Transcription of the General William Mahone Letter, RG 242

Transcribed by:  Paul Martin and Alfrieda Brummitt
Date:  September 1999

Date:  ca. 1890

Biographical Sketch:  Mahone, educated as an engineer, served as a general in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. After the Civil War, he was active in Virginia politics as a U.S. Senator and leader of the Virginia Republican Party.

Scope / Content:  Mahone's reminiscences about the days leading up to Gen. Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. Written on hotel stationary in response to an inquiry by former General James Longstreet.

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In compliance with your request I give you an account of what I saw and heard from Genl. Lee’s lines covering Richmond and Petersburg to the close of his army’s career at Appomattox.

Mahone’s Division aggregating at that time about four thousand muskets, at that time escaped that portion of the Confederate line between the James and Appomattox rivers commonly called the Chesterfield front.

The night previous to the last day Genl. Lee had held to his long line of defense, he telegraphed to know if I could give him a

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brigade of my Division. Immediately I withdrew the Brigade, Genl. Harris commanding from its position in my line and set it in motion to report directly to Genl. Lee at Petersburg about five miles away and I notified Genl. of the fact. His Brigade reached Genl. Sunday morning early, and a part of it under the command of Col. James was placed inside of one of the forts and given charged with its defense, and no body of men as I am advised ever made a more heroic resistance to the repeated assaults of an enemy. The balance of that Brigade
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under Genl. Harris’s immediate command were otherwise engaged in the general break-up at Petersburg and rejoined the Division at Amelia Court House.

Sunday night I received orders direct from Genl. Lee – and from that time to the end at Appomattox all my orders came direct from Genl. Lee – to retire at daylight and the next morning for Amelia Court House, covering the rear of the troops from Richmond when I moved over the road from Richmond where it came into

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the county road leading from Chesterfield Court House to the wooden bridge over the Appomattox. The Division reached Chesterfield Court in the fore noon of that Monday morning the 3d day of April.

I found the Court House grounds and the country road as I approached it crowded with all manner of vehicles, men and women with their children who had fled mainly from Petersburg and in advance of the incoming foe. A brief halt was made at the Court House and the troops given opportunity to breakfast –

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I busied myself in bringing off and away such military wagons as we had reached that place and the retreating caravan of vehicles and folks which had been encountered. During the Sunday night when I had perfected all the details for the retirement of the Division and my telegraph operator was about to take up his instrument here came an inquiry from Admiral Tucker – commanding at Drewry’s Bluff – to know if I could tell him what was going on – To which inquiry I replied by referring him to the
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Confederate Secretary of the Navy. Directly the Admiral rejoined that he could not get at the Secretary. I knew he could not, for I knew that the Departments in Richmond had already been abandoned, but my knowledge of the location of naval officers, nor adequate knowledge the course may have persued. I then said to the Admiral that he had better send over to "Chaffin’s" and find out what was going on there. In a while he responded that every body at "Chaffin’s" had gone – no one there – and asked
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that I would give him orders. No Admiral you are not under my command but would advise that you follow the movement of the troops on your right, and if you will face your command inward and march quite direct it will bring you to Chesterfield Court House from which court my Division will quickly move; and I advise Admiral that your withdrawal be effected as quickly as possible, and above all precautions that the enemy be not advised of your withdrawal by the blowing up of your magazines or other like demon-
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demonstrations. Curious enough, the head of my Division had just reached [ ] a few miles away and when now the grey of the morning had come, here came the terrific explosion of the magazine at Drewry’s Bluff – which lighted the heavens and fairly shook the earth in all that region.

At Chesterfield Co. House Admiral Tucker arrived barely after my Division had reached that place. He was among about two hundred marines well clad –armed with cutlass’s and navy revolvers –

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every man over six feet and the picture of perfect physical development and each brigade fully equipped with a completely filled tarpolian. Here one of the inferior officers – who was largely under the influence of whiskey, seized and undertook to appropriate to his own use the riding horse of Major Downey. He Major Downey whose command, and whose gallant direction had disabled the Federal Galena force that made the attack on
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on that force – when it was on its way to Richmond. The lieutenant at my command surrendered the horse to Major Downey. Leaving the Court House on the Division camped the night at Captain [Murray’s] and the next night, immediately after clearing the crossing on the Appomattox at Goode’s bridge. Here I received an order from Gnl. Lee to communicate with Gnl. Dick Anderson – and to proceed next morning to the Co. Ho. which was done.

On reaching Amelia Co. Ho. early next morning I reported in person to [words ommitted]

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whom I found seated with Genl. Longstreet on the fringe of a small oat field near the Co. House. Gnl. Longstreet gave me his hand and went off to attend to some business. The chat with Gnl. Lee was pleasant. I noticed that he was in full uniform and except for the yellow sash was wanting. He had on all his best clothes – including his gold spurs and magnificent sword and belt. It impressed me that he anticipated some accident to himself and desired to be found in that dress.
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Our beloved Corps Commander A.P. Hill had been killed on the lines in front of Petersburg when the break up came. While joining Genl. Lee at the Court House the other two Division Commanders of the Corps came up and after saluting the Genl. desired to know to whom they should report – without responding to the salutation Genl. Lee exclaimed – Gentlemen whose waggons are those – pointing to some waggons near the Co. House – send your staff waggons to the wagon train, depend on your haver-
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sacks and horses too. Report to Genl. Longstreet and I give notice of my purpose to diminish the number of Corps and Division Commanders in this Army. In a short while the Army left the Court House – Genl. Longstreet taking by-road diverging and leading south over to the Danville road. I passed this diverging road and had proceeded but a short distance when I came upon the waggon train. Here I found Genl. Lee who informed me of my mistake and suggested
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that I turn back and take the road Genl. Longstreet had gone. This was done and it was not long before I found some Federal Cavalry had intervened. They were quickly driven off and out of the way and my Division united with the rear of the column. Genl. Longstreet had now run up against the Federal Cavalry at Jetersville [ ]. Genl. Lee sent for me to come up to him. I found [words omitted] near Genl. Longstreet’s line of battle on a porch of a farm house. He got out his map and wanted to know what
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I thought of pursuing the fight. It was near sun down, quite sun down in fact. I argued that it was too late in the evening to effect results and that his army was not sufficiently compose[d] to deliver a telling blow. That he should diverge to the right and as soon as could be done, get his army as compactly together as could be and then turn on the enemy and give him a stunning blow, and then hasten on his march. To this he agreed and directed me to take the diverging road to the
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north, leading by Amelia Springs. I came after a short march on the road to a stream over which the bridge had given way, and a pioneer corps were engaged in repairing it. This necessitated a halt of my division, which was ordered to rest, the troops in their places. After the bridge had been repaired, the leading brigades improperly under the orders of Col. Marshall of Genl. Lee’s staff – gave the order forward. This brigade failed to send word back along the line and have the troops waked up – but carelessly
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proceeded with only a few troops following. I was a little way off at the time at (a) farm house where I had gone to get something to eat – and there Colo. Marshall came and said to me "Genl. Lee says, "move on" – Colo. Marshall after drawing upon a bottle of pine-top whiskey left, and without supper, for I was too much exhausted to prefer food to sleep, I proceeded to the house where I had left the head of the Division to find it gone. I followed the wake of the small portion of the brigade
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with which Genl. Harris had proceeded and quickly came up to him – proceeding with the straggling remnant as though he headed a well closed Division. I halted the command at once and sent back details to wake up the Division and bring it forward, not failing to censure Genl. Harris for his un-officer like conduct and warning him as long as I commanded the Division, he would never again take orders from any other authority. For the first time during the war and its varied vicissitudes encountered I had a struggling command, brought about
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by the unwarrantable and un-officer like [words omitted] of Colo. Marshall and Genl. Haris’ unsoldierly conduct. Meanwhile Genl. Lee sent over to me in the midnight a note saying he was sorry to hear that my division was straggling to which I replied it was done for the first time, but entirely due to the improper interference of his staff officer Colo. Marshall and that if that officer repeated the like he Genl. Lee would be short a staff officer. Collecting my Division it proceed it proceed (sic) in the usual good order – passing
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the waggon train and closed up on the column at Sailor’s Creek, which had halted, Here I got a meager breakfast from my saddle bags carried by a courier, dividing with Genl. Pickett. It was not long before Genl. Lee said for me to pass the ordnance waggons and artillery intervening and come up to the front where Genl. Longstreet was now at Rice’s Station engaged with the enemy who had crossed his back. On the way I found Genl. Lee at the junction of a wood road and he asked for a brigade to be detached which he sent down the [words omitted]?
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It was the Florida Brigade that was sent down the road and I never saw it anymore. Some time after reaching Rice’s, where Genl. Longstreet was engaged with the enemy lightly – Genl. Lee told that Genl. Longstreet was being the more vigorously pressed ordered me up to his support – and as we moved up in line of battle to reinforce Genl. Longstreet – Genl. Lee riding along with me. He complained that I should not have gotten mad at Colo. Marshall’s conduct and written him as I had done – to which
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I replied – reasserting my conclusion of Colo. Marshall [‘s] interference with my Division and the determined purpose to rid him of a staff officer if the like should again occur. Just then Colo. Venable of Genl. Lee’s staff rode up and enquired of Genl. Lee if he received the message he had awhile ago sent him. The answer was no and Colo. Venable then said I sent you a message the enemy had captured the Confederate waggon train at Sailors Creek. Genl. Lee exclaimed where is Ewell and where is Anderson. It is strange I cannot hear from them. Lieut. Genl. Ewell commanded
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the reserves brought out from Richmond and Lieut. Genl. (temporary rank) Anderson perhaps commanded two Divisions. These commands were in the rear and had been combined at Sailor’s Creek, except some portion of Genl. Anderson’s command which however had been largely dispersed. Genl. Lee then turn(ed) to me saying Genl. Mahone I have no troops and you will have to go to Sailor’s Creek – and by then the left flank the Division charged for the direction of Sailor’s Creek.
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Genl. Lee rode with me and as we passed saw some of our fleeing troops hotly pursued by Federal Cavalry on the road I had but lately passed over. Reaching the high ground over looking the open ground bordering upon Sailor’s Creek – a sluggish little stream flowing into the Appomattox. Here the scene beggars description. Genl. Lee surveying the field, straightened himself in the saddle asking more of the soldiers, if possible, than ever, exclaimed as if to himself -–My God has this army dissolved. Recovering self control for the moment lost, I replied no Genl.
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here is a division ready to do its duty and he returning to himself said yes Genl. there are some brave men left. From this elevated position overlooking Sailor’s Creek, the massive columns of the enemy's infantry could be seen deploying in good order on the opposite of the field as if to prepare for an advance attack or to guard against a resolute assault. While below and on the main road which the waggon train has been following, where it crosses the
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Sailor’s Creek, could be [words omitted] on artillery gun slowly firing. Genl. [words omitted] thought as I did that Genl. Gordon was there, resisting the advance of the Federals, but this was not so, for Genl. Gordon with whatever force he commanded was some time ago gone. It turned out to be Genl. Rooney Lee’s Cavalry. As Genl. Lee sat upon his horse – the finest figure of a man I ever saw, and beheld the scene before him – with an approaching band of people, not soldiers – for not one of them carried a musket – fleeing from the disaster he said to me Genl. Mahone
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will you keep those people back? He always spoke of the Federals as those people. The Division was quickly placed in line of battle although it was apparent to me, that the enemy slowed and would not likely make any further advance that evening. It was too late in the evening. It was nearing twilight. Meanwhile this band of fleeing people – men without guns – many without hats all mingled with teamsters riding their mules with
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laughing faces – and a Confederate flag here and there – and surrounded Genl. Lee and were hollowing Hurrah for Genl. Lee. I hurried to find him, himself holding up a Confederate battle flag – as if to encourage and rally this horde to a sense of duty. I rode up and said Genl. give me that flag. These people here are in my way – there is no fight in them – let them be gone to the rear. He handed me the flag saying that is true Genl. In a few minutes I saw in the late end of the fleeing bands
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my old Division Commander now Lieut. Genl. Dick Anderson (temporary rank) and having heard Genl. Lee say that it was strange he could not hear from Ewell or Anderson, I rode down and met Genl. Anderson. I discovered at once that he had lost his heart in the cause. He was the picture, the sad picture of a man who was whipped. I said Genl. Lee wanted to see you Genl. Anderson. When he had come up to Genl. Lee I said Genl. Lee here is
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here is (sic) Genl. Anderson. Whereupon without turning his head toward Genl. Anderson, he said with severe emphasis, Genl. Anderson, take command of these stragglers and go to the rear--signalizing the emphasis by a [ ] swing of his left hand. Genl. Anderson rode on the band following him.

Shortly after Genl. Lee called me to his side and said Genl. Mahone you know this country – how are we to get away from here. No I know nothing of this region; but he rejoined did you not build the rail road -- meaning the

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South Side Railroad. No never – no such blunder as the location and construction of the road attaches to my record. I said however Genl., I know where I am and already take in the geographical features of the country so that I am quite certain as to the course of the Appomattox, but a short distance away – the location of the High Bridge and Farmville. I said if Genl. Longstreet whom had left at Rice Station, moved following the road he was on it should take him to Farmville.
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and that I could march through the woods and strike the High Bridge. Genl. Lee said he would rejoin Genl. Longstreet and take him to Farmville. You be ready we’ll leave here during the night and cross the river at High Bridge. I desired to know what I should do after crossing the river and [words omitted] be prepared to exercise your judgement. As the enemy we knew would be in close pursuit I wanted to know with the railroad and improvised bridge below for waggons, after I had crossed and he
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replied burn them. No I said not all of the High Bridge – one span will as effectively delay the enemy for our purpose as the destruction of that prodiguous structure. And I asked him to call up Colo. Tallcot commanding a Regiment of Pioneers and himself charge Colo. Tallcot with this important task of destroying the bridges. This he decided and his instructions were explicit to destroy the bridges, one span of the High Bridge at daylight and then he left for Genl. Longstreet.
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I then rode down the road to go where I supposed Genl. Gordon was and had been fronting the enemy. I quickly met Genl. Rooney Lee with his Cavalry retreating. It was a little after dark. I halted Genl. Lee, who protested we should get away – that the enemy were upon [words omitted] with an overwhelming force. NO I said Genl. Lee your father says we must keep those people back, and really there is no danger – they will not come any further tonight. So he halted and we remained there
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some hours, meanwhile being treated to a warm meal by hospitable farm house near at hand. After this supper Genl. Lee took the road with his Cavalry to Farmville and under the guidance of a colored man I marched my Division through the woods to the High Bridge. Reaching the bridge I found the rail road and improvised waggon bridge below firmly guarded by two individuals at each – with orders from Genl. Anderson to allow
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no one and nothing to cross. And there the lower bridge was surrounded by a miscellaneous caravan including the horde of stragglers, some few ambulances, some pieces of artillery and waggons. My first effort was to find Genl. Anderson, and feeling my mind was made up to take possession of the bridges, if to do so it should be necessary to [ ] down the sentinals. But my effort to find Genl. Anderson was successful. I found him a little way off from the bridge in consultation with Genl. Gordon. I was asked
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to dismount and join them – with the statement that they were discussing the situation. I said that before I do so I want Genl. Anderson to change his instructions to the sentinels I find at the bridges – so that my Division may move across the river by the Rail Road bridge, while the caravan below may cross over by the waggon. Genl. Anderson replied that Genl. Lee had ordered him to collect the stragglers. Yes I said but it would be
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to collect them on the opposite side of the river that we may reasonably expect the enemy to be there at the dawn of the day. Genl. Anderson accordingly changed his instructions to his troops and my division crossed as did the caravan. After my Division had started to cross the bridge I returned to where I found Genl. Anderson and Gordon.

They expressed the opinion that our Army had gone totally to pieces, that the time had come for surrender – and desired to know what I thought, and my answer was that as a Confederate officer

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I might offer to say that I had seen "Sailor’s Creek" and while I would follow the flag so long as there was a man to command our army. I felt that our cause was lost and that with their views as Genl. Anderson was the next ranking officer to Genl. Longstreet, that he should proceed at once to see Genl. Longstreet, state the situation to him and suggest that he see Genl. Lee and ask that Genl. Lee delegate the situation and its treatment to his officers. This programme
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and Genl. Anderson was to start right away for Genl. Longstreet. What he ever said on the subject I don’t know. At this conference brought about as I have explained I made known Genl. Lee’s instructions to Colo. Tallcot about the burning of the bridges. What command Genl. Gordon had or where it was I never knew. I urged and it was agreed that he Genl. Gordon should detail a staff officer to see that Colo. Tallcot executed Genl. Lee’s order as to the destruction of the bridge for I knew the enemy would be upon our heels early the
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next morning and that it was all important to our retreating army to impede his progress. I left and after looking so to spread the Division on the opposite side of the river, I spent the balance of the night in exploring the country for roads. Returning to my Division just as the sun could be half seen, to find that the bridges had not yet been fired and the Federal skirmish line rushing in upon them. They were
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fired at once and I had to send in a brigade to cover the work. I remember at this moment to have seen Genl. Gordon falling at the tail end of his waggons shielding him. I do not know about their fate outside of his fall and saw him no more to and including the end at Appomattox.

I took the road heading to Cumberland Church where I found Genl. Anderson and the caravan – with much accumulation including

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Colo. Carter’s battalion of Artillery which had artillery parked unhitched and was feeding. I warned him and like the gallant soldier he was did not delay upon the order of his going. He took the road leading to Lynchburg – as did the caravan under the command of Genl. Anderson. I know the enemy would be there shortly and got my Division in line of battle.
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I suppose my Division then numbered some thirty five hundred and the men had lost none of their discipline and willingness to do duty. My line was short and did not cover the ground desired so had to prolong it by placing Poague’s battalion of artillery on my right. He was a splendid officer. I had not more than fairly gotten into position when Colo. Taylor sent me a message from Genl. Lee at Farmville to do precisely what I had done and when Genl. Miles came up and made a direct but
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feeble attack on my front which was easily repulsed. Subsequently he seeing that Poague was unsupported by Infantry made a skirmish line attack in force upon his guns and for the moment took them – but in the nick of time I caught up a body of North Carolina troops – Genl. Gaines’ Division I believe, which had come up from Farmville and flung them in upon the enemy and recovered
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Poague’s guns – all of them. Meanwhile Genl. Longstreet came up and took position on our right. Later in the day Genl. Miles took my left, unprotected, with a large brigade of Federals. I saw the movement and sent to Genl. Longstreet for two brigades. Unfortunately only one reached me in time. The Federal brigade had gotten fully around my left flank and came pouring into the rear of my line, when the brigade from Genl. Longstreet cut them off and quite annihilated
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it, in its attempts to get back. This closed the fighting at Cumberland Church. Night came on and we left our line about eleven and marched all night over a terrible muddy road. During the night at Cumberland Church a flag of truce by a church fire was received. Capt. Patterson the Provost Marshal of my Division was sent over to receive the flag and he brought from Genl. Miles two things – one a letter from Genl. Grant to Genl. Lee – which
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turned out to be Grant’s first letter to Lee, suggesting that the time had come when the latter should end the unhappy struggle by the surrender of his army, and the other was my wife’s miniature with Genl. Miles’ compliments. After handing over the letter Capt. Patterson said with the compliments of Genl. Miles, I have something for you. I replied, hold Captain; I have a presentiment and I can tell you what it is You have for me – It is my wife’s daguerreotype. And straightaway he pulled the miniature out of his coat pocket
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and I said, then Genl. Miles’ command got my waggon: it is not burned; this miniature was in my trunk, in the top of which I had stowed away two hundred and sixty-five thousand brand new issued Confederate notes-money. I returned my card of tanks to Genl. Miles for the courtesy. We marched all next day and went into camp in the evening not far from Appomattox Co. Ho. in the most God forsaken neighborhood or can well conceive. My Headquarters were
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in a miserable log hut occupied by a family of deformed people – that made one shudder to behold, and whose deformity and condition forcibly suggested that we were near the end. My waggons rich with supplies for a campaign had been captured. It contained nearly a full house of all that one needs [for] sustenance and comfort and my [ ] had been captured and we had no [ ]. The bed in this miserable cabin on which I remember to have spread my oil cloth and blanket was only about four
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feet long. While there I received the extract of an order from Genl. assigning the remnant was the language of Pickett’s Division to Mahone’s Division.

The only man of this remnant I ever saw was the Major Quartermaster of that Division who reported to me the next day -–while Genl. Lee had gone to see Genl. Grant to negotiate surrender of his Army – and to the Quartermaster I answered by directing

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a courier to take him down to the line and give him a musket – that I had no use for quartermasters.

The next morning we started off a little before day and about sunrise the column was halted and shortly after a courier came from Genl. Lee summoning me to him. I found Genl. Lee with Genl. Longstreet and the former’s staff on the road side about midway the column surrounding a fence rail fire. The morning was chilly. To find Genl. Lee around a fence rail fire excited

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my notice for he had been conspicuously particular to enforce respect for private property. Genl. Lee asked his staff to retire when he said Genl. Mahone you know that I always send for you when I am in trouble. What is the matter now I said Genl. Genl. Grant has demanded the surrender of the army and I want to know what you think about it. My reply was lets warm for my teeth will chatter, and you may think I am scared. The truth is I had passed that possible stage.
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Genl. Lee responded certainly warm. I did so thoroughly and then rose and he added you know there are only two organized bodies of troops in this army, your Division and Field’s, and only about eight thousand muskets. I said I presume your object is a junction with Genl. Johnston in Western North Carolina and he said yes. Then I responded saying, This army is entitled to the most honorable terms – to be paroled here to go [words omitted] their homes – officers with their sidearms and officers and men with their personal property.
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If such terms are proffered then Genl. Lee you are called upon to discharge the most painful and yet the highest duty that can devolve upon the commander of an army. I agree to these with you in this supreme trial as well as man can, while no man can measure the anguish to you of the moment. It is your duty to surrender upon such terms. It would be criminal murder to sacrifice another life in this hopeless cause. You have here now the best men, that ever followed
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a captain, and those who have fallen a glorious sacrifice to the cause. They will cut through the enemy’s line of battle put across your path, but what then, but a harassing pursuit will follow the remnant and when you reach Johnston – how are you to rescue your army and to supply it. No sir it is your duty to surrender if the terms indicated are accorded. The Confederate government is now fleeing in a waggon. Confidence has gone in the cause. Hope has given place to despair. You are abandoning
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square miles of country and women and children non-combatants to the incidental hardships and sacrifices which accompany an invading army. At this juncture he handed me Genl. Grant’s letter of demand for surrender to read. I read it and though it was not clear whether we were to [words omitted] paroled to go [words omitted] our homes or to prison, and I urged that he go to Genl. Grant and settle the matter – that if such terms were not
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accorded we would fight it out on that field. Genl. Lee said Genl. Longstreet who was at the time leaning on a sapling and regaling in a dry smoke – What do you say? I agree with Mahone was the laconic response of the war worn hero: but said Genl. Lee what will the country think of me – and my response was the country will approve whatever you do – go to Grant. He expressed the fear that it was too late and that he would be unable to find
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Grant. I said no – there[‘s] your horse and straightaway he mounted and proceeded to find Genl. Grant – saying as he started Genl. Longstreet you will take command. There was a flag of truce now proceeding in front. Genl. Longstreet directed me to place my division in line of battle facing the north – Genl. Fields covered the rear. As soon as I had ordered my Division to its position, I saw Genl.
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Fields and suggested that he send out a flag – that [words omitted] enemy would soon be upon us and a collision should be avoided –that a flag prevailed in front. He wanted to know what was up and I replied you must infer.

As soon as my troops were in line, they began to entrench, as was the custom. They were full of spunk and were eager to have a chance at Sheridan. I ordered the entrenching he stopped. When the men began to look at each other and as if startled

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by the suspicion – seized each other and in tears and anguish gave vent to their disappointment. Officers would run the blades of their swords into the ground and break them off and the men their bayonets, till the scene was too much for me and I had to ride off. Subsequently and when our army was now surrounded by a cordon of yellow, lately as we were to call the Federal Cavalry I rode forward to see what was going on at the
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front and there I found Genl. Lee on the road side near a little stream not far from the Appomattox Court House – Standing to himself and some of his staff some sixty feet away. Exchanging compliments with Genl. Lee I passed on to his staff. Not long (after) there came suddenly Federal officer with courier following, from the direction of the Court House. Nearing Genl. Lee at about one hundred feet he halted, dismounted and then approached Genl. Lee and about thirty feet from Genl. Lee he halted and formally saluted the General, and placed his cap under his left arm.
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Colo. Walter H. Taylor of the Genl. staff was directed to approach the Federal officer and did: with whose note or message he referred to Genl. Lee, and quickly returned to the Federal officer with a reply. The Federal officer again saluted Genl. Lee, put on his cap, remounted his horse and departed in the direction when he came. A while later this officer returned and went through a same graceful approach and respectfully addressed Genl. Lee. His note was
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received by the same staff officer and the answer returned as in the first visit. When the Federal officer repeating his salutation departed as before. Genl. Lee then tore apparently the note he had received into many pieces and [disappointedly] stamped [words omitted] into the ground. He now mounted his horse and with a staff officer rode off in the direction the Federal officer had come and gone. A more sublime spectacle I never witnessed than the one which the Federal officer by his graceful and very officer like conduct made up on this occasion.
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After the completion of the details of surrender, which was my part, I went over to Genl. Lee’s headquarters to bid him goodbye. I sat with him in the front part of his tent. He was obviously full of grief – offering himself no out sign beyond the watering eye. He said that Genl. Meade had just left his headquarters – and that the Federal General was greatly interested to know that the effective force of the Confederate army at the time of the evacuation of its lines covering Richmond and Petersburg did not exceed thirty-six
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thousand of all units – that he Genl. Meade had never estimated his force at less than sixty thousand. Genl. Lee observed that he had advised the Confederate authorities at the start – that the contest on which we had entered could not be overestimated and our chance to win was to be found by throwing the whole military or fighting power of the Confederacy vigorously into the struggle, which while not saying so, he manifestly though had not been done. In the winter proceeding the evacuation he said that he advised Mr. Davis to make terms
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that it would be impossible for him when spring came and the campaign opened for him to get away. Roads bad and transportation poor, while the army confronting him was full handed and fresh, with every means of movement personally at hand: and Mr. Davis he said replied no, you must fight. I stated to Genl. Lee that just there he had made a mistake. That he was in fact the Confederacy – enjoying the affections, confidence of all that those affected – and he should have taken matters in his own hands – held a conference with his officers – told them the situation and they would have commissioned him in behalf of the Army to see Grant and offer a settlement. He replied, but there was the government at Richmond and I said yes, and I would have taken my decision over there and dispersed it. He asked me what we should do now – and my answer prompted by the emotion normal under such circumstances, for no man in my way could have been more ardently desirous of dissolving the nation, was that if an uninhabited place could be found, I would
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wish that all those of the Confederate cause, could make it, and there eke out an existence as best we might. But on that he said could not (be) done – we should all go home – respect the government and obey the laws and I have no reason to suspect that he ever entertained any other thought. He was the most [ ] and proudest man I ever saw. He had no appreciation of a joke. Polite, but stern and matter of fact in all things. His long service in the regular army had
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[left] him with a reverence for authority and a rigid respect for rules and regulations which were unfortunate and hurtfull for one in command of [an] army of volunteers. He should have gone to the field unfettered and his will should have been the law. I remember on one occasion when a brigade in the Division I commanded had severely run down and could no longer relied on to do duty, that he sent for me and wanted to know what could be done to restore the brigade to its former fighting tone. I said the Brigade needs only the right person to command.
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The Brigade commander was on sick leave. Genl. [Lee] replied but what are we to do with him and my reply was let him have an indefinite leave or promote him to the command of some territory where there is to be no war. He wanted to know who was the man for the Brigade and my answer was Captain Grandy--then a volunteer on my staff and one of the brightest officers I ever knew. What he said jump all the Colonels of the brigade and I said yes--not one of them is fit for command. Well, Genl.
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Lee said you know I can't appoint a Brigadier but I will ask the War Department to approve Captain Grandy and I told him in that case I would issue my order that evening assigning Capt. Grandy to the command of the brigade and I did that very thing.

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