Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/281

This page has been validated.
The Last Sad Days.

break I was ordered to move to Lynchburg to refill our chests and put the guns in the earthworks there, and await the arrival of the army, which would fall back on that place. We pulled out about sunrise with nothing to eat, and had gone but a short distance before we came up with the balance of the army, and then the firing of the last engagement began. While not actually engaged we were near enough to hear the cheering and whirl of the bullets as they fell among us. We pushed on. The firing did not last long, and there was a long, ominous silence, and a pall of gloom seemed to settle over us. An officer of artillery passed us, and said in a low tone, "Push on—General Lee has surrendered. When you meet up with the troop at Lynchburg cut down your guns, destroy your harness, disband your men, take your horses, and take care of yourselves, and go to your homes in North Carolina the best way you can."

The next day when the paroles were arranged all of the men with us were included in the surrender. The shock to us all was very great. A friend, who has been very sick, dies. You have watched over him, cared for and petted him; you know death must soon come. Still when it does come you are shocked. So it was with me. I said little. Lynchburg was reached when the sun was sinking behind the mountains. I drew the men up, dismounted the drivers, and told them the news. They thought it untrue. They themselves were so true, so brave, so faithful, they said they would follow General Lee to the Mississippi river, if necessary. They could not believe it. But when I ordered the guns cut down, their harness destroyed, they could hardly do it. The men gathered around me, some weeping, all saying it could not be true, as General Lee couldn't surrender. I bade them good-by, shaking each man by the hand, and not until I saw the last man leave the hill did I turn to look at the wreck. It was a terrible disappointment. My heart had thrilled at the music of those guns, I had seen nine fellows shot down while working them, for four years they had been my pride, and for four years I had been at the front, determined to remain there twice four, if necessary, and the war lasted that long. Now to see the guns lying there, my brave men gone,