Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/278

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

rendered the army, I was in the field and in forts exposed to danger, risking my life for a cause I thought was right. With the same lights before me, I would do the same thing again, and have never regretted what I did then.


During the last year of the war, in 1864, I was in Petersburg, Va., and had command of the artillery on the north side of the Appomattox river, sharing in the fighting on the lines and in the trenches, the roughest of which was the explosion of Burnside's mine. In the spring (in March) when an assault was made by night on the Union lines we were actively engaged, and from that time until the order came to evacuate Petersburg we were almost daily engaged. This order to evacuate was not unexpected. I knew our line had been much weakened in order to meet the Union forces. On our extreme right the railroad had been cut. The order to evacuate came about 9 o'clock on the 2nd of April, and by 12 o'clock that night we had withdrawn and stood upon Dunn's Hill, overlooking Petersburg. Seated on my horse I viewed the weird scene, which I shall never forget. There was a vast throng of silent, sad men. The sky was bright from burning warehouses, bridges, magazines, and depots for stores. The only sounds to be heard were the rumbling of artillery, with an occasional sharp tone of command and the bursting of shells, fired at the retreating column across a pontoon bridge over the Appomattox river. Men tramped by in hundreds, moving by like spectres. All was silent except you could hear the roar of the flames and shriek of shells that poured into the doomed city. I rode away in sadness and grief, still clinging to the hope that with all the forces united we could hold our own. Next morning a halt was made; we got the men together and the march was resumed, after securing some rations.


Here in this county—Amelia—I saw General Lee for the last time in command of the Army of Northern Virginia. Though