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Title: Reminiscencies of a Confederate soldier of Co. C, 2nd Va. Cavalry
Author: Peck, Rufus H.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: R. H. PECK, 1861.]



                REMINISCENCIES OF A CONFEDERATE SOLDIER
                       OF CO. C, 2nd VA. CAVALRY.


After a lapse of half a century, I will try to relate in a commonplace
way, the circumstances which came under my observation during the dark
days of 1860-1865. Having engaged in 54 battles, some of them the
hardest fought ones too, and coming through without being wounded at
all, while many of my comrades fell by my side or were maimed for life,
I feel that a guardian angel accompanied me and that I have much for
which to be thankful.

One might think that at my age, which in a few months will be 74 years,
that I only remember the occurrences of the war in a vague way, but to
my mind’s eye, it is as vivid as if it had only taken place quite
recently. I was only 23 years old when I went into actual warfare, so I
was in a way, free from care. But many of the saddest memories of my
life hover over the dark days of ’60-65 and the doleful period that
followed.



                               CHAPTER I.


In the year 1859 at Fincastle, Va., I enlisted with a company called
“The Botetourt Dragoons.” This company was composed of 106 men, ready
and willing to defend their country when called upon. Our officers were
as follows: Andrew L. Pitzer, Capt.; Wm. A. Glasgow, 1st Lieut.; Wm.
Price, 2nd Lieut.; and Jas. R. Thompson, Orderly Serg. Our first Serg.
was Edward Brugh, second Serg. Wm. Garret and third Serg. Thomas
McClure. Our first Corporal was William A. McCue, 2nd Corporal Robert
Rieley and 3rd Corporal Geo. Peck.

We were called out by our captain for drills and parades usually on Sat.
Our uniforms were navy blue with yellow trimmings. We had general
musters once each year. We were invited to Buchanan, Salem and other
points.

On our march to Salem we lined up in front of Hollins Institute and
called on Prof. Cocke for an address, which he gave in his usual
pleasant manner and finished it by inviting us to dine with him on our
return. Capt. Hupp’s Battery of Salem, and Capt. Dierly’s Infantry of
Roanoke, met us there. Col. Robert Preston, of Blacksburg, addressed the
companies, also Capt.s Hupp, Pitzer and Dierly. All this was enjoyed,
but not so much as the time spent with Prof. Cocke on our return three
days later. We received genuine Virginia hospitality, such as we longed
for many times in the four years which followed.

As the John Brown raid had already occurred we soon found that our
service must be for defence and not only for practice. South Carolina,
Mississippi and several other states had already seceded from the Union
and when Abraham Lincoln called out 70,000 men to coerce the states, the
majority of our men wanted to go to Manassas Junction to protect our
capitol, Richmond. We were called first to Lynchburg for drilling and
future orders.


                         FIRST YEAR OF THE WAR.

We left Fincastle on the morning of May 17, 1861, amid the cheers, good
wishes, farewells and tears of mothers, wives and sweethearts. The
ladies had prepared neat little pin cushions supplied with pins and
needles, also bandage cotton and hospital necessities, some of which
were needed before we had gotten five miles from Fincastle. Trooper
Frasier spied a “frizzly hog” and called the attention of his comrades,
which created so much laughter that his horse on seeing the hog and
hearing the noise, became unmanageable and threw Frazier, whose head had
to be bandaged, there and then in vinegar and brown paper, (in the
language of Jack and Jill.)

We marched off gaily uniformed now in gray, following the flag presented
to us by the Botetourt ladies and carried by Wm. McCue. This flag was
used during the first two years of the war, and after our victory at the
first battle of Manassas Junction we were presented with another flag
and our first flag was sent to Richmond. It remained there until after
the war and was then sent back to Fincastle, where it remained until
1907. It was then sent back to Richmond to the Confederate Museum to be
kept as a relic, and I had the honor of presenting it on the 7th day of
May 1907, to Mrs. Norman Randolph, manager of the Museum. This was the
same day on which the Davis and Steuart monuments were unveiled at
Richmond.

Now back to our march from Fincastle to Lynchburg. We were cheered on
our way by the waving of kerchiefs and throwing of bouquets as we passed
on, following the blue ridge road until we came to Buford’s Station,
where we enjoyed the hospitality of Mr. Paschal Buford.

Our next stop was at Liberty, now called Bedford City. Here the kind
people of the town took us into their homes and entertained and
accommodated us for the night. We were welcomed in every home and
invited to stop with them again if we should pass that way, which I did
on one of my trips home from Petersburg. We left Liberty on the morning
of May the 18th, and took dinner near Forest Depot at Col. Radford’s
home. We reached Lynchburg the night of the 18th and as two companies
had preceeded us and were enlisted as A and B, we came in as Co. C. We
remained here three days, occupying tobacco factories and keeping our
horses in Friend’s warehouse. We were furnished with tents and moved out
near the fair grounds and were mustered into service on the 23 of May,
by Gen. Jubal A. Early. By this time Co. D. from Franklin County had
arrived and the remaining six companies came in in a few days. The
companies were commanded as follows:

  Company A from Bedford County,    Capt. Terry.
  Company B from Lynchburg City,    Capt. Langhorn.
  Company C from Botetourt County,  Capt. Pitzer.
  Company D from Franklin County,   Capt. Hale.
  Company E from Amherst County,    Capt. Whitehead.
  Company F from Bedford County,    Capt. Wilson.
  Company G from Bedford County,    Capt. Winston Radford.
  Company H from Appomattox County, Capt. Joel Flood.
  Company I from Campbell County,   Capt. Jack Alexander.
  Company K from Albemarle County,  Capt. Davis.

We remained at Lynchburg one month guarding the two magazines and
drilling on foot and on horse-back. On June 10th, Capt. Terry with Co’s
A and B went on to Manassas Junction, while we of Co. C with Co. D were
ordered out June 17th.

Our first stop was at Rockfish Station where we camped for the night,
and our second night was spent at New Glasgow. We reached
Charlottesville by noon the next day and spent the night near Orange C.
H. The next day found us at Culpepper C. H. by noon and night overtook
at Warrenton Springs. We reached Manassas Junction by night fall of the
next day. We moved on to Fairfax C. H. the following day and found Gen.
Bornem commanding the first South Carolina Brigade, stationed there.
Here we pitched our tents on Sat. eve and on Sunday a. m. a part of our
Co. was sent out on a scout and two of our men, Calvin Garret and Joseph
Robinson, were captured by the New York Zouaves. We remained at Fairfax
C. H. until the 17th of July, and I was sent with fourteen other men,
commanded by Serg. Garret, three miles below Fairfax C. H. on the Falls
Church road to stand picket, and at 9 o’clock a. m. we found that
McDowell was moving on Manassas Junction by three roads, viz.: Falls
Church road, Little River turnpike, and Flint Hill road. Serg. Garret
returned to notify the General of McDowell’s movement, but the Gen. had
already learned from other pickets, of his advance, so he ordered the
army to retreat immediately. As Serg. Garret did not return to us,
Corporal McCue sent me back 3 miles to Fairfax C. H., and when I arrived
our Adjt. told me of the retreat and from there I could see Col.
Kershaw’s regiment already engaged with the enemy, so I had to return to
notify the other pickets to join the command, which we could only do by
a flank movement and came very near being cut off entirely by the enemy.
When I returned I found that two of our pickets on the Flint Hill road,
John Mays and William Maller, had been captured. We continued our
retreat to Centerville and remained there until night. Gen. Beauregard’s
plan was to throw sky rockets to let us know when to retreat further
towards Manassas Junction, and when we called in the last pickets, we
were fired upon by the enemy and two of our horses were killed from
under their riders, Edward Hayth and William Walton.

During the night we marched across Bull Run at Mitchel’s Ford and laid
down for the remainder of the night in front of the guns at Manassas
Junction. We were awakened next morning by the firing of one of the
enemy’s guns called “Long Tom.” As this was the first big gun I had seen
fired, I remember well the appearance of that shell to me. It looked
more like a gate-post flying through the air than any thing else I could
compare it to. After hissing through the air about a mile it exploded
and I told the boys I knew it had blown Manassas Junction to “kingdom
come” and she would need no more protection. It wasn’t many days after
this though, until we became more accustomed to the big guns, so we
didn’t jump at such hasty conclusions and the firing wasn’t so exciting
or terrifying. I hadn’t seen much of the infantry until that day and
when they began double quicking and crossing Bull’s Run at Mitchel’s
Ford in order to meet the enemy, I imagined we had men enough to whip
the North right there.

At 9 o’clock on the 18th, the two armies met and for two hours a raging
battle followed and when the Southerners made a charge all along the
line, they drove the enemy back with considerable slaughter, into the
timber back of the lowlands, where the battle was fought, and they
remained there until Sunday, with “Long Tom” occasionally saluting us.
Our line of battle extended from Blackburn’s Ford up nearly to Stone
Bridge, a distance of 10 miles.

Sunday morning at about 8 o’clock Long Tom began firing and we all
thought the enemy meant to renew the attack, but about 9 o’clock we
heard firing at Stone Bridge about six miles above Manassas Junction.

The cavalry was immediately ordered to make a force march to Stone
Bridge and when we got there we found that the 8th Georgia Regiment,
commanded by Col. Huntington, in trying to hold the ford had lost nearly
all their men and their commander. The 2nd Va. Regiment arrived to go to
their rescue, but failed on account of the thick pines. About this time
Jackson came in and with Gen. Bee and others, turned defeat into
victory. Gen. Bee rushed to Jackson and said “General they are beating
us back,” and Jackson said “we will give them the bayonet.” Gen. Bee
encouraged by Jackson’s response shouted to his men: “Look! there is
Jackson and his men standing like a stone wall.” He was ever afterward
called “Stonewall Jackson.”

Gen. Bee was killed in a few minutes after making the remark to his men.
The enemy, under McDowell’s command, was driven back with dreadful
slaughter to Washington.

As we of the 2nd Va. regiment were unable to get to Stone Bridge to aid
in the battle there and were in a dangerous position, being between the
fires of both armies, Gen. Beauregaurd ordered us to the rear. Just at
that time Gen. Jos. E. Johnson, coming in from the valley, rode up to
Beauregaurd’s headquarters and took command, he being a senior officer.
He immediately sent a courier to Col. Radford to halt the 2nd Va.
Cavalry. Col. Radford told the courier to go to the D—— that he was
acting under Beauregaurd’s orders. We were not aware of Johnston being
near, but as soon as Johnston saw we didn’t halt he galloped down and
shouted: “In the name of Jos. E. Johnston I command you to halt.” Of
course, it wasn’t any trouble for Col. Radford or his men to halt, then.

He commanded us to cross Bull Run and go toward Cub Run Bridge to
intersect the enemy’s line as it passed on retreat, and to shoot all the
horses drawing the artillery and wagons. There being 1,000 of us, we
held the road for nearly a mile, coming on their right flank and being
so near before they knew it that we succeeded in capturing 24 pieces of
artillery and the men commanding same. The road was lined with dead
horses for nearly a mile, a sight no one would want to witness again,
but we were only carrying out orders.

Our captain ordered the fences to be pulled down and 3 other men and I
dismounted and tore them down on both sides. When we mounted we happened
to look to our left and saw a house with a crowd of men standing around
a well. I proposed to these three comrades that we could go up and fill
our canteens as it was such a hot day. When we arrived, there were 60 or
70 of the finest looking men I ever saw, about middle-aged and finely
dressed. More gold-headed canes, gold glasses and gold teeth than I had
ever seen before on that number of men. We asked them to fill our
canteens, which they did and just as they filled the last canteen, one
of the men said to us that our command was retreating and I rode around
the house to where I could see our line and it had passed nearly out of
sight. Just then two guns that we hadn’t captured with the other 24
pieces of artillery, and a regiment of infantry also, opened fire on our
regiment, and Capt. Radford of 2nd Va. regiment and Serg. Ervin were
killed and several others wounded.

Just as we four men arrived to recross the road, a cannister of grape
shot passed down the road striking two of our horses. We rode on about a
half mile under a heavy fire, but they were over shooting us, just
stripping the leaves from the trees, when one of the horses fell dead
from his wound and the other one was still running on three legs. I took
the saddle from the dead horse and carried it on my horse that was
called the “Flying Artillery” and wouldn’t carry two men, and another
comrade took the rider of the horse that was killed.

We overtook our regiment just as they were ready to recross Bull Run,
and were held in readiness the remainder of the day, but no order for
action was given and near night fall marched back to our camp ground of
the proceeding night.

Just after dark a heavy rain began and continued all night and about
half the next day, so we were thoroughly drenched by this time. Shortly
after day break we started toward Centerville and our skirmish line
captured several prisoners on the way. We moved very cautiously through
the woods in the downpour of rain, thinking the enemy was at
Centerville. But instead of the enemy being at Centerville, we found the
homes deserted. Tables were set with the most delicious victuals, fine
drinks, etc., having been prepared for a general jubilee after the
supposed victory. Some of the houses were locked, but the majority were
so that we could easily enter and some of the owners soon returned, so
we enjoyed a bountiful repast that was intended for the northern
soldiers. After the victory at Stone Bridge and the capture of the
artillery at Cub Run Bridge, as they were retreating, the enemy rushed
on to Washington panic-stricken. Had we realized the condition of the
enemy then, as we afterward knew it to be, we could have pursued them
and easily captured them, but we didn’t know the conditions.

We remained at Centerville until about 4 o’clock, when we began our
march to Fairfax C. H., arriving there about night. The next morning we
sent out scouting parties and videttes on all the roads and marched on
to Falls Church and put out our pickets, some of them nearly in sight of
Washington. We remained here several weeks and enjoyed the fruit of a
300 acre peach orchard. Finally a division of infantry was sent to Mason
Heights, which they captured without any great loss, and a few days
later Munston’s Heights were taken in the same way. From the Heights the
city of Washington could be seen, but the distance was too great for any
bombardment. We moved camp about this time and when we got to our new
camp a terrible rain and wind storm came up. It was a regular equinoxial
storm. We hurriedly put up our tents and our Orderly Serg. cautioned us
to tie our horses well as it was so stormy. He cautioned Marcus Ammen
especially as he had an old horse called “Roachback” that was in the
habit of breaking loose and rooting around the tents to hunt for corn.
William Harvey, Henry Payne and McCaga Pitzer couldn’t sleep, as the
wind was blowing so dreadfully, so they got out and built a fire and
cursed everything and everybody from Jeff. Davis down to Buckie Brugh,
one of our company. Kent Stoner was sleeping with me and I told him I’d
give him my room and go out and help the boys celebrate around the fire.
I reminded Kent of Basil Underwood’s sentence to death at the “Ringing
of the Curfew,” and how his sweetheart said the “Curfew shall not ring
tonight,” and that my motto for the present was that “Roachback must get
loose tonight.” I went and untied Roachback and led him up to Albert
Pitzer’s tent. The horse soon began rooting for the corn and the orderly
went out and soon recognized the horse as Mr. Ammen’s. He led the horse
down and hallowed: “Marcus! Marcus! Mr. Ammen! Mr. Ammen!” And Marcus
yelled back “hello!” Then he said “here is your horse that has gotten
loose. You must not tie him well. Come and I’ll show you how.” He did,
and they both went back to bed.

In a short time I led him up again and he began his search for the corn.
Pitzer rushed out and called Marcus again and Marcus said “well d—— that
horse.”

He tied him again and I went then and talked to that cursing crowd at
the fire and when Marcus and Pitzer got quiet, I led Roach-back up for
the third time. Pitzer came out yelling to Marcus that he must keep that
horse tied. Then Marcus said curse words thick and fast. I thought I’d
had enough fun out of the boys for that night so didn’t untie the horse
any more.

Pitzer was always telling us to fall into line quickly, so the boys
nicknamed him “Quickly.” Marcus was very quiet for awhile and presently
he broke the silence by saying: “D—— old Quickly! If he fools with me
any more, I’ll thrash him.” I was afraid to go back into the tents for
fear the boys would suspect me of the mischief, so I slept in Capt.
Pitzer’s headquarter wagon. It was midnight by the time Roach-back got
settled and the boys never knew until I told them, about six months
later, that I had caused the fun and trouble that stormy night.

The enemy then began fortifying Arlington Heights and bringing in troops
to hold their position, our men began falling back toward Centerville,
but keeping our pickets out about twenty miles toward Washington.

About October 1st the northerners began driving in our pickets, and Col.
Kershaw, thinking it was a regular advance of the enemy sent me with a
dispatch to Gen. Bornem at Fairfax C. H., and he brought four regiments
and the Washington artillery to reinforce us. The only man I’ve ever had
the pleasure of meeting since the war that was with this Washington
artillery, from La., was B. T. Walshe, Sr., who still lives in La., but
spends a part of his time in Va. with his son.

The enemy did not advance further so the troops just remained together
over night. The next morning Gen. Bornem sent an infantry skirmish line
out to go to the Heights, near Lunenburg, and try and ascertain the
position of the enemy. As I had been a courier for Gen. Bornem several
times I got permission to go with the skirmishers and left my horse at
his headquarters. The men who had been killed the evening before, when
the enemy was driving our pickets, had all been taken away during the
night, as we found none of them, but several overcoats were found.
Kershaw’s men had seen the dead men the evening before, lying on the
fields, but none of our men were killed, as they were considerably above
us and were overshooting us all the time. We went as far as Lunenburg
Heights and saw no troops ahead of us, so we returned to Bornem’s
headquarters and Bornem ordered his brigade back to Fairfax C. H., and
left Col. Bacon’s regiment, as picket. In three days I returned to
Fairfax also and joined my regiment.

All was quiet for a few days, when a similar raid was made and we were
called out at 7 o’clock p. m. and we tore down our tents and loaded the
wagons and sent them back to Centerville. We were ordered to march about
six miles to a little place called Langley. Here we drew up in line of
battle, every man holding his horse, expecting an attack any moment and
remained there until day break. After day break scouting parties were
sent out in every direction, but no sign of the enemy could be seen.

Bornem returned to Fairfax camp ground again. Co. C. was sent to the
Difficult Run Turnpike and we began leaving sentiment’s on every road
leading into this Turnpike, from the north. I was left 20 miles out from
Langley, just after dark. One other man from our Co. was left at the
next road above me, and from there pickets from another regiment guarded
the roads nearly to Leesburg.

In a short time after we were stationed a terrible thunder-storm came up
and my horse became so unruly that I could hardly control him at all. I
soon saw by the lightning that there was a man sitting at the foot of
the tree under which my horse was standing. I looked closely when the
next flash of lightning came and recognized him, as a man by the name of
Underwood who had been our pilot on one of our scouting expeditions. I
spoke to him and told him who I was and when and where I had seen him,
so he had me to search him to see that he had no arms, thinking he said,
that I might think him a fake and shoot him.

We enjoyed each others company all night, and next morning he went to a
house nearby and got breakfast for me, also dinner and supper for me and
my horse. He certainly proved a friend in need. I was relieved at about
5 o’clock that eve to return to camp 20 miles distant. I soon reached
camp, as the horse was tired standing so long, and I got a good rest
that night. This I enjoyed you know as I had marched all night and all
day and then been put on picket duty for 24 hours, where no one dared to
sleep.

I was quiet and had an easy time, for a soldier, until my next turn for
picket duty, which was about a week. Ten or twelve of us, commanded by
Serg. Brugh, were sent out to a place called Hunter’s Mill and stationed
on different roads, but only had to serve four hours until relieved.

At one o’clock the next day one of our men went out in search of food
for his horse and he had just bought a new hat the day before and when
he passed my post, I told him it was dangerous to go out beyond the
picket post. But he said he was going, so I told him I hoped the Yankees
would get him and his new hat too. He hadn’t been gone long until I
heard the firing of 30 or 40 guns. I, of course, looked immediately in
the direction of the firing and here came the trooper, like a winged
animal, without a bridle for his horse or that new hat. I could see that
the Penn. Bucktails were pursuing him, so I notified Serg. Brugh and he
sent me to meet Capt. Whitehead to prepare him for a line of battle, but
by the time Capt. got to Serg. Brugh, we could see the line of the enemy
extended out of sight to right and left. So we were ordered by Capt.
Whitehead to retreat, which we did hastily but not until one of Capt.
Whitehead’s men had been killed.

The line of the enemy, we afterward found, extended up to where our next
picket stood. William Marks of our Co. was wounded.

This occurred in Fairfax county, and as winter was coming on and we had
a great many horses, Gen. J. E. B. Stewart made a raid into Loudon
County to find provender for the horses. He took four or five hundred
wagons, two brigades of infantry, one of cavalry and a battery of
artillery, commanded by Capt. Cults of La. When we made our way as far
as Drinsville, we encountered Gen. McCall, of the northern army with a
wagon train and about as many soldiers as Stewart had with him making
his way into the same county and for the same purpose we were.

Our pickets reported the enemy advancing and Stewart immediately put
Capt. Cults’ artillery in position, in a narrow road among heavy pines.
The enemy also put their artillery in position near the Thornton house
on the main road from Falls Church to Leesburg.

The enemy opened on us with five pieces of artillery and damaged our
artillery so much, as we were so hampered only one gun could be used at
a time, that Capt. Cults was forced to retreat from his position very
soon.

Then the 11th Va. infantry was ordered to the front to drive the enemy’s
artillery back, but were unable to do it. The 11th Va. lost several men,
one of whom, I remember, was Melvin Gibbs. Both armies remained in
position until night fall and were more than glad to get back to
quarters with our provender. Neither claimed to have conquered or to
have been conquered.

The next day I got permission to ride over the battlefield which was my
custom. After viewing the battlefield from “Dan to Beersheba” and was
returning, I saw a lady beckoning to me from her home. I went to her
yard fence and she told me there was a soldier there who was
intoxicated. I dismounted and went in and to my great surprise, found it
to be a man of our regiment, from Co. I, of Campbell county, by the name
of Johnnie Wooten, (the man who sat back in his whiskers, the boys
called him.) I insisted on his going to the camp with me, which he
finally agreed to do. The Capt. sent him to the guard house and the
officer of the guard made him walk for two hours with the sentinel, as
his punishment.

I had received a box from home that day, which was enjoyed heartily by
all soldiers you know. After partaking of its contents I was in the best
of spirits. Any child could have played with me then. I thought of poor
Johnnie Wooten on his two hours tramp and went out to share some of my
provision with him. I found him still paying his penalty and gave him a
ration. I agreed to walk in his place while he would go a few steps
inside the encampment to eat his supper. At this interval, the guard
sent the chaplain out to reprimand and advise Johnnie how to conduct
himself in the future. When he came up the sentinel halted him. The
chaplain remarked that he wanted to talk to Johnnie and as I was acting
for Johnnie at that moment, I got the whole reproof and lecture.

After we three walked together about ten minutes, the chaplain asked me
if I wouldn’t promise to do better in the future. And with my
handkerchief over my face all the time, to keep him from recognizing me,
I promised faithfully to try. The chaplain went back very much gratified
to know that Johnnie had repented so earnestly.

As Johnnie, in reality, failed to get this reprimand, as soon as he was
released, went in search of his horse which had strayed over to Co. C’s
picket rope. He was so provoked, he cut the picket rope, which was
against the rules, of course, and was immediately sent back to the guard
house.

We were next ordered to prepare winter quarters near Stone Bridge. About
this time I was sick and was sent to the hospital near Centerville.
After recovering I came back to the camp, having been absent about a
month.

As it was near Xmas, now, W. S. Hines, one of our Co., had engaged eggs
and cream for making “egg-nogg.” My horse, the “Flying Artillery,” was
very restless, pawing continually, and I remarked that I wished I had a
long ride to take on him and could give him the exercise he needed.

Hines told me I could ride for the cream and eggs. He went to his tent
and brought canteens enough to hold about a gallon and a half. I started
off and when I got to the house, the lady remarked, as I gave her the
canteens, that “the man must expect to fatten his sick man.” I told her
I expected he had several sick men he wanted to give cream to, never
hinting at “egg-nogg,” you may know. I soon got back to camp and as the
ground was covered with snow, my horse slipped right in a hole made by
the picket rope post and turned a complete somersault, falling right on
top of me. I whistled to the horse and he sprang up at once. I thought I
was smashed up right this time and would certainly get a furlough to go
home. My brother-in-law and a neighbor, A. A. Woodson, had come down to
take me home from the hospital, but before they arrived I was back on
duty. They were still in camp with us when this occurred and my first
thought was whether I’d be able to go home. I first tried to move my
right arm and it worked alright, then my left and it responded also.
Then I tried both legs, thinking some of the limbs were sure to fail to
work, but to my utter astonishment, I wasn’t hurt at all, only stunned.
My first remark was that any big headed soldier that wouldn’t get hurt
by such a fall as that ought never to get a furlough.

When I got into camp and told the joke on myself the boys enjoyed it
hugely.

The winter quarters were completed by this time, so we broke camp and
occupied them. While we were expecting to enjoy the winter quarters,
unlike Geo. Washington’s men at Valley Forge, as there was plenty of
every thing to live upon and we were all well clothed, we received
orders for half of the regiment and Col. Radford to move on to Leesburg.

Five of the higglers from our mess were ordered out, so it only left
John K. Young, Lewis Young and myself. The regimental quarter master,
wagon-master and several other men offered to furnish the rations and
pay the three left in our mess to cook for them. My job was to notify
them when meals were ready and as these men had control of the rations
they also had control of the whiskey.

When I went for them the first time they drew the bottle for a social
drink, all around. Pharoah’s dream occurred to me that moment, how seven
years of plenty must provide for seven years of famine. So while I had
that bottle at hand I thought I’d just keep it for a time of need. I
accordingly slipped it into my coat pocket, unnoticed by the other men.
Every time I went for the men, I played the same prank on their whiskey,
as I knew the whiskey was to be blockaded soon and we would need it for
the boys when they were sick. After three or four days some of them said
to me that some body was taking their whiskey while they were gone to
their meals and I told them I was next to a detective to find such
fellows and I’d soon locate him for them.

Col. Munford’s tent was next to these fellows and he had a cook, hostler
and man servant. This servant was a boy of about sixteen, by the name of
Billy. They all called him the Col’s cup-bearer. Well if ever there was
a black boy he was the one; so black until he was blue, and charcoal was
ashamed of itself by the side of him.

It just occurred to me how funny it would be to put the blame of whiskey
stealing on Billy, as I knew the Col. would take care of him. On my next
arrival they told me I was right, they could tell that very nigger had
gotten their whiskey. I continued like Joseph to lay up for the whiskey
famine until the blockade occurred. After I’d gotten all they had and
they couldn’t treat me any more I began treating them. There was a
moonshiner a couple of miles from camp and a man was going there to get
whiskey, so I gave him $5.00 to get a canteen filled for the quarter
masters, fearing theirs would run out before the blockade was raised,
and the man came back saying he couldn’t get it for less than $10.00 a
canteen. I told him he was crazy, that I’d bet I could get a canteen
full for nothing and one full of butter milk besides. He said I was a
fool and he’d bet me $100. I couldn’t do it. I took the bet and we
staked the money.

I had two Yankee canteens exactly alike and I filled one with water and
put a little whiskey on top, as you know they won’t unite. We both then
went to the moonshiner and I gave him the counter-sign. He knew by this
that I wasn’t going to betray him. I gave him the empty canteen and he
went into the cellar and filled it. When he came out and gave it to me,
I put it in my saddle pockets and gave him $5.00. He held up his ten
fingers, signifying that I must give him more. I told him I was buying
it for a Co. and they wouldn’t hear to such figures as that, and I’d
just have to give him his whiskey back until I could see the men, but
gave him my canteen of water with a little bit of whiskey on top instead
of the canteen of whiskey. He gave me my $5.00 and took the canteen and
emptied it into his barrel. I asked him to tell his wife to please fill
the canteen with butter milk, if she could spare it, which she did, so I
got my whiskey and butter milk, for which he’d accept no pay, and I won
my $100. Of course the moonshiner lost nothing, but some fellow bought
water in his whiskey after that. I wouldn’t take the $100. I had won,
but we all enjoyed the joke.

Soldiers have to resort to many jokes and pranks, to keep up spirits,
that they would never think of in private life.

We each took our turn picketing around Drainsville, a small town on the
Loudon and Leesburg Turnpike. We made many friends in this section
finding relatives of some of our county people. A whole company was sent
out on picket for a three days period and we were given money to buy our
ration while out, so we rather enjoyed the outing.

It was a hard winter, but the 8th of March soon rolled around and we
were ordered to vacate winter quarters and go to Richmond. The whole
army did not go as Ewell was ordered to Washington Junction and half of
the 2nd Va. Cavalry was sent to keep up a vidette line from Manassas
Junction to Strasburg.

Company C. was among the ones sent and our first order was to burn all
the commissaries at Manassas Junction. Then the next was at Haymarket.
The next burned supplies at Thoroughfare Gap. At this point a great many
hogs were driven every year and butchered and there was a large mill,
which had cost $2,000 and was being used as a packing house. The
citizens told us that 600,000 lbs of bacon was stored in the building.
We were ordered to burn this also, which we did and when the lard ran
out into the creek it chilled and formed a dam across Broad Run. There
was an acre lot about covered with barrels of flour at the point we had
been getting our supplies from, and as it was feared the Yankees would
get that also, we were ordered to knock the barrels to pieces and ride
over the flour to destroy it. I was bitterly opposed to all this
destruction but we had to carry out orders. We also had orders to blow
up the big stone bridge, around which the first battle of Manassas was
fought. It took 40 kegs of powder to destroy the bridge. It was
destroyed in order to prevent the enemy from following us, as it was the
main thoroughfare from Washington to the foot of the Blue Ridge.

We burned the depot also, destroying numbers of boxes sent to the
soldiers, from home. We opened the boxes and got out any money that was
in them, ate what we could of the provision, and took such clothing as
we needed. We advanced the money on to the boys. We had to burn Loudon
Station also, just on top of the Blue Ridge, and the last was at Front
Royal. The boxes at both of these stations were ordered to be opened
and, of course, we received some benefit from them but not near so much
as if the soldiers in camp could have received them.



                              CHAPTER II.

                        SECOND YEAR OF THE WAR.


Ewell then fell back to Orange C. H., and we joined him there for future
orders. Capt. Duchene and Capt. White, of Ewell’s division, married two
young ladies in Fairfax Co. and brought them in a fine carriage driven
by a white man, on up to Orange C. H. They were there at a private
residence boarding and would often drive out to the camp and when we
were tearing down tents and getting ready to go to the Valley, these
ladies asked me if I’d seen the Captains but I hadn’t and we began
inquiring and no one had seen them for a few hours, and we learned
afterward that they had resigned their positions, put on citizens
clothing and had gone to parts unknown. The ladies, of course had
nothing to do but to return to their homes.

We crossed the Blue Ridge at Sneeger’s Gap in a down pour of rain and
pitched our tents at Elk Run church. The rain ceased that night, so we
were ordered to clean up the encampment next day which was Sat. Sun.
dawned clear and calm and we all had the privilege of attending the
church services. The afternoon was spent in sleep, or rather a part of
it. We were aroused by screams from the east end of the encampment and
we looked and saw men shooting out from under their tents and capsizing
some of them in their mad rush. We inquired for the trouble and some
said a snake had crawled over their faces, and others that the devil was
in the tent. After a number of tents were overthrown and all the men
awakened, nearly, we found that the trouble was a large black snake
running over the men while asleep. He ran in a muskrat hole, so no one
had the pleasure of killing him for breaking our rest.

We remained here a few days and scouting parties were sent out every day
across the mountain, and as far down as Linden Station to see if the
enemy was approaching.

The cavalry that was engaged in this vidette line, picketted on the
Shenandoah River and were often routed by the enemy. Some of the men
didn’t stop until they got clear out of the country.

About this time we had a re-election of officers and Col. Munford was
put in command of our whole regiment, where as he had only commanded
half, and Col. Watts was elected Lieut. Col.

On the 3rd of May, when the regiment was near Linden Station, 13 of us
were left at Flint Hill, several miles distant, to have our horses shod,
and as we were going on to overtake the command, we met a man galloping
up the road. Serg. Lemon, who had charge of us, met the man first and
let him pass, but when he reached me I ordered him to halt, as I saw he
was a northerner. But he fell flat on his horse and swiftly made a turn
in the road, so we didn’t pursue him. He dropped a nice gum coat in his
wild rush, which we didn’t fail to get.

We were in Rappahannock Co., and there were a great many stone fences,
and I told Serg. Lemon we had better get out into the open on a high
point and see if we could locate any forces of the enemy. We hadn’t gone
any distance until we saw Gen. Gary with a division of Inft. and a
regiment of cavalry, making his way from Front Royal to Richmond. We
soon overtook Col. Munford and notified him of Gen. Gary’s movement and
he waited until night fall and passed through Flint Hill, and took
another road leading to Madison C. H. We camped and kept watch.

The next day some of Gary’s men came out in sight and Munford sent a
couple of companies to cut these men off from the command and capture
them, and when we got to a rock fence where we thought we could cut them
off, we found the fifth Mich. Inft. lying just behind the fence. They
raised up right at us and our horses were stopped so suddenly that six
of the men were thrown and captured.

When Major Cary Breckinridge, who was in command of us, saw the trap we
were in, he ordered us to “left about wheel,” and just in the act of
turning, a bullet that was aimed at me struck C. C. Cahoon, the man next
to me in the arm.

We had to retreat about 400 yards in full view of this whole regiment
and they were firing at us all the time. But they were excited and
overshot us and only the one man was wounded. My horse was struck on the
foot and had to make three-fourths of the distance on three feet. The
roll was called after we got back, but only the six men of Franklin Co.,
had been captured.

After awhile three independent scouts came up, Williams, Lamar Fontain,
and Farley—S. Carolina and Mississippians. They wanted a dozen
sharpshooters to go to where some Yankees were doing a lot of
depredating, killing cattle, etc. I was sent among the others to within
about 500 yards of where they were and we could see the hill beyond blue
with Yankees.

We fired four or five shots each before they had time to protect
themselves, and killed and wounded a dozen or more, but then had to
retreat for our own safety.

The next morning I was sent with C. C. Cahoon, William Henderson and
George Zimmerman, who had been wounded by their horses falling with
them, except Cahoon, who was shot, to Madison C. H. I led their horses
and took $100. to pay their expenses on the road, but we were so kindly
treated by every one that I didn’t have to pay a penny. Mrs. Gen Kemper
had charge of the hospital and took care of the men.

I took my horse, which had been wounded, to the horse pasture and got
another and returned with the ambulance, in several days.

The command was moving, but Gary reached Richmond and was killed in the
first battle around Richmond.

We next went back and joined Ewell in Luray county, and went on toward
Front Royal, where there was a U. S. garrison. We joined Jackson at
Front Royal, and Col. Ashby, with the first Va. regiment, attacked the
enemy here and drove them back with heavy loss. The 2nd Va. regiment was
to the right and didn’t receive as heavy firing as the 1st Va.

There were two Maryland companies In the 1st Va. cavalry and they were
eager to bring on the attack, as the Maryland infantry held the
position.

The cavalry made a charge through a wheat field and the regiment of
infantry was lying down in the wheat, and when the cavalry came near the
infantry arose and slew a number of our men. Col. Ashby then ordered our
men to charge with drawn sabers, which they did, with considerable
slaughter. This was our first charge with drawn sabers. The enemy
retreated to Winchester, about four miles distant. The remainder of the
day was quiet except picket firing.

The next day, which was Sunday. Gen. Ewell advanced from Front Royal
with his division of Infantry and Gen. Jackson advanced from Strasburg
with a division of Infantry, also. The country was generally fenced with
stone fences and both armies made use of the fences as fortifications.

There was a rock fence running parallel with the fences occupied by both
armies, and each army was ordered to advance to this middle fence. The
Confederates beat the enemy to the fence and opened a deadly fire on
them. The enemy was so near the fence that they lost heavily before they
could retreat and re-cross the fence used as their fortification.

The Confederates followed them on into the town, and just as we entered
the village a lady began ringing a church bell, giving us new zeal, and
the cavalry was ordered to charge after they had gotten through the
town. This they did with heavy loss to the enemy and considerable loss
to us. We could have captured a great many more men, but they lined up a
lot of wagons and set fire to them, completely blockading the road. We
could not pass the fire, of course, and could not tear down or cross the
rock fences rapidly enough to pursue to any advantage. However, we drove
the enemy to Harper’s Ferry.

We remained at Harper’s Ferry several days and while we were there Gen.
Banks was removed and Gen. Shields appointed in his stead. Gen. Banks
had command of the northern forces at Winchester, and the command was
given to Shields just after the battle.

While we were at Harper’s Ferry Gen. Jackson received word that Gen.
Fremont was advancing on Harrisonburg from the direction of Parkersburg,
aiming to pen him. So Jackson made a force march, marching day and
night, in order to get to Harrisonburg before Fremont.

Shields rapidly followed us, but our men kept holding him in check. We
were sent on at the head of the army, as the cavalry could make much
better time. We arrived one day ahead of the infantry and rode two miles
beyond Harrisonburg in the direction of Parkersburg, and fortified.

Gen. Ashby maneuvered so wisely, that John C. Fremont, (the old woolly
horse), thought he had to fight Jackson’s whole army and was preparing
for same. While he was preparing for a general attack, Jackson passed
through Harrisonburg and went in the direction of Port Republic.

When Fremont made the attack, we retreated hurriedly through
Harrisonburg, and Fremont censured his English General, Percy Windam,
for allowing Ashby to deceive him that way.

Windam pursued us and made his brags that he would capture Ashby before
the sun went down. He attempted it and Ashby made the same attempt at
him. Windam ordered a charge, but his men wouldn’t follow him and he ran
into our lines and we captured him. Just as we captured him, Gen. Ashby
was killed. A confederate brigade was ordered back to help us and quite
a number of our men were killed, but not so many as of the enemy. This
is known as the battle of Harrisonburg. Night came on and put a stop to
hostilities for a time.

The cavalry pickets were stationed all around, but the next morning just
after sun rise, the enemy began to advance again. Gen. Ewell’s division
took a stand near a little village called Cross Keys. Gen. Fremont
marched against him with a force more than double the number of his. At
about 10 o’clock the battle began and raged until about four. Fremont
was completely whipped and never made another attack.

Jackson, now thinking his way was clear, continued his march to Port
Republic. But when he arrived, to his great surprise, Gen. Shields had
come in on the east side and stationed a battery to guard the bridge to
prevent Jackson from crossing. Jackson rode up to the men commanding the
battery and told them to move the guns back to another position, which
would be better, and these men didn’t know who Jackson was and obeyed
the order, and Jackson went back and marched his men on over the bridge.
He went on down the river with his and Ewell’s divisions to meet
Shield’s main army. We, of the 2nd Va. cavalry was left in the rear to
hold Fremont in check, and as soon as Ewell’s and Jackson’s men crossed
the bridge they burned it. Of course our cavalry could cross without the
bridge but they fired it to stop Fremont’s infantry and artillery. The
waters of the Shenandoah were especially deep at this time, but we
crossed unharmed.

When Jackson reached the Lewis House he found that Shields had taken the
very position he was aiming to get. He had stationed 18 pieces of
artillery in an apple orchard around the Lewis House. It was on a hill
and commanded three ways.

Gen. Branch with his brigade was ordered down the Shenandoah, at the
water’s edge. Gen. Trimble was ordered up at the foot of the mountain,
his men being concealed by the timber. Jackson’s brigade came down the
river about a half mile from Branch’s men, on a road running parallel
with the river. Since Gen. Ashby’s death, Gen. Stewart from Maryland,
was commanding Ashby’s men. Stewart’s men were ordered up to the right
of Jackson’s men and in full view of the Lewis House and Shields’ whole
army. Shields had taken his position and of course Jackson had to make
the attempt to move him from it.

Jackson had sent a regiment up a ravine about 400 yards from the house
and right in front of the battery. They were entirely concealed in a rye
field. About 200 yards behind this regiment was another regiment also
concealed in the rye. Neither of these regiments knew the other one was
in the field, and when the signal guns were fired for all to advance,
and the men nearest the battery raised up, the regiment in the rear of
the rye field fired on them, not knowing they were our men, and killed
about 300 before they found their mistake. Both regiments quit firing
and concealed themselves again.

Trimble, Branch and Jackson, advanced a part of the way, but when this
confusion occurred between the two regiments in the rye field, Jackson’s
whole army seemed demoralized. They thought, probably all those men in
the rye field were men supporting and protecting the battery.

The attack ceased for an hour or so, until Jackson could notify his men
of the plan, and when the second signal guns were fired, they advanced
from the three sides.

Brigadier Dick Taylor had been ordered up nearer the batteries than any
one else, and when the signal guns were fired, Taylor’s men marched
right up and took the guns. Shields sent reinforcements and took them
back from Taylor, and Jackson reinforced Taylor and he took them the
second time.

Shields reinforced again and took them back from Taylor the second time,
and Jackson ordered reinforcements and Taylor took them the third time
and held them.

Trimble’s whole force had come down from the mountain and Branch from
the Shenandoah, with Jackson right in front of the battery. The cavalry
had been ordered to charge, by this time, and we drove them, with heavy
slaughter, ten miles down the river.

By this time Fremont, who was on the west side of the Shenandoah, and
the bridge burned, you remember, had gotten a position and fired a few
guns, but we had driven Shields so far down the river that he could be
of no help to him then.

As we were coming back from driving Shields, Jackson sent out a skirmish
line and re-captured all of our men, about 100 in number, who had been
taken prisoners, and their guards. Thus ended the battle of Port
Republic.

As my horse was wounded at Gains’ Cross Roads, and I wasn’t well myself,
I was sent home the 17th of June, after being out 18 months. I was not
able to enter the service again until Oct.

The people of the community got me to go as a guide with about ten
wagons, to the Salt Works at Kanawa, W. Va., while I was at home. I went
ahead of the wagons with several other men from our county, who were
going on the same errand.

When we got to the top of Sewell Mountain, we spent the night at a hotel
called Locust Lane. When we awoke the next morning we found a six-inch
snow on the ground. We regretted the snowfall so much, but to our glad
surprise, when we went about six miles beyond and at the foot of the
mountain, we found no snow at all.

The next night we stopped at Tyree’s Hotel. The lady of the house was a
sister of Mrs. Dr. Williams, of Fincastle, so we felt perfectly at home.
Wyatt’s Hotel, near Mauldon, was our next stopping place.

There were thousands of barrels of salt and a number of government
wagons, and a large number of oxen for sale. So we planned to buy some
of the salt and haul it back to Botetourt and turn the wagons over to
government use there. But to our surprise, at mid-night, before we could
carry out our plans, we heard wagons rumbling and were told that Gen.
Floyd, who had driven the Yankees from the Salt Works to Charlestown,
was falling back. While we were still talking Gen. Floyd and his staff
came to the Hotel and ordered breakfast.

Gen. Floyd wanted a courier to go to the Hawk’s Nest, a place about 30
miles distant, and hurry all the wagons on to the salt works; but after
arriving at the Hawk’s nest, to turn all the wagons back.

I volunteered to act as courier. At first he was afraid to trust me, but
after questioning me until he thought he knew me sufficiently, he had a
dispatch written and gave me to notify the wagon drivers to hurry on and
load the wagons, and they would be put across the Kanawa on the ferry
and sent by way of Cotton Hill. The mountain road was so narrow that
these teams were sent this way to avoid meeting the other wagons.

I was ordered to shoot any man who wouldn’t obey orders. Floyd knew that
he could get the wagons within the 30 miles, loaded and across the river
before the Yankees could overtake them, but it would take too long for
the wagons to come from beyond the Hawk’s Nest.

I met my teams right at the Hawk’s Nest and ordered them back. The
dispatch also stated that all loaded wagons beyond the Hawk’s Nest, were
to sell half their load to empty ones. This they all did. Some were
heavily loaded and were just creeping along.

After dividing up loads, we continued to carry out orders, which was to
travel all night and not stop to feed our teams until we passed two
roads, known as the Sat. and Sun. roads, where the Yankees were supposed
to pass. We kept turning empty wagons back and overtaking loaded ones
and dividing up, until we reached Lewisburg, in Greenbrier Co. We were
about two weeks making the trip. This was the only time I had any
experience with, or was in the western army.

Every letter that went to the boys in the eastern army, I think, told of
my trip to the Salt works, and the boys began to think I ought to be
back fighting instead of guiding wagon trains.

The boys showed the letters to Capt. Breckinridge and he ordered me to
be brought back by an officer. Sheriff Linkenhoker, when he got the
letter from Capt. B—, came to me and told me his orders.

I told him that Xerxes’ 6,000,000 men couldn’t take me back under
arrest. I told him I was going back soon, that I wasn’t yet able to ride
on horse back, so far and constantly.

The next day I went to the army surgeon, Dr. Mayo, of Buchanan, and
showed him the order and he remarked that “they are a set of fools, you
are here under a legal certificate.” I had three certificates from the
family physician of my inability for service, but in Aug., Gen. Lee had
passed an order, that no certificate could be recognized except from an
army surgeon, so I had been to him in Aug. and twice since that time, so
held three of his certificates in Dec.

Dr. Mayo gave me a recommendation to either be discharged or detailed
for light duty. I’d been suffering from congestion of the liver and was
broken down in general. Dr. Mayo told Capt. Allen, who was at the head
of affairs in Buchanan to give me transportation on the train as I
wasn’t able to make the trip on horse back. On the 20th of Dec. I
started back to Fredericksburg, where my company was stationed. I was
detained at Lynchburg several days so didn’t get to Guinea Station, near
Fredericksburg, until New Year’s day ’63. I went directly to the Capt’s
tent and the first thing he said when he saw how bad I looked, was,
“what in the world have you come back for?” I showed him the letter he
had written to the sheriff, Lewis Linkenhoker. He said he had written
this on account of what those home letters had said. He said I was unfit
for service, but as they were in winter quarters and not fighting much,
I’d have an easy time.

I then went to Col. Munford’s tent and he greeted me with the same
question. I replied by showing him the Captain’s order to be sent back.
The Col. said I had been reported to him as absent without leave. I then
showed him my certificates from both Drs. Col. Munford remarked: “Well,
I’ll stop this proceeding right here, you shall not go before a
court-martial without a cause.”

I told him that I preferred going before the court-martial; that I
wouldn’t gratify these parties, who had circulated the false reports
about me, enough to show them the certificates, but I wanted a lot of
gentlemen to see why I’d been absent.

The early part of the New Year was taken up very largely to straighten
up the work of the old year.

In a few days about 75 of us went to Massiponix Church, in Spottsylvania
County, where the court-martial was in session.

Capt. William Graves, of Bedford Co., was there with his company,
guarding the prisoners. He had been commander of the sharpshooters the
first year of the war and I had been one of them. He assigned the
prisoners to different tents and told me to remain with him.

It was a month before our turn came to appear before the court, so he
gave me leave to visit my friends all over the army of Northern
Virginia.

When our turn came, I went before the court and Captain Breckinridge
presented the papers to the court. They asked me if I had an attorney
and I told them I hadn’t but handed them first my detail and sick
furlough, then my certificates from my home Dr., Sam Carper, of
Fincastle, and then the certificates from Dr. Mayo, the army surgeon. I
then showed them Gen. Lee’s order for all soldiers to be examined by an
army surgeon, they could see by the dates that I’d seen Dr. Mayo on the
day following, and when Dr. Carper’s certificate had only half expired.
I then showed them the order to the sheriff to bring me back under
arrest.

They asked me if I had any witnesses. I told them I had one, Capt. B.
whom I’d asked to please remain until I called for him.

After reading the papers I asked Capt. to please state to the court just
when I’d enlisted and what kind of a soldier I’d been while in service,
etc. He stated that I’d volunteered at 19 when a school boy, and that he
had joined the Co. the 20 of May 1861. He said during the 13 months he
had been with us he wouldn’t ask for a better soldier than I’d been.

I was dismissed, but didn’t hear my sentence until a month later. When
the last man of our regiment was examined, we returned to camp.

As I couldn’t carry arms until my sentence was heard, I wasn’t liable to
duty. But I volunteered to go into Stafford Co., with a detachment, to
try to capture some of Gen. Averill’s pickets. We captured about 25 of
them and as we were returning, the enemy began charging the rear of our
command, and the sharpshooters of the 1, 2, 3 and 4 regiments, were sent
to the rear to check the advance.

Our skirmish line went back and aimed to get to a little town of vacated
winter quarters, and I saw a soldier riding a beautiful dappled gray
horse, so I made in that direction and was ordered to dismount and
advance on foot. Not thinking that the man had gotten so near, just as I
started around one of the cabins, the man called to me to halt and
surrender. I threw up my hands, of course, as he had his gun right in my
face, but even after doing this he snapped his gun at me. It was snowing
very hard and the gun failed to fire, and fearing that my gun would be
like his on account of the dampness, I drew my pistol on him, so he
surrendered to me.

As I took him back, I had to pass through the sharpshooters of the 3rd
regiment, and three of them had seen the man try to shoot me after
throwing up my hands. They wanted to shoot him right there for the
cowardly act, but I told them two wrongs never made a right, and
wouldn’t allow them to harm him. I took him on back to Col. Ryles, who
had charge of the prisoners.

When we crossed the Rappahannock on our return, we were ordered to lie
down for the night. This we did; we put our gum cloths down on the snow,
then a blanket, and had a blanket for a cover. My prisoner and I shared
the same bed that night, but before we went to sleep, the three men who
wanted to kill the prisoner, came and apologized to me and the man, for
wanting to deal death to him for the error he had made. We accepted the
apology and they went back to their men with much relief.

The next day, the 17th of Feb ’63, we went to Stewart’s headquarters and
turned the prisoners over to him and they were sent on to Richmond
immediately. Gen. Stewart made me a present of the beautiful horse I’d
captured and she was my faithful companion for the remainder of the war.
I brought her home with me after the war closed.

We all returned to the camp ground and remained about ten days, when we
were called out for a dress parade.

After all the orders were read out for the next day’s proceeding, the
results of the court-martial were read next. One man who was found
asleep on picket duty, was sentenced to be shot. As he was so young and
a good soldier Col. Munford reprieved him and gave him a good, fatherly
lecture, and the man was a faithful soldier for the remainder of the
war.

Finally they came to my sentence. I was charged with being absent
without leave, but was found innocent of the charge and honorably
acquitted. As is usually the case, the first men to come and
congratulate me on my honorable acquittal, were the very ones who had
caused the false reports to be started. I thanked all alike, but knew
all the time who caused the disturbance.

As the weather was bad and no drilling or fighting going on much, the
main thing to break the monotony of camp life, was picketing on the
grand old river, Rappahannock.

On the night of the 16th of March, I had a dream of being in a battle
and of having to retreat, and while doing so, mired in the mud and was
captured. I told the dream at breakfast the next morning and they all
laughed at such a dream.

While we were still at breakfast, the orderly sergeant came around and
notified us to get ready immediately to go down to Kelly’s Ford on
picket.

We expected a good time for three days out on the outpost, but was kept
at the village of Kellyville, all that day. There were about 40 of us
scattered around, but in hearing distance of each other. Some of us were
in hay mows, some in outbuildings and some in a mill, to spend the
night.

A load of guns and 40 rounds of ammunition was sent us, about the time
we were fixing for sleep. Those who had no guns got one from the lot and
we were ordered to clean up the others, ready for use.

After we had them all cleaned the Capt. inspected them and if any of our
guns were not good, they were sent back and a good one taken from the
new lot. We were eager to get to sleep, but instead of that at 4 o’clock
we were ordered to go down to the ford of the river.

We rolled our blankets up and tied them on the horses and were ordered
to mount and fall into columns of four. No. 3 of each column, was to
hold the horses. After Nos. 1, 2 and 4, gave their bridle reins to No.
3—Nos. 1, 2 and 4, were ordered to dismount. This being done, we formed
into columns of four again, and were ordered to march on to the river
bank, about four hundred yards.

There had been a heavy rain just before this which finished up with a
snow about five inches deep. This was still on the ground, but the river
was swollen from the rain until it was deep fording on horse back.

The wind was blowing from the north and the thermometer suddenly fell to
about zero. When we reached the breast works at the river, some of the
rifle pits were filled with snow and ice, and those that were not, were
soon filled with men, but some of the men had to just stand and get the
best position they could.

At about an hour before daybreak we saw a light that we first thought
was the morning star rising, but the light increased and we almost
instantly found it was the camp fire of the enemy, being kindled, making
ready for an early breakfast to come and attack us.

At daybreak they were coming in sight of the ford. Gen. Averill with a
division of cavalry and 15 pieces of artillery soon stationed themselves
on the heights commanding the ford and commenced a heavy fire on us.

In about ten minutes Averill ordered his men to advance. They came right
to the ford, not knowing that we were there, and we opened fire on them
from behind the breast works and drove them back with considerable
slaughter.

Then Averill charged with another regiment, but we drove them back also.
He then charged a third time, just about sun-rise, and by that time
three companies of the 3rd regiment, commanded by Capt. Moss, had
reinforced us, and Capt. Breckinridge, thinking we had enough men to
hold them back, ordered us not to fire until they got into the middle of
the river.

Gen. Duffe, commanding a French brigade, had the majority of his men in
and near the river before we opened fire. Several men were shot from
their horses and the horses rushed right out of the river and over our
breast works. Some of them killed themselves on the stockades. When Gen.
Duffe got within about ten feet of the bank, his horse was shot and the
Gen. came very near being drowned. When his men rescued him he was
unconscious.

By this time so many of his men had crossed the river that Capt.
Breckinridge saw they would over-power us, so ordered us to fall back.
Some of our men didn’t hear the order and remained in the breast works
and were captured.

We fell straight back from the river under a heavy fire all the time and
the men with the horses couldn’t well get to us on account of a fence
and the heavy firing. Those on the extreme left had so much farther to
go than the others, that they couldn’t get the horses to them at all. I
was with the dozen or so, that was on the extreme left, and just as I
saw the man with my horse coming toward me, I noticed a little piece of
ground fenced off right between us, which to go around would take some
little time longer to get to my horse, so I just kicked off a pole and
jumped over, to save distance, you understand, and to my utter
amazement, I found I had jumped into a bed of quicksand.

Four Yanks were pursuing us as rapidly as they could and when they saw I
had been caught in the sand, they rushed right on around the fence and
drew their pistols on me. I had managed to get out of the sand by the
time they got to me, but in doing so, had nearly dislocated one of my
hips, so couldn’t run. The man with my horse saw that if he stopped to
help me, he and the horses too would be captured, so had gone on knowing
I’d be captured—the realization of my dream—only caught in quicksand
instead of mud. I immediately surrendered, of course, but found that
three of the men to whom I had surrendered were beastly drunk.

By that time our line of battle was coming in sight and the three
drunken men rushed on for fear of being captured by our men. I held to
the mane of the horse that my captor was riding and as we went back
several Yanks shot at me. The man told me to get on the opposite side so
they could not see me so well. One man shot at my hand as I held the
horse’s mane and missed my hand and shot the horse in the neck. They
were drunk and enraged because we had shot their General’s horse and he
came so near being drowned. They were saying d— you, you killed our
General! Some of them thought he was killed.

When we got right to the river, I saw a lot of men standing around a
Gen. who was lying on the ground, and I told the man who had captured me
that if he would take me over there, they certainly wouldn’t fire among
them. It proved to be Gen. Duffe who had been resuscitated and was just
able to stand up as we got to him.

The man told the Gen. that there was a man he had captured and asked him
what he must do with me, and the Gen. just reached out and hit me over
the head with the gauntlet of his glove.

He asked me why we dared to fire on his command with our picket? I told
him we were ordered to hold the ford and would have fired on Hooker’s
whole army if it had advanced. Then he hit me again.

I told him I hadn’t any idea of receiving such treatment from a U. S.
Gen. Just then one of his aids said to me to come with him and he took
me down the river a little ways, where about 20 more of our men were who
had been captured this same day, March 17.

As we went down the river the aid apologized for the General’s conduct;
said he was drunk and would never have acted that way when sober. The
aid was an American, while Duffe and the majority of his men were
French.

The man who captured me was from the 1st R. I. regiment and I told him
about the man and fine horse from that regiment that I’d captured just a
month before, and he said the man was from his Company.

Just then I was ordered to fall into line with the other prisoners, but
I took time to thank the two men for their kindness to me before falling
in.

There was a company of cavalry on either side of us when we started
across the river, marching in columns of four.

We halted a little when we got to the water’s edge, but were soon
ordered to “forward march,” and we knew that meant we must go through
that water if it was full of mush-ice and deep fording. As I was a small
man I was ordered to get between two large men, and we held to each
other and marched through. A Mr. Powell and Mr. Shepperson, from near
Charlotte C. H. marched on either side of me.

Matt Linkenhoker and I had made such an effort to escape being captured
and to get to our horses that we were about as hot as a “ginger mill in
August.” But strange to say, wading that river didn’t make us sick in
the least. The water was just over our shoulders. I remember how the
mush-ice and water ran down my coat collar. You can imagine how pleasant
that would be, in March and zero weather.

It looked hard but some of our men had made the Yankees wade the river
about a month before; but it wasn’t more than knee-deep where they
waded. I guess they thought it no more than right to retaliate. All is
said to be fair in love and war.

As soon as we crossed, one company went back to join the command and the
other company took us about four miles to a hotel where Gen. Ryles had
been ordered to hold the Yankee prisoners about a month before. We
remained here a few hours awaiting future orders. Our clothing had dried
while we were marching. We stopped and poured the water from our boots
soon after crossing the river, so we were very comfortable by this time.

The lady of the house and her three pretty daughters came out to look at
the prisoners, as they had a month before, and one of them recognized
me. She came to me and asked me if the Yankees got my pretty gray horse,
too. I told her she had escaped and how I came to be captured.

We soon heard the firing of the artillery back at Kelly’s Ford. Gen. Lee
had taken a position on the heights above the ford and Averill made an
attack on him. Gen. Stewart had been ordered from Fredericksburg up to
Culpepper C. H., to attend a court-martial, and went with Lee as a
spectator and not as a commander. He and Major John Pellam rode in front
of Lee’s lines and the Yankees seeing him thought his whole corps was
there and began to fall back at once, under fire from our forces, and
lost a great many men in the retreat, and a few were captured. Some of
our men were captured also, and among them the gallant Major Cary
Breckinridge.

The couriers ordered the guards to hurry us on to Falmouth, then
Hooker’s headquarters. We arrived at about an hour before sun-set, and
about 9 o’clock the whole army returned.

We remained here three days and on March 21, ’63, were paroled and sent
on the Fredericksburg & Aquia Creek Road, to a station called Aquia
Creek. There was a boat landing here and we took a boat called “The
State of Maine,” for Washington. Here we were put in the city prison on
the second floor in the basement.

There were 75 of us and all put in one room. There were bunks on the
walls and benches for seats, but still our quarters were not
comfortable, as the men above us had bored holes in the water pipes and
didn’t have them sufficiently stopped, and water was running down the
walls and over all the floor except a little place in the centre large
enough to spread a blanket.

We were kept here until the next day when they sent us to the Old
Capitol prison. We were all put in the same room again, but the quarters
were comfortable and alright. We had pork and beans, coffee and baker’s
bread, good enough for any one.

As I was disabled by being caught in the quicksand, and was still very
lame, the guard allowed me to go all over the barracks. I had to see the
Dr. often, so I had a very pleasant time going around. Dr. had given me
a pass, also, to go any where inside the barracks. The barracks was a
Park of 3 or 4 acres and was said to contain 10,000 men. Rebels and
Yankees together.

We had a full view of the street and often saw the Congressmen and
President Lincoln pass by. The sentinel would often tell us when
different important persons passed, which was a pleasure to us, to help
pass time. We were given quite a lot of good literature to read, and
altogether, we had a much better time than when in service. It paid to
be a prisoner that time, certainly.

While we were there a lot of Yankees were raiding in the Valley of Va.
and a lot of Confederates were raiding also, and the two forces met and
a good number of the Yankees were killed. There was quite a lot of talk
about it, and it seems that the Yankees thought the citizens had gotten
the soldiers to attack them in some unfair way. So a lot of citizens
from the valley, were summoned to come to Washington as witnesses in the
case. They were brought to the barracks and put in with us. The Johnnie
Rebs were all glad to see them. We called them fresh fish, and had to
initiate them, of course.

One of us would go to a citizen and get him to talking and telling us
about the affair, and the other boys would begin crowding around close
by to hear, and we’d say “boys don’t push,” which meant to push and
crowd more, until we got our fresh fish in such close quarters that some
of them would get fighting mad. When he would laugh and enjoy it with
the rest, that was a signal to give way.

Dr. Lucas, from Frederick Co., was a large fellow; weighed more than two
hundred, and he got the maddest of all until he understood the joke, and
then he was the best fellow we had to help initiate.

We all enjoyed playing pranks on each other. I named myself the “limpy
lame dog,” and they all treated me about as considerately.

Some of the boys sighed and worried over having to stay in prison, but
situated as I was, I enjoyed it. We only remained 16 days. There was a
boat load of soldiers from Johnson’s Island to be exchanged and as it
wasn’t a full load, they telegraphed to the Old Capitol that they could
take about 75 more men while making the trip. Straws were drawn to see
which room would be sent to exchange, and our room got the “lucky
straw.”

The boat that carried us was called the “Prairie Flower.” A beautiful
boat it was too. We had fine sailing until we got within about six hours
ride of Fortress Monroe. Here a heavy snowstorm overtook us and the boat
was compelled to anchor.

After the storm ceased and we could see the light-house, we made the
rest of our journey in safety. We couldn’t see at night, of course, but
when morning came we found ourselves in sight of the guns of Fortress
Monroe. We remained here three days and nights, as the wind was still
blowing such a gale that the ship had to remain anchored.

When we arrived at City Point, our exchange point, as we marched out,
another boat load of Yanks were marched in to be taken home, and we were
sent on to Petersburg by rail.

Here we were put in a big tobacco ware house, which was hardly suitable
for mules or billy goats, but there wasn’t any other convenient place
near by. There were several very large barrels in the building and I
told the boys that mother said I was always her best child to find out
what was in anything sitting around. So I took my pocket knife and began
dissecting. To my great pleasure I found they contained sugar and we
soon ate all of the sugar that tasted good in that barrel.

I talked to a citizen through the cracks of the building and told him
that he’d better help to hunt a place for me for some of the boys had
cut a hole in a barrel in there and had eaten lots of his sugar. The man
left and soon came back with the information that there was a barracks
about a half mile distant that we could occupy that night, so we went
over, and such a place as it was. We had to stay all night as it was so
late when we got there, but it was only a good place for bats and hoot
owls. He consoled us by telling us that supplies would be sent in from
Richmond and they were, early in the night.

When we got our supplies it proved about like the surroundings. Well, we
didn’t know what to call it even. Couldn’t think of a name in the
English Language to call it. It had been bread and meat once, but had
been sent from “God knows where,” as the old woman said about the rail
road, and was just poured into a corner of a box car and was of course,
about like hog feed.

We had been locked in the barracks and we just said if we were not taken
out we’d break the old shack down and go on to Richmond, so we were soon
notified that a train was ready and we gladly got on board for Richmond.

The cars that took us were cattle cars and the engine must certainly
have had a genuine case of tuberculosis, because it tried faithfully to
whistle, but couldn’t make a sound. We would gladly have gone on, or in
anything, to get back though.

Well, we arrived in Richmond in grand style, of course, and the next
morning took a train for Culpepper C. H. When we got to Culpepper C. H.,
Col. Munford had orders to make a raid toward Manassas Junction, but we
couldn’t go on the raid as our exchange papers hadn’t arrived and
therefore Col. Munford had no control of us. He told us to go home for
our horses and he would send our furloughs as soon as he could.

We took the train next morning for Lynchburg and when we were found to
have no furloughs, we were stopped there for further orders. We wrote
Col. Munford that we were under arrest, and to send the furloughs on. I
happened to have a cousin by the name of Linkus keeping the Washington
Hotel, and he went my security, and in that way I, with two other boys,
got to spend our time with him.

Before I heard from Col. Munford, Gen. Devon sent for us to come back to
the soldiers home, that he wanted to send us as guards for some
deserters and Yankees that had been captured in the Western army.

He gave each of us a pistol and when we arrived at Richmond, the man who
had charge of us handed the papers to Gen. Winder, and we took the
Yankees to the Libby Prison and put them in charge of the officials
there. When we went back to Gen. Winder’s headquarters, with our
deserters, he told the Serg. to take us all to Castle Thunder. As the
deserters had the same uniforms we had, he naturally supposed we were
all deserters, but four of us were the guards for the others. As I was
the oldest of the guards, I, of course, had to try to explain the case.
But when I tried to do so, he told me to hush, that he wouldn’t talk to
a deserter, and ordered the Sergeant to take us on.

This the Sergeant refused to do and a general racket followed. General
Winder told another sergeant to take all of us, even our sergeant,
because he wouldn’t obey him, to Castle Thunder. But he went to a
Lieut., who was there on detached service, and who knew some of us, and
had him to come and explain the whole affair to Gen. Winder.

He accepted the Lieutenant’s account, of course, and gave us four
guards, transportation back to Culpepper C. H. He told the sergeant to
take the real deserters on to prison, Castle Thunder, and in the
stampede he had caused by trying to send us all, the deserters had every
one gotten away.

When we got back to camp at Culpepper C. H., our exchange papers had
arrived and Col. Munford gave us furloughs, so we made a second attempt
to get home for the horses.

When we got to Lynchburg we learned that Gen. Devon had been removed
from office and Gen. Colston put in his stead.

We went on to Bonsacks the next day and left the train and took dinner
with Geo. Riley, who had three sons in our command. Mr. Riley was not at
home, but Mrs. Riley sent us to Fincastle on horses.

When our furloughs expired, I took my valuable gray horse back, that I
had captured, about 2 months before I had been captured. Alonza
Rinehart, John Young and William Henderson, were my companions back to
camp.



                              CHAPTER III.

                         THIRD YEAR OF THE WAR.


When we left home we thought our command had gone across the Blue Ridge
and were in the valley of Va. But when we got to Port Republic we
learned they were moving in the direction of Chancellorsville, so we had
to recross the Blue Ridge.

Just about sun down of the day we recrossed, we arrived at a Mrs.
Woolfork’s. There were about 24 other soldiers stopping there for
supper, also. Mrs. Woolfork’s son-in-law, Mr. Poindexter, had been in
prison with us at Washington, just about a month before. He knew the
country well and we decided to march all night in order to join the
command. Just as supper was ready a citizen who lived nearby and knew we
were all there, came in and said there was a lot of cavalrymen on the
Louisa Spring road, but he could not just tell which way they were
aiming to go.

While we were eating supper, some of the family stayed on the front
porch to see if the cavalrymen would come that way and just when we were
about half through supper, the young lady who stood guard rushed in and
said the cavalrymen had come near enough for her to see they were
yankees and a couple of them where already dismounting.

The dining room was in the basement and we all went out at an east door
while the Yankees were coming in on the west side of the house on the
upper floor. We ran and got our horses as rapidly as possible and rode
about a mile, and then Mr. Poindexter and I went to a cross road to see
if we could hear anything of them coming and to our surprise there was a
whole division of cavalry coming. We had left our two horses with the
other 28 men and we just stayed in the heavy pine timber, where we knew
the Yankees couldn’t see us, until Stoneman’s whole division passed.

It was fortunate for us that this all took place after dark, for had it
been a couple of hours earlier, the Yankees would have undoubtedly
captured us all. We stayed all night in this pine timber about a mile
from Poindexter’s home and kept on the alert all the time for fear other
Yankees were following.

After day-break we started on in the direction of Chancellorsville, but
soon found there were troops moving in front of us. Poindexter and I
went in ahead of the other 28, to see if we could find out who they were
and soon found they were Confederates.

I left Poindexter and went to them as soon as they halted and found it
was Gen. William Henry Lee’s Division. Poindexter went back and told the
other men to come on and we joined Lee’s men. He had no rations for his
men and as we had only had a half supper the night before and no
breakfast, he told us to go to a farm house near by and try and get
something.

We found the man of the house as kind as any one could be. He was the
father of our present Judge, William A. Anderson. He fed all 30 of us
and our horses also.

We went back to Lee’s division after our late breakfast and after a
short march, overtook Stoneman’s division and began fighting his rear
men.

He checked the whole division, of course, to protect the rear and we
thus checked his raid. I was in the rear line of the battle and didn’t
see the hottest of the fight.

We were right at a house and as some one brought some prisoners by
taking them to the rear, an old lady came out and saw the blue uniforms
and began crying, and said: “Don’t kill any of them blues!” One fellow
said: “I’m going to kill every d——n rascal I can.” She just fell down on
the ground and said: “I’ve got a boy in the blues and I don’t want you
to kill him.” I felt sorry for her and went to her and told her I was
sorry she had a son in the yankee army. “Oh! he is not a yankee,” she
said, “he is with Mr. Wiser’s folks.” They were called the Louisa Blues
and the old lady thought any one having on blue clothes might be her
boy.

About one o’clock the artillery began firing near Chancellorsville,
about three or four miles from us, but Wm. Henry Lee held his position
to keep Stoneman in check.

Shortly after nightfall Jackson was reconnoitering between his men and
Hooker’s army, and had given orders to his outposts to fire on the first
sound or man they saw or heard, and they not knowing he was out there,
fired on him and mortally wounded him.

The next morning Gen. J. E. B. Stewart took command of Jackson’s
division. Stewart began his march that morning and ordered the band to
play his favorite: “The Old Gray Horse Jumped Over the Elephant.” He and
one of his aids sang the tune, to other words, though. They were: “Old
Joe Hooker Get Out of the Wilderness.”

Stewart followed Hooker and drove him across the Rappahannock. We 30
fellows, who hadn’t gotten to our company yet, got supper and breakfast
among the citizens, and Wm. H. Lee sent us on to Orange, C. H. Here we
found some more boys, who like ourselves, hadn’t found the command they
belonged to yet. There were about 70 of us by this time. Some of them
new men coming in, prisoners returning with their horses, like I was,
and some coming back who had been on sick furloughs, etc.

We got rations here and laid down in the woods where the infantry had
been camping and the next morning when we awoke the snow was falling in
flakes more like biscuits, than snow flakes. If it had been biscuits it
would have had to snow some, or we would have eaten it just as fast it
fell.

I was about the first one to wake and I jumped up and shouted “Hurrah
for Jeff. Davis.” Campbell, of Co. G. Bedford County, shouted back
“Hurrah for H—.” Several fellows had to smile, when Campbell made his
reply. I told Campbell I had always heard a bad beginning made a good
ending, and when March came in like a lion it went out like a lamb. He
said “yes, but this is the first of May and it is coming in like the
devil, and I reckon it will go out like h—.” This caused laughter
generally, and everybody was soon up and our fires started for
breakfast.

We went into town after breakfast and orders had come to send all the
men on to Culpepper C. H. Here we joined our command and found that none
of our Co., had been killed at Chancellorsville. It had been about six
weeks since I’d been with the Co., only the one night, before I started
for my horse, after being captured.

Norman Hayth was our cook at this time and when the other members of
mess got back from picket duty one day he had a lot of beef cooked, that
was highly flavored with garlic. Not one of the boys in the mess could
eat it, but me, so I traded each of them some other part of my supper
for their beef and ate all eight of the rations. They all said I’d die
before morning. I told them I’d come nearer dying from not getting
enough beef than too much. Joe Shaver was sick and we put him in a tent
near by and John Q. H. Thrasher was taking care of him. Well in the
night I woke up and the garlic had gotten in my head so that I was
sneezing and gaging and John heard me and hallooed to the boys to see
what was the matter with that man. They soon found I was the fellow in
trouble, but they all laughed and said that’s the man with the 8 rations
of beef. He’ll come. Such a time as I had with that garlic for a while,
I told them I’d invented a separator to separate the garlic from the
meat. By this time a lot of boys was awake and shouting and laughing,
soldier like, and the Capt. had to call us to order before the fun
stopped. I didn’t get sick at all but the garlic just filled my head
almost like an overdose of snuff would I imagine.

The next thing that happened to me of any note was one day another boy
and I decided to go to see some young ladies, and we went down to a pond
to wash and the water was low, so we had dug basins around the edge so
the water would clear up by the time we needed it, and just as we were
about washed and dressed in our very best, a stray bullet came whizzing
along and went right into the muddiest part of the pond and threw mud
all over us. Well, now if ever boys felt like saying Sunday school
words, we did then. We had to give up our trip for that day any way.

We had fine pasture for our horses and they soon fattened and looked so
nice, that we could hardly realize they were the same animals we’d
brought through the winter. We were in camp here until the 20th of June,
when the grand review of the whole army took place at Culpepper C. H.

The fences had all been torn away and the infantry, cavalry and
artillery were all stationed, so that Gen. Lee and his aids could review
them. After he had gone around and seen them all, he took a position and
ordered all to march by him in battallions. The cavalry passed first,
then infantry, then artillery. The artillery took a position on the
heights and fired all the cannons as Gen. Lee passed by again.

Gen. Lee had ordered all the cavalry and wagon horses to be shod, but we
didn’t know what was to follow. The night after the review a grand ball
was given in the town. When Gens. Kilpatrick and Buford of the U. S.
army heard the firing of the artillery, they sent out scouting parties
on all the roads to see what it meant.

Just at the height of the ball our pickets came in and reported that the
Yankees were coming in on all the roads, which put a sudden stop to
gaities and every man hastened to his post of duty. The cavalry was sent
to guard all the fords on the Rappahannock. Our command was sent to
McLean’s Ford to throw up fortifications, which we did until daybreak.
At daybreak we found there was a squadron of cavalry near us, which we
could see over our fortifications.

Two of the men came down to the ford and watered their horses and I
talked to them across the river as it was a narrow ford. They continued
coming down, by two’s until about 8 o’clock.

At about 9 o’clock Gen. Kilpatrick aimed to cross at Kelley’s Ford and
was met by Gen. Wade Hampton. A desperate battle was fought and finally
Hampton succeeded in driving them back across the river.

We were near enough to hear the firing but not near enough to engage in
it. Gen. Stoneman did not attempt to cross where we were, so we just
stood guard all day. While this was going on Gen. Lee, with the
remainder of the army, was moving on toward Harpers Ferry.

We were ordered from the ford late in the evening and started in the
direction of Manassas Junction. We were there on the same side of the
river with Stoneman and marching on roads parallel to each other, but
neither General knew the other’s course until after the camp fires were
started.

We went into camp in the rear of Stoneman’s men, and later in the night,
Gen. Kilpatrick’s forces camped in a skirt of woods just behind us, and
a little later Gen. Wade Hampton, following on, got a message from Gen.
Stewart that Stoneman was in front of us and Kilpatrick behind us, and
for him to camp in the woods just behind Kilpatrick and at daybreak to
open fire on Kilpatrick’s men and he, Stewart, would have us fire on
Kilpatrick’s and Stoneman’s men also. This we carried out and completely
routed both commands. They didn’t know the other’s position and we
surprised them so, that all they could do was to try to get away. We
killed and captured a good many, but they didn’t resist us. It was just
a running fight.

We drove them all that day on toward Washington, not stopping to get
food, and went into camp at nightfall.

Stewart and Hampton crossed the Potomac with their men at Seneca Falls
in the night. When Gen. Hooker learned that Lee was going on toward
Maryland, he took his men and tried to get in front of him, which he
did. Eight packet boats had been sent up with provisions for Hooker’s
army, and when they came into the locks not knowing we were there, we
turned the wickets and let the water out and burned the boats. We had
been marching four days without any provisions at all, so we took what
we could in our haversacks, before burning the boats. We took the mules,
24 in number, on with us. We helped the woman and children from the
boats and took their furniture out, as we didn’t want to destroy private
property. It was hard to do then, with them all crying like they did,
but such is war.

In a short distance from where we crossed the river, we came on a
garrison of yankees at a place called West Minster and captured them
all, without the loss of a man. We so completely surprised them that
they surrendered without resistance. We went on to Hanover to capture a
garrison there, but they learned of our coming and resisted us with
right heavy loss to both sides. One of our young men, Walter Gilmore,
was shot in the shoulder, as he was riding between Chas. Price and
myself, as we were trying to get him to the rear, he was shot in the
left eye, but we finally got to a house and asked the lady of the house
to take care of him, while we went on and took the garrison. I never
knew anything more of young Gilmore until the summer of 1911. I met him
at New Port News at a reunion. He told me he was sent to a hospital in
Baltimore by the Yankees and received the kindest of treatment and the
best of medical aid and soon recovered.

We took our West Minster and Hanover prisoners on with us and our next
stop was at Carlisle, Penn. All the provisions we had on this march,
except what some of us got from the boats, was what we could beg from
the citizens. Some of us nearly starved. Here we destroyed some of the
public buildings in which food for the Yankees was stored. We threw hot
shot a mile or so and wherever these hot balls would strike, they would
set fire. Some of our men who were marching ahead of our Co. had set
fire to Thad Stevens’ Iron Works in Penn. and as we passed and saw it
burning I told the boys that was a bad move, that the Yankees would soon
retaliate and do us more damage than we could do them, as so much of the
fighting was done on southern ground.

We did this shelling with hot shot at night and continued marching all
night. We still marched all the next day stopping occasionally for a
little while to let our horses graze.

About noon we heard cannonading about Gettysburg. Gen. Lee had arrived
Friday July 1st, with his whole army except Pickett’s division, which
was coming from Chambersburg and Hampton’s and Stewart’s divisions of
cavalry with which I made the trip. Lee had engaged the enemy Saturday
and drove them back, but could not make a general charge, as these three
divisions hadn’t arrived. Had these divisions been full numbered there
would have been about 48,000 men. But of course a great many of
different companies had been killed or disabled. For instance Co. C. the
one to which I belonged, only had 64 men bearing arms when we left Va. a
Co. was supposed to have 100 men, of course, and they were recruited at
different times, but I remember we only had 64 then and other companies
may have been cut down, also, so it would be hard to determine just how
many men were in these three divisions. However there were so many that
Lee waited until they arrived to bring on the general charge. We arrived
Saturday evening July 2. As we had been marching so much and had so
little rest since June 20, we all laid down in a stubble field and were
soon fast asleep. I tied my horse’s halter strap to my gun sling and
just left saddle and all on, and when I awoke the next morning, I was
about 30 yds. farther down in the field than where I went to sleep. She
had just dragged me on as she ate, but I was too dead asleep to know it.
Before we got to sleep the enemy was firing a cannon every little while
and every thing would be as visible as in day time. But it was a dark
night and illuminations made it seem darker, of course, after
disappearing, the shells would some time burst over us, but didn’t do us
any harm.

Some of the boys heard the cannon all night at intervals, but I was too
exhausted to hear a great deal.

At daylight the bugle sounded and we mounted our horses and went out to
join the line of battle before having any breakfast. As our wagon train
wasn’t with us, we hadn’t had any rations issued since the 20th of June
and all we had was what citizens gave us. There were too many of us, for
any one man to get much, so we thought of breakfast the first thing,
when we awoke.

We were halted before reaching the line of battle, by Major Mason, one
of Gen. Lee’s staff officers, and he called for one Capt. two Serg’s two
Corporals and 30 private soldiers.

I was one of the private soldiers called out and Capt. Jas. Breckinridge
was the commissioned officer called out. Major Mason took us then three
or four miles out in the direction of Harrisburg, Penn. Major Mason then
told Capt. Breckinridge to send a reliable soldier to an elevated point
near by that overlooked the Harrisburg road for about a mile.

Capt. Breckinridge told me to go and gave me paper and pencil to keep an
account of the enemy’s regimental flags, and pieces of artillery that
passed the road. There were lookouts stationed on my right and left to
guard me as I was lying flat and watching the enemy’s movement, so could
not watch myself.

I began my watching about 9 o’clock and was to leave my post at noon. It
was a sweltering day, a real type of July and you may imagine how sleepy
I got lying flat in that clover field and the rays of the sun just
pouring on me. You see, I’d only had one night’s sleep since June 20,
and had been marching day and night and this was July 3. My same old
watch that I’d carried when I waded the Rappahannock, was still keeping
good time and you may know I was glad when it indicated 12 o’clock.

When I went back to the Capt. and gave him the account of what I’d seen
he sent it by a courier right on to Gen. Lee. I remember I counted 100
regimental flags and 70 pieces of artillery. Lee had men put on all the
roads like this, so he’d have a knowledge of the size of the army he’d
have to fight.

When I got back to the Capt. and gave him the paper, I was as wet with
perspiration, as if I’d been dipped in the creek. I was so exhausted
from hunger and general fatigue that I soon fell asleep and slept for an
hour or so, the cannons firing all the time. At one when the general
charge was made, I awoke though.

Soon we saw a skirmish line coming and they began firing on us, but we
showed a bold front and they not knowing how many there were of us, as
there were some buildings near and we were scattered around and they
soon stopped firing on us. Looking south, we could see the smoke from
the artillery and musketry, boiling up like a volcano. This elevated
position gave us a fine view of the surrounding country. The roar of
artillery was like a continuous peal of thunder. Our regiment was about
a mile from where I was with the few men who had been sent out with me
and in fact our skirmish extended on to us, but the main part of our
regiment was heavily engaged, but were driven back by Kilpatrick’s
regiment. They were fighting, without having had any food all day and
the day before and the horses the same, only what they ate dragging us
around the night before. The whole regiment had fared just as I had for
the last two weeks and were broken down completely.

The hottest of the battle was fully two miles from where I was
stationed. As I hadn’t had a bite to eat since breakfast Sat. morning
and this was Sunday eve, I told Capt. Breckinridge I was going to risk
my life and go to a brick house about 200 yards in front of our skirmish
line and try to get something to eat. I watched and kept the house
between me and the enemy’s skirmish line and went in at the window and
down in the basement, I found a boiled shoulder of bacon, several loaves
of bread and all the apple butter and marmalade I could carry and a lot
of dutch cheese. The family had left on account of the battle, so I took
my time to get plenty and made three trips and took enough back to feed
all 35 of the men who had been sent out with me.

After emptying the crocks we put them on the fence back of the house and
wrote a note to the lady of the house and put with the crocks, thanking
her for her kindness. Her provisions had certainly been a friend in time
of need.

The firing of the enemy stopped for a little while and we thought our
forces had gained the victory, but when Pickett made his charge the
firing began anew and as we hadn’t been ordered to advance, we soon knew
that we had lost the day. We could not see the hottest of the battle,
only the awful smoke. I’ll never forget that. Major Mason took us back
to Gen. Lee’s headquarters about nightfall and we slept in the yard that
night. About 10 o’clock it began raining and rained all night. Shortly
after daybreak Monday morning, Major Mason gave us something for
breakfast and Gen. Lee sent us to Gen. Meade’s headquarters under a flag
of truce to get permission to bury our dead. So I had the privilege of
sitting with Gen’s Lee and Meade at their respective headquarters the
morning of July 4th 63. When Major Mason presented the dispatch to Gen.
Meade, he immediately sent about 30 of his men with a dispatch back to
Lee under a flag of truce.

About 60 of the U. S. Regulars took us all over the battle field and
explained the position of the armies that fought the day before. We went
to the hospitals where they had been amputating limbs and at some of
them a six horse wagon could have been loaded with legs and arms. We
passed a half doz. or more of these field hospitals. There were a doz.
or more doctors at each of them. The dead men were every where to be
seen, of course. It looked more like fields of flax spread out to dry
than any thing I’d seen before. The most of the confederates had been
gathered up ready for burial. There were several ten acre fields with
men lying just as thick as they could lay. We saw them digging the
graves several feet deep and a blanket was spread down and four men laid
on it, then another blanket spread over them. The dirt from the next
grave was filled on this one and so on until the whole line was buried.
I learned afterward that the hurried dispatch Gen. Meade sent back to
Gen. Lee, was to send men to mark the graves of the dead, but that he
would have them buried. The regulars did not take us over the portion of
the battle field occupied by the Yankees. We could see the fields strewn
with the dead but we didn’t ride over the ground like we did among our
own men. I guess they didn’t want us to see how many they had lost. The
men were very nice and kind to us though. They explained how the
dreadful slaughter of Pickett’s men occurred. His columns had been
thinned out so much by the artillery and heavy firing they were subject
to in crossing the low ground coming up to the foot of Cemetery Ridge,
and he gave the order to close to the left, expecting Gen. Heath’s
division to also close to the left and support him. But Heath couldn’t
see the move Pickett made as his men were in a piece of timber and the
trees being in full leaf, the view was obstructed. They advanced slowly
and when Pickett charged the breastworks, Heath’s division was too far
in the rear to aid him. There was a gap of about 700 yds. left between
Pickett’s and Heath’s division and Gen. Warren, who was in front of
Heath’s division saw the gap, marched a part of his men to the front and
right faced and marched in behind Pickett and captured a part of his
men, who had already taken the breastworks.

When Pickett saw Warren’s move and knew that Heath couldn’t support him
to recapture the breastworks, he was compelled to retreat. Then was when
the terrible slaughter occurred, as Pickett’s men retreated under the
heavy fire from the artillery they had once taken, but was unable to
hold.

The men had to march very nearly two miles in the retreat, in full view
of the enemy’s artillery, before they reached the timber, which served
as a protection. If Heath had brought his men up as Pickett expected, it
would only have caused a heavier slaughter, because I saw the tents of a
number of lines of battle the next day, that the regulars told us were
right there to support the breastworks, that Pickett couldn’t see when
he was making the charge. He never could have held the position, against
such heavy forces.

We went right over the summit of Cemetery Ridge, by the Peach Orchard
and High Water Mark. It was all a dismal sight as it was raining
steadily until about 12 o’clock, but the work of caring for the wounded
and burying the dead was being carried on as rapidly as it was possible.
The regulars took us on to our outpost and we bade them farewell, never
to meet again. Major Mason knew some of the men personally, so we
enjoyed their kindness very much. Major Mason took us back to Lee’s
headquarters and Gen. Lee released us and sent us on back to our
command.

In going back to our command, we passed by the remnant of Pickett’s
gallant division. It didn’t look to be more than a regiment. The first
man I recognized was my brother-in-law, Lieut. John Dill, who is still
living. I asked him how many they had lost and his reply was: “We have
lost all.” He got in sight of the breastworks, he said, before they had
to retreat. He was wounded by the explosion of a shell.

As all of the Botetourt Infantry was in Pickett’s division, I soon found
other men that I knew. The men of the Fincastle Rifles had the same sad
story to tell, of the dreadful loss of their comrades. The descendants
of the Botetourt Infantrymen can always be proud of the charge their
ancestors made and glad they did not see the disconsolate, depressed
remnant I saw that morning after the battle. It was the saddest sight, I
think, I ever witnessed. You know the missing men were from my own
county, and so many were my acquaintances. I talked to some of the
gallant men of the Blue Ridge Rifles, Buchanan Rifles, also some of the
men who composed Capt. Gilmer Breckinridge’s company, then commanded by
Capt. Kelly.

Capt. Breckinridge raised this Co. at the beginning of the war and his
father furnished uniforms for the men. Some of the men of Capt.
Spessard’s Co. of Craig Co., told me of Nat Wilson’s death. He was
killed just as he crossed the breastworks. He was raised in Fincastle
and was one of my schoolmates.

We reached our command on the evening of the 4th. I found the regiment
had lost heavily, but our company had not suffered so much. Six of our
Co., beside myself, that only numbered 64, when we went to Gettysburg,
were sent out on this lookout expedition. The most gloomy time of my
life, I think, was from that eve until we started back to Va. the next
day. Lee was whipped, but unconquered. Meade was slow in following us
up.

The infantry and artillery moved in front and the extreme rear, was
brought up by the cavalry, as usual.

The business of the cavalry was to fortify behind us and protect our men
in front. We took wheat shocks and piled them up high and threw dirt on
them and when the advance guards of the enemy would see our
fortifications, they would slack in their movements. They would bring up
their artillery and open fire on us often and we would retreat to other
fortifications built by cavalry ahead of us and so on. Sometimes we
would have to stop in the open field and fight the enemy. Sam Riley was
killed in one of these engagements, while we were still in Penn.

George Hayth, “Flud” we all called him, was mortally wounded near
Boonesboro and died at Winchester, about ten days later. Alonzo
Rineheart was shot through the hand at the same time “Flud” was wounded,
in one of these encounters, trying to drive the enemy back.

We struck the Potomac near Williamsport and learned there that our wagon
train had been captured and about 15 men from my Co. were captured,
also. They were acting as guards for the wagon train.

Some of the cavalry was ordered to go to the front to guard the pontoon
bridge, that Lee had used crossing the Potomac going into Maryland, but
before we got there we learned that the bridge had been destroyed but we
went on to where the bridge had been.

While there I saw a lot of the wounded men, who were able to ride
crossing the river. It was very deep and at one time I saw about 30 men
go into the river and the horses got confused and threw their riders and
only 15 passed over safely. Some of the horses came back on the Maryland
side while others went across without a rider. These horses were just
broken down horses that the men had picked up along the road and some of
the men were riding without saddle or bridle, just a rope or strap tied
around the horses neck. There were more wounded than we had wagons or
ambulances to carry them and those least wounded were walking on ahead
trying to escape the enemy and get back to Va., so picked up the horses
as they could. The citizens told us that the wounded men had been
crossing like that for a day or more, so no doubt many a poor fellow had
a watery grave, in this last effort to reach his home state again.

We remained at Williamsport, until the whole army arrived. We had been
sent ahead to guard the fords, which we did and fortified at several
places. When they arrived, the river had run down considerably and the
infantry and artillery passed over first and we again brought up the
rear. After we had crossed we found that Gen. Pettigrew with his
division had been left. I never knew why. And the enemy attacked him and
he was killed, but not many of his men were lost. Our batteries opened
fire from the Va. side and protected Pettigrew’s men and held the enemy
in check until they could cross the river and get with us.

We continued to retreat until we reached Winchester where we went into
camp for a few days and got a little much needed rest. A good many
supplies had been shipped to the army and we found them when we arrived.
A great many were not present to receive the boxes from home. They had
answered the last roll call and were numbered with the slain.

Some of the Yankees had crossed the Potomac between Harper’s Ferry and
Winchester and attacked us at Sheppherdstown. When we went into the
battle, Co. C. had only 13 men left of our 64 that went into Penn. Some
had been killed and the others captured. The pickets were driven in
about 12 o’clock by Gen. Kilpatrick’s men and a skirmish line was sent
out to bring on the attack. There were a hundred or more of us in the
skirmish line and the 13 men, who composed Co. C, 2nd Va. Cavalry were
among them.

In marching toward the enemy a large sink hole was right in our pathway
and instead of going through the hole and keeping 8 ft. apart which was
our usual distance in skirmish lines, some of the boys went around the
hole and 6 or 8 of them were huddled right together. The enemy was
behind a rock fence on the summit of a hill, which was a grave yard and
when they saw these men together, they fired among them and wounded
five, two of them mortally.

We couldn’t get nearer than about 500 yds. to the rock fence, as the
enemy was firing grape and cannister among us so we had to lie down
behind a rail fence to protect ourselves. I was lying in a fence corner
and a cannon ball hit the fence stake on the opposite side of the fence
from me and cut the stake off and tore it out of the ground and took it
whizzing over me. It shook me up, I’ll tell you, but didn’t wound me.
Had it struck the stake my head was against I would not have been left
to tell the tale.

We couldn’t damage them much from where we were so we were ordered to
the left into a piece of timber and remained there 10 or 15 minutes and
were then ordered to charge in another direction and went through an old
field and came across five pieces of artillery, that our men had
abandoned on account of the heavy firing from behind that stone fence.
Several of the gunners were lying there dead and after we passed the
guns our gunners came back and opened heavy fire over our heads, at the
men on the top of the hill.

As Gen. Young had gotten in position on our right, We were ordered to
advance and came by a house that we found to be full of Yankee soldiers.
We came across several men behind a corn crib and they laid down and
shot under the crib at our feet, but missed us, and before they could
reload their guns, we ran around the crib and they ran to the house and
into the basement. We followed at their heels, and to our great
surprise, there were about 50 men in the basement, instead of our 3 or
4. We ordered them to surrender, which they did at once. Our line of
battle had gotten up by that time and we sent the prisoners to the rear.

We crossed a little ravine up a slope into a wheat field and the enemy
opened such a heavy fire, that we were compelled to take refuge behind
rocks, wheat shocks, or anything we could. Every man, though, that got
behind a wheat shock, was killed. Capt. Graves and I fell down behind a
large lime stone rock and a shell struck in the ground about 20 feet
from us and ploughed right along to our rock and exploded. It threw dirt
all over us, but didn’t hurt us at all.

Just at that time, I looked to the rear and saw J. E. Stewart, Wade
Hampton and Fitz Hugh Lee coming right up the ravine and would soon have
been in full view of the men at the rock fence and grave yard. I ran
down and explained the situation to them. They remained there a few
minutes planning what to do, and Hampton decided to have Gen. Young’s
men come up in line with Fitz Lee’s men, and make a desperate effort to
take the grave yard.

Hampton sent a courier to Young, and in a few minutes his men did
charge, but they were mowed down so rapidly that they didn’t get near up
to our line until they were compelled to fall back. We had to keep our
hidden positions until night-fall and then retreat.

When we got back I found that only six of our 13 in my company remained
unharmed. Ben Peck, a cousin of mine, was mortally wounded, only lived a
few days. John Deisher also died in a few days. The other 5 recovered,
but were unfit for service for awhile.

We spent the night in camp and the next morning our pickets found that
Kilpatrick had withdrawn his forces in the night and gone back toward
the Potomac. We remained at this encampment until the next eve, when we
had a dress parade in an oats field nearby.

Dress parades were held every eve in each regiment. The orders for the
next day were always read out and each orderly Sergeant had to report if
any of his men were absent “without leave.” When the dress parade was
over the regiment was turned over to the quarter master, and he gave
orders for each man to get four bundles of oats to feed our horses that
night and the next morning.

Our Co. was on the extreme right and Co. K. was on the extreme left of
regiment. Each Co. had one of the contrariest men the world ever knew.
We had all said if either of them ever drowned we would fish up the
stream for them. Instead of getting the oats near by, these men started
off in a sweeping gallop to the opposite sides of the field and ran
together about the center of the field. We heard a report like that of a
gun and immediately, another; the first proved to be the horses heads
coming together and then the men’s. All four fell over dead, as we all
thought, at first. We rushed to them and not a sign of life could be
seen. Some one hastened for Dr. Shackleford and as he had no
restoratives with him, except hartshorn, he used that, and we soon found
we had two live men alright. They felt up for the ground though. They
then used the hartshorn on the horses and they soon revived also. The
crowd had gathered by that time and all had a hearty laugh and gave them
three cheers for the bay windows they carried on their heads.

After going into camp that night in a piece of woods, we hitched our
horses and some of the boys went in search of water back in the open
field. A fellow by the name of Bob Luckadoo, had gone off about 30 or 40
yards from the majority of us and laid down, and these boys coming back
from hunting water, accidently stepped on the man. He got very mad and
cursed and the boys apologized and told him they could not see him in
the dark. He finally accepted their apology, but the boys found out what
a “touch-me-not” he was, so told it as soon as they got into camp. We
decided to pass by and stumble over him again in going for water. The
next boys did so, and he shouted and cursed them and they pretended to
be so surprised at his being there and began to apologize. He said:
“What in the hell is the use to apologize, when you’ve killed me?” He
laid down again, though, and presently another boy stumbled over him and
he jumped up and called to the bugler as loud as he could yell: “Casey!
Casey! Just turn out the whole damned bloody 2nd Cavalry and let them
march over me and maybe they will be satisfied.” The regiment enjoyed
the prank greatly and we often laugh about it yet.

We moved camp the next day and his horse got lame and as we would pass
every boy would ask him what was the matter with it. He got so mad he
told us it was none of our d——d business. Sometimes 3 or 4 would be
asking him at once. He finally got so mad he cursed us until you could
have heard him a mile, I think. We camped the next night in a dewberry
field.

As soon as day broke I got up and ate a good breakfast of dewberries. We
soon found that there were about a dozen Yankees on the hill, just above
us and they fired on us a few times, but over shot us. Col. Munford
ordered the bugle to be blown, which was a signal for us to mount. We
were formed in line and by that time the fog had raised so that we could
see the men on the hill. He wanted some one to try to ascertain who they
were and why they were there. I told him I’d go on the hill just
opposite, where we could see better, if some one would go with me.
Another man volunteered and I told him to come up from one side and I’d
go up from the other and we could meet on the top. When I went around on
my side of the hill and got to the top the other volunteer wasn’t there.
I was in sight of the men on the other hill and about 200 yards from
them I could see that there were 8 men on horseback and there were two
horses with out riders. I was riding my horse that I’d captured in the
spring. I shouted to them and bade them “Good Morning” and asked them to
whose command they belonged and they answered “Gen. Rosser’s”.

They asked me to come up to where they were, but I told two of them to
come down to me. They insisted on my coming but I told them there were
more of them and for two of them to come to me. Just then two men in
some sassafras bushes about 50 yds. from me fired at me and my horse
whurled so suddenly, that I heard the whiz of both bullets right by my
head. I fell over on my horse to keep her between me and the men. She
almost flew back in the direction from which we had come. The man who
started with me never went to the top of the hill, for he could see the
Yankees before I could and he soon started back, but saw me fall over on
my horse and reported me killed before I could get back. The Col. then
with drew the men and made preparation for an attack; but it never was
brought on. There were a few stray shots all day, but didn’t amount to
any thing among our men. Each side seemed afraid to attack the other, as
they couldn’t ascertain the strength of the opposing forces.

While we were recuperating and maneuvering around one evening at dress
parade an invitation was read out, that a Mrs. Lucas in the neighborhood
had given an invitation to all the Burdens, Sheppards and Pecks to
attend a dining at her home. The invitation was read all through Lee’s
army. A Lieutenant by the name of Burten from Bedford Co. and I were the
only ones who went. We had to go about six miles. She lived at a fine
farm house and the porch was crowded with guests. Mrs. Lucas and her
daughter came out to meet us and told us not to tell our names until she
guessed who we were. She looked at the Lieut. first and said she
couldn’t see the favor of any of the Burdens, Sheppards or Pecks. I told
her how he spelled his name and we soon found it was different from the
name she was hunting. She told us to get down and come in anyway; she
was glad we had come, etc., if the name was a little different. I told
her she had slighted me, that she hadn’t guessed who I was yet. She
said: “Oh! Come on, I know you by the favor. I’ll show you pictures of
your relations for two generations.”

She introduced the Lieut. to the ladies and said she would introduce me
a little later. She took me in and showed me a life-size portrait of her
grandfather Jacob Peck, who was born and raised near Fincastle, and was
my great uncle. She knew me by the picture, she said. She then took me
back and introduced me to the guests. Her husband came in, and to my
astonishment, I recognized him as the same Dr. Lucas that we had so much
fun over when we were in prison at Washington about four months before.
I laughed and called him the fresh fish and he enjoyed anew our
initiating we had for these witnesses that were sent to Washington. He
said he recognized me on first sight. Lieut. Burten went back that eve,
but as I had a three days’ furlough, I stayed until the next evening. Dr
Lucas sent regards to the other seven men who spent the time with us at
Washington.

After a few days we crossed the Blue Ridge and went back into Culpepper
Co., near the same place from which we had made our start to Gettysburg.
We rested and recuperated at this place a few days and the first
disturbance was one day when half of our division of cavalry was out
letting the horses graze, when the pickets came in and said that
Kilpatrick was crossing the Rappahannock. The bugle sounded, a signal to
saddle and make ready for movement. Our horses all being out and half of
the men, naturally we had a considerable stampede before the men could
get back and we could all make ready. By our delay Kilpatrick succeeded
in getting about all of his men over.

We formed our line of battle and aimed to make a cavalry charge, but
could not on account of the timber and underbrush. Just as we were
dismounting a young man by the name of Preston, who had come to our
regiment the day before, was shot in the neck and fell dead. We charged
them on foot and drove them across the river, capturing a few of their
men and having a few wounded and killed. Some of our slow fellows who
didn’t get up with us in time for the pursuit, hitched their horses at a
straw stack and were smoking and set the stack on fire, and burned it
and one of the horses.

A few days later while out on a scouting expedition, and some of our men
were left behind the majority of the command, having their horses shod,
Kilpatrick’s men came on them and would have captured them all, but for
Lieut. Ed. Hayth. He hurriedly formed them in line, as soon as he saw
the enemy approaching and charged them and drove them back. Hayth then
hurried on and overtook us and informed us of the enemy’s advance, so we
took our position behind a rock fence. When Kilpatrick’s men advanced
they came up through a corn field, so we had to shoot considerably at
random and their firing on us was about the same way. One of our men by
the name of Chas. Cross, from Lynchburg, was accidently killed by one of
our pieces of artillery, and Capt. Breckinridge sent word back to the
gunners that they must aim higher, and just as the messenger, William
Craddock, got to where young Cross was killed, he was shot by the
Yankees and died that night.

These were the only two men we lost. We left the fence and charged the
enemy and drove them back, but didn’t capture any of them.

The next we heard of the enemy was that Gen. Meade was concentrating his
forces in Culpepper Co., preparing to advance on Richmond. Gen. Lee then
moved with his army toward Culpepper, C. H., to check Meade. He sent
Stewart’s cavalry to cross the Rapidan river at Raccoon Ford, to drive
the enemy back.

When we crossed the river the enemy opened fire on us with three or four
pieces of artillery and the first ball that was fired cut Sergeant
McCabe’s leg off and the ball went on through his horse and killed it
instantly. We soon saw that our only chance was to dismount and charge
the enemy on foot. When we got near the artillery they began to fall
back and never halted until they got to Stevensburg, about two miles
distant. Here they opened fire on us again and we laid down in a mill
race, to get out of range and sight of the enemy. I was very warm,
having walked the two miles in double quick time and had to lie in that
spring water for about three hours until reinforcements arrived. When
the infantry got within about 200 yards we were ordered to charge the
artillery, which we did, but when they saw our reinforcements coming
they began retreating again to Brandy Station. We followed them
expecting them to make a stand again but they did not. They continued to
retreat until they joined the main army. We camped near Brandy Station
that night, and the next morning I was unable for service. My rest in
that spring water had given me a case of congestion of the liver. K. B.
Stoner was sent to take me back to Orange C. H., I wasn’t able to go
alone.

After going a couple of miles a citizen told us of a near way by going
through his corn field and on out in a cross road, that led to the main
road. Just after getting into the corn field I was riding a little ahead
while Stoner laid up the fence and to my great surprise one of Gen.
Pleasenton’s couriers came galloping up. I drew my pistol and ordered
him to surrender, which he did without a word. When we got through the
field and to the next house, the man of the house told us it wasn’t safe
to go farther because he had seen a scouting party go that way. He told
us another near route back to Lee’s headquarters.

We arrived there in due time and stayed all night and they told us where
to find the command. We at last reached them and turned our prisoner
over to the provost guard, and made a second start for Orange C. H. I
hadn’t eaten anything for a couple of days and would get so sick every
few miles that I’d have to get off and lie on the ground awhile and try
it again. After two days riding and resting along, we reached camp and
you may know I was glad to get back. I was sick for a week or so and
every thing remained quiet for some time.

This was nearing fall and we soon began fixing up winter quarters. We
tented in a heavy piece of timber and built a wind brake back of the
encampment. We had built log huts for winter quarters before this, but
just lived in our tents the winter of ’63, as we were expecting to have
to move at any time. Nothing occurred during the winter to break our
rest. We kept up picket duty, of course, and had fairly good rations,
principally corn bread and pork with some beef. The country had been so
over-run that we couldn’t expect to fare as well as we had previously.

We broke camp the early part of march and moved to Fredericksburg. The
evening we started, after we had saddled up, we were waiting for further
orders and about half of the boys lay down by the wind brake and went to
sleep. The horses were all hitched around, just where we had kept them
all winter. Some of the boys thought things were too quiet, so they
slipped around and set fire to the dry pine brush of the wind brake, and
such a scare as the fellows had when they waked up. The men jumped and
some ran off without their guns or pistols, and every little while the
fire would burn over one and it would fire away. The horses then got
scared and we had a general awakening. Some of the boys used Sunday
School words, lavishly, I’ll tell you. If they could only catch the
fellow who set the brush, was the cry; but catching him was the thing.
Every fellow was perfectly innocent, of course.

At about 8 o’clock at night we had orders to march toward
Fredericksburg. As the roads were bad, the wagons made poor time, so we
didn’t get there until the next day.

As soon as we arrived a detail was made from all the companies to send
men down to help draw a seine. I got permission to ride about some and
took one of the roads made by the infantry the year before, when the
battle was fought there. I heard a man cursing at the top of his voice
and I went to him and his wagon had upset with a load of fish. I helped
him turn his wagon back and to reload his fish and he was very grateful
for my help, so much so, that he gave me a dozen fine hickory shad. I
strung my fish up and hung them to my saddle and started on toward the
fishing, and directly I heard my man yelling and cursing and I rode back
to find his wagon upset again and every fish on the ground. I helped him
load up again and he gave me another doz. My hands and clothes were
considerably soiled by this time, so I decided to go on back with him.
He was going to the camp with the fish, so I helped him on out of the
woods. Every time the wagon would strike the roots of the trees the fish
would slip first to one side of the bed and then the other and by both
of holding and watching we kept them from upsetting the wagon again.
When I got back our quarter-master had issued fish to the men, so with
my extra 2 dozen, we had a fish feast.



                              CHAPTER IV.

                        FOURTH YEAR OF THE WAR.


We remained at that camp until the morning of the 4th of May, when we
tore down our tents and started to Spottsylvania C. H. When we got there
we were ordered out to take a place near Todd’s Tavern, where we were
ordered to fortify.

In a few hours Gen. Sedgwick, with the 19th army corps marched against
us. A desperate fight ensued. We fought from behind our log
fortifications; he charged again and again during the whole day, but we
continued driving him back. Our loss was light, as we were well
fortified, but the ground over which they charged was left blue with
their slain. Gen. Ulysses Grant had already been appointed
commander-in-chief of the Yankee forces and was now in Spottsylvania Co.
His motto was “never to give up,” so he reinforced Sedgwick the next day
with another army corps, which meant 30,000 or 40,000 men. The first day
I receipted for 100 rounds of ammunition and shot it all and the next
day for 115 and used all that the 2nd day. The others all did about the
same. They had removed the dead during the night and charged over the
same ground all of the second day. We held our same position behind the
fortifications and lost very few men, but the ground in front of us was
blue with the poor boys in blue, again by night fall. We left a strong
force at the fortifications during the night, but a part of us went into
camp near by.

We went back to our position in the morning of the 3rd day and the
Yankees had moved their dead, but were reinforced and ready to charge us
again and continued until about the middle of the day. One of our
Bedford boys “Lil” Johnson, looked over the fortifications and was shot
through the head and killed instantly. Another fellow Creed Hubbard was
killed by a bullet passing through the fortifications. Chas. Price,
Newt. Shaver and I were side by side as we had been for three days
firing at the enemy, when another bullet came through the fortifications
and struck Newt. in the breast and he fell dead, as we thought. I put my
hand into his bosom to see if we could stop the bullet wound from
bleeding and found there wasn’t a particle of blood. He had just been
stunned so we soon revived him with water, and just then one of our
couriers came in sight and was killed. Some one ran up to him and found
a dispatch in his hand ordering us to fall back. Our breastworks had
caught on fire at the extreme ends of our line and our men had already
been ordered back, but we were the last to receive the order.

The enemy was pressing harder, of course, and just as we started back,
after our breastworks had caught on fire, Chas. Price took Newt’s gun to
carry and I took his arm to help him, as he was still weak from the
shock and a bullet struck him in the arm, that was locked in mine. We
had to leave our dead men at the breastworks to burn. I only saw the two
right near me, in fact they were about 3rd or 4th man from me, but of
course, there were others all along the line. Still our loss was very
meager, compared to the enemy. We fell back until we reached Gen.
Lomax’s breastworks. When we crossed over and laid down, I told Newt I
wanted to find out why that first ball that struck him didn’t enter his
body and I asked him what he had in his pocket. He said he had the bible
that his mother gave him, when he left home. I looked and found the
bullet more than half way through the little bible. So it had saved his
life.

I turned him over to the ambulance corps to be cared for. The enemy’s
whole line of battle followed us, but only the sharpshooters came in
sight. We waited for the line to appear to open fire, but as they
didn’t, Col. Munford ordered our sharpshooters to re-cross the
breastworks and charge the enemy who was hiding behind trees and firing
occasionally.

Edward Brugh, of Co. C., 2nd Va. Cavalry, who was commanding us, ordered
us to advance and try to keep the trees between us and the enemy as much
as possible. Just as I got to a large tree a man behind it fired at
Brugh who was behind another tree to my right, and shot him through the
lung. I ran around the tree expecting to get him, but he had dodged
behind another tree and I didn’t get a shot at him. Lieut. Hayth was put
in Brugh’s stead and we followed on and drove them nearly to our
breastworks that had been burned. I was in the front line and just as we
were ordered to halt, I saw a Yankee officer lying dead, as I thought,
with his head between two small shrubs. I went to him and saw that he
was shot through the head and thought from his appearance that he might
have money, so I examined his pockets and found none, but found a
splendid silver watch. One of Co. K’s men was with me and he said:
“Peck, I am going to take his boots, he’ll never need them again.” Just
as he aimed to pull one off, the man kicked him and sent him a couple of
somersaults. I looked and saw that our men had gotten some distance back
toward our breastworks, so we started back in double quick time, I’ll
tell you.

The enemy’s skirmish line began firing on us and we ran at full speed. I
carried the watch in my hand, so if I was shot I could throw it away. I
didn’t want them to kill or capture me with a dead Yankee’s property on
my person. We didn’t overtake our men until we crossed the breastworks,
and we crossed right where Capt. James Breckinridge was and laid down by
his side. He said to me: “The boys thought you were either killed or
captured as you didn’t get back with them.” I then showed him the watch
and told him of my hunting for money and finding it. Capt. B. took the
watch and looked at it and saw that it belonged to Col. E. L. Sindler,
of the 1st Va. U. S. Cavalry. Col. Munford said he knew the man well;
had gone to school with him at West Point, and had been his class-mate
and graduated with him. Capt. B. wanted to trade me a gold watch for it,
and I sent the gold watch home, and he carried Col. Sindler’s watch
until he was killed at the battle of Five Forks.

It wasn’t long until night-fall, so the enemy let us remain in camp
until morning. We arose early and the infantry had arrived by this time,
and we fortified, expecting them to do the fighting and we could look
on. The infantry had been in camp nearer Richmond and didn’t get to us
in time to share our three days fight.

Gen. Lee ordered us out near where our breastworks had been burned, to
bring on the fight, but before we got that far the enemy, hiding in the
timber, fired on us and killed Capt. Breckinridge’s horse, known to us
as “Bull Locust.” We retreated so they would come out in the field and
follow us nearer to the breastworks where we could have a chance at them
and the infantry opened fire on them. Just at this time Col. Munford
received a dispatch from Gen. J. E. B. Stewart, that Sheridan, who had
been fighting in the southwest was advancing on Richmond with 15,000 men
and 90 pieces of artillery, principally parot guns. Munford ordered us
to follow him in a gallop, which we did.

We halted after galloping about twelve miles, when we were nearing
Sheridan’s rear. He was in a country where a great deal of broom sage
grew and to keep us from overtaking him he had fired the country for
miles. We rushed right through the fire, singing our eye-brows and our
horses manes and tails, but succeeded in coming on his rear and also
getting a portion of our army in front of him at a place near Beaver
Dam.

As Sheridan had so much larger force of men and equipments than Stewart,
we had to give way at several points, to protect ourselves, but when we
got to Yellow Tavern, about 9 miles from Richmond, Stewart determined to
make a stand and save Richmond. Stewart rode in front of his line and
told us that Richmond’s destiny lay at our hands; that in three more
miles Sheridan could reach the Heights from which he could throw Greek
fire from the parot guns and shell the town. Richmond houses were
principally covered with shingle roofing at that time and not so many
brick buildings, and as the parot guns could throw a shell 6 miles, and
when it struck it would explode and throw fire in every direction, it
would have been an easy and short take to have set it all on fire. We
had had some experience with Greek fire and knew what it was to
extinguish it. It was a very dry time, too, but a cloud arose and just
as the battle began the cloud reached us and a dreadful storm followed.
The lightning and cannonading were so terrific, that sometimes we
couldn’t tell the flash of one from the other. The rain was just pouring
and often the ammunition would get so wet, as we were loading our guns,
that they wouldn’t fire.

The Penn. cavalry made a desperate charge and took three of Stewart’s
artillery guns. Stewart, with his 1st Va. regiment, the one that he had
gone out with, aimed to retake the guns, and one of the Penn. cavalry,
who had gotten out into our lines before falling back and saw Stewart
and recognized him, I suppose, fired and mortally wounded him. We didn’t
get the guns but we held Sheridan back and saved Richmond. The battle
only lasted something more than an hour, but in that short time we had
lost one of our bravest and best men, Gen. J. E. Stewart.

We fought nearly the whole time in a down-pour of rain and the loss was
heavy on both sides, but we felt the loss of our leader more than all of
the privates, at this time, when the enemy was doubling in on us from
all sides.

Sheridan was not easily defeated, we only spoiled one plan for him to
make another to reach Richmond; that was to go down and cross the
Chickahominy at Meadow Bridge. He began that movement as he fell back
from Yellow Tavern.

Our pickets that evening and night found that he was moving in that
direction, so we were ordered to move down and form a line of battle
south of Meadow Bridge. The Chickahominy was very much swollen by the
rain the day before and it was out over the swamps about waist deep on a
man.

We were right at the bank of the river and saw so many large turtles,
watching for bugs or anything that might be floated. We soon looked out
across the river that had spread a mile or more over the swamp, and saw
a number of objects that looked no larger than many of the turtles,
advancing in regular line.

I told the boys that I believed that was Yankees wading in the water and
trying to make us believe they were turtles. The other boys all thought
they were turtles, though.

I was right in the road that crossed the bridge and had a good view, and
felt sure they were men we saw and not turtles. So I called to Lieut.
McGruder to come down and investigate the matter. He hadn’t much more
than reached me, before these men in the water opened fire on us and
killed McGruder while talking to me.

The Yankees were armed with Spencer rifles and it made no difference how
wet they got the water couldn’t penetrate the powder. They had stooped
down until only their heads were above water, where it wasn’t deep
enough to hide them, and when they were yet about fifty yards out from
the river in the swamp timber, they fired on us, killing several men of
our skirmish line and the Lieut.

We were ordered to fall back over the crest of a little hill south of
us, in double quick time. We had a very brave Irish Sergeant, who said
he’d never run, and as we were going back in double quick time, the
Capt. said to him:

“Paddy, I thought you’d never run.”

He said: “Ah, Capt. It is shust this way. Those d——d rascals have played
turtle on us and it is better for a fellow to be a coward for a few
minutes, than a corpse for the rest of his life. Let the d——d rascals
come out of the water loike min, and I’ll foight them until hell freezes
over and thin I’ll foight thim on the ice.”

We fell back to our regular line of battle and artillery and when they
came out of the water we rushed up to the top of the hill with our
artillery and charged them, driving them back through the river with
heavy slaughter.

Gen. Stewart, who had been taken to his brother-in-law’s home in
Richmond, and was gradually growing worse, heard the cannonading and
asked what it meant. They told him that Sheridan was aiming to cross at
Meadow Bridge, and that Fitz Lee and Wade Hampton were holding the ford.
Stewart’s reply was: “If Fitz Lee is there with the Va. cavalry,
Richmond is safe.” These were the last words he spoke, that any one
could understand. I’ll tell you it did our sad hearts good to know that
the man we had fought with that long, had that confidence in us and that
we could be among his last thoughts.

At about two o’clock the water had run down considerably, and some of us
crossed to see if we could locate Sheridan’s movements. Scouting parties
were sent in every direction and we soon found that he had retreated in
the direction of the White House, on the York River.

While we were fighting Sheridan, R. E. Lee was having some of the
hardest fighting they had ever had. He was opposing Grant at Bloody
Angle and other points near. It was at Bloody Angle that Lee’s men
ordered him to the rear and they would go to the front. This he did, and
they did go to the front and straightened the line of the angle.

We were out scouting for several days and finding that Sheridan was
moving toward Washington, we returned and joined the command and went to
protect R. E. Lee’s right flank, when Grant was making his left flank
movement to get between Lee and Richmond. We met the enemy at a place
called Jack’s Shop and as we had no fortifications, began to prepare
immediately. Capt. James Breckinridge sent Wash Conode and myself to the
wagon train, that was a few miles in the rear, to get ammunition for the
regiment. When we got back, they had decided not to fortify at that
place, but had moved to another piece of woods and had left a man to
tell us where to go. For some reason, he wasn’t there and we went up
within thirty or forty yards of what we thought was our regiment, but
found it was the Yankee infantry. When I found we’d struck the Yankees I
told Conode to fall flat on his horse and follow me. I started out of
the woods and the Yankees began firing on us and Conode surrendered
right there, with his ammunition. I kept riding as hard as I could go
down a ravine below the infantry and I thought they would be apt to over
shoot me, as I was going down a hill. They fired on me fearfully for a
half mile or more, but as usual not a bullet struck me or my horse. When
I got to the end of the ravine and out of the range of the line of
Yankees, I found the man that had been left to tell us where to go with
the ammunition. I told him I’d lost the man and sack of ammunition, by
his not staying at his post and had run one of the narrowest risks of my
life. I guess fully a thousand shots was fired at me, but it is hard to
shoot a man galloping down hill.

When I got to the command, they had commenced fortifying at a place that
one of R. E. Lee’s engineers had located. We held this position and kept
the Yankee infantry back, until our infantry arrived that eve and the
next day a big battle occurred between the two forces of infantry.

We, of the cavalry had been sent still farther on Lee’s right to prevent
Grant’s movement again. About that time Gen. Custer was making a raid
toward the James River to destroy the canal, thereby cutting off a large
source of supplies. Gen. Wade Hampton was sent to check him and we rode
all night and just before day light some of us were detached to get corn
for our horses. We went to a corn crib and each man put two bushels of
corn on his horse, as ordered and we expected to feed as soon as we got
back to the road. But instead of that, we found a man waiting to tell us
that new orders had been received and that the rest of the command had
gone in double quick time and for us to follow likewise.

We overtook them between daylight and sunrise near Travillian Depot. All
the other fellows had let half of their corn out of their sacks, but I
carried all of mine, for the horses hadn’t had anything to eat since the
morning before. I didn’t think about it hurting my horse, but we all
unsaddled to feed and when I went to saddle up again my horse’s back was
so swollen that I couldn’t get the saddle on. She and two other horses
were condemned as unfit for service and I was detached to take all three
of them to the horse pasture, in Albemarle.

I started for the horse pasture at once, which was about a day’s ride. I
hoped to get something to eat from citizens, as I had not eaten anything
since the morning before. I soon came to a lot of led horses in a field
of about ten acres. There was one man to every four horses, and other
men were out fortifying and preparing to repel Custer, when he would
advance. These were confederate horses belonging to Gen. Young. The man
who had charge of the horses, told me it wasn’t safe for me to go
farther, that no telling at just what point Custer’s men would appear.
He told me to come and eat breakfast with him and remain until we could
see farther. As I needed food, I of course, took his advise. We went
into a house right then to get breakfast, that had already been ordered
and we had just begun to eat when one of the ladies of the house came in
saying there was a disturbance among the horses out there and she
thought there were some men in blue among them. When we got out we saw a
regiment of Yankee cavalry coming to the horses and surrounding them,
and some of the Yankees were opening the fence and taking out the horses
and men in the direction of where Custer’s army was stationed. They came
right on to the house and captured all of us. They got out about 500
horses and one man to every four horses, of course.

Gen. Rosser, whose men hadn’t been dismounted, heard the firing and
rushed down and recaptured about two thirds of us and our horses and
captured some of the Yankees also. I was free then to start on my
journey to the horse pasture. I hadn’t gone more than a half mile when I
met a nice sorrel horse, galloping saddled and bridled, but no rider. I
didn’t know what to make of it, but I caught him and took him on with
me. I could hear the firing up at the depot, so I thought the Yankees
would all be needed there and went on, but somewhat cautiously.

I got to the horse pasture that eve and found every thing in confusion,
as they thought Custer was coming that way on his raid. I had learned
before I got very far from the command that Custer had been repulsed
with heavy slaughter. Julius Buford, who was our veterinary surgeon at
the horse pasture, had taken all the horses to the mountain and the
citizens had also, thinking Custer was coming. A Mr. Poindexter of
Franklin Co. had charge of the pasture but not a horse was there.

My horse was badly swollen under the body as well as on the back, when I
got there and Mr. Poindexter sent for Buford yet that night and bled the
horse by lantern light. I wanted to stay with Poindexter but Mr. and
Mrs. Machen insisted on my going to the house and staying with them. I
did so and the next morning when I went to see about my horse, Buford
had bled him again. I rode the horse that I had found and caught in the
road back to the command and I found that an application had been made
for a furlough for me to go home and get a good horse that I had there.
The sorrel was pretty well broken down and I didn’t want to risk him,
when I had a better one at home.

The day after I got back to the command the Yankees aimed to make a
flank movement at Cold Harber and go up the Mechanicsville road to
Richmond, only a short distance. We were ordered to meet them at Cold
Harber and we had a desperate encounter. When we got there the bullets
were fast raining on us, but the air was blowing from us and we couldn’t
hear a sound. We couldn’t see them, but they could tell where we were
moving as it was a very dry time and a cloud of dust arose as we
marched. Several of our men were wounded before we dismounted. A fellow
by the name of Moore was holding his head up listening and I saw him as
a bullet hit him in the neck and passed between his swallow and
windpipe. Caneer of Lynchburg was shot in the arm, but both recovered.
We began fortifying and just as the enemy came in sight, the 57th Va.
regiment came to reinforce us and they took our position and we moved
farther down, to the right, still fortifying. After a while the 60th Va.
relieved the 57th and they came and took our place, completing the
fortifying we had started. We moved still farther to the right. We dug
and shoveled dirt all night finishing our fortifications. Some would
work while others slept and then they would wake up the sleepers and
they’d go to work while the others slept.

The next morning the 60th regiment passed down the line and I recognized
two of my nearest neighbors, at home, Harrington Jones and Albert Curd.
I said hello, Albert, and he stopped very suddenly and a lantern jawed
fellow, with his mouth wide open, who was walking right behind him,
swallowed about six inches of Albert’s gun. He had tremendous teeth and
I could hear the teeth scraping over the gun barrel. The fellow yelled
out at Albert “what in the hell did you stop for?” Albert said: “Pshaw,
what are you eating my gun for, didn’t you have any breakfast?” In a few
hours we were ordered out to intimidate the Yankee cavalry and be ready
if they made an attack, and directly we saw a horse kicking and rearing
around and he came dashing across the field, right to our regiment and
one of our men ran out and met him and captured horse and rider.

There was an old white rooster tied on the saddle just flopping away, so
his prospective chicken roast had caused his capture. We sent him on to
Richmond and ate the chicken. The very next day the treacherous horse
became frightened and carried one of our men into the enemy’s lines. We
cheered both men as they came and went.

We didn’t do any fighting that day but the infantry fought all day, but
our men still held their position. There were thousands of men released
on both sides. The Yankees charged all night as well as day for two or 3
days. The north lost, I guess, ten men to our one though, as we were
well fortified and they were not. Grant seemed determined to force
through our breastworks but he failed. Sheridan COULDN’T and Grant
thought he WOULD. We still held our post to keep any of the enemy from
getting around and a strong force of cavalry was on the left of our
infantry to prevent Grant from sending any troops around that way. He
was known as the old left flanker. The cavalry was not in any of the
hottest of this battle, as we occupied the extreme ends of the line.

This was in July and the next March, I passed over the ground, across
which the Yankees had charged and I could hardly step without tramping
on the bones still in the uniforms of the blue. They had buried some in
very deep gullies, just piled them and cut brush and threw some dirt
over them but the rains, had by this time, washed out the bones and the
land was strewn with skulls for a half mile, or more. A lot of rushes
grew down in the low lands below the end of the gulley and I saw a pile
of something that looked like snow. I went down to see what it was and
found it was skulls piled against the rushes. I found a dentist from
Appomattox Co. there getting teeth that were filled with gold. He had
his haversack about full.

Just after the battle of Cold Harber, my furlough came and I started
home for a horse. While I was at home Wilson made a raid toward
Petersburg and Fitz Lee and Hampton met him and drove him back and
captured some men and about 100 horses. As I went back to the war I
passed through Bedford City and stayed all night at the same place I
stayed when I first went to the war.

I found our command near Ream’s Station, not far from Petersburg. In a
short time after I got there, we were called out to go to the White
House on the York River. We crossed the James River on pontoon bridges,
below Richmond and rode all day and night, arriving there just before
day. At daylight we saw three ironclad boats in the river and as the fog
cleared away one boat moved up the river and one down and turned
broadside and opened fire on us, firing three or four guns at once. We
moved back out of sight before they got our range, so we didn’t lose any
one just then. Then we dismounted and were marched by fours up above the
White House and down to the river, where we could see the enemy drilling
in a piece of meadow land just below the town, called the White House.
We were not ordered to charge at all, but were marched back to our
horses and mounted and went a couple of miles back in the direction of
Charles City C. H. and went into camp, remaining there all night.

The next morning, after eating breakfast we were ordered to mount and
just then a courier came with a dispatch to Fitz Lee and he sent it on
to Col. Munford who was commanding our brigade. Col. Munford sent Co. C.
and D. to form a skirmish line and we were ordered to forward march. The
other 8 companies followed in regular line of battle. When we had gone a
short distance we came to a lot of pines about as high as a man’s head
and a fence that had been through this pine field, had been torn down
and the rails piled, forming a fortification. The Yankee skirmish line
was lying behind this, but broke and ran, before we shot at them at all.
We pursued them and when we got out of the pines, we saw them going to
several buildings around a farm house.

We followed them and they took refuge in a log barn and shot at us
through the cracks, but over shot us, not even wounding a man. We swung
around the barn and when they saw we were going to get them, about 25 of
them ran out and aimed to escape through a solid plank gate, and rushed
against the gate thinking it opened out, I suppose, but it opened back
against them. The foremost man couldn’t get the others back to open it,
of course, and we ordered them to surrender, but they wouldn’t and began
firing at us, so we had to fire at them. We killed or wounded every man.
They were supporting six pieces of artillery on the hill above us, which
was firing at us all the time, but overshooting us. We went up the hill
to take the artillery, but before we got there, they had retreated. The
only loss we sustained was by a bumshell hanging in the limbs of a tall,
slender, sweet gum tree, and its weight and force took the tree right to
the ground bursting the shell and striking Capt. Tibbs of Co. K. from
Albermarle Co., cutting his head clear off. The first and third
regiments followed the retreating artillery awhile and put a couple of
negro regiments to flight, but could not overtake the artillery. We drew
in all our pickets and started back toward Richmond. We traveled about
15 miles and made up fires and camped until morning, then continued our
march back to Petersburg. We had left our weak horses and a few of the
men at the old camp.

Everything was quiet for a few days. One evening late, we heard a
terrible report and didn’t know just what to make of it, so we went down
to Petersburg and stayed all night in the streets. Some remained
mounted, while others dismounted, awaiting future orders. We learned
when we got there that Grant had undermined our breastworks below
Petersburg and had blown them up, sustaining a very heavy loss of his
men. We went back to camp the next day and remained for a week or so. We
had a fine time there catching eels. We practically lived on them.

We next had orders to prepare three days’ rations and march toward
Richmond. We passed through Richmond and crossed the Blue Ridge at
Brown’s Gap and into the Valley of Virginia. Here we found fine hay
stacks, big barns, nice houses, and we thought we had struck a bonanza.
Gen. John C. Breckinridge, commanding a large division of infantry and
cavalry, came into the Valley just after we did. We knew something was
coming off soon, but didn’t know just what.

A few days after that our pickets came in and said that Sheridan was
coming up the Valley with a still larger force than we had. Our troops
made a stand near Winchester, but were unable to hold it. We had no
fortifications and word came to Fitz Lee’s cavalry that the 60th Va.
Regiment had been captured and we were ordered out to try to recapture
it. We hurried to the scene and succeeded in getting about half of them,
but a Yankee cavalry Gen. marched the others off prisoners at the same
time. We were placed at different positions to let the enemy know that
our cavalry was present, and the infantry was left at the temporary
breastworks, fighting hard. The enemy often shelled us so that we’d have
to get out of sight.

We lost eight or ten commissioned officers and a number of men, but none
of my company was killed that day. One of our General’s horses, a
beautiful dun, had one leg shot and broken above the knee and we were
ordered about that time to hurry up to the forts above Winchester and
hold the enemy in check. We galloped the two or three miles and this
beautiful horse kept right with the others, all the way, galloping on
three legs, the broken leg would swing in and out as he galloped, but he
never offered to halt. It was certainly a pitiful sight to see his
courage when we knew his pain. The officer wanted some of us to shoot
him, but no one had the heart to do it, so we had to leave him and I
never knew what became of him. We remained at the forts until about
night and the enemy not putting in its appearance, we retreated up the
back road, it was called, parallel to the mountain and passed through a
beautiful village, called Darksville. We camped a few miles above the
town that night and continued our retreat the next day until we came to
Fishers Hill. The infantry began its retreat when we did, and made a
stop also. We had a considerable fight, Sheridan succeeding in driving
us up the Valley.

We next halted at Columbia Furnace, but Sheridan drove us about six
miles farther. In this encounter Lieut. Ed. Hayth, my cousin, was
wounded and he and a lot of other men got cut off from us in some way
and went up in a mountain valley. They couldn’t get back on account of
Sheridan’s men being at the mouth of the valley. Tim Stevens and I got
permission from Col. Munford to go across the first ridge above where
Sheridan’s men were and try to find Ed. Hayth and one of Stevens
relatives, who had been wounded, also. Here we learned from the citizens
that the men’s wounds had been dressed and that they had left and went
out after Sheridan’s men moved beyond the mouth of the valley.

They told us of a near way to get back to our command and just at the
top of the ridge we stopped for dinner at a farm house. I remember two
dishes they had was peach family pie and honey. Both were always very
pleasing to my taste and especially so then. I bought some of the honey
from the lady and took it on back to camp with me. Some of the boys
detected the taste of laurel on the honey, but the lady had sweet milk
to drink at her table, so I hadn’t noticed it. I wanted the boys to eat
all the honey so I could take the box back with me that day to another
farm house and buy more. I had a two days’ detachment and had only used
one, so I thought I’d use that day foraging. The boys didn’t care to eat
it all and I told them I would finish it if it killed me. Of course, I
just said it jokingly, but it came very near ending very seriously. I
saddled my horse and was ready to start, but began to get so sick and in
a few minutes was perfectly unconscious. The boys ran for Dr.
Shackleford and he sent for the doctors, from the 1-3-4-5 regiments and
all pronounced my case fatal, from poison, except Dr. Drew from the 4th
regiment. In my imagination, I remember, I fought the battle at Columbia
Furnace, now called Bridgewater, I believe, and thought I was captured,
and once that the artillery ran over me. I suffered dreadfully for
hours, but regained conciousness after the middle of the day. One of my
“mess mates,” Wm. B. Bowyer, who was chief of the blacksmiths of our
regiment, came and stayed with me, as soon as he heard I was sick and he
was the first one I recognized.

At about 2 o’clock we were ordered to move and the ambulance was sent to
haul me but I wouldn’t go in it. I told them to put me on my horse and I
could go better that way. Two men put me on the horse and wanted to tie
me, but I told them I believed I could sit on, and to let me try it for
a while any way. We started off, and strange to say, I rode the ten
miles with the others alright and felt perfectly well when we reached
our destination. I’ve always been fond of honey, but I’ll tell you I’m
very careful to notice if there is any bitter taste about it before
eating any, ever since that day.

Sheridan was called back to Winchester and Gen. Gordon suggested to Gen.
Jubal A. Early that if he would give him control of the army from
mid-night until mid-day he would surprise Sheridan’s army in his absence
and make a big capture. Sheridan’s men were in camp at Cedar Creek and
we were a few miles above them. So Gen. Gordon called out the whole army
and had them ready just before daybreak. We went down to the outposts
and waited for daylight to make the attack.

We attacked them and then soon began to retreat. Some of them just
rushed out without shoes and in their night clothes, without guns. It
was a perfect stampede, and very few guns were fired at first. After a
while the artillery took a position and began firing on us and we on
them, and Sheridan hearing the noise, knew his men had been attacked,
and hurried to the scene. I was in the skirmish line, as usual, and saw
him galloping up on his fine black horse, “Rienza.” I said to some of
the boys its over with now, for yonder comes Sheridan and he’ll change
things around here. I sent a courier immediately to Col. Munford,
telling him and he said: “Peck must be crazy. Sheridan is at
Winchester.” I told the courier, alright, Munford would soon see who was
crazy. In less than 15 minutes a cheer passed all along the enemy’s
lines: “Three cheers for Philip Sheridan.” Sheridan wheeled his men
around and told them to charge us and they did so, recapturing all we
had taken from them and capturing a great many of our men and
equipments. We had to fall back up the Valley and went into camp a few
miles above there. Sheridan was gradually driving us at his will, in
most cases, now.

At the Massamit Mountain, he succeeded in getting his army around in
front of our infantry. Gen. Fitz Lee, with the cavalry, went through a
colon on the west side of the Blue Ridge Mountain and struck the road
leading from Charlottesville to Waynesboro.

When we struck the road, we found that the citizens had fortified and
there were about 100 armed men and boys, some of the boys only large
enough to carry a gun. They were at the fortifications aiming to stop
any raiding parties or the enemy from passing and going to
Charlottesville.

Fitz Lee ordered us to dismount and every fourth man to hold horses and
the others form into line. We advanced down toward Waynesboro, and the
little boys begged so to get in line that they and the citizens also
were allowed to go on in the line of battle. The enemy didn’t open fire
on us until we were real near the town and then they only used
artillery. Our artillery came around on the west side, by this time, and
fired back at them, but they retreated through the town and formed a
line farther west. We only lost five men, and that was from a shell
fired by our own artillery that struck in a tree near us and exploded,
killing five of our men.

We went through the town and in sight of the fortifications, but were
ordered back into the village and the artillery came and did all the
firing. To get out of range of the guns, while we were not firing, about
75 of us lay down in a basement where a house had been burned a year or
so before, and our artillery and that of the enemy was firing over us
for a while and the roar nearly deafened us. I have never yet heard out
of my left ear as well as I did before. The firing stopped about
nightfall and we remained there until the next morning.

When we went up to Gettysburg and burned the commissaries at Carlisle,
Penn., and Thad Stevens Iron Works, and the packet boats at Seneca
Falls, I told them I was bitterly opposed to setting the torch to the
enemy’s property, for it meant greater loss for us when they would
retaliate. Since that, our men, Early and McCoslin, had burned
Chambersburg, so I guess Sheridan thought he was in a good position to
retaliate now. The morning we left Waynesboro, I counted 100 barns,
granaries, mills and wheat ricks, burning. We were on an elevation and
could see a long distance. We knew it was the beginning of a dreadful
disaster to the Confederacy.

Sheridan passed on, burning as he went, only leaving dwellings and one
mill in every ten miles. He was like a spoilt child. Drove well, as long
as we followed at a distance, but as soon as we would press him, he
would halt and fight us. As his forces out-numbered ours so much, all we
could do was to keep our distance and let him go on. Every night we
camped and rested and so did he.

Recruits were coming in occasionally, and one young fellow, Dick Oliver,
from Orange Co., came to us on this march toward Harper’s Ferry. We were
scarce of men for picket duty about that time, in our company, and some
one suggested to send this new man, and an old picket guard with him, as
it was his first service. So the Orderly Serg. introduced me to young
Oliver as Bro. Peck and told him I would accompany him.

We got the countersign and watchword and started for our picket post. He
was a very intelligent young man and highly educated. We were standing
guard on the Shenandoah river and after being out awhile, he said it
reminded him of the children of Israel going from Egypt back to the Land
of Canaan. He made a mistake in relating some of the narrative and I
called his attention to it and he remembered then, that I was right. He
talked on a while and soon made another error. He then said that he
didn’t remember the Bible as he did other things and for me to take the
subject and we’d talk it over together, as it was very interesting to
him. I told him, I thought to make the topic more interesting, it was
better to start with the baby, Moses, and how Miriam had watched him in
his little basket in the rushes, and I came on up to his manhood when he
was Pharoah’s adopted son; then how God had spoken to him from the
burning bush. Then I talked on of how Moses tried to get Pharoah to let
the children of Israel go back to their own land and of his crossing the
Red Sea with them; how the 12 spies were sent to explore the Land of
Canaan and ten reported a bad land and only two, Joshua and Caleb, said
it was a good land. The report of the ten spies so discouraged the
children of Israel that they rebelled, and God punished them by keeping
them wandering in the wilderness 40 years. And by the time I got through
with it all, and Moses on Mount Nebo, and fought two or three battles
over in Canaan with Joshua and Caleb, I heard an old rooster crow at a
farm house, near. We went back into camp after daybreak, and Oliver went
to the Serg. and said: “What in the world did you send the Chaplain out
there with me for? I had two canteens of whiskey and wanted some so bad
all night, but hated to ask the parson to drink with me or drink in his
presence.” The Serg. said: “You are crazy, I never sent the Chaplain
with you.” Oliver said: “Oh yes, you did. I was spouting some of the
Bible and he corrected me twice and commenced at the birth of Moses and
talked on for more than 50 years. Why he knows the Bible by heart, I
believe!” The Serg. had a hearty laugh and when the other boys found it
out, I was called “Parson” for a long time. I regretted his mistake, of
course, as I missed several drinks that would have helped me over the
night very much.

We marched all that day and at night we needed rations and Capt. James
Breckinridge told me to butcher some sheep that some of our men had
captured from Sheridan. Sheridan was driving off all the cattle, sheep,
hogs and horses, that he could get to starve us out, but we captured
sheep and cattle from him occasionally and these had been put in a
tobacco house near. I went to the house and butchered two of the sheep
in the dark, and got them dressed by about one o’clock. I then went to
the nearest house to get vessels to cook the mutton in, and no one
answered me when I called. Of course, at that time of night they were
all asleep. But finally a lady called down from an upper window and I
told her I had orders to press their cooking utensils into service, and
I’d like for her to get them for me. She came down and helped me to get
the mutton to cooking, and was as kind as any one could be. By the time
the army came along the next morning, I had the mutton ready and each
man’s bread and mutton cut off, and handed it out as they passed. When
young Oliver passed with Sandy White, Sandy told Oliver that he ought to
feel complimented to have the chaplain serving him, and we had a laugh
over the joke and they rode on. Capt. Breckinridge was among the last
coming by and told me I had better butcher a couple more of the sheep
and cook them at this same place that day, and have it ready for the
next day’s rations, and he would send and get it. So I went to work and
got it ready, but by the time I got the meat to boiling, word came to me
that Oliver had been killed and Sandy White mortally wounded and
captured. Such is life in warfare. Oliver had only been with us two days
and nights until he was killed.

As soon as the meat had been cooked, the wagon came for it and I went on
with the wagon and joined the command about 10 miles farther on, where
they had encamped. We remained here until ordered back to Petersburg.

Chas. Cahoon and I were sent out on picket one day and there was a nice
brick house near where we thought we had to stand guard, so I went up
and called and asked the lady of the house if this wasn’t the place the
pickets usually stood. She said, in a very gruff way: “No, it is where
the thieves stand, you are every one a set of nasty thieves.” I said, is
it possible that you would call such gentlemen as we are, thieves? Now,
what would my mother say if she knew her son had been called a thief?
I’m certainly sorry to know that you have such an opinion of us. She
said: “Well that is all you are and I’ll never believe anything else
until you prove it.” I told her, now since she had branded me as a thief
I was going to take something. She said: “No you won’t, for I’m going to
watch you.” She sat on the porch and watched us a part of the time and
her daughter watched when she left. She had the school children, about
60 yards away, watching, and the old man was watching, also. She told
the school teacher to watch us, so they’d be sure that we wouldn’t get
anything.

I fed the horses before the school children got out for dinner and held
some corn in my hand to bait the chickens. I helloed, “shew!” and
pretended to try to drive the chickens away, but was showing them the
corn and calling so the old lady couldn’t hear me. Directly one came and
ate from my hand and I just closed my hand on it and twisted its head
off, and slipped it under my overcoat and then put it in Cahoon’s
haversack. He said: “Peck, that old devil is looking right at you.” I
told him that was the funny part of it. The old man would hit one lick
at his chopping and then look at us, then another lick and up at us
again. Presently another chicken came up and I got it the same way, so I
had my two chickens and was content. When school was out I went a few
steps, down to the branch, and helped the teacher and children across. I
had talked to the old lady some during the day and found out that she
was a sister of Peach Wolf, who had been on our circuit at my home and
had preached a funeral in our family. I had called on her brother at
Winchester that same spring. He was a splendid man and I told the old
lady how much I thought of him. I began to get on the right side of her
in that way. We left about sundown and went up to tell them all
good-bye. Her daughter was beautiful and I told her I had fallen
completely in love with the young lady, and how sad it was to think we
might never meet again, that I might be numbered with the slain before
another day. I quoted the poetry:

                  “Oh, ever thus from childhood hours,
                    I’ve seen my fondest hopes decay,
                  I never loved a tree or flower,
                    But what ’twas first to fade away.

                  “Now is it true that I must go?
                    And can I say to thee farewell?
                  And are my fondest hopes undone?
                    And must I from thee ever dwell?”

I told her I hated to leave, thinking that she thought me a thief, and
she said: “Oh, I’ll take it all back, I don’t think you would take
anything. I am sorry I ever said such a thing, for I believe you are the
most honest Confederate there is.” At this Cahoon burst out laughing and
started off. He couldn’t stand it, he said, any longer. I called to him
to come back, but he wouldn’t do it. I was going to show her the
chickens, after she had thought me so honest, and pay her for them, but
Cahoon wouldn’t come back, so I left, letting her keep her exalted
opinion of me.

In a week or so I went back and spent the day with the people who had
helped me to cook the mutton and they treated me as kindly as if I had
been a near relative.

On Monday, following, Lieut. Walton, of Salem, Roanoke Co., detached me
to go to Salem for his horse. I left the command Monday eve and rode
every day and half of each night until I reached Fincastle. I stayed at
home from midnight until after breakfast, and started on to Salem. I had
a sweetheart beyond Salem, in Montgomery Co. in fact, she was the lady I
married in Sept ’65, and she has been my faithful companion ever since;
has helped me fight the most important battle of all, the battle of
life. As I had a ten days furlough, I thought I must take advantage of
this opportunity of seeing her so spent two days and nights at her home.
I came back by my home at Fincastle and got my gray mare that I had left
at the horse pasture with blood-poison, when Custer was making his raid
near Trevillian Depot. She had been sent home some time before that, but
I hadn’t had an opportunity to get her. She was now fat and fine and
well rested, and in good shape for service.

I found our command near Mount Jackson, when I returned to the army.
Shortly after I got there the Yankee cavalry made a raid up to Mt.
Jackson. Our artillery took a position on Rude’s Hill and fired across
Meam’s Bottoms at the enemy’s artillery, stationed on the heights at Mt.
Jackson. Levi Wheat and a young man named Scott, of Co. A., Bedford Co.,
were killed here. Our cavalry made a charge and the enemy fled. A few of
our men were killed, but more of the Yankees. Our artillery did the most
of the damage.

We remained at Mt. Jackson until after Xmas. There was a heavy guard put
around the camp to keep any of the soldiers from going away, but as the
Shenandoah was considerably swollen, no guard was put there, thinking no
one could cross.

Geo. Shaver and I thought it would be a good chance for us to cross the
river and go to Lutheran preaching Xmas eve. So just after roll call, we
swam the river on our horses, but got wet above our knees, and went on
to preaching. We went to a Mr. Bear’s first, who was a connection or
acquaintance of Shaver’s and took the young ladies to church, staying
until after mid-night. It was a kind of watch service. We took the young
ladies home and Mrs. Bear gave us a fine roasted turkey tied up in a
sack. She told us not to open it until we got back to camp, and you can
imagine the delight of all the boys when that sack was opened. We got
back to camp alright and went to bed and some of the boys of our own
mess didn’t know we had been out until we showed them our turkey. The
next day being Xmas, a number of boxes was sent to us by the citizens,
which was greatly enjoyed by all.

In a short time we broke camp and crossed one of the Alleghany Ranges
and went into Hardy Co. As Sheridan had burned and destroyed so much in
the Valley, we went out in order to make our own living the best way we
could. Twenty-five days’ rations of salt was given to us when we left
and that was all we had. No bread, meat, or anything. Of course, we had
to steal everything we ate, for we had no money to buy any thing with.
Fitz Lee’s whole division went on this trip. The road around the
mountain was very winding and some of the boys set out fire along the
road as we went up and as they reached the foot, on the other side, set
that. The fire rushed up from both sides until it reached the top, and
those of us farther back, when we reached the top, could enjoy the
spectacle. It was beautiful, we all thought, especially as it was doing
no one any harm.

We were most of the day in crossing and we found a beautiful little
valley where no one seemed to have been before, to molest the peace and
quietude. We hadn’t had anything to eat all day, and shortly after we
went into camp, a sheep ran through, and John Sears and I, started after
him. He ran down into a little cut, where the cattle had been going to
water, and Wm. and Geo. Bowyer, two of my mess mates, happened to be
coming up this cut, so we soon hemmed and caught the sheep. In a very
short time we had it dressed and in our frying pans. After filling our
pans we divided the rest out among the other men nearest to us. Directly
one of our lieutenants came to our tent and said he saw a sheep pass a
little while ago and he guessed some of us had better try to get it,
that the men ought to have food. I told him to sit down a few minutes
and eat supper with us. He was surprised when I said supper. He said:
“Where did you get anything for supper?” Then I told him of his sheep he
thought of getting, that we had it in our frying pans and it would soon
be done. We sliced it very thin and beat it a little like steak. It was
very fat and fried itself nicely. It was very cold weather and before we
got to camp some of us had relieved the citizens of some of their bee
gums. They were all excitement as the army would pass and some of us
would just drop out of ranks and get the bee gums, while the citizens
were watching the others ride by. The bees would fly out at first, but
would soon get so chilled that they would fall to the ground. So we had
honey, mutton and Potomac river water, for supper, but no bread. We
called it the land of mutton and honey, instead of the Land of Canaan,
that flowed with milk and honey.

We had tents with us and would build up big log fires, and sleep with
our feet near the fires, so were very comfortable, despite the freezing
cold weather. Each morning some men were sent out to locate another
place to camp, as we only stayed a day and night at one place. In this
way we kept clear of bush-whackers, and it made it easier on the
citizens feeding us. No one would feel the loss, so much, of what we
would steal from him.

We went into a beautiful grove the second night and the whole division
camped on a level, so that we could see from one end of the line of
tents to the other. We kept out pickets and camp guards all night, and
then a watchman was kept at a tent called the “guard-house,” also. It
fell to my lot to stay at the guard-house this second night. It had
gotten warmer in the eve and some of the men didn’t raise their tents,
just spread them out and laid on them and spread their blankets over
them. When daylight came, I called the bugler and told him to get up and
look. A four or five inch snow had fallen and the whole army was sound
asleep and the men covered up with snow. It had kept them so warm that
they were sleeping unusually well. I told him to blow the bugle and we’d
see a sight similar to the resurrection, when they would rise from their
snowy mounds. When the bugle sounded the men began trying to get up and
as the blankets were lifted the snow just poured in their faces. Well,
then you’d think of anything but the resurrection, at hearing the Sunday
School words, we heard. It was certainly laughable to see and hear them.
While I was on guard some of the other boys had cooked a lot of pork
that we had gotten the day before, so we had a good breakfast of pork
and corn bread. We had made a miller divide his meal with us and I’ll
tell you, we relished it that snowy morning.

We had left the Potomac now and wasn’t near any stream, so we needed
water. It had quit snowing by daylight and the wind was coming from the
north and it turned very much colder. I told the boys I would take the
canteens and thought I’d find water soon, of course, but instead, I went
a half mile or so before I found a little stream in the woods. I kicked
the snow away and found about six inches of ice under that, so I had to
cut that away with my pocket knife. I had to get a place large enough to
sink the canteen to fill it. I kept my gloves on and made it alright
until I went to fill the 8 canteens. I took my gloves off then, as I had
to put my hands in the water and sink the canteen. I started back with
the 8 canteens around my neck and shoulders, and as I had stayed a good
while, Henry Ballard started on the hunt for me. I’d been up all night
and hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, so I guess that made the cold effect me
more. Just as Henry met me, following my tracks in the snow, I fell in a
dead faint, he said. He called back to the other boys, and Wm. Bowyer
came immediately, but I had revived again by the time he got to me. I
was as sick as I could be, though. They carried the canteens and helped
me back to camp and went for Dr. Shackleford. He said to get whiskey,
that I was nearly frozen, but nobody had any. I tried to always keep
some for sickness, but happened not to have any then. He told the boys
then to get some warm lard, and he gave me a cup, nearly a pint, of that
warm lard. It was a dose, but I guess it was what pulled me through. In
less than an hour I felt so much better that I helped the boys eat their
pork and corn bread.

We moved through the snow and cold again that day, to a nice hickory
grove, near the Potomac again, so we’d have no scarcity of water, the
small streams all being frozen. Some of the boys began cutting down
trees for our fires and others to foraging for food. I remembered of
seeing a big iron kettle about a mile behind us, that I thought would be
so good to scald hogs and cook a whole one in. So Chas. Cahoon, John
Sears and myself, went back to get the kettle, but found it filled with
ice. We carried it a very short distance from the house and raked the
snow away and made a fire in a lot of leaves and melted the ice, so that
it would slip out of the kettle, and took it on to camp. After going a
short distance, I told the boys we’d better try to get a hog, too, for
fear the other boys hadn’t found one. I noticed a path, that evening, in
passing along the road, where hogs had been going to water in the snow,
and when we got to it, we followed it right to their bed. It was right
dark and we couldn’t see them very well, especially the white ones. But
there was one old black fellow and I shot him, but he just squealed and
ran down this path to the river. We followed him and he ran out on the
ice a little way and we heard him scuffling and followed on after him
and found he was about dead. We cut his throat and Cahoon carried him
back to camp and Sears and I carried the kettle.

Directly after we got into camp, our honey battallion came. Geo.
Nininger, James Brownlee, Peter Burger, Thomas Carper and Abraham Moody,
formed this crowd. They brought in five gums and I helped to unload it.
When I got to the fourth man, I thought he had an extra good gum of
honey and to our amazement, we found it was nearly filled with ashes. We
teased the boys good for their mistake. We soon prised the tops off and
it was the finest lot of honey I ever saw, I believe. I told the boys we
must try to invent some way to carry some of it to our next camp, and as
I had six new home-made towels with me, that mother had given me the
last time I was at home, we decided to sew them up and strain the honey
out of the comb and put it in our canteens. We soon had nearly a dozen
canteens filled with strained honey. It strained nicely by the hot log
fires. Wm. Bowyer had assorted the honey and we only strained the nice
white comb. The boys ate a lot of the dark comb while we were working
with it, and Chas. Cahoon, especially. There was a lot of bee bread in
the dark comb, of course, and Charles said his father told him honey
wouldn’t make you sick at all, if you ate plenty of that bee bread. But
Charles hadn’t been through eating long until he began getting sick and
drunk, and said to some of us, that he was going to walk out away from
the fire and see if he wouldn’t feel better. Well, he got up and walked
right through the fire. He went so rapidly that his clothing didn’t
catch, but his eye-brows and whiskers were well scorched. I told the
boys that either Shadrack, Meshac or Abednago, were with us, I knew, for
they were the only persons who ever went through fire unharmed. We all
had to laugh, of course, and all he said was: “Boys, I’d give a thousand
dollars if Bowyer would just get sick.” We had some dressed pork on hand
when we went into camp, and some of the boys put it on to cook and by
the time we got through straining our honey, the pork was done, so we
ate supper about mid-night or 2 o’clock in the morning. Some of the
other boys had dressed the hog we had brought in and as soon as we ate,
we put it on to have ready for breakfast.

We heard there was a garrison of men at Moore Field, about 30 miles from
where we were, and some of our boys were sent over to capture them. They
were paroled, when captured, and allowed to return home until exchanged.

When we moved camp next, we stopped in a nice piece of level land, just
where a creek ran into the Potomac. We were near the head of the
Potomac, so it wasn’t a very large stream. The man who owned the land,
lived near in a fine dwelling and had plenty of everything around him.
Col. Munford sent Capt. Cary Breckinridge, the ordinance Serg., Morris
Guggenheimer, and Beverly Whittle and myself, down to the house to
protect the house and its inmates. This was always done, if the citizens
asked for protection.

We had saved the leaf fat from the fat sheep and cattle, until we had
nearly a 2-bushel sack full. I thought this would be a good time to
render it into tallow, so I took it down to the house and got one of the
ladies to help me, and in a little while I had more than a bushel of
tallow, moulded in maple sugar moulds. We were in a regular maple sugar
country. All the people had big kettles and regular equipments for
making it. We were too early for the season, but we got some that was
left from the year before. We kept our tallow to use about making gravy
or putting in our bread, and I ate it sometimes, if I got too awfully
hungry. The other boys couldn’t stand to eat it, but I could eat
anything then, rather than starve.

When we left this camp, thirty of us were sent to Buck Horn Mill, to
hold any meal or flour they might have, until the command came. There
were dozens of pairs of buck horns tacked on the mill. The country
abounded in deer. We found very little in the mill, and we hadn’t been
there long, until one of our companies came after us, to get what was in
the mill, and brought a dispatch telling us to go to the top of Droop
Mountain and go on picket duty on the Parkersburg and Harrisonburg road.

We got there about sun-down, and asked a man living there, if he could
give us provision and keep the men, while not on duty. He was in
sympathy with the South and did all he could for our comfort. I went out
on the first watch and when my 2 hours were out, I came back and asked
the man why, did he suppose, my horse was so restless when I was out,
that I didn’t see anything. He said it was deer that she saw or smelt.
He said they were there by the dozens. One of our men shot one, while up
there. We saw the tracks everywhere the next morning, but they had all
gone back to the woods.

The next day we went on farther toward Highland Co. Our next stop was
near a place called Franklin and some of the officers had some
Confederate money and they bought a few of the beautiful cattle and sent
them home.

We passed a stillhouse on our next move and all the boys got some
whiskey. That night, after the majority of us were asleep, we heard some
one coming along shouting and singing, and it proved to be Col.
Breckinridge’s colored waiting boy, Griffin Hawkins, just drunk enough
to be “mouthy.” I said, Griff, is that you? He said: “Yes Sir. Hurrah
for you.” Then he began calling the roll: “Ammen, Marcus; Bowyer, G. F.;
Bowyer, Wm.; Cahoon, C. C.,” and on until he called us all. Then he
said: “Geneman, you is de bravest men we is got. We’s goin’ to drive dem
d—d Yankees clear away, presently, and den I’s gwine home to see my
Hannah Jane. I’s gwine to tell her:

                           ‘Roses is red,
                             Violets is blue,
                           Sugar am sweet
                             And so is you.’

Den she’ll love and I knows it.” We told him he was drunk and to go on
to bed, but he said: “No sir, I’s as sober as a judge. I knows every
geneman in dat tent.” Then he would call the roll again. Chas. Cahoon
had a nice horse, but it had a crooked tail and Chas. Would get very mad
when we teased him about it. Abe Moody had just been put on the
ambulance corps and we teased him and told him he wanted to shun
fighting, Griff knew all these jokes and remembered them when drunk. He
said then: “I knows you all and de kind of horse you rides. Dar’s Peck
R. H., did ride de flying artillery, until he flew so fast he got
wounded, and now he rides de grizzly gray. Ammen Marcus, rides de
roach-back, wid a hump on his back like a camel. Cahoon Chas., rides de
fine bay mare, Rhody, but watch dat crooked tail. Dat horse Dr. said to
tie the tail to the saddle gurf, and she’d tote it straight. But I say,
tie a big rock to de tail for a sinker and I bet she’d tote it straight
den.” By this time all the boys were awake and everybody roaring and
laughing. He finished his foolishness by saying: “I’s gwine to git on de
colonel’s horse and blow dat bugle and call out the 2nd Va. Cavalry and
run dem d——d yankees clean across de Potomac. If dey don’t git out it
dey’s lookout, and nobody cares, cause it aint our fault. I knows we’ll
run ’em off, if the ambulance corps will jes’ keep up. (Then we had the
laugh on Moody.) Geneman dis niggar is jes’ as stout as Sampson. I could
pull one of des trees up by de root, but ’taint no use. Sampson pulled
up dem gate posts and carried ’em on de hill. Well, I jes’ believes I
could carry dat tree on de hill, but ’taint no use.” He carried on like
this for a half hour or more, and it was about equal to a circus. He
kept saying how sober he was and laughing occasionally, saying if Rhody
would just keep her tail straight and the ambulance corps must keep up.

We crossed a very high range of the Alleghanies, as we went into
Highland county, and made our first encampment near where the Cow
Pasture and Bull Pasture rivers head and flow south. The southern
tributaries of the Potomac rise on the same elevation and flow north. We
could look both north and south, so far that nothing was discernible; it
just seemed that we were looking into space, or beyond the briny deep.

While there one of our scouts captured a man butchering a beef, and as
he couldn’t give any account of what he was going to do with it, or
anything, they decided he was a Swamp Dragoon. These Swamp Dragoons were
men who were opposed to the war and dodged both sides. We kept him
several days and as we were soon going to leave for Staunton, we decided
to let him get away. So some of us told him, when he saw that all of us
were asleep, to just step away cautiously and go home. After he left
some of us pretended to be very much alarmed and saddled and started
after him, calling halt! But we saw by his tracks the next morning, that
he hadn’t only run, but had bounded like a deer. He took about 11 feet
at a jump. When we reported to the officer of the guard, he said let him
go to the devil. We don’t need him and can’t prove he is a dragoon,
anyway.

The next morning we started toward Staunton and camped near there the
first night. The next day we crossed the mountain at Rock Fish Gap and
went into Albemarle county. On our way we passed a large two story mill.
I noticed there was a road on both the left and right of the mill and I
just dropped out of ranks and went in at the lower door by the left hand
road and took the sack at the meal chest that was partly filled with
meal and hung my empty one in its place. The miller, I knew, would be on
the upper floor watching the command pass. I hastened a little and by
the time my part of the command got to where the roads met, I was there
with meal enough for several days. I stopped at the next house to buy
some buttermilk and eggs to make into batter-bread with my meal. The
lady of the house would not charge me a cent, as I was a soldier, and I
learned afterward that the mill belonged to those very people. There
were several young ladies at the house, nearly grown, and in a few years
a neighbor of mine, Chas. Utz, married and when I went to the reception,
I recognized his bride as one of the young ladies I’d met at that house.
She was Miss Jennie Hansbrough, and it was from her father, Capt. Hiram
Hansbrough, that I’d taken the meal. It was steal or starve those days,
though, and I told the boys that Pharoah’s dream had taught me that in
time of plenty to always prepare for famine. I baked the meal into
batter-cakes that night, and as no one else had gotten any provision, I
had to bake it all for supper and divide among the hungry boys. I didn’t
even get a good ration for myself, much less my mess-mates. We all
always made it a rule to try to get enough for our mess-mates, as well
as ourselves, when foraging.

We stopped at North Garden and stayed a few days and rested our horses
and got supplies. The 1-2-3 and 4 regiments camped right together here,
and while there, in maneuvering around we found a moonshiner, who had
put a substitute in the war and had made thousands of dollars, I guess.
He had a fine four story brick barn and dwelling house. He was bringing
sugar, coffee, etc., into the confederate lines and selling at a great
big profit. He kept two stories of the barn locked all the time and we
were anxious to know what he kept in there and the boys wanted me to try
to find out. So I told him one day that he ought to have a guard at that
barn, that it wasn’t safe to leave it. He asked me if I wouldn’t guard
for him, but I was busy, so sent Ben Foster, a very shrewd fellow. He
helped the men to shuck corn and watched around, and I told him to get
in one of those upper stories and unlock a window, and there were some
boat “gunwales” in the barn yard that would just about reach to the
window. We could put them up at night and climb up and pull the window
open and help ourselves. Eight of us went and ordered the guard, Ben
Foster, to leave at the point of pistols, which was sham work, of
course, but he left. I climbed up and filled a sack of corn and rolled
it down on the plank, and one of the boys aimed to catch it, to keep it
from bursting, and when it hit him it nearly killed him for awhile. We
all had a laugh over it, when we saw he wasn’t hurt, and I told one of
the boys to come up and help me to explore and see what we could find.
One boy came and found what he thought was a sack of sugar. I got out
the window and caught the sack with my teeth, and went down the plank
feet-foremost, until near enough to the ground for the other boys to get
it I took all the sacks down this way and when we got back to camp and
opened our sacks and fed our horses the most of the corn, we opened the
sack of sugar, as we thought, but it proved to be clover seed. We wanted
to get it off of our hands and carried it over to the 3rd Regiment,
where they issued their rations and feed.

Next morning everybody wondered where and how it got there and when it
went over. I told them it had been sent by mistake to them, of course,
for sugar, or something. Some of our boys had been helping the old man
to shuck corn and he came over to us the next morning to know what had
become of the guard, and he had missed his clover seed, so found it, of
course. He had not missed his corn, but knew some one had been in the
barn, as the planks were still up at the window. He talked to me about
it and I told him I expected the fellow that helped him shuck had done
the mischief, and that it was a shame. He never suspected once that I
was the ring leader of the crowd.

A few days later Robt. Stevens and Isaac Hinkle came down to see their
sons in our company, and Ben thought he would like to send something
back to the folks at home, so he came in one morning with shoes, pants,
coats and socks that he had taken from his own quarter-master and sent
home to his father-in-law. He laughed and told me about it. We had
gotten so used to stealing that we thought it fun to see who could get
things in the closest quarters. Ben said, when he was home, that the old
man had on sheep skin shoes made with the wool out and looked worse than
old h——, and he knew he’d be proud of those shoes.

After leaving this camp, we made our next stop at Bowling Green,
Caroline county. We went into winter quarters here, but didn’t build log
huts, as we sometimes did. Just lived in our tents as two-thirds or more
of the winter had already passed.

We found plenty for ourselves and horses to eat. The corn was fine, ears
averaging about 15 inches. Our rations, as well as that for our horses,
was furnished by the Confederacy, so we didn’t have to steal now. The
place abounded in wild geese. They were just about as plentiful as the
English sparrows are here. They ate the growing wheat so badly that a
boy would often get on a mule and drive them out of the fields until
about noon, and then they would fly back toward the Chesapeake Bay.

As we had no drilling or fighting to do we had a good time. We had to
keep up picket duty, was about all, except our cooking, chopping wood
and taking care of our horses. One day, while here, a moonshiner came
into camp and was arrested. We had orders to put a middle-aged man and
one that could be trusted to guard. The Orderly Sergeant appointed
Ballard McClaugherty, a middle-aged man, alright, but it seems that
Ballard had seen the fellow too often and knew too much about him; but
the Orderly didn’t know that, of course. The days of prophets and judges
were over, but we still had men to prophesy, at times. Well, I for one,
prophesied that the moonshiner would get away that night. After
roll-call and taps were sounded and everybody had gone to bed, we were
suddenly awakened by the firing of a rifle and some one yelling “Halt!
halt! you d—— moonshiner,” and then a pistol fired three times. He then
yelled “Corporal of the guard, post No. 1.” The Corporal, hurrying to
the scene, said, “What’s wrong at post No. 1?” McC.’s bed-fellow, Jack
Driskel, said, “Why, Mc.’s moonshiner has gotten away.” “Well, where did
he go?” said the Corporal. “Oh, he’s gone hellwards, like hell beating
tan-bark,” said Driskel. We never heard of him again at camp, but I
think some of the boys saw him right often on the sly.

Everything moved on quietly until about the middle of March, when we
were ordered back to Richmond. Early was being pressed pretty closely in
the valley and we expected to be sent on there, but as Grant was
preparing for movement, we were held to help protect Richmond for a
couple of weeks. As soon as we got to Richmond, Gen. Lee issued an order
that any one who had served the four years in the war and wanted to go
home to be married, would be granted a ten days’ furlough. These men
could take any of the broken-down horses from the company and bring back
good ones. Two men from each company was all that would be allowed to go
at one time. They left and others put in applications for furloughs, but
before the first boys got back Grant kept us so busy that no one could
leave. We left Richmond for Five Forks, arriving there one Friday eve.

The next day, Sheridan made a charge on our infantry and killed and
captured a great many. We were ordered to re-inforce and protect the
infantry and we drove the enemy back a considerable distance. As we fell
back to our line, a skirmish line was formed, so we could pass over a
wider scope and see if there were any wounded that we could help. I came
across a splendid looking fellow, who didn’t look to be more than 15
years old, lying across a large clump of rock lillies. His head and feet
were on the ground, but his body was up on the lillies. I jumped from my
horse, thinking he was only stunned, but found he was dead. I never see
the beautiful waxy bloom of the rock lily, that I don’t think of the
fate of that fine looking boy, almost a child. I laid him flat on the
ground, but could do no more.

We overtook the 57th Va. Regiment of infantry as they were going back to
the breastworks. My brother-in-law, Lieut. John Dill, told me that they
had suffered a great lost, but not near so great as at Gettysburg. He
said that before we got there to re-inforce them, that Gen. Picket had
ordered them to cross the breastworks and drive Sheridan’s cavalry back.
They succeeded in driving them a short distance, but Sheridan
re-inforced his men and drove the infantry back with considerable
slaughter, but when he found we were reinforcing the infantry, his men
began to fall back, also. We went into camp just back of the roads. The
place took its name from the five roads leading from that point.
Everything was quiet Sunday morning, until after twelve o’clock. I
visited around among the Botetourt boys in the infantry during the time,
and after dinner the pickets came in and said the enemy was advancing,
and I looked and saw the enemy advancing in a few minutes, in five
columns one right after the other. I’d left my horse just behind the
breastworks and I ran back and got her. We had orders to fall into line
and for No. 3 to hold horses and to dismount. It fell to my lot to hold
horses, but the man next to me wasn’t a good runner, and I would rather
go into the battle and he said he had rather hold horses, so we just
exchanged places and I went on with the Co. We formed into line again
and counted off with fours as No. 3 had dropped out to hold horses.
Capt. James B. walked right down in front of us and asked for me, and
some one told him I was right in the front. He came to me and said I
thought you were out of ranks, I want to get your rifle and you go back
and get your horse and bring up ammunition. Guggenheimer isn’t here, so
you bring it. By the time I got about 300 yds. from the men of my Co.,
the firing had commenced. Just then I met Gen. Picket and his staff, and
he asked me, what was advancing. I told him it was infantry. He said:
“how strong?” I told him I had seen five lines in succession and I
didn’t know what was behind them, of course. He immediately wrote a
dispatch and gave it to a courier and sent it to the next officer in
command. He sent a part of his staff with the courier. He turned back
and went on just in front of me across Hatchers Run. I could hear the
firing all the time. It was terrific. There was a man with me from Co.
K. and we had some little trouble in finding the ordinance wagon nut
were not gone longer than an hour. When we started back with the
ammunition, I saw that our forces were retreating. I soon came up to the
infantry, artillery and the whole army, retreating toward Lynchburg.
They told me that they had lost heavily. The enemy rushed right up and
took the breastworks, capturing a good portion of the 11th regiment of
infantry. Just about the time the infantry began to give away Capt. Jas.
Breckinridge was killed. Poor brave fellow. He had taken my rifle and
sent me out of the battle, when I had gone in after being drawn off to
hold horses. After his death Lieut. Hayth was appointed. Capt. Grant’s
army was then advancing on all the roads and we were trying to defend on
the same. We traveled on until about nightfall, when Sheridan’s cavalry
attacked our wagon train and at first we repulsed them, but they were
too strong for us and they succeeded in capturing some of our wagons and
men. We of the 2nd Va. cavalry were guarding the wagon train and several
of our men were killed. Capt. Strother of the 4th regiment was with us
and he went back to see if any of our men were left that we could help
and to see if the enemy was following. He didn’t come back for some time
and we called to him and the enemy had captured him and answered: “Here
is your Capt. Strother; come down and get him.” We kept marching in the
night, without food for ourselves or horses. When day broke when we
could have maybe found a little provisions, the enemy was pressing on so
that we had to continue marching. Gen. R. E. Lee had ordered a lot of
provisions to be sent to Amelia Springs and as we did not get there when
the train arrived, it was sent back, so our nearest source of supplies
was at Lynchburg, which was a long way off.

The next day the wagon train was attacked by a lot of colored cavalry,
but we succeeded in driving them off. I went into a stable to get some
feed for my horse and in getting the hay, found a black man shot in the
mouth, but not dead. I told the people of the house, to tell the Yankees
when they passed to care for him, that we couldn’t. The horses were so
worn out, not having food or rest, that they could hardly pull what few
wagons we had left. Some of the wagons were loaded with a lot of books,
statistics of the war, etc., and we came across such a muddy place, that
the horses couldn’t get the wagons through, so we threw a lot of the
books in, but that wouldn’t fill up the hole so we could cross. There
were no rails or timber near, so some of the men shot some of the poor
old worn out horses and dragged them into the mud hole and then drove
the teams and wagons across on their bodies. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do
that. I would have left the old wagons stand there forever, and turned
the horses loose, first. I knew, and the majority of us had known for
sometime, that we were whipped and the sooner we would surrender the
more lives would be saved and the less we’d have to suffer.

The next day the enemy pressed us closely at Wilson’s Creek, and Gen.
Pickett’s few men that were left, tried to hold the position, but nearly
all of them were captured. We were all engaged in the fight, but not a
great many were killed. That night, I saw Col. Munford, who was
commanding Gen. Wickham’s brigade, and his staff officers, stopping at a
farm house to get supper, and we had orders to stop, also. I had noticed
a double crib with some corn in it, and there was a “provost guard”
guarding the crib. We tried to get him to let us have some corn for our
horses, but he wouldn’t. I told him the next day the Yankees would come
and take it all and we had just as well have it. He had a gun and I
noticed he would let loose of the gun every few minutes and put his
hands in his bosom, as it was very cold. I just went away and sharpened
a tobacco stick and slipped his gun away and set the tobacco stick by,
instead. I hid the gun and then eight of us went up and told him we
wanted the corn. We had asked him two or three times, but got the same
reply each time. We told him we were going to take it now, no matter
what he said, and started into the crib. He reached for his gun, as he
supposed, and raised it at us, when he found he had nothing but a
tobacco stick. I said: “Now you see you’ve let some one steal your gun,
so we’ll get the corn.” He just had to laugh and let us take it. We got
about 8 bushels and divided it out as far as it would go. That was the
first good, full feed my horse had had since we left Carolina Co., a
week or ten days before.

Every few hours a courier would come with orders for us to ride back a
few miles to protect the rear and then we would have to come back and
rush to the front or on ahead for some purpose. We surely had a hard
time then and so little food or rest; none practically, you might say,
and then we had that feeling of working with no prospect for better
times. We didn’t get any food for ourselves again that night, but was
glad to get corn for the horses, as they had a worse time yet, than we.

The next morning, after marching all night, Capt. Trent, our regimental
quarter-master, sent me on ahead of the army about thirty miles, to a
Mr. Gill’s farm. He told me to go to a farm house on the right hand road
and get breakfast and my horse fed, which I did, and then take a road
parallel to the road the army was moving on.

I got there about night and told Mr. Gill the circumstances. He had been
getting the tenth part of all the crops and provisions in that section
of the county and sending it to the army. So Capt. Trent sent me ahead,
thinking he might probably have something for the starving men and
horses. He said he had sent everything he could get to the army and
could only feed me and my horse. He told me that men had been passing
for three days and nights and he thought the whole thing was over and
the soldiers going home. I told him who I’d left just behind and how
we’d been fighting and marching day and night and what hardships we had
undergone. He had me to register and stay all night with him, of course.
I knew the army couldn’t get there before the next day, even if the
enemy didn’t attack them, for we were a poor, wornout set of men and
horses, and moved very slowly. The next morning we went out to the road
and the stragglers were still passing. These were men going on home.
After awhile our men came on and when they found Mr. Gill had no
provisions, we just had to go on until night. The enemy was not pressing
so we lay down to sleep, but didn’t get to sleep long, for orders came
in the night for us to move on.

We went slowly, and at daybreak we were ordered to dismount and went
down a little slope and found a lot of Yankee infantry guarding the
Farmville Bridge. We fired on them and they on us, but we soon captured
Gen. Curtiss and his whole brigade. The infantry, at first, ran and left
a lot of knapsacks, and we ransacked them to find something to eat, but
found nothing. General Curtiss surrendered without much resistance, so
not a great many were killed. We left a young fellow by the name of
William Fields at Sailor’s Creek dead, as we thought, and at Farmville
we lost another fellow, Luck, and I never knew anything of either of
them again until the summer of 1911, when I met both at a reunion at New
Port News.

The attack was just at daybreak and Luck told me that the Yankees
captured him at Farmville and then we recaptured them all and we thought
he had been killed, but he was sent on with Gen. Curtiss’ men. The
bridge was 300 feet, and as soon as we captured the men and took the
obstruction from the railroad track, the waiting trains moved on. As the
fog rose, and the trains whistled, we looked up and saw them moving so
high above us, that I told the boys there was Gabriel coming in the
clouds blowing his bugle.

We marched Gen. Curtiss and his men on toward Lynchburg, and he and the
Yankees were all just as nice as they could be. They had to go on, just
like we did, without provisions. The provost guard soon took charge of
them and went on toward Lynchburg, but may have disbanded before getting
there as the surrender took place the next day.

Gen. R. E. Lee, with the remainder of the army, had been forced to leave
Richmond before this and was moving on toward Lynchburg, and got with us
the same day of our capture at Farmville Bridge.

At night we laid down to rest, but still without food. I had fared a
little better than some of them, as I was sent out to Mr. Gill’s and got
three meals on that trip. All of the men Lee had with him had fared just
like us. If they got anything to eat at all, they begged it from
citizens in passing by or stole it, and the great trouble was there was
so little left to steal. The country was stripped.

The next morning Fitz Lee’s cavalry was ordered to charge the enemy’s
left flank as they had gotten in front of us to cut us off from
Lynchburg. We charged them and drove them back toward Appomattox C. H.
When we got around on the road leading from Appomattox to Lynchburg, we
met some of the boys who had gotten furloughs, 10 days before, to go
home to be married, and were then on their way back to the army. We
congratulated them and they fell into line with us. Just then a charge
was ordered and we charged right down toward Appomattox C. H., and the
first volley that was fired on us killed Lieut. Parker of Co. G, who had
joined us just about five minutes before and we had just congratulated.

Jas. Godwin, of Co. C., who had fought through the whole time unharmed
was wounded then. The ambulance corps took him to the rear and on to
Lynchburg, and we hadn’t gone but a few hundred yards, when we saw a
flag of truce coming up the road. The bearers of the flag came on to
Fitz Lee and told him that Robt. E. Lee had surrendered. Fitz Lee
received orders to disband his whole division right then. Col. Munford
disbanded the 1-3-4 and 5 regiments on the grounds, but as we of the
second had been mustered into service at Lynchburg and it was right on
our way home, he took us there to disband us. We went out to the fair
grounds, just where we had drilled and had been mustered in, four years
before. There is a nice park at this place now, and the U. S. government
presented Col. Munford and the 2nd Va. cavalry with two pieces of
artillery and placed them in this park with two pyramids of cannon
balls, to mark the place where his men were mustered into service and
disbanded.

As we passed through Lynchburg, some one told us that one of our men who
had been wounded wanted to go home with us and was able to ride on horse
back. It proved to be Jas. Godwin. He had been shot in the foot, but had
it dressed and was anxious to get home, so we started with him. When we
got to a bridge on the outskirts of the town we found an Irish sentinel
guarding the city. When we got in sight he yelled at us like a steam
engine and we halted. He said: “Dismount and advance one and give the
countersign.” I did so and told him I had no countersign or pass word,
but that Gen. Lee’s army had surrendered at Appomattox that day and we
were on our way home. He said: “Surrindered! Hill and damnation! you
know Gen. Lee wouldn’t surrinder to such a d—— rascal as Ulysses Grant.
You are both d—— deserters.” I told him we were not. He then said we
couldn’t get by without a pass from Gen. Colston who was Mayor of the
town and had charge of the army post and hospitals etc. I got on my
horse and told him I had fought four years in this war and had been in
54 battles, the last one that day at Appomattox in which the man with me
had been wounded and I was taking him home and that I was going over
that bridge if he or I one had to die. At that I leveled my pistol on
him and told him to fire if he wanted to. He said: “Damned if I don’t
believe something is in the wind boys, and you can go on.” Then he told
us he was from Louisianna and had been wounded and sent to the hospital
and was sent out there, and if he got near our place in going back home,
he’d like to stay all night with me. I told him I’d do any thing in my
power to help a fellow soldier and with that we passed over the bridge.

Night overtook us at William Henry Kyle’s, a few miles above Lynchburg,
so we spent a very pleasant night with him, as he had visited his
brother, Haslet Kyle, who was in our Co., several times during the war.

We journeyed on up the “tow path” and passed a good many of the infantry
coming on home. In many places the road was lined for some distance with
them. Just after 12 o’clock we came to Dr. Watson’s and we ate dinner
and spent several hours with him. He dressed Jim’s foot and treated us
very kindly. One of his daughters married one of our countrymen, Richard
Hayden, deceased.

We passed the home of Dick Burks that evening. He had served as our
adjutant the first year of the war. He insisted on us spending the night
with him, but we were so anxious to get home that we went on several
miles farther and spent the night with a Mr. Arnold who lived near
Natural Bridge. They were very kind indeed to us, not charging a cent
for us or our horses. The next morning, which was the 11th, we started
on our last day’s ride for home. We got to Springwood just after the
middle of the day and good old hospitable aunt Katie Hayth, whose door
was never closed on the wayfarer, made us eat dinner with her. After
resting awhile we made a start for Fincastle, arriving there about 3
o’clock.

I turned Jim over to his mother at his home. He stood the trip very well
and soon recovered from his wound. We had left amid the cheers and tears
of an excellent throng, feeling that we would soon be victorious and
return, but none felt joyous now, only to see the few who were left
returning.

[Illustration: R. H. PECK, 1913.]

When I got to the Court House several had heard I was coming and met me
there. I told the boys I’d left home the 17th of May ’61 to fight
Yankees and at the first battle of Manassas, we fought full fledged
American Yankees and they were gentlemen, but after that we fought every
nationality, I think, unless it was Esquimos. They had been hired by the
Yankees, of course, and some of them were tough customers I tell you.

I reached home that eve with my dappled gray that I captured in Stafford
Co., near Kelley’s Ford in ’63 and which Gen. Stewart had given me. I
also had the gun with me, that I had to take from the provost guard to
get corn for our starving horses, on the horrible retreat, just a few
days before the surrender. I still have it among my war relics.

Mother met me at the gate and I told her I hadn’t a single regret. I
felt I had answered my country’s call and discharged my duty, but all
the time I was fighting for what my state thought best and against my
own convictions.

My father was offered $8,000 for his slaves just before the war and I
begged him to take it and not own slaves. I never thought slavery was
right, although my father treated his slaves as kindly as any one
possibly could and they were good and obedient.

The many happy days that our old black mammy took us children out to
gather hickorynuts, pick beans or do any kind of light work or play, are
still fresh in my memory to day. And the many coon, and opossum and
rabbit hunts, that her boy Jack who was just a few years older than I,
and myself have had together. He was always so thoughtful of our
wellfare and protected me and my brothers, more like an older brother
than a slave.

I told mother how I’d been in 54 engagements, some hard fought and
others not, but in nearly every one, some of my relatives, friends or
acquaintances, were killed or wounded. We had left them buried or on the
field in Md., Penn., all through the Valley of Va., at Manassas
Junction, through the Wilderness of Spottsylvania, over the battle
fields holding Sheridan back from Richmond, holding Grant back from
Spottsylvania, on around to Petersburg and then to Appomattox C. H. None
of father’s slaves left him for a year or more but he paid them some
wages, of course, and they seemed as sad and disconsolate as we were
when they did leave. My father was getting old, and as he had been
security for a number of men who had lost their wealth in slaves, just
as he had, he was placed in straightened circumstances. So we had to
soon forget for a time, the sorrows we had passed through and turn our
minds to caring for those around us. None of our property had been
stolen or burned by raiders, so we were better off than the thousands of
households and farms we had passed by, during the war and from whom we
were obliged to steal some times or starve. While I often thought of
four of the best years of my youth being wasted, as it was, in a lost
cause, I didn’t regret it as it was obeying my country’s call, whether
it was right or wrong. I had much to be thankful for and especially as I
had gone through the whole war and hadn’t gotten a scar. God has blessed
me with health and strength and while I’ve never had any of the luxuries
of life, I’ve been, and am still, at my advanced age, able to enjoy its
comforts.


                                THE END.



Transcriber's Note:

This book uses inconsistent spelling and hyphenation; the
inconsistencies were retained from the original text.

Obvious spelling and punctuation errors were corrected. When an
incorrect spelling was used consistently it was not corrected.

Ditto marks have been replaced by the text they represent.





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