Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 32.djvu/370

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358 Southern Historical Society Papers.

the first line was sent forward in partial skirmish order, followed by the main lines, the ist and 2d brigades. Once, for some unknown reason, I was ordered back, but in the impetuosity of youth and the heat of conflict, I pushed on, for it seemed tome to be a momentous hour. We fought like demons across that field and up that brist- ling hill. They told us we would expose ourselves to the full fire of the Confederate artillery once we gained the crest, but push on we did, past the stone wall behind which the ' Stonewall Corps ' had hidden, driving them back to the crest of the ridge, down over it, and away.

"We were gathering our forces for a last final dash upon the enemy. From the summit of the hill we could see on the opposite ridge a full mile across the valley the dark blotches of the Confed- erate infantry drawn up in line of battle; the blocks of cavalry further to our right, and lower down more cavalry, detached, run- ning hither and thither as if uncertain just what to do.

" In the valley, where flowed the now narrow Appomattox, along whose banks we had fought for weary miles, was a perfect swarm of moving men, animals, and wagons, wandering apparently aimlessly about, without definite precision. The river sides were trodden to a muck by the nervous mass. It was a picture which words can scarce describe.

"As we looked from our position we saw of a sudden a couple of men ride out from the extreme left of the Confederate line, and even as we looked the glorious white of a flag of truce met our vision. At that time, having routed the Confederate forces on the hill, my brigade was left alone by Sheridan's cavalry, which had gone to the right to take the enemy in the flank.

" I was on the right of the line as we stood at the crest of the hill. Near by us was the red Maltese cross of the Hospital Corps, and straight toward this the two riders, one with the white flag, came.

" When the men arrived, the one who carried the flag drew up be- fore me, and, saluting with a rather stiffair it was a strained occasion informed me that he had been sent to beg a cessation of hostilities until General Lee could be heard from. Lee was even then said to be making a wide detour in the hope of attacking our forces from the rear. The officer who bore the flag was a member of the Con- federate General Gordon's staff, but the message came to me in the name of General Longstreet.

"At that time the command had devolved upon General Ord,