Open main menu

Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/143

This page needs to be proofread.


Closing Scenes of the War about Richmond. 135

A dense black volume of smoke was observed to rise and hang like a huge pall over the country in the direction of Richmond, some twelve miles distant, and several officers who now joined us, among them Lieutenant Robert Goldsborough, aid-de-camp to General Custis Lee, and afterwards killed on the 6th, gave us an account of the sad circumstances attending the final abandonment of the city.

Marching slowly on, and with frequent vexatious halts, caused by

the road being blocked in front, we reached the House said

to have been, before the war, a well-known resort for fast teams and men from Richmond, which was exactly fifteen miles distant by an excellent straight road.

Here the Major-General and staff managed to get a bread and meat dinner, or supper, which being almost the only mouthful one of them at least had eaten except hard raw corn since dinner the day before, was extremely acceptable.

Our horses were equally glad to get some fodder and straw.

By this time the sun had set, and we galloped on to overtake the division. We lost ourselves and got entangled among some strange troops for several hours (and no situation is more bewildering at night), but at last, striking across the country by a pocket map, we came upon the right road, and found the command in bivouac near Tomahawk Church.

It was now after 12 o'clock, and after wandering about perfectly bewildered among the many camp-fires, a half-smothered bark of recognition from under a little mound of blankets, fortunately guided me to my proper place, and at 2 A. M. I wrapped myself in my horse blanket for a few hours' sleep.

Poor Bounce! We lost him at Sailors' Creek, and although ad- vertisement was made in the newspapers afterwards which he de- served we never heard of him again, and the supposition is not so improbable that in those starvation times he fell a victim to the ne- cessities of the courier who had him in special charge, or of some others.

Just before dawn, April 4th, a drizzling rain began to fall, and the morning broke dismally enough.

Soon after daylight the division was formed along the road. There being no breakfast, little preparation was required, and disentangling ourselves from the artillery and other troops which moved out at the same time, we succeeded in gaining a clear road.