Mounting my horse, I galloped over to see the General, and found him seated at the foot of a giant white oak tree, apparently intent on some map of the country, and alone. Approaching in company with Captain Alexander Baker, quartermaster of the post at Harrisonburg, "General Jones, I come for specific orders," I said. "We have three men here, which is to go?" * * * "I don't care which," he jerked out, "but one of you go instantly, or I'll put you all in irons."
I believed my contention reasonable, and so expressed myself, adding, however, that if he would order me then and there to go I would go without delay, although I briefly referred to my services the last three days; also that my eyes had scarcely had sleep at the Harrisonburg office since Hunter's advance first began in the lower Valley, while the other two men were now several weeks off duty.
Nothing prevailed. Once more he repeated, and with very suggestive movement and emphasis, without varying in the least the form of his order: "If one of you don't go immediately I'll put you all in irons."
Captain Baker was alarmed for me, and taking me by the arm, told me I had said enough; that the General was cross that night. I had about concluded I had said enough, too. I went away from there, as Bill Nye once said in a situation that was threatening.
Taking a watchman along with me, I was in Staunton before morning, and applied to my good friend, William A. Burke, depot agent, for a hand-car. Not one to be found. Try at Fishersville. None there. And as we pressed on on horseback, followed by my one-horse wagon with office supplies, the sun shone forth brightly after the all-night rain; the streets in Staunton were filled with church-goers looking very pretty; then a little later, as we approached Waynesboro', the continuous boom of cannon away to our left was heard! On over Rock Fish Gap, and then the Valley was lost to view!
The peaceful homes I saw in that corner of the world, West Albemarle, which, as I mused, I said had never felt war; the little darkies in their white cotton shirts dancing on the back porch to a sort of crooning rhyme, and tune of their own heard