Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 15.djvu/4
the concentration of every available man at that point to resist the Federal advance, and a consequent stretching out of our line, already so sadly attenuated that at some places it consisted of but one man to every seven yards nothing more than a skirmish line. It was without serious resistance, therefore, on the 2d of April the Federals obtained possession of a portion of the lines between Hatcher's Run and the city. Indeed, we had so few men to contest the matter with them that they were within our lines before it was reported to General Lee or General Hill. From the point occupied by these officers, detached squads of men were observed advancing towards us in the plateau beyond; it was impossible to say whether they were our men or the enemy; and it was for the purpose of solving this doubt, and ascertaining the actual condition of affairs in that locality, that General A. P. Hill rode towards these detachments, by the fire from one of which he was shot dead from his horse.
"Under cover of a heavy fire of artillery the Federal army now made a general advance. It was apparent that our position could no longer be maintained. General Lee communicated to the authorities at Richmond his intention of evacuating his lines that night, for which emergency they should have been prepared. This letter occasioned the evacuation of Richmond on the following morning.
"During the whole day he was engaged in issuing orders and sending dispatches by couriers and by telegraph, in preparation for this event. Early in the forenoon, while the telegraph operator wasworking his instrument at headquarters, under the supervision of the staff-officer charged with the duty of transmitting these orders, a shell came crashing through the house and the operator declared himself unable longer to work his instrument. He was ordered to detach it, and as the staff-officer and the operator emerged from the house they with difficulty escaped capture at the hands of the Federal infantry which just advanced upon and drove away the battery of artillery which had been placed in position around the house to assist in delaying the advance of the enemy. The comfortable dwelling of Mr. Turnbull, occupied by General Lee as his headquarters, and thus hastily evacuated by the rear guard of his military family, was soon enveloped in flames. It is to be hoped that the fire was accidental; by General Lee it was then thought and feared to have been by design. One of the many arguments always advanced by him why he should not occupy a house was that, in event of its falling into the hands of the enemy, the very fact of its having been occupied by him might possibly cause its destruction; and *