140 Southern Historical Society Papers.
or whatever of the sort came in their way, commanding officers and inspectors looking on without rebuke. It was, perhaps, the only instance in my experience during the war when the plea of military, or rather of human, necessity imperatively overruled all considera- tion due to private property and military discipline. Barton's Brigade now showed not more than 50x3 men in line, the heavy artil- lery but few more, and the Naval Brigade was reduced to not over 600.
These calculations, however, are made from memory.
But when all the circumstances are taken into consideration, never was exhibited more patient fortitude and fidelity than in this wreck of the Confederacy.
About midday the road, a quarter of a mile in advance of Ewell's column, was suddenly threatened by the enemy's cavalry, which made an effort to strike the wagon train there filing by. On riding to the spot, I found quite a warm skirmish going on. The remnant of Pickett's Division and a portion of Bushrod Johnson's, both to- gether amounting to a wretched handful of men, here formed in line of battle ort the left of the road and threw out skirmishers, who kept the enemy back without much difficulty. Just at this point the road divided, one branch keeping a little to the left, the other at the same angle to the right. The wagon train pursued the right hand branch, while the troops took the left, thus covering the train from the enemy, whose attack was made from that side.
Custis Lee's Division now came up and took position just at the fork, connecting with Wise's Brigade, of Bushrod Johnson's com- mand on the right, and with Kershaw on the left. Still further to the left, or in our late rear, was Gordon, who sent several messages stating that he was severely pressed in his task of bringing up the rear of the army.
Having been at this point already some time before our division came up, I informed my general (Custis Lee) that I had distinctly seen large bodies of the enemy mount and pass on to our right, with the evident intention of gaining a position across the road in front of our line of march, while a force still remained to threaten and delay 'us, and asked if we could not destroy or abandon the remainder of the wagon train and push by that road ourselves; but his orders re- quired him strictly to wait for the passing of the train and to guard it afterwards by taking the lefthand road; and I think I remember his receiving renewed orders to the same effect just at this time. The enemy now opened upon us with two pieces of artillery, shell-