Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/312

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306 Southern Historical Society Papers.

the truth had time to catch up with them, they were the centres of gaping and admiring crowds, only to sink into insignificance again, loaded with the scorn of women and the contempt of men, when the truth became known. So Manassas was fought and won, and, although I could fill a volume with reminiscences of other battles and marches which come teeming into my brain, I must pass on to the closing of the great drama.

In the spring of 1865 the condition of the Confederacy may be aptly described by applying to it the touching words of Raphael Semmes, used in speaking of his good ship, the Alabama, just be- fore the battle with the Kearsage. He says she was no longer the alert, swift, formidable greyhound of the seas, as when he first assumed command of her, but after her long and eventful cruise, during which she had been for the most part denied harbor privi- leges by neutral nations, she came limping back, her timbers riven and shaken by many a storm, to meet her superior at every point, save in the courage and devotion of her crew to the cause of the Confederacy. Now Lee's thin lines after Five Forks were with- drawing towards Amelia Courthouse, the point of concentration where he expected to find rations for his hungry troops. The cav- alry, Fitzhugh Lee's Division, to which I then belonged, was bring- ing up the rear, and had a fine opportunity of witnessing the fighting qualities of the gallant Henry A. Wise and his brigade.

"TRY IT, SIR."

Never did troops show better discipline or fight more obstinately and bravely than those men under their heroic old general. As we approached the home of Mr. Joseph B. Wilson, of Amelia county, we halted and formed lines in the open fields surrounding his house, and the writer, who knew him and his family well and had often shared their hospitality, rode up to the house and warned them to seek safety in the cellar, as we would attempt to check the enemy there. Whilst conversing with Mr. Wilson, his little girl, Judy, ran up and threw her arms around my neck, exclaiming, "Oh, don't let the Yankees come!" I never wished so heartily that I had been "a host within myself." I had not the heart to tell her that we could only keep "those people" back for a little while and then we must retreat.

So I gently disengaged the child's arms, and told her we would try, but she must make haste and hide, for we would soon be fight-