Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/118

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

never before nor since, has never left my mind. But no doubt the husband or the brother went out from that home, too; and i wondered what a story of long suspense and aching hearts, and perhaps of anguish at the last, I might hear if I had time to rest a moment on the cool veranda with the fair women who looked out upon me as we passed, saluting kindly.

Reaching Meechum's River Depot long after nightfall, we crept into a box-car on the siding and slept. Next morning I caught the wire and called Staunton. Reply: "Staunton is no more—its depot burned—Jones routed and killed—Vaughn in command—I am at Rock Fish Gap. Signed, Operator."

At this critical juncture General Braxton Bragg was in high command in Richmond. All telegrams came from him and went to him referring to movements in the Valley. Hourly inquires after Hunter were received from Richmond.

General Breckinridge at Meechum's.

A little later, General John C. Breckinridge arrived at Meechum's with a long train filled everywhere and on top with troops.

Boarding the train as it came to a stop, report was made to General Breckinridge that Hunter was now south of Lexington, pressing on. He at once gave order to reverse engine and return to Charlottesville, so as to hasten to Lynchburg to intercept Blunter.

While in the coach a small cloud passed overhead, and for a few minutes it hailed hard, driving many of the soldiers under the cars. I knew General Breckinridge, having been most kindly treated by him during his short Valley campaign in reward for what he chose to term the prompt and efficient service of my office before and during the battle of New Market; and I took advantage of the hail-storm, which kept me in his coach, to ask that I be given order to return to the Valley and open the Valley line again. He thought it better to wait. I ventured to suggest that that section was now in the rear, the raid having swept on. "It is in the rear now,"' returned the General, "but it may very soon be in the front again."

Perhaps a week later came an order from the War Depart-