Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/104
96 Southern Historical Society Papers.
instructed Major Peyton, of my staff, to start the left in motion, and I continued with the rear.
The enemy, upon seeing us move off, rushed out from under cover with a cheer, when Cox's brigade, lying concealed at the brow of the hill, rose and fired a volley into them, which drove them back into the woods, the brigade then following their retreating comrades in line of battle unmolested. After proceeding about half the dis- tance to the position occupied by us in the morning, a dense mass of the enemy in column (infantry) appeared on our right, and advanced without firing towards the earthworks captured by us in the morning, when a battery of our artillery opened with grape and canister and drove them under the shelter of the woods.
As my troops approached their position of the morning, I rode up to General Gordon and asked where I should form line of battle. He replied, " Anywhere you choose." Struck by the strangeness of the reply, I asked an explanation, whereupon he informed me that we would be surrendered. I then expressed very forcibly my dissent to being surrendered, and indignantly upbraided him for not giving me notice of such intention, as I could have escaped with my division and joined General Joe Johnston, then in North Carolina. Furthermore, that I should then inform my men of the purpose to surrender, and that whoever desired to escape that calamity could go with me, and galloped off to carry this idea into effect. Before reaching my troops, however, General Gordon overtook me, and, placing his hand upon my shoulder, asked me if I were going to de- sert the army and tarnish my own honor as a soldier, and said that it would be a reflection upon General Lee and an indelible disgrace to me if I, an officer of rank, should escape under a flag of truce, which was then pending. I was in a dilemma and knew not what to do, but finally concluded to say nothing on the subject to my troops.
Upon reaching them, one of the soldiers asked if General Lee had surrendered, and upon my answering that I feared it was a fact that we had surrendered, he cast away his musket, and holding his hands aloft, cried in an agonized voice: " Blow, Gabriel, blow! My God, let him blow. I am ready to die!" We then went beyond the creek at Appomattox Courthouse, stacked arms amid the bitter tears of bronze veterans, regretting the necessity of capitulation.