154 Southern Historical Society Papers.
duced myself as Captain Thompson, of the Portsmouth Light Ar- tillery Company. Presenting the order, I said : "General, I have come to ask for a reconsideration of this order." He replied : "Captain, that order was from the best information of the condition of the artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia, anc,! it was pro- mulgated for the best interest of that arm of the service. The dis- tribution was not intended to reflect upon the officers or men, but was necessary for the better organization of the artillery corps. Now, Captain, you know that the highest duty of a soldier is to obey orders; go to Richmond as your orders require and do what- ever you may be ordered. It is just as honorable to do your duty there, and far safer." The great commander treated me with the utmost consideration, and I saw it was useless to say more on that question, so I said : "General Lee, I wish to shake your hand." He gave me a warm handshake, and we parted.
I went to Richmond as required, reported and was assigned to duty in the provost marshal's office.
After awryle, I was sent to Augusta, Ga., to supervise the trans- portation of prisoners to Andersonville, when the prison at that place was established. On my return to Richmond, General Win- der made a requisition for me to command the prison at Anderson- ville, upon which an order was made out and sent to me, which I returned with this endorsement :
"I respectfully return this order to the general commanding the Department of Henrico, with this statement : Captain Thompson did not enter the Confederate army to become a 'Jack Ketch, 1 a jailer or a prison keeper."
General Gardner immediately sent for me and said : " Captain, do you know the responsibility you have incurred by such an endorsement on an official paper?" I said- "I mean no dis- respect; but I hope you will take up my cause and keep me from being a prison keeper." Through my general's influence the orders were revoked and Captain Henry Wirz was sent in my place.
Friends, I cannot go over my military service in further detail. I was in Danville when General Lee surrendered, went in company with Mr. J. H. Sands, of Richmond, to Greensville, N. C. There General Beauregard advised us to go back to Dick Taylor. I said : "If there is a spot of land where our flag flies, I will find it." We