Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/276

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272 Southern Historical Society Papers.

belonging in Richmond were soon en route, walking the long, dreary 140 miles to try and find their loved ones.

A couple of days after the evacuation of Richmond the bridge over the Staunton river had been burned. We maintained train service between Danville and this point for several days after the surrender of Lee's army, bringing in the men as fast as they came there, wending their way to their, in many cases, desolate homes in the far South.

Soon we were advised that a corps of the Yankee army was ap- proaching on the north bank of the river; that they were arranging to rebuild the bridge, and were crossing the river on a pontoon, eji route for Danville, and to operate against Johnston's army. The superintendent ordered the trains withdrawn, and I was instructed to take all of the rolling stock of the 4-feet 8^ -inch gauge, go to Greensboro, report to General Johnston, and follow the fortunes of that army.


Peace negotiations were in progress between Johnston and Sher- man. I was advised the evening previous that the surrender would be officially announced in the morning. Calling all of our men together, the information was given them, and I was unanimously asked to take them all back to Danville at once. Engines were got- ten ready, and sitting on the pilot of the leading one, soon after night, I had my first sight of the camp-fires of the Fifth Army Corps, encamped around Danville. Soon we stopped at the picket lines, and an officer was interviewed. He was told all that we knew, and that our desire was to get into the Danville yard, and go to our homes. Permission was given to proceed, and we were soon back in our old quarters.

The flag we loved was furled, the cause we had served had failed, and two years' hard work was at an end. We knew not where we would turn on the morrow, or what would be our future. We all sought rest, to be aroused at the break of day by an aide of General Wright, the Federal commander, with a request from the general to report to his quartermaster. Well do I remember our first meeting with Major Wright, the quartermaster of the 5th Army Corps. Numerous questions were put and answered in regard to the Rich- mond and Danville and Piedmont roads and its rolling stock, and we were astonished to be asked to gather our men and open up com- munications between Burkeville and Danville and Greensboro' , for