I had the satisfaction of reporting that all the guns were mounted, but they never fired a hostile shot, and were abandoned when we retreated in April.
The train was then moved to near the Lippincott house, on the south side of Swift Creek, about a half mile from Brander's Bridge, where we established winter quarters.
During the winter, life was tolerably easy for us, but I had enough to do to keep me occupied. Much of my work called for riding along the lines, and I kept well posted on what was going on.
Our quarters were comfortable—two tents joined together with a mud-chimney between—but our rations were very scant, both in quantity and variety. Knowing that all the people near us were as badly off as the army was, I never encroached upon their hospitality, but Packard and I made acquaintance with the hospitable Widow Duvall, who lived beyond Chesterfield Courthouse, and we visited there. Supplies were fairly abundant there, and I thought nothing of the eighteen-mile ride, on a cold winter night, nominally to see the widow's pretty sister, but really for one good meal.
Some of our wagons were employed all the winter in being driven over the battlefields and picking up the enemy's unexploded shells, which were sent to the Richmond Arsenal and prepared to be returned to them from our guns.
Near the end of January, 1865, I was requested to take horses and go down to a landing on the James River, where I was to meet Admiral Raphael Semmes, who was coming by boat from Richmond to visit General Lee. The Admiral was accompanied by Colonel Ives, of President Davis' staff, and when we got to General Lee's, quarters, at the Turnbull house, he and the Admiral retired, and Colonel Ives joined a group of the General's staff. I remember the fierce attack that Colonel Marshall made on the commissary situation and Colonel Ives' attempted defense. Admiral Semmes spent the night with General Lee. In his "Memoirs" he says that the "grand old chieftain and Christian gentleman seemed to foreshadow, more by manner than by words, the approaching downfall of the cause for which we were both struggling".