Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/297

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left of the road wa^srrn a small housr, fnun which floated the yellow tl i-. a >.yml>ol of s!nall-]>().\. It is in-rdl'-ss to say a wide berth was givm this place by a quick movement to the right.

Just In-forr re-aching the toj) ot the inclin-- a incmi>er of the Fayette artillery tt-11 in with "a ward of the nation," and wishing to learn something, if possible, as to the status of things at or around tin town, plied him with a few questions.

"Good morning, old man!"

"Good morning, boss!"

" Do you live in these parts ? "

"Yes, sir."

" Ever been to New Berne?"

" Yes, sir. Boss, you'ns going to that town ? "

" Don't know; may try it. Why do you want to know?"

With a smile, he replied: " You'ns can't get there."

" Why not ? " was asked. "Is it heavily fortified ? "

"Yes, sir," he answered.

Being asked to describe it, from his description the questioner much preferred turning his face toward old Virginia, and his back upon the town, than to be one of the number in making the attempt to capture it.

This description was as follows: "That around the town was a ditch fifteen feet deep, and as many, if not more, wide; that on the approach of an enemy, this could be quickly filled with water. The breastworks, which were of the most improved kind, and running up on a line with the inside of the ditch, were mounted with heavy pieces of ordnance. Not being supplied with necessary appliances for crossing such a ditch, or scaling such a wall of sand, it was well known that, even though the breastworks might be reached, and the soldiery get into the ditch, there was not a scintilla of hope for their escape. Therefore, was it wonderful that the men, on learning such a state of affairs, much preferred turning back than advancing?"

It was not known whether the old darkey told the truth or not; but, however that may be, before the Confederates could get in full view of the town, a puff of smoke was seen to rise, and ere the sound of the gun reached the ears of the soldiers a heavy shot whizzed over their heads, the same seeming to warn the boys in gray not to approach any nearer.

And they didn't either. There was a sudden halt, and not many minutes elapsed when the command to countermarch was given, the Southern soldiers retraced their steps, recrossed the railroad, and