Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/274

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270 Southern Historical Society Papers.

tick of the instrument was heard. I asked the operator who it was. He said "Beneja," a station eleven miles from Greensboro'. "What?" said he. "Ah, this is the reply: 'Watchman at Big Troublesome Trestle is here. Says just at dawn as train passed going to Greensboro' , Yankees came out and burned trestle, missing train by only two minutes.' ' The President had a narrow escape; the road was broken, and we were cut off from the South. Soon, how- ever, we had the wires in working order, but the dawn of day brought other trouble to us in Danville, and we gave very little thought to the Greensboro' end.

Shifting the scene, I come down to the picturesque old town ot Washington, Ga., where recently I had pointed out the house in which President Davis and his party stopped on their retreat. Here was held the last official meeting of the Confederate government; here the President and his Cabinet gave up the cause as lost, and each member undertook to provide as best he could for his own safety. Had I the notes of the memorable journey from Danville to- Washington, Ga. , the meeting with Johnston at Greensboro', pages could be written of this meeting. The journey from Greensboro' to Charlotte, the flight from that point through South Carolina, and last, that final meeting at Washington, are all events of greatest interest, and columns could be written; but these notes cannot be obtained in time for this article.

AN EXPLOSION.

But to resume our story at Danville. As stated before, there were warehouses filled with provisions, stores, etc., for the army. The neighboring hills of Virginia and North Carolina and the valley of the River Dan were well populated. The news of the fall of Rich- mond, the surrender of Lee, and the flight of the Confederate Gov- ernment had been carried to them. Many stragglers from the army had already reached Danville; in fact, they had been coming daily since the retreat of Lee from Petersburg. With the dawn of day women and children, old and young, began to pour in from the sur- rounding country and congregated in crowds around the warehouses. There was a rear guard of two companies left to protect the property; they tried to stop the rising storm. The crowd only waited for a leader. Soon one was found in a tall woman, who, with the cry, " Our children and we'uns are starving; the Confederacy is gone up; let us help ourselves," started in, followed by hundreds. Aided by the stragglers, the unresisting guards were soon swept out of the