First Company of 7f/7*///-W Howitzers.
The soldier obeying orders has no right to think for himself, but everybody could see that this march was a retreat, getting away with all possible haste from an enemy, and without power of defence should he overtake or head off the column. It was clearly apparent to the understanding of the simplest private that the attack that eve- ning had been a complete surprise; that the enemy had appeared when and where no one expected him. If so, they might be all over the face of the earth, and we might stumble on them or they on us at any moment. Nobody knew how long that thin line behind us, more forlorne than that in Gilbert Gaul's great picture, had kept or could keep them from the road in rear. And, where was the in- fantry ? There was evidently something very seriously wrong when a train of artillery like this was left without support to shift for itself. Where was the army and what doing ? Often enough before now it had been necessary to retire before superior force, but always with some degree of order, and with the cheering sight or sound of in- fantry near by, in whose company there was such a comforting feel- ing of safety and security. The whole campaign of the previous year had been such a retiring, from the Rapidan to Petersburg. But this was not retiring. It was sheer retreat, with no infantry on that road, nor had we seen any body of them for days. Sheer retreat, with signs that different batteries were saving themselves if they could; that they were even contemplating loss of some of their guns and material to get off with the rest. " Save the brass guns first," had been the order that evening, when trying to get away from that field, and the team of the second piece, happening to be the first under harness, was hitched to one of the brass pieces, which were hurried out, leaving the other two guns to repell the last advance ot the enemy.
"Seven miles to Lynchburg " was the information given some time during the night by the countryman, hanging on his gate. Or was it seventeen or seventy miles to some other burg ? For it was a familiar fact that on a march a geographical question might bring information of any number of miles to or from any known or un- known locality. It is the impression of some of those marchers that night that nobody knew where we were nor how many miles were gone over. The night and miles were long and weary enough for the traversing of all Southside Virginia. The very haltings seemed evidence of ignorance of the route or of indecision, as if commanders knew not whither to turn or go. But on and on, through the dark hours, tired teams and men were urged on by the tired and impatient