I take across the fields in a certain direction which he thought would bring us under the aegis of some of Lee's fighting men. We had only gone a few hundred yards, however, when we came upon Major Hill, a brother of General A. P. Hill, and one or two other officers, who seemed to be trying to find what we were looking for. And just as we had saluted each other a full regiment of infantry came out of a piece of woods a few hundred yards to our left, and with a yell and a double-quick made for our position.

With the peculiar reflection of the light in the little valley they were crossing, they seemed dressed in blue, and we took them for the enemy and awaited our fate with resignation. On coming up, [30] however, it turned out to be the —— North Carolina, under Colonel Yarborough, which had been sent to the rescue of the baggage trains. We went with them back, but the affair was over when we reached the place where our quartermaster had been cut down. Captain J——, whom some of you knew as a resident of Petersburg after the war, said that he had whipped them back by getting a few wagoners to stand and fire a dozen shots or so. The position, at which the Yankees were repulsed, was one at which a dozen determined men with muskets could have repelled an hundred horsemen. The road was only about twenty or thirty feet broad, and on either side was a thicket, one of black jack and the other of second growth pine, that no cavalry could penetrate. We found a few dead Yankees, one just in front of the position which my eloquent quartermaster friend occupied, and I cheered myself with the belief that he had fallen under the fire of the quartermaster. There were others lying on the ground unhurt, one dead drunk—too drunk to be killed or captured. I do not know what disposition was made of him.

The little party of the enemy who had made the havoc had retired by the same cross-road by which they came. They were picked men of Sheridan's cavalry, who, under guides that knew the country well, hung on our flanks, and in small parties would every day strike some portion of the most unprotected part of our trains, and having burned and destroyed as much property as they could, would retreat as soon as fighting troops appeared. The bait which had tempted them to this specific attack was said to have been six new Brooke guns which had been brought out of Richmond when our forces left, and to which were attached some very fine teams which had been impressed for that purpose. These were carried off, about an hundred ambulances were burned and a number of wagons, and a number of horses and mules were shot, and the road so obstructed that it was several hours before we could recommence our march. There were no killed amongst our men, and only our brave quartermaster wounded. I was told he had an arm broken.

The casualties amongst my little party I must now recite:

Venable died at Point Lookout; Tucker is now (March, 1890), with Dr. George Starke, and Romulus somewhere in New York.

Tucker, Romulus and Venable, as I said, were taken from my buggy and made prisoners. The subsequent history of Romulus is not without interest, but I cannot introduce it in this place. Doctors Hume Field, R. Lewis and J. P. Smith, the former two known to [31] some of you present, escaped into the woods and returned just as I came up.

A young officer, a Captain Riddick, who was in my commissary wagon, and who had been wounded some months before, and who, had been in the Confederate hospital, was also captured and carried off. His sister, a splendid young girl of about eighteen or twenty years of age, I omitted to say, accompanied him from Petersburg, where she had been nursing him, and was with him in the wagon. She refused to leave the wagon when he was taken, and as they could not burn it with her in it, it was saved and all of our commissary stores by her courage and firmness. There was also a fat chaplain along, the Rev.——. Miss R—— said that he escaped by making the best time she had ever seen through the woods. We did not see him again.

The young lady we put into the wagon of a North Carolina quartermaster which had just come up, and in which there were already two other ladies, one, a Miss D——, of New Orleans, whose father was quite a learned man, and who had held some important office under the Government in Richmond, and the other, a Mrs. S——, whose maiden address impressed itself on my mind, because my brother had been a great admirer of hers, Miss F—— C—— of Florida. The subsequent fortunes of these brave women who had determined to follow the Confederacy, I will rehearse presently.

There was a young surgeon from North Carolina who took to that wagon mightily for the few days that they remained in our company, and things seemed very lively, considering the circumstances.

My chief of ambulance escaped, though I saw him no more, I believe; also my orderly, who was a Moravian that had been impressed or conscripted in the army, but who refused to fight on account of religious scruples, and had been sent to the medical department and was ordered to me. He had been with me for many months, was faithful, honest and fearless, and the greatest forager I ever saw. It was owing to his being off on an expedition of this sort that he got away. He did better than escape—he captured a very fine saddle and bridle from a dead horse and one of the finest young thorough-breds, about four years old, I ever saw, which I think the Yankees had stolen and been unable to manage. Burkhardt (that was my man's name) caught him, mounted and rode him to Appomattox Courthouse, though I saw him get some hard falls.

That disposes of all our party except two colored men, one named [32] Howard, now a servant in the employ of Mr. J. H. Slater, on Liberty street, and another named John Davis, who had belonged to Mr. Clinton Jones of this city. These men escaped and followed us to the last, faithful then. As I am told, they have been honest, law-abiding and good citizens since.

Only one animal was left, and that was my mule, or rather a mule belonging to the Confederate Government, which I had hitched to the buggy, when we left Petersburg, as a reserve force. He had escaped the bullets of the enemy, and was left like ‘the last rose of the summer, his lovely companions all fallen and gone,’ and standing in the midst of the general destruction, with air and general appearance so forlorn and lugubrious, that it was impossible not to smile when looking at him. There was also a sad and seedy looking darkey standing near, and contemplating the picture with dazed and troubled mien. I called him to me, and hastily writing a note in doggerel from the pommel of my saddle, I gave it to Sambo, with a dollar, and directed him to take the mule and buggy to a handsome residence on quite an eminence above the road, and deliver both to the gentleman who lived there. I had no idea who this gentleman was, nor can I remember the doggerel lines now, except the first two, which ran somewhat in this way:

This to the gentleman who lives on the hill,
When I return may he live there still.

Nor did I ever dream of hearing from mule or man again. But I did. The gentleman was an honored member of my own profession, Dr. J——, who returned me both mule and buggy in good order in the month of May or June after the surrender. I made my most grateful acknowledgements for his kindness as well as every possible apology for my silly note, which must have seemed to him very absurd and very unfitting an occasion of so much disaster. But my blood was younger then than now, and all soldiers, poor fellows, are apt to make merriment of misery. There was many a merry joke made amidst the fiercest fighting, and many a brilliant sally was spoken by lips sealed the next minute in death.

But my mule—I feel that I cannot dismiss him so summarily—I am sure that the interest of my comrades is enlisted in his story. I had not gotten back home from durance vile, but a short time, when I had a note brought me by private hands (we had the luxury of few mails just then—it was the latter part of May, 1865), saying that if I would send for my mule and buggy I could get them. But whom [33] should I send? Whom could I trust with my mule? Were my own agent honest, the whole country was full of stragglers and Yankees, who had the most peculiar and narrow idea in reference to the sanctity of personal property, and especially if that property had its form in the investment of horse or mule flesh.

However, I soon met a comrade, just back from prison, P— S—, impecunious and seedy, and I said to him, ‘Could you go to Amelia county and bring me a mule and buggy? You would have to walk, of course, but you could ride in a buggy back.’ He replied, ‘Would the job be worth five dollars?’ I said that I thought so. ‘Have you got the money to pay in advance?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Then it is a bargain.’ He was light of baggage, and as soon as he replenished his commissariat he was off.

In four days he returned, and driving up to an office which I had improvised on Bank street, he called out, ‘Here's your mule,’ and there he was, greatly improved and fattened, but his personal identity was unquestionable. Whose personal property he was, was a question not so easily settled. He was an asset of a broken concern, the Confederate Government, which had gone into the hands of a receiver, and many representatives of that receiver, in the shape of Yankee quartermasters, &c., lined the streets. I really had some conscientious scruples on the subject myself for which some of my old comrades jeered me, and I thought I would inquire amongst ‘my friends the enemy,’ stating a supposed case.

I did so, selecting as an umpire an officer whom I did not know, but who seemed a friendly sort of a fellow. He paid me a doubtful compliment in replying, ‘If you have got a mule of that sort, and don't sell him at once and put the money in your pocket, you are a bigger fool than I take you to be.’ I acted on his suggestion promptly; sold my mule for seventy-five dollars (no man asked for a bill of sale or guaranty in those days), my buggy for seventy-five additional, and bought a horse, saddle and bridle, and carried the horse in the back lot to my office.

Before very long several lewd fellows in blue, of the baser sort, came in and said I had stolen a horse. On taking them to see him, however, he did not quite come up to their idea of plunder, and the spokesman said, ‘That is not the horse.’ There was an excellent saddle blanket, though, with the fixtures, and he maintained that it was his, and that I did steal that, but I talked him out of that idea, an accusation of stealing was not matter for fighting under the peculiar [34] circumstances of that day, but I was left in undisturbed possesion of my property.

But to return to the retreat. My ambulance was burned with all of my clothes, indeed, they were no great shakes, except a very fine new cloak of Confederate cloth, elaborately finished, the gift of a friend and made somewhere abroad. Its estimated value in the currency of the day was fifteen hundred dollars. It was too fine to wear, except by a major-general, but I regretted its loss exceedingly. A greater loss was my diary, that dated back to the days of the Charleston convention of 1860, which was the real inauguration of the Revolution, in which the South staked its all for constitutional liberty. This I regretted more than cloak. Our liver were spared, however, and some commissary stores were left, and our little party trudged along with the wagon train, until the day following, when we took the vote amongst ourselves, whether we would continue with it, constantly menaced as it was by marauding parties of the enemy's cavalry, which seemed always to be hovering on our right, and against which we had little or no protection, or whether we would follow the fighting men, at a respectful and professional distance, in the rear. We had not found out then that the rear was simply the left of the line, whilst the front was the right, and that there was just as much and just as hard fighting in the rear as in the front. We had only changed our route a few hours when we were told that the enemy had scooped down on the wagon train again, so we thought we were lucky. But shortly after, we came upon some of Mahone's men, not apparently retreating, but seeming lounging around. I remember seeing Mr. A. A. A—— and Mr. Wv. J. B—— sitting down on a pile of rails with their shoes off, and not very far from the same place, I saw General Mahone lying down in the corner of a fence near the road, with one or two orderlies. I did not recognize any of the staff I thought he was trying to get a nap, perhaps, and I did not salute or disturb him, but went leisurely on a short way towards the front, when we saw General Longstreet and several of his staff, apparently lounging around, and still suspecting nothing, we went on, nobody halting us, until, a few minutes after, we came into an elevated and open plain, where a thin line of men were strung out diagonally across our road for some distance on either side, and a little stir of some sort going on. Presently an ambulance drove up from a sort of cross country road, and went rapidly forward through the line, and I heard a lady cry out from within it, ‘Don't take me right into the battle; don't take me right into the [35] battle.’ I rode forward to see if I could be of any assistance, when an infantry officer caught the mules, and taking the lines turned them around and drove rapidly down in the direction from which they came, and soon placed the party under the shelter of a hill.

We followed and found some surgeons had selected the same place for the reception of the wounded, and were rigging up some sort of a table, the sanguinary usage of which we only too well divined. Of course, we cast in our lot with them, and proposed to render any assistance in our power. But we also found seeking the same sheltered position, and in a wagon (how it got there I cannot tell), our lady friends, Miss R—— and Miss G——, from whom we had parted the day before. The battle was now opened, and in a few minutes the first victim came in, a North Carolina soldier, on a horse, though not a trooper. We had only time to take him down and to see that he was badly wounded through the knee, and that his leg would probably have to be amputated, when increased noise in front indicated increased activity of some sort, and immediately a courier came dashing up and delivered an order from General Lee or Longstreet for the surgeons to fall back at once, and to leave the wounded, the ladies, ambulances, wagons and everything, and showed us a rough road through the woods at right angles to our position by which we were to retreat. And so left our poor wounded soldier on the ground, and the ambulance, wagon and ladies with hurried and rather informal adieu. We heard that they fell into the enemy's hands shortly after we left, and that they received very courteous attention, and were sent back to Petersburg under safeguard. The fight was the one at or near Rice's station. Some of you comrades have, doubtless, more accurate information in reference to it than I.

Our road soon carried us back to the main road on the right, along which the wagons, as many as were left, were dragging their slow length. We marched all night, or rather crept along with them, until at some creek or double creek of some sort, a panic occurred, and there was crowding and confusion worse confounded. How many ever came out, I do not know. Being light of baggage ourselves, we got ahead of them, kept the Farmville road, and went into that town about daylight the next morning, Thursday, with any number of soldiers, but none, I think, in regular organization.

There were two incidents of that night which indelibly impressed themselves on my memory. It was during that night that I saw General Lee for the last time, until after the war was over, when I [36] dined with him one day at General Mahone's at the house on Sycamore street, now owned and occupied by Mr. S. W. V ——. He was riding slowly along the line of inextricably tangled wagons, as if going to the rear, no one with him, as far as I can remember, and I was near enough to look into his face. He rode erect, as if incapable of fatigue, and with the same dignified mien that I had so often noted on the streets of Petersburg. From his manner, no man would have discovered that, which he so well knew, viz: that his army was melting away, that his resources were exhausted, and that in a few days he would be compelled to deliver up to the enemy, which he had so often defeated, the remnants of those ragged jackets, who had followed him for four long years, and who had never failed him except ‘in their own annihilation.’

Another incident was this. Sometime during the night, on some high hills, in the county of Cumberland or Prince Edward, I know not which, it was very cold, and Dr. Lewis, one of our party, found a captain and quartermaster, whom he introduced to me as Captain O——, of North Carolina, who had some whiskey, and who invited me to take a swig from his canteen. It was the first drink I had taken in many months, and I suspect the whiskey was as good as any, but it had the most peculiar effect upon me. I had congratulated myself up to that night, that I had not suffered from fatigue, from hunger, from want of sleep, from fear; and yet in ten minutes after I took that swallow of whiskey, I was hungry, tired, scared, and so sleepy that I had to get off my horse and walk to keep awake.

Well, we got into Farmville, as I said, about daylight, and my man Burkhardt said that, if we would halt there awhile, he would go into somebody's kitchen and bake some biscuit from a little flour that he had foraged. We turned off on a by-street, and I lay down on the sidewalk, first fastening my reins around my body, to assure my awaking in case of any one's attempting to steal my horse, a precaution which I learned the night before, an officer informing me that some one had stolen his horse from his side whilst he was asleep. I slept for several hours, and when I awoke, the whole town was full of soldiers, and the army, infantry and artillery, was crossing the county bridge as rapidly as possible over into Buckingham.

As we started to follow, my man, with his eye ever on the commissary, informed me that Major Scott was issuing rations at the railroad depot, and that we had better go by and see what we could get. It was true the Major was dealing out hurriedly, and I suspect, without requisition in duplicate, the little that was left, and, at my [37] request, delivered with his own hands a side of middling meat to my man, and we passed on.

As we reached the river, there was halted on this side, and out of the road so as not to interfere with the passage of the troops, the Yankee prisoners who had been captured on the route. I judged, from a rough estimate, that there were more than a thousand of them, and a sorry looking set they were. A good many of them carried large pieces of meat, sides of middling, such as that I had just drawn at the last issue of rations to the Army of Northern Virginia, but we had no time for conversation with them.

General Long crossed the river about that time, and knowing him very well, we crossed with him, and rode with him a short distance. In less time than an hour, I suppose, the army, prisoners and all, had passed over, and General Lee had given orders to burn the bridge behind us, which I think was done by Major Cook, one of his Inspectors, a gentleman who, after the war, became an Episcopal minister, and who had charge of a colored church in this place for many years.

On the hills beyond Farmville, there seemed to be a great deal of artillery halted, or parked, as I afterwards learned, and it was here (we know now, that which few knew then), that General Lee opened his first correspondence with Grant in reference to the surrender of the army; and it was a short distance further on that they seemed to be lightening the load of head-quarter's wagons by destroying letters and papers from them. A young man named Morgan, from this city, who had belonged to the 12th Virginia, but who had been detailed as clerk in the medical department of General Lee's headquarters, seemed entrusted with this duty. Here, for the last time, I saw Dr. Guild, General Lee's medical director, and Mrs. Guild, who was trying to make her escape with the army into friendly lines, and General Lee's carriage and horses, which I never saw him use, though I was told that he did ride in the carriage once or twice during the retreat. It was upon a road that had been evidently just cut through some pines, and the progress was very slow and tedious. Dr. Guild said to me: ‘You had better remain with us,’ and I thought so too, but something occurred to separate my party from his, and then came the usual daily and nightly order, ‘forward,’ and I saw him no more.

We moved on without incident of especial concern to us, until Saturday afternoon. There were increased signs of demoralization and disintegration all along the roads. Soldiers, whom I knew had [38] been soldiers of steadiness and courage, were straggling and sleeping, unarmed and apparently unconcerned; I attributed it to fatigue and hunger and exhaustion. Officers of the line seemed to be doing the same thing, colonels, generals, even lieutenant-generals, and I saw a member of the staff of one of Lee's most distinguished Lieutenants throw himself on the gronnd, and swear an oath that he would never draw his sword from its scabbard again; and then I noted that there were more and more small arms thrown aside on the roads, muskets stuck up in the ground by their bayonets, yet, with hundreds, yes, perhaps, thousands of others, I had not entertained for a moment the idea of any surrender of Lee's army as a whole.

To me, as to every Southron, as to every soldier, as to every man and woman and child of the Confederacy, it had been the embodiment of courage and fortitude and heroism. The cause for which it contended was the cause of liberty and truth and right. God could never suffer those brave batallions to go down, even before might, whose standards had been upheld for so many years by the arms of our heroes; those battle-flags could never trail in dust, which, consecrated and kissed by Southern women, had been baptized in the blood of the truest and best of the earth. The prayers of a million of Christian men and women, proving their faith by their works of self-abnegation and self-surrender, could not fail to have a hearing above, where the destiny of nations was ordained and determined.

Oh! Comrades, many a heavy hearted man survived the surrender at Appomattox, and trudged his weary way home, believing, with Napoleon Bonaparte, that, after all, Heaven was on the side of the heaviest ordnance.

On Saturday afternoon, preceding the fatal morning of Sunday, the 9th of April, my little party was well in the front, keeping pace with some broken sections of artillery belonging to different commands, which, with exhausted ammunition and in crippled condition generally, had been ordered to make for Lynchburg. I came upon Colonel P——, General Lee's inspector-general, placing a few infantry troops in position upon a knoll commanding a considerable view of open country, on the left, and riding up to him I asked what command it was. It did not seem to comprise more than two hundred men in all. He replied slowly and sadly: ‘That is what is left of the 1st Virginia regiment, and that is the sole guard of the left flank of the Army of Northern Virginia.’ At a distance, away beyond musket range on the left, there was a body of Federal horse, [39] hovering around as ill-omened birds of prey, awaiting their opportunity.

Within range of my eye, there were a great number of muskets stuck in the ground by the bayonets, whose owners, heart-sick and fainting of hunger and fatigue, had thrown them away, and gone, none knew whither. God help the poor fellows and forgive them! Four years of peril and fatigue and fighting had proved their mettle; but gaunt hunger had, at last, overcome their manhood, and they had scattered throughout the country, to any house or hut that promised a piece of bread. I saw men whose rations for days had been corn, stolen from the horses' feed, and parched and munched as they retreated and fought. I said to Colonel P——: ‘Does General Lee know how few of his soldiers are left, or to what extremities they are reduced?’ ‘I do not believe that he does,’ was his reply. ‘Then whose business is it to tell him, if not his first Inspector's?’ I said. ‘I cannot,’ he replied, ‘I cannot.’

For the first time my faith and my fortitude failed me, and, choking with tears, I said to my little party: ‘I cannot see of what further use we can be here; let us push on ahead, may be we can get to Johnston's army, may be, beyond the Mississippi, some leader will raise the stars and bars, and liberty will find there a rallying point and a refuge!’

Comrades, my faith in the Confederate cause was strong, and when the sun went down, a few hours later, behind the hills of the Appomattox, I looked upon life as a bauble, and the only blessed ones those brave men who were sleeping in soldiers' graves without knowledge of defeat, without taste of the ignominy of walking under the victor's yoke.

As I rode along, classic readings, in the halcyon holidays of the happy past, haunted my memory, and I thought of Ulysses, after the siege of Troy, wandering the world, a wrecked waif, and of Homer's lines:—

Happy, thrice happy, who in battle slain,
Pressed in Atrides cause the Trojan plain.
Oh! had I died before that well fought wall,
Had some distinguished day renowned my fall,
Such as was that when showers of javelins sped,
From conquering Troy around Achilles' head.

Odyssey, Lib. 5, verse 306. And I thought of the grand epic, in the words of which I began this story, and of the laments of the unhappy Aeneas and his song, [40]

O terque quaterque beati,
Quis ante ora patrum Trojae sub moenibus altis,
Contigit oppetere!

Thrice happy those whose fate it was to fall,
Exclaims the chief, before the Trojan wall,
Oh! 'Twas a glorious fate to die in fight,
To die so bravely in their parents' sight.
Oh, had I there, beneath Tydides' hand,
That bravest hero of the Grecian band,
Poured out this Soul, with martial glory fired,
And in the plain triumphantly expired,
When Hector fell by great Achilles' spear.

Verg. Aeneid, 1.91.

But pushing on, we reached Appomattox Courthouse just before sunset, and hearing there was a train of Confederate sick and wounded at the depot on the railroad, some two miles further on, we rode at once to that point. There I succeeded in getting on a few more of our sick and broken down men. I remember Mr. J. J. Cocke amongst them, who was but a boy at the time, though an artillerist. The train got off for Lynchburg safely, not half an hour too soon.

We rode back in the direction of the courthouse to the Lynchburg road, where we found some of the artillery going into bivouac, as it was about sunset. Some of our party were for going on to Lynchburg that night, or at least moving on and getting ahead of the artillery, but Dr. Field, Dr. Smith and I, with my faithful Burkhardt, concluded we would lie down and sleep at least for an hour or so. I unsaddled my horse, gave her some provender which Burkhardt had captured, and lay down with my head on my saddle, and was soon asleep and dreaming of better things than my surroundings. I had slept only a very short time, when Burkhardt shook me rudely by the shoulder and cried, ‘Doctor, the Yankees be upon thee.’

I arose quickly, but not so quickly as my companions, for Drs. Smith and Field were fast disappearing through the thick black jack forest, and Burkhardt, who had not unsaddled or tied his fine animal was fast flying up the road towards Lynchburg, whilst coming down the road, which we had just traversed from the depot, was a body of Yankee cavalry, in column, rushing, with yells and clanking of sabres and clouds of dust, right upon me. I had no time, of course, to mount my horse, or even to snatch a haversack and canteen from the pommel of my saddle, but catching up a large shawl, on which I [41] was lying, and which I now keep as a memorial, with a bullet hole through it, I made the best time I could, following my companions, and coming to a high fence in the woods, we climbed over that, and put it, as well as the black jack, between us and the enemy's horse. There was, immediately after, some pretty smart firing over our heads of carbines and of artillery, a rebel yell, and a hurried retreat of troopers. Then there was another charge and another irregular discharge of field pieces, and a general scattering, as far as we could tell. Darkness, however, had come on, and making a bed of leaves in the corner of our fence, we concluded that, ignorant as we were of the topography of the country, and the relative position of the contending forces, we had better remain still until daylight.

The next day, after we had fallen into the hands of the enemy, and had had an opportunity of shaking the hands of a few fellow prisoners, we got a good account of the skirmish of the night before. It seems that the Yankee cavalry, made bold and careless by almost constant and unresisted raid upon our wagon trains and stragglers, had charged down the road where they passed us, in column, and that some of our broken artillery, getting the wind of what was coming, had loaded up to the muzzle with what relics of ammunition, grape and cannister they had, and had opened fire on the column at short range.

An eye witness, Sergeant D——, of the Howitzers of Richmond, himself in charge of one of the guns, informed me that the havoc was fearful. The Yankees were repelled, but formed again, and seeing, I suppose, the fewness and insignificance of the force arrayed against them, came almost as audaciously and in column again, led by a bronzed old major, on a gray charger, who, with many others, met his death with a reckless courage, worthy of a better cause. The second charge, however, was successful; our men had no more ammunition, and were run down by the cavalry some surrendering, and some escaping into the woods. The casualties on our side were few—I do not know that any were killed. Dr. N——, of Norfolk, who was then surgeon of one of the artillery companies engaged in the fracas, got a pistol bullet in his face, I remember.

But to return to our fortunes. Rising up in the morning, as soon as it was daylight, we began to cast about for our moorings. There was before us a large open field, and thinking that lay in the direction of Lee's lines we commenced to cross it, in hopes of rejoining our men. We were strengthened in our opinion by seeing, a few hundred yards to our right, a vidette sitting quietly on his horse, as [42] if looking out for news. We approached him, and, after getting within ten or fifteen paces, were halted, and brought in range of a very ugly looking navy revolver. Mentioning the fact that we were friends, and only three lost Confederate surgeons looking for Lee's lines, and asking very naively in what direction they were, he pointed to the direction which we supposed, and we started to go, when we received another ‘halt,’ accompanied this time with an ominous clicking of the weapon in his hand, and a request ‘to come forward.’ We did so, and found that our vidette wore a different uniform from our own, and that we had been taken in. He gave a curt order, ‘right about face—march—quick.’ We obeyed promptly, and strode forward in the opposite direction to Lee's lines, he on horseback, and selecting me as ‘next man,’ and keeping his pistol very disagreeably near my head. I ventured to remark that we were unarmed, and that I thought it not at all necessary that we should be kept quite so closely covered by his weapon, but he made no reply.

We went hurriedly on over the rough ground, his pistol bobbing up and down near the right side of my head, and I really apprehended some danger, and said, ‘Sergeant, you will shoot me presently.’ He replied very cheerfully that he did not care a d—n if he did. To which I said, ‘I do—I care very particularly. It would be very unpleasant and a very inglorious death.’ But he did not change his position, and I saw that I had to change my tactics, or that any little irregularity in the motion of his horse might send a bullet through my brain. So I reopened my conversation on a different scale, and said, ‘Sergeant, those are poor spurs you wear for so fine a trooper. I have in my overcoat pocket a beautiful pair of spurs, made out of copper taken from the old Merrimac your people sunk in the Gosport Navy Yard. If you will let me stop and get at them, I would like to make you a present of them.’ He smiled and said, ‘all right.’ I took them out and handed them up to him, and he put them in his pocket, and the pistol back in the holster. I had valued those spurs very highly. They were made, as I said, of copper taken from the old Merrimac; made in the quartermaster department in Norfolk, under care of Captain Samuel Stevens, A. Q. M., and I had removed them from my feet the night before to save them in case of my being captured, and now I had just used them to save my life. I had little idea of what would be their destination, when I used to prance with them on inspection days, when we played soldier, the first year of the war, at the entrenched camp below Nor-folk. [43]

Well, our sergeant carried us back to the picket lines, and delivered us to General Devens, who was afterwards attorney general of the United States under Grant. He received us courteously, and finding out who we were, called up his surgeon, and we were offered coffee and requested to make ourselves comfortable. The general then asked me, ‘Why doesn't General Lee surrender? How long is he going to keep up this foolishness? If he falls back to Lynchburg, or the mountains, does he not know that he cannot escape?’ I replied that I was not in General Lee's confidence, nor had I attended a council of war, and that I really was unprepared to say what his intentions were. He then asked me ‘how many men of all arms General Lee had left, and how many prisoners he had with him, and what his position was, and what roads bore upon it,’ &c., &c., all questions which I could not answer, nor would have answered if I could. I did venture to say, however, for mischief, that he had more prisoners than men when I saw him last.

This was received good-humoredly, as was intended, except by a dapper little officer, who said, ‘General, he is lying, he does not want to know.’ I had not often been talked to in that way in my life, and to be thus insulted, a prisoner and my hands tied, I felt myself burn down into my boots. I suppose I showed it, for not only General Devens, but one or two of his staff, gave the fellow such a look that he fell back out of decent company, and I was saved the temptation of making myself a fool, which I should probably have done.

But in a few minutes the General turned us over to a courier, with orders to take us to the rear. We soon reached the advanced lines, and there we met General Sheridan, who had apparently been spending the night in a large frame building which looked something like a country church in bad repair. He was splendidly mounted and a number of his officers with him, his staff I suppose, all well dressed, and with caparisoned steeds, presenting a very different appearance from our poor, broken cavalry.

There was a large body of horse in an adjoining open piece of wood, and as Sheridan rode up, they were advanced in line. Some one remarked to us, ‘Now, boys, you are going to see something grand.’ A man near me said it was Sheridan who spoke. The infantry, of which there seemed to be a pretty good sprinkling around, jeered the troopers, as our men used to jeer them occasionally, and said, ‘Oh, you will be back pretty soon!’ and ‘pretty soon’ they were, pell-mell, and we were hurried back to the rear [44] rapidly with the fugitives, to prevent being recaptured. I was told that General Sheridan was not only repelled, but that he lost two guns in five minutes. This is also written elsewhere, but General Sheridan says nothing about it in his account of the ‘last affair at Appomattox.’—Nor does he speak of having met me.

Before we had gone back a mile, we met the Yankee infantry advancing—and such numbers! They seemed to come out of the ground. We had to give them the road to let them pass, and I can well believe that which history records, that there were seventy-five or eighty thousand.

We were soon in the rear, indicated by the number of our prisoners, who were halted under guard in a large body, by the hospital arrangements, and by a curious looking cooking affair on wheels, which we were told belonged to the ‘Christian Commission.’ It was all of the Christian Commission that we ever saw. No doubt the cooking stove had its functions as the commission had its functions, but they were never developed under our observation.

We were marched up and merged into the body of prisoners, maybe a thousand of them, and soon met several of our acquaintances, who had been captured earlier in the fray than we, amongst them Captain Lassiter, of the N. & W. R. R., and Mr. Simpson, a son, I think, of our Mr. Simpson, whom I see before me. To him I soon became indebted.

During the afternoon the prisoners were marched across a little ravine into a body of wood, open and with but little undergrowth, the limits of a prisoners' camp were designated, the dead lines drawn, and we were told for the second time ‘to make ourselves comfortable.’ Details were permitted and ordered to bring in fence rails for fires or for constructing temporary shelter, and with the instinct and ingenuity of soldiers, many soon fixed themselves in tolerably comfortable quarters. There was also a barn of splendid tobacco near our camp, of which we were requested (by our enemies) to help ourselves.

Drs. Smith and Field and I and another gentleman, whose name I cannot recall, but who introduced himself to us as a medical man, and whom we afterwards suspected of having imposed upon us, had one fire and one improvised shelter. Friend Simpson occupied the alloted space in front of us with his mess; Captain G,——, of Richmond, and his mess to the left; and to our right there were strangers. The first day, the Sabbath, closed without an issue of rations. We, my party I mean, had had a cup of coffee with General Devens in [45] the morning and nothing since. Having light stomachs and great fatigue, we slept well and did not awake until sunrise of the day following. The next morning nine, ten, eleven o'clock came, and no rations. Our friend Simpson came to us and divided some compressed vegetable cake with us, showed us how to make a sort of soup or medley with it, gave us a piece of corn-bread, and giving him grateful thanks, we made a light breakfeast.

About sunset, a beef or two were driven up and shot on the outskirts of the camp, and skinned and flayed on the ground. So much of the quivering flesh was dispensed to each mess, one member of the mess going under guard to get it. We received ours, broiled a portion of it on sticks, without salt, ate it for supper, and put the other away for breakfast. Having no closets or other conveniences for stowing away supplies, we put our rations in our caps, and so slept with them. It was voted, after conference with our neighbors, as the only safe place we had. Poor Captain G —— had cap and rations both stolen in the night, and the last I saw of him he was marching to prison bare-headed.

The next morning a Yankee, who had been busy about our mess the day before and asking a good many questions and talking generally in a manner which led us to treat him as a nuisance, came up to me and said he had an invitation for me to take breakfast with Dr. Richardson, of New York State, and showed a permit for me to pass the lines, on my honor to return. How my friend ever knew who I was, or to what circumstance I was indebted for this mark of distinction, I could never find out. I found Dr. Richardson, with some half dozen officers—surgeons, quartermasters, &c., some few hundred yards from the prisoners' camp, about to sit down to a very comfortable breakfast of broiled pig, bread and coffee, spread on an extemporized table under the trees. They received me very kindly, and one of the officers remarked, ‘Help yourself, Doctor, your people furnished the menu’ (with a smile as if to intimate that the provender before us was impressed); ‘we have no rations; your Fitz Lee burned all of our wagon trains Sunday, and I don't know when you will get anything more.’ We made a square meal, and having talked very pleasantly for a few minutes, both sides avoiding topics that might excite disagreeable discussion, I thanked my stranger friend and returned to camp.

It is needless to say that I was the lion, and the envy of all immediately about me. But I was invited out no more. We had a little fresh beef issued to us every day, nothing more. We did not know [46] that General Lee had surrendered until Wednesday, and then we could get no reliable account of anything. The fact is, our captors, or those with whom we could have any conversation, did not seem to take any sort of interest in affairs, and did not seem to know or care anything about what was going on. Soldiering was altogether mechanical with them. And those who were in charge of our camp did not even seem to take any especial interest in their business. Our soldiers, the prisoners I mean, broke the dead line constantly, and jeered and guyed the guards, until I confidently expected they would shoot into our camp, but they manifested neither pleasure nor displeasure, and I think any Confederate could have walked away that wished to—some, I suppose, did go. I am sure of it; but there was so little prospect of a man's getting home, without money, without food, or without friends, that few thought their chances would be improved by going away. Then, too, if Lee had surrendered, was not the war over?

However, the hopes of all who thought that way were soon dissipated. On Thursday morning, an order came for the officers amongst the prisoners to be mustered and registered. We were gotten out and put in line to march. I noticed the officer of the guard with a badge pinned on the lapel of his coat, which indicated that he was a Mason, or I thought so, and, drawing a bow at a venture, I took an opportunity, the first time he came near me, to give a signal of distress. He came to me and asked what he could do for me. I asked what he was going to do with me. He said that the officers were to be sent to Fort Lafayette. Then I replied, I would like to get away. He said: ‘I will do anything for you which is not in violation of my oath as a soldier.’ ‘What grounds have you for asking to be released?’ I said: ‘I am a non-combatant.’ He remarked: ‘Are you not one of the surgeons who were captured with that artillery which did such fearful execution amongst our men on Saturday night last?’ I said: ‘Yes, but I was not at a gun—I never pulled a lanyard in my life.’ He smiled and said: ‘You were in mighty bad company then and will have to take your chances with them.’

After a little time, he came back and said: ‘According to the terms of General Lee's surrender all men and officers captured within so many hours before the time of surrender, and within so many miles of Appomattox Courthouse, are entitled to their liberty and parole.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘if that be so, I and my three friends here and some eighty or more Alabamians of Gracie's brigade, with [47] their colonel, are entitled to their parole.’ And I called up the colonel, a gentleman named Saunders, I think, and put him in communication with the officer of the guard. The upshot of the affair was, that my guard produced pen and paper and made me state the case to General Meade, I think it was directed to him, at least, and forwarded by a mounted orderly, and in a few hours, we all standing in the meantime in line in the rain, there came an order for eighty-four of us to be sent back to Appomattox Courthouse, and to report to General Bartlett, a Federal officer of distinction, and a gentleman. He, after the war, settled in Richmond, and made many friends during the few years of his life in the South. I think he finally died of wounds received in action.

We were conducted under guard, through the dark and rain, several miles back in the direction of the Courthouse, and reached General Bartlett's command about 9 o'clock P. M.

He sent for Colonel Saunders and myself to be brought into his tent, and, after some kind talk, gave direction for us to be carried to the picket lines and released, instructing us to report to General F——, of Texas, who would parole us. According to the terms of the surrender, the Confederate generals were required to parole the men of their respective commands on paroles which had been printed by the Federal authorities, and which bore the impress of that fact.

We were accordingly taken to the picket lines, which seemed to be somewhere in or about the small village, in a kind of blacksmith shop, where we were halted. Our conductor gave the countersign, and the pickets passed us, our guards released us, and directed us, with a ‘good-bye, Johnnie,’ down the road in the direction of our lines, in the dark and in the rain, about 10 or 11 o'clock P. M., with about as much idea of where our lines were, or where General F——was, as any other stranger, in a strange country in the dark, with nobody to enquire of, could be expected to have.

Whatever became of Colonel Saunders and his men, I know not— I never saw them again. Our little party struck out ‘down the road,’ but soon left it, to try and find shelter and somewhere to halt until daylight. We soon came to a small two-story house, with a light in a window, and going up knocked at the door, and asked to be permitted to enter and remain all night, if only in the hall. Some man came to the door, but refused to open it, and, saying that the house was already full of wounded, told us that we could not get in and to move on (a man who said to you ‘move on’ just about that [48] time had usually some means of enforcing his views and it was best not to discuss them), which we did, and having cleared the yard lay down for rest. The water ran down my back in such a stream, however, that I protested against any such baptism by pouring, and with Dr. Feild moved on. Going some hundred yards or so, I suppose, in what direction we had no idea now, for we had lost our reckoning, and the darkness was worse than Cimmerian, it could be felt, we fell over a new mound of earth and another, which seemed to be new made graves, and in the end proved to be so, and gathering ourselves up for fresh adventures, came upon a small house, the door of which was open, we judged, by its being a little darker just in that place than any other, and I said to the Doctor, ‘here at least we can find shelter.’

It was a weird looking concern, but I said, ‘let us go in.’ But Doctor Feild drew back and remarked, ‘that is a dangerous looking place.’ I said: ‘That from you, beats all. You are the gamest boy and man (for I had been his school-mate and seen him tried), that I ever saw, and now for you to talk about being afraid borders rather on the ludicrous; besides, what have you got to lose but your life? Come on’

As we stepped into the door, there came to my nose that ineffable smell of gore, two or three days old, which but too many of us learned to recognize in our four years experience of war, and taking a match-box out of my pocket, I struck a light. Sure enough, we were in a field hospital. There was the bloody floor, the bloody clothes and rags that had been cut off from the poor fellows who had been operated on, and even a book of anatomy, from which some young surgeon had doubtless been refreshing himself during the process of mutilation, and straw upon which the wounded had lain and the table and broken chairs, &c. Well, we were at home, at least, and our right there, there was none to dispute, as we thought. There was a large open fire-place in the room, and with the straw and broken furniture we soon had a blazing fire, and lay down before it to warm and dry. We were soon asleep, of course, how long I do not know, but I was awakened by the biggest wasp nest falling down upon me I ever saw. I suppose the room had been uninhabited, and the wasps had built in the chimney. We were not long in getting up and out, but we returned to the combat, and managed to destroy our new enemies, and to take possession of our old quarters, where we slept soundly until morning. Leaving our house as soon as it was daylight, we made a breakfast on some hard tack, which [49] Dr. Feild had purchased of a Yankee soldier the night before, for a gold ring, and which, tied up in his old pocket handkerchief, had soaked to an extent by the rain which made them edible, if not improved in flavor. We went out now to try to find our way to General F——. We soon came upon Dr. Smith, who told us that after parting from us he had spent the night sitting up with his back to a tree. He was an old campaigner and had done that thing before. He had found out, somehow, the route to our destination, and we put out through mud and rain. Coming to the Appomattox, which was an insignificant branch when we crossed it on the fatal Saturday afternoon before, we found it quite a swollen and angry stream. But there was neither bridge nor ferry, and so with others, who I suppose also were looking for General F, we went in and waded through without the formality of undressing. The water did not reach greatly above our knees, and we suffered no inconvenience from our morning bath.

On going about half a mile, I suppose, I came upon a group of Confederates breaking camp and about to commence the journey, no longer march now, home. As good fortune would have it, I knew them every one, and in company with every one, but one, I had commenced my military career four years before, lacking five days. There were General William Mahone, Captain Samuel Stevens, Captain Benjamin Harrison, Captain John Patterson, Major. J. A. Johnston, Major O. H. P. Corprew, Captain Stone and one or two orderlies, one especially, a young Kentuckian, who was a nephew of Captain Stone, had won the soubriquet of the ‘bravest of the brave.’ His name was Blakemore.

Another one I did not mention in my last address (he was before me), and one man whose merit can be measured by his modesty. He had been a soldier in the Mexican war, before he was old enough, but had seen that service, and come home, and now left with us all of the 4th Virginia battalion, on the 19th of April, 1861, to do battle again for his country, though under a different flag. He was a quiet, diffident, fighting private of the 4th battalion, afterward of the 12th Virginia, Mahone's brigade, until he got an ugly wound at Sharpsburg, in the breast, of course, when he was made a quartermaster-sergeant. His name-well, so much the worse for you if you do not know him.

As we approached the group, all of whom were mounted and ready to be off, General Mahone accosted me: ‘Well, where in the h—— have you been?’ ‘The last place I was in was a mud hole,’ [50] I replied. ‘You look like it,’ he said. And I expect that I did. Those of you who were left at Appomattox Courthouse long enough to encounter the rain that wept over our defeat, can bear testimony to the mud and to the exceeding slipperiness of the roads. On the night before, under a forced march to freedom, our Yankee escort had taken a mischievous pleasure in hurrying us up, and how often I had fallen down, and how often I was ordered to ‘get up, Johnnie,’ with a bayonet inconveniently near my person, I cannot recount.

But this was no time for fooling. I said: ‘Boys, you are not going to leave me here?’ Mahone then said: ‘Did I not tell you not to leave Mahone's division? Now, you see what has come of it.’ ‘Yes, General, but where is your surgeon Wood?’ ‘Oh, that fellow got shot.’ I knew that, because I had seen him grievously wounded, and he had asked me to take charge of his instruments, or watch, I forget which, but the Yankees had given him an ambulance and driver and two mules, and I suggested that he would have a better chance than I to secure their and his safety, which he did. He reached home safely, I afterwards heard, near Fincastle, Va., and lived there many years.

But for myself—I said: ‘May be so, I could not be much worse off than I am.’ ‘Are you paroled?’ he asked. ‘If you are I will take you home with me.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I and many others, my two friends here amongst them, and sixty men of your old Alabama brigade, were released last night by my influence, and ordered to report to General F—— to be paroled.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘go down and see General F——, he is about a mile down the road, and tell him to parole you and send you back to me. He says you will have to have a blank parole,’ and turning around asked if anybody had one. Captain Patterson produced one from somewhere, and then I asked if I could not get another one for Drs. Field and Smith, but not another could be found anywhere. The General then got off his horse, made me mount her, and told me that he would provide some way for me to accompany him by the time I returned, and to hasten to General F ——'s headquarters before he left.

When I reached General F ——'s headquarters, there was no difficulty in finding him, as I think that his was the only tent I saw. Riding up, there was at the door of the tent Captain P——, a lawyer of Richmond, who, I think, was General F——'s ordinance officer, though I am not sure of that. We had been students together at [51] the University of Virginia, besides, I had met him in the army occasionally, and we were well acquainted. He bade me get down, and, giving my bridle to a soldier, took me in the tent and introduced me to General F——. My reception was decidedly the reverse of cordial, but I was not prepared for what followed. I told him that, with several surgeons and some sixty or eighty men of an Alabama brigade, I had been ordered to report to him to be paroled, and that the remainder of the party would report soon; that I was fortunate enough to have a blank parole made out by General Mahone, who had requested me to get his signature to it, as he wished to take me away with him, and had loaned me his horse to ride down to see him. He heard me through, and then, going to the door of the tent and pulling aside the blanket that hung over the entrance, he said, ‘Do you see those men shivering in the rain and scattered about in bivouac under those bushes? They are the remains of F——'s division. The Yankee printing press at the courthouse has broken down, and I cannot tell when I can get any blank paroles, but until every one of those poor men is paroled and sent away, not one of you will leave here.’ ‘That is hard upon me, at least, General,’ I said. ‘We have all suffered enough and lost enough to give us some common fellow feeling for each other, and I think we should be glad for anyone to get out of this trouble. I have a parole filled by General Mahone, and only wanting your signature to enable me to rejoin him and leave for home.’ ‘I shall not do it,’ he said. I replied, ‘As you please General,’ and turned to leave, knowing that the war was over, also his brief authority was over, except that with which the Yankees had crowned him by the terms of the surrender, and made up my mind to go with General Mahone anyway. He called me back, and said, ‘Let me see that parole.’ He took it, read it and picking up a pen from his table, wrote, ‘Charles F——, Major-General.’

That parole is in my possession now. It was enough. Before he could make up his mind for further negotiations, I was off. But just as I mounted General Mahone's horse to go back, Captain P——said to me, ‘Claiborne, have you another one of those blank paroles?’ I replied, ‘P——, there was not another one to be found at General Mahone's camp when I left. Besides, if there were, I have two companions there who would claim them.’ With tears in his voice, he said, ‘That is the way of the world; you have gotten out of trouble, and now you are willing to leave an old schoolmate and comrade perishing of cold and hunger, the streams rising behind [52] him and no means of relief.’ Until that brave man spoke, I never realized what hunger and cold and hopelessness could bring one to. I said, ‘Don't talk so, P——. Come, get on your horse, let us go to General Mahone, and if there is a parole that can be gotten for love or money, you shall have one.’ We rode rapidly back to General Mahone's camp, and searched, but no parole could be found. and slowly and sadly and without salute the captain turned off and rode away.

General Mahone dismounted one of his couriers, put him with Corprew, his commissary, in a wagon which had been allowed him, and mounted me on a rough, rawboned charger, and we left Appomattox for, we scarcely knew where, but determined to get to the south of the returning armies and prisoners, who had not been released, and to make for Charlotte Courthouse as the first objective point.

Drs. Smith and Feild, after my experience at General F——'s, declined to report to him, and going back to the courthouse, got permission to go immediately to Petersburg, riding on the rail when the trains were running, and walking when the roads were torn up or obstructed. I cannot think that the paroles amounted to anything. We passed a number of Federal troops and no man ever asked to see a parole.

Soon after getting out of the lines at Appomatox Courthouse, Captain Stevens opened his heart and his saddle-bags, and gave me the first piece of bread I had eaten in four days. That was my day's rations. Riding all day, just before sunset, our cavalcade, cold, hungry and tired, came to a beautiful country house, in a noble grove of oaks and surrounded by every evidence of luxury and wealth. Flocks of sheep and lambs, turkeys, chickens, pigs roamed about, just the things to made a soldier's mouth water evincing that no ruthless war had visited that country. A full crib of corn stood right in our way to the house, and we thought what a haven for a tired, hungry Confederate soldier; no doubt we shall find a welcome here and all creature comfort for man and beast.

General Mahone called up Major Johnston and said, ‘Johnston, ride forward and ask the proprietor to allow us to remain all night. We shall want supper for our party, and corn for our horses, and would like to have two rooms in the mansion, with fires; but we are ready to pay, and in gold, for all we get. Besides, our presence may afford protection from stragglers.’ The Major rode off and soon rode back evidently disappointed and discomforted and reported: [53] ‘General, Mrs. E—— owns and lives at this place, and says we cannot stop here; that she does not want any soldiers about her house or place, and that we must move on.’ The General remarked in a laconic style: ‘The devil! Johnson, you have made a mess, I expect. Dr. Claiborne, I wish you would go to Mrs. E—, and tell her who we are, and engage what we wish.’ ‘All right, sir,’ I said, and I rode forward, full of my mission and confident of a graceful reception. I got off my horse at the yard gate, tied him to the rack, which at that day was a feature of the landscape never omitted from the picture of the planter's home, went in the yard, and was met by a dignified and most respectful looking darkey, past middle age, whom without introduction I recognized at once as the dining-room servant, butler, or gardner, or factotum generally, who illustrated and adorned every planter's home in those days, and who invariably met the visitor and showed him to the house. This colored gentleman, with the grace and dignity of manner which such servants of a gentleman's house in old Virginia caught from constant contact and association with gentlemen, a character which is now dying out, and which never can be reproduced, met me, and said: ‘My mistress, Mrs. E ——, is a widow, sir, receives no gentlemen company, and asks that you will excuse her.’ I told him that my business was urgent, and that times were troublous, and probably it would be better for his mistress to see me. With an apology for not taking me into the front way, he led me around to the rear of the house; as I was about to mount the steps of a long portico in the rear, Mrs. E—— appeared at the top of the steps, and, making no acknowledgment of my salute, remarked: ‘Do not come up the steps, we will have no soldiers here.’ I apologized for my intrusion, said that we had no idea of forcing our way in, but that General Mahone and his staff, some seven in all, wished to remain all night, that we would like to have some supper and some forage for our horses, and that we would pay in gold for all that we got, besides protecting her premises. ‘No, no,’ she said, ‘she did not intend to have us stop there.’

I was as tired as a man well could be, and really I did not feel like going any further, and I thought I would try the patriotic and sentimental. I said: ‘So you seriously propose, Madam, to deny the rights of hospitality, in an old Virginia home, to one of her most famous generals and his staff, men who, for four long years, have fought your battles, and placed themselves a living wall betwixt yourself and the Northern vandals who have come down upon [54] you to seize your property and to slay your people?’ ‘I do,’ was her brief and unmistakable reply. ‘I don't know you nor General Mahone, nor ever heard of either of you before, and I want you to leave.’ Never heard of either of us before! What is fame?

I returned to the General, not only crest-fallen, but, I confess, no little irritated. Johnston was the only man who seemed to enjoy my discomfort. General Mahone remarked that it would serve her right to camp right there in her lawn, take what we wanted, and pay for nothing, but that it would be a bad example to set, especially in such lawless times, and that we must go on, which we did, to Charlotte Courthouse, four miles further, the longest four miles that I ever rode. On reaching there, our little party broke up into sections, General Mahone, Captain Patterson, Captain Stevens, I think, and myself, going to Mr. S——'s, who formerly lived at Westover, on James river, but who had sold his place during the war and moved up to Charlotte Courthouse, to be out of reach of the enemy.

Its location was such, that it was supposed that not even a Yankee could ever find it. Mr. S—— was not at home, but was out in the woods dodging capture, as Mrs. S—— told us, but she received us as only a patriotic Virginia woman could receive a soldier, gave us supper of hot rolls, broiled chicken and coffee! And such rolls, such chicken and such coffee! The savor of that supper has never died away from my senses.

Mrs. S——'s daughter and one or two young ladies received us in the parlor, and Capt. Patterson introduced me as Doctor Claiborne of Petersburg, ‘the glass of fashion and the mould of form.’ As I had not washed my face and hands, or combed my head, or made my toilet for ten days, and was muddy to my blinkers, I felt that I was being trifled with, but I made my best obeisance, took a proffered chair, and distinguished myself by going asleep immediately, in their presence. They were polite and considerate enough to ask us to our room at an early hour. There were two beds in the room, and General Mahone and I were bunked together. But now a very serious question arose, which I feared at one time, would give rise to some unpleasantness. I had not had an opportunity of taking off my long cavalry boots for fifteen days, and they, having in that time been often wet and dried on my feet, were literally moulded to them, and positively declined to come off. General Mahone, and then my other companions, refused to sleep with me, with boots on, [55] to say nothing of the impropriety of occupying one of Mrs. S——'s beds with such foot gear. A negro man was summoned, the situation explained to him, and he guaranteed relief. After dragging me around the room two or three times, encouraged by the cheers of my comrades, who enjoyed the fun more than I did, he succeeded in getting them off, and I slept with General Mahone for the first and last time in my life.

The next morning, Mrs. S—— sent us up a box of paper collars, the first I had ever seen, and with one of them on, my face and hands clean, head combed, and sum of the mud off of my clothes, I appeared the next morning in fair comparison with any of my comrades. After breakfast, bidding farewell to our kind hostess and daughters, and seeking the others of our party, who had found homes in different houses in the village, we renewed our journey. After riding some ten miles, we separated, General Mahone taking Blakemore, Corprew and myself with him to his home at Clarksville, and Patterson, Stevens, Ben Harrison, Johnston and Spotswood turning their horses' heads towards Petersburg.

We reached Clarksville that night, after a forced march, and after a hot supper, which Mrs. Mahone prepared for us after our arrival, I went to bed, more dead than alive. I had undergone not only all the fatigue of the retreat, but my Rosinante was the roughest riding animal I ever backed, and riding him rapidly two long days, had used me up. This was on Saturday night succeeding the surrender.

It seemed as if the events of a lifetime had been crowded into that short week. It was almost impossible to realize the changes I had seen in that time, and now the marvel of looking at General Mahone sitting down in peace, playing with his children, whom one week before I had left at the head of his ragged veterans in fierce and hopeless fight, was more than I could take in.

Sunday, I was too sick to get up, but, with the kindly ministrations of Mrs. Mahone, I was on my feet Monday morning, and after breakfast, Blakemore and I, the last of the ‘Paladins’ of our little group who had left Appomattox together, renewed our journey. We travelled together about half a day, when he turned off to go to his aunt's, Mrs. J——, in Mecklenburg county, Virginia, and I took the road for Louisburg, N. C., where my wife and children had been refugeeing. I had no companion for the balance of that day, reached Ridgeway about night, and found hospitable quarters at an old friend and college mate's, Dr. J——. [56]

The next morning, I met our Adjutant Turner sitting by the side of the railroad, recalling to my mind some lines of patience on a monument. I then made for Louisburg, about twenty-five miles, saw and overtook many of Lee's soldiers trugging their way on foot to different portions of the State, and saw several splendid teams belonging to the quartermaster department of the government, which had been out foraging, but whose drivers seemed to be at sea as to where to go or what to do. One man, who told me that he lived in one of the far Southern States, and who had been out with a fine team and wagon, of four mules, begged me to take them, saying that he was certainly going to leave them on the road that day or the next and make his way home afoot as well as he could.

Of course I had no more use for the team than he had, and no more right to it, and I declined. About midday, I came to a camp which some cavalry had occupied the night before. Amongst other odds and ends they had hurriedly left was a bolt of fine imported jeans, which I picked up and tied behind my saddle. From it was fabricated the only change of underclothing I had.

I reached Louisburg about 6 o'clock the evening of that day, rode up to the house, where, two years before, I sent my wife and children, and soon had my loved ones in my arms. Four years before, almost to the day, at my home in Petersburg, I had taken them in my arms, and, giving a last kiss and God bless you, I had gone out with my comrades and compatriots to the war, with brilliant uniforms and flying banner, with heart full of hope, if full of sorrow, with no fear of defeat, and no reckoning but that we should save to them, if not to ourselves, our fair Southern land, a heritage the best that Heaven ever gave; and now alone, ragged, unaccompanied by one single comrade, unheralded, without country, without home, without faith, and without bread, I was before them, even a stranger to my children. I leave the picture—let some other finish it. But the bitterest of all, was a selfish, crabbed old man, who had done nothing for the cause and continually prated at home his lugubrious prophecies, met me with the stinging welcome, ‘I told you so. How do you feel now?’ I never could look at that man, or hear of him, or think of him again, with Christian forbearance, and it was a load taken from my life, when I knew that a few years after he had paid the penalty of nature, and that he and I did not live in the same world together.

And now, comrades, one word more. If those men whom we [57] left behind us at Seven Pines, at Cold Harbor, at Malvern Hill, at Second Manassas, at Crampton's Gap, at Sharpsburg, at Gettysburg, at Chancellorsville, at Spotsylvania Courthouse, at the Wilderness, at Hatcher's Run, in the gorged mouth of the Crater; if those men fell for nothing; if no God sits in the Heavens to judge their cause; if there be no reward for them, who seeing duty, did it, laying down life as a common thing in defence of kindred and home; then we have no future. Let us patch up a treaty with the horrid Past, let us eat of the grovelling swine's food fed to rebels, let us spit upon the dust of our dishonored dead, and let us teach our children to despise their fathers as a robber band. Is there one in all this audience who can believe and teach that creed? No! no! I see before me women who sent out their husbands that came back no more when the soldiers returned from the war. I see before me mothers, fathers, who sent out their sons to do battle for the right, yonder where the battle was raging so fiercely, and they came back no more. Think you there is any attaint of treason on those honored names which you hand down as a heritage to them who are to come after you? Sits there a skulking figure of shame upon yonder green mound in the old church yard, where loving hands spread flowers year by year on the natal day of your soldiers' immortality? No, comrades, cherish and honor and keep and defend their memories! Away with the apologetic whine for the part we took in the war between the States, and the maudlin confession that we fought for what we thought was right! We fought for what we knew was right. The issue of battle never yet established a principle, it can only determine a policy. We contended for the principle of State Sovereignty, as written in the Constitution of our fathers, for the rights of the State and for the liberty of the citizen. Mr. Seward tinkled his little bell at Washington and notified the world that the laws were silent, and Mr. Greely declared that the Constitution was a ‘league with hell and a covenant with the devil.’ Congress ordained that the safety of the nation demanded such construction, and the sword established the new Policy of Central Power. We yielded, not convinced, but conquered—and only after such contest, that the world looked and wondered how six millions of people could keep at bay for four long years, forty millions—with every government upon earth at their back. We accepted the terms of the new government, not the old, we gave our fealty and we shall keep it to the new, as we kept it to the old, and we notify all peoples and nations that the Stars and Stripes are ours now, and hands [58] off. The men who carried the Stars and Bars, showed their allegiance to their colors; they will show their allegiance now, when the Stars and Stripes are unfurled, and they will follow their banner where any man will dare to lead.

But let us hear no more of treason or of traitors! There are no rebel graves in yonder Silent City of Blandford, watched over by that Confederate sentinel, which the true and loving hands of our women have set up as a memorial of their undying love for the ‘lost cause.’

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