Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/271
' /,' hinniitl. 267
[From the Richmond, Va., Dispatch, July 4, 1897.]
THE EVACUATION OF THE CITY AND THE DAYS PRECEDING IT.
How the News was Received in Danville Some of the Closing Scenes of the Confederacy Vividly Recalled.
(Colonel J. H. AVERILL in Nashville Banner.}
The coming of the remnants of that army in gray, whose deeds so astonished the world a third of a century ago, and the presence among us here of the last survivor of the cabinet of President Davis, brings vividly back some of the closing scenes of the Southern Con- federacy, in which the writer participated, and which were several years since written out, and are here retold at the request of the Banner.
The scene I will describe pertains to the evacuation of Richmond and the fifteen days immediately following.
The writer was at the time trainmaster of the Richmond and Dan- ville Railroad, and stationed at Danville, Va. , the road then running only from Richmond to Danville, there connecting with the Piedmont road to Greensboro, N. C. How this railroad line, then the main- stay of the Southern Confederacy, the only line of communication between its capital and the Southern States, has grown and extended its lines; how the old Richmond and Danville went down, as the Confederation of States it supported, and how, from that wreck, has arisen the now well-known Southern Railway, permeating every Southern State! Can the growth of that system in any way be attributed to the rapid growth and improvement of the South, and can we paint the picture of the two eras as having any connection ?
But to our story: It is well remembered by all who lived in the closing days of the Confederacy that the first official news of the intended evacuation of Richmond on that Sunday in April was com- municated to its citizens in church, and through the hurried calling of the President from church.
Our first intimation of it was not in being called from church, but
.at noon on that quiet Sabbath day in Danville, for it was quiet there,
140 miles away from the city, which was so soon to witness the sad-