Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/165

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The Last Confederate Surrender.

The Last Confederate Surrender.

By Lt.-Gen. Richard Taylor.

[The following is one of a series of "chapters of unwritten history" now being published in the Philadelphia Weekly Times. Our readers will thank us for republishing this paper of our distinguished soldier.]

To write an impartial and unprejudiced account of exciting contemporary events has always been a difficult task. More especially is this true of civil strife, which, like all "family jars," evolves a peculiar flavor of bitterness. But slight sketches of minor incidents, by actors and eye-witnesses, may prove of service to the future writer, who undertakes the more ambitious and severe duty of historian. The following "memoir pour servir" has this object:

In the summer of 1864, after the close of the Red river campaign, I was ordered to cross the Mississippi and report my arrival on the east bank by telegraph to Richmond. All the fortified posts on the river were held by the Federals, and the intermediate portions of the stream closely guarded by gunboats to impede and, as far as possible, prevent passage. This delayed the transmission of the order above-mentioned until August, when I crossed at a point just above the mouth of the Red river. On a dark night, in a small canoe, with horses swimming alongside, I got over without attracting the attention of a gunboat anchored a short distance below. Woodville, Wilkinson county, Mississippi, was the nearest place in telegraphic communication with Richmond. Here, in reply to a dispatch to Richmond, I was directed to assume command of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, etc., with headquarters at Meridian, Mississippi, and informed that President Davis would, at an early day, meet me at Montgomery, Alabama. The military situation was as follows: Sherman occupied Atlanta, Hood lying some distance to the southwest; Farragut had forced the defences of Mobile bay, capturing Fort Morgan, etc., and the Federals held Pensacola, but had made no movement into the interior.


Major-General Maury commanded the Confederate forces garrisoning Mobile and adjacent works, with Commodore Farrand, Confederate Navy, in charge of several armed vessels. Small bodies of troops were stationed at different points through the department, and Major-General Forrest, with his division of cavalry, was in northeast Mississippi. Directing this latter officer to move his command across the Tennessee river, and use every effort to interrupt Sherman's communications south of Nashville, I proceeded to Mobile to inspect the fortifications; thence to Montgomery, to meet President Davis. The interview extended over many hours, and the military situation was freely discussed. Our next meeting