When he evacuated Petersburg on the night of April 2, 1865, Lee had with him probably not more than 12,500 infantry — fewer men than in any of the five Federal corps on the south side of the James — and on the whole of the front he had only from 28,000 to 30,000 infantry moving or preparing to move. After the heavy losses on the right on April 1, and the casualties sustained in the Federal assault of April 2, he could not have mustered even that number had not the local defense troops and many of the detailed men and convalescents quit Richmond and joined in the retreat. Not all of these, of course, were efficient troops. Nor, for that matter, could all the units of the veteran army itself be accounted fit. Wilcox's and Heth's divisions, two of the largest in the army, had been shattered and divided. Pickett's had almost ceased to exist. Johnson's was worn by long service in the trenches. For stiff fighting the next day, in case he was immediately pursued, Lee could have relied only on Field's division of Longstreet's corps and on Gordon's small and weary corps. Of the troops ordered to join Lee at Amelia Courthouse from quiet sectors, two divisions and no more than two — Mahone's and Kershaw's, — were in good condition, and Kershaw's was very thin. Nearly all the cavalry were close to exhaustion and were still detached. The only exception was Gary's small brigade which was to accompany the infantry from the north side of James River. The artillery counted about 200 guns,1 some of them on weak carriages, pulled by feeble horses in rotten harness.2 The wagons exceeded 1000, most of them with four animals.3 When the trains were fully p59 spread out they occupied •thirty miles of road,4 heavy impedimenta for an army whose escape required speed.
Despite all this, the start was auspicious.5 After day broke on April 3 and the men had been rested by the roadside, a curious spirit, half of elation, spread down the ranks. Lee himself is credited, though not on specific authority, with saying, "I have got my army safe out of its breastworks, and in order to follow me, the enemy must abandon his lines, and can derive no further benefit from his railroads or James River."6 He appeared to be relieved that he was on open ground again and he seemed confident he would be able to reach Johnston.7 Everything, however, depended on a speedy and uninterrupted retreat. The infantry, having subsisted on the meagrest of rations, while remaining for the most part in fixed positions, could not endure fighting by day and marching by night. The teams would soon break down on the muddy roads.
There was nothing on the first day to indicate a rapid or vigorous pursuit,8 but if that lead of one day were lost all might be lost. For it was now more manifest than ever that when Grant found the direction of the army's retreat and set out after Lee, all the advantage would be with the Federals. Lee's route above the Appomattox was westerly, but it was twenty degrees farther north than was that of Grant, moving below the river. Lee's immediate objective, Amelia Courthouse, could be reached before Grant could overtake him, but beyond Amelia, Lee's road turned to the southwest, down the Richmond and Danville Railroad, and crossed the low trajectory of Grant's march. From Petersburg to Burkeville, the junction of the Southside and of the Richmond and Danville Railroads, the distance Lee had to cover was •fifty-five miles, by way of Goode's bridge. Grant's route from Sutherland Station to Burkeville, via the Namozine road, was •thirty-six miles, nineteen miles shorter than Lee's. That is to say, Lee operated on the arc and Grant on the chord;9 Lee had to follow the dotted and Grant the black line, as shown on page 60. p60
In the knowledge that the time-factor would settle the campaign — and with the campaign the war — Lee urged the troops to their best effort. He was in the vicinity of Summit when a message arrived from Judge James H. Cox of Clover Hill inviting Lee and Longstreet and their staff officers to dine with them. Men who had subsisted for weeks on the stern fare of the trenches were delighted at this prospect of enjoying the hospitality of a Virginia home of distinction, and they gladly rode over to Clover Hill through a mile of woods. The house was crowded with guests and, despite the excitement of the retreat, the place took on a festive air for an hour. When the mint juleps were served, the General barely touched his and enjoyed, instead, a glass of ice water. "Do you know," he said to Miss Kate Cox, the daughter of the house, "that this glass of cold water is, I believe, far more refreshing than the drinks that they are enjoying so much?"
Soon, of course, the conversation centred on the movement of the army. "General Lee," said Miss Cox, "we shall still gain our cause; you will join General Johnston and together you will be victorious."
Miss Kate had been assigned to sit by Longstreet and to help him cut his food, for he was still unable to use his right arm; but when dinner was announced Lee insisted that she stay by his side. As coffee was passed at the close of the meal, Lee put cream in his.
"General Lee," said the vivacious Miss Kate," do you take cream in your after-dinner coffee?"
The weary soldier smiled. "I have not taken coffee for so long that I would not dare to take it in its original strength. Kate understood this better when one of the staff confided to her that Lee sent all his coffee to the hospitals.
Soon, of course, the officers of the little cavalcade had to turn their backs on the pleasant Cox home and rejoin the long line of ragged men streaming westward through the spring mud.11 Already, Lee found, some of the half-starved teams were collapsing as they tried to pull the heavy ordnance wagons. Men too weak to keep up with the column were beginning to straggle.12 Then the discovery was made that the high water had covered the approaches to Bevill's bridge over the Appomattox, •twenty-five miles northwest of Petersburg. This was not a light matter. For Bevill's was the nearest of the three bridges across the north-and‑south stretch of the Appomattox on the roads to Amelia. Longstreet's and Gordon's troops had been ordered to use this bridge, while Mahone, his train, and Gordon's wagons crossed at Goode's, the next span up the river. Ewell and the men from Richmond, according to the plan, were to have their pontoons at Genito crossing, •two miles and a half above the railroad trestle at Mattoax.13 With Bevill's bridge impassable, Longstreet and Gordon had to be rerouted via Goode's.14 This taxed that bridge and caused congestion and delay which were increased as the fall of the flood-waters lowered the pontoons and made it necessary for the engineers to readjust the approaches.15 To make a bad condition worse, Lee learned, late in the afternoon, from a p62 Mr. Haxall, who lived near Goode's bridge, that pontoons had not been laid at Genito. It developed that the engineer bureau had not dispatched the boats to Mattoax as directed. Ewell's men were moving toward a stream they could not cross. Lee had to dispatch a courier to Ewell to acquaint him with the facts and to instruct him, if he could do no better, to move down to Goode's bridge and use that.16 The situation is set out graphically in the sketch on this page.
Sketch showing the routes to the bridges across the Appomattox above Petersburg and the condition of those bridges, April 3, 1865.
By nightfall on the 3d the troops from Petersburg had covered an average of not less than •twenty-one miles. Longstreet had crossed Field's and Wilcox's men over the Appomattox at Goode's and had taken up a line to the west of the bridge in order to cover the passage of the wagons and of the artillery.17 Gordon, who was p63 behind Longstreet, acted as rearguard of the principal column the next day and the next.18 Mahone had left the Howlett Line a little before daylight on the 3d and was well on the road to Goode's bridge. Lee had heard nothing from Ewell, who was supposed to be marching to Genito bridge with Custis Lee's command and Kershaw's division. It is doubtful whether Lee had seen against the sky any reflection of the great fire that had been starting in Richmond as Kershaw moved out. He certainly did not know, though of course he assumed, that the Federals that morning had reached the objective of nearly four years' fighting and had entered the capital city.
Anderson by this time, the night of the 3d, had approached Bevill's bridge. Then Lee learned through an exhausted staff officer the confused story of what had happened on the extreme right after the line had been broken early on the morning of the 2d. In obedience to orders, after Pickett had been defeated at Five Forks, Anderson had started about dark on April 1 to go to Church Crossing, near Ford's Station on the Southside Railroad, to support the cavalry.19 Meantime, after the battle, what was left of Pickett's command — nearly all of it had been captured — had found its way to the Southside Railroad, whence it proceeded to Exeter Mills in the hope of crossing the Appomattox and rejoining the army.20 At the mills, Pickett had found no bridge and had discovered that the river was too high to be forded. Anderson had reached Church Crossing at 2 A.M. on the morning of April 2 and had formed a junction with Fitz Lee's cavalry, but had received no word of Pickett. Couriers were dispatched to find Pickett and to give him orders to report to Anderson.21 Pickett was duly located, very early in the morning of April 2, and he set out to march to Anderson, but he had not gone far before he met stragglers from Heth's and Wilcox's divisions. These men, who had been forced from the line in the Federal assault on the morning of April 2, had been turned to the Confederate right while the rest of their commands had been driven toward the left, that is, toward Fort Gregg. Pickett subsequently stated that he ascertained from these men what had happened and p64 that he decided to continue up the river and join Anderson, who, as he learned, was moving toward Amelia Courthouse. So Pickett changed his route and carried the débris of his command farther up the south bank of the Appomattox. That night, April 2, Hunton's brigade, which had been having hard fighting, rejoined Pickett.22 Anderson, for his part, on the morning of that same fateful 2d of April, found only a strong cavalry force in front of his infantry and of Fitzhugh Lee's command. But the horses of the Confederate troopers were so weary, and the men were so tired, that he did not consider it wise to take the offensive until soldiers and mounts had rested. While he was waiting, information of the disaster at Petersburg reached him. Later he got orders to retire behind the Appomattox at Bevill's, which was the nearest bridge across that stream.23 On the 3d, accompanied by the cavalry, Anderson began to carry out these orders, and, after a day of many disturbances,24 reached the vicinity of Bevill's bridge. There he caught up with Pickett.
During the time Pickett was marching up the Appomattox on the 2d, while Anderson was resting at Church Crossing, preparatory to a similar move, the broken parts of Wilcox's and Heth's divisions — McGowan's, Scales's, McRae's,º and perhaps some of McComb's stragglers — got together under General Heth at Sutherland's Tavern. They numbered about 1200 muskets25 and they proceeded to construct a hasty line by piling up fence rails. Two attacks they succeeded in beating off, but when the enemy turned their left flank and got in their rear they had to retreat hurriedly. Many were captured; a remnant got across the river. They kept moving, at intervals, until the night of the 3d, when they rejoined their divisions at Goode's bridge.26 Although there thus were three points of concentration — Church Crossing, Sutherland's Tavern, and Exeter Mills — Anderson, who had nearly all the cavalry of the army with him, could not get the troops together. Each command fought or marched alone, in an effort to escape. But now, at last, on the night of the 3d, Lee was in touch with all the units that had made their way from the Petersburg line, and he had no reason to suppose the forces from the Richmond and Howlett p65 lines would not speedily overtake him. It looked as if the reconcentration would be effected at Amelia Courthouse with no further losses.27
About 7 o'clock the next morning, April 4, Lee learned that the courier who had been sent to Ewell with orders the previous evening had come back and had reported that he had not been able to hear anything of the troops moving from Richmond. Lee did not know what this implied, so he sent the dispatch off again with a postscript in which he gave Ewell discretionary orders to cross the river where he could, and to move as soon as practicable to Amelia Courthouse.28 To cover the possibility that Ewell might be compelled to use Goode's bridge, Lee directed that Mahone's division should remain there and should prevent the crossing until it was known that Ewell was over the Appomattox.
After Longstreet passed the rest of his command over Goode's bridge,29 early in the morning of the 4th, he soon met enemy cavalry. Contact meant, of course, that Grant would speedily be apprized of the army's position. Indeed, he might already have learned it. Skirmishing began and continued intermittently on the left flank as the column moved toward Amelia Courthouse, •eight and a half miles away. Lee himself crossed the stream shortly after 7:30.30 Near the bridge a young staff officer came up on his horse to report his command in good condition and awaiting orders. Lee heard him through and then, looking straight at him, asked: "Did those people surprise your command this morning?" The staff officer, much astonished, answered in the negative and inquired if General Lee had received any such report. The General answered that he had not, but that, judging from appearances, something urgent had kept the young men around headquarters from making their toilet, so he thought perhaps they had been surprised. Then he pointed to the officer's boots. On one leg the trousers were stuffed hastily into the boot. On the other they were outside. The youngster had been unconscious of this and, when he looked, he blushed shamefacedly, took his rebuke in silence, saluted, and started to ride off. Seeing the officer's p66 mortification, Lee called him back and told him that he only intended to remind him that on a retreat those who were near the commanders must take particular care to avoid anything that looked like demoralization.31
General Lee then rode on with the advance of Longstreet's corps. Gordon's veterans followed. The troops had now been out of the trenches thirty-six hours, with their wagon train strung out on the muddy roads behind them. The little bread and meat they chanced to have with them at the time of the Federal onslaught of the 2d had been consumed. The men were hungry, and for such long marches as they were expected to make they needed ample food. That had been anticipated in advance of the retreat. The commissary general had carried out his instructions to collect a special reserve of rations in Richmond and had accumulated some 350,000 there. Lee's expectation was to supply the troops from this reserve as the men arrived at Amelia Courthouse. Then he expected to move directly down the railroad toward Danville. At other points on the railway, as he advanced, additional supplies were to be sent him. Having changed his base to Danville, he reasoned that, as he marched, his line of communications would be shortened hourly.
On reaching Amelia Courthouse, during the morning of April 4, still with the van of Longstreet's corps, Lee's first thought was for the commissary stores. He found ordnance supplies in abundance — 96 full caissons, 200 boxes of artillery ammunition, and 164 boxes of artillery harness32 — but no food. More than 30,000 hungry men were moving on a village where there was not an army ration!
This meant, at the least, a full day's delay, for the army must be fed, and the only way to do this was to halt the march, send out the wagons into the impoverished country round about, and impress what could be found. And a day's delay entailed the loss of the army's advantage in time. Even that might not be all. For if the enemy should come up during the night and cut the railroad ahead of the army, where could rations be found for the next day, or the next? The possibilities alarmed Lee as had nothing that had occurred up to that time on the retreat. His anxiety p67 showed itself in his face. He began to look haggard, though his general bearing was as calm and, to some eyes, as confident as ever.33
It was, of course, no easy task to disentangle wagons from the train and to send them out foraging over roads about which the teamsters knew nothing, but this was done at once. Lee in person addressed to the planters of the surrounding country an appeal for help in these terms:
Amelia C. H., April 4, 1865.
To the Citizens of Amelia County, Va.
The Army of Northern Virginia arrived here today, expecting to find plenty of provisions, which had been ordered to be placed here by the railroad several days since, but to my surprise and regret I find not a pound of subsistence for man or horse. I must therefore appeal to your generosity and charity to supply as far as each one is able the wants of the brave soldiers who have battled for your liberty for four years. We require meat, beef, cattle, sheep, hogs, flour, meal, corn, and provender in any quantity that can be spared. The quartermaster of the army will visit you and make arrangements to pay for what he receives or give the proper vouchers or certificates. I feel assured that all will give to the extent of their means.
R. E. Lee, General.34
The only other thing Lee could do immediately to procure food was to order supplies sent up the Richmond and Danville Railroad from Danville. A dispatch directing the immediate shipment of 200,000 rations to Amelia was sent by Colonel Cole for transmission from Jetersville, •seven miles below Amelia.35
p68 Some of the troops were silent and depressed when they received no rations, but in the Second Corps they still had heart enough to cheer Lee when he passed.36 The veterans, in the main, were as cheerful as of yore. They still, as one observer testified of those he saw, were "in excellent morale, and had never been readier for desperate fighting than at that moment. Men and officers were tired and hungry, but laughing; and nowhere could be seen a particle of gloom, of shrinking, or ill-humor, sure symptoms in the human animal of a want of 'heart of hope.' "37
Proud as Lee must have been of the spirit his men displayed, he knew that it could not long be sustained in the face of continued hunger and attack. He must recover as many hours as he might of the day's lead he was losing. This could be done only by rapid marching. And rapid marching could be made possible, if possible at all, only by a reduction of the wagon train and artillery which had encumbered the road and had slowed down the retreat, while calling for the detachment of heavy guards. So, during the morning of the 4th,38 General Pendleton was set to work bringing down the artillery to the needs of the army, and Colonel Corley was directed to do the same thing with the wagons. The excess animals were to be used to help those that remained with the trains. The surplus guns were to be moved by rail to Danville, if practicable. The wagons that were not required with the troops were to be sent around the army in such a way that, though they would have a longer route, the army would be between them and the Federals. Lee's own road was to be southwest, along the railroad. The wagons were to cross the railroad, strike west, and then, at a safe distance, turn south. The soldiers, in other words, were to follow the hypotenuse to the acute angle at Danville, while the wagons were to go around the right angle.
In case the artillery could not be sent by rail, it was to follow the p69 route of the wagon trains. This seemed the safest course to follow and the only one that gave any promise of speeding up the movement of the army.39
While this work was being done, during the forenoon of the 4th, Hill's corps was arriving at Amelia. Wilcox's division reported at 1 o'clock.40 Some units of Heth's division were up by 4 P.M. — among them McRae'sº brigade, now reduced to about 150 men.41 Gordon was halted at Scott's shop, •about five miles from Amelia.42 Mahone was still at Goode's bridge waiting for Ewell.43 Anderson and most of the cavalry, harried by skirmishing,44 were marching up from the southeast and at nightfall would be about five miles distant.45 Some of the mounted units were beginning to put in an appearance at Amelia.46 Only the position of the troops from Richmond remained in doubt. They had now been on the road nearly two days and had not reported.
But the enemy was advancing, too. That was as ominous as the lack of provisions. South of the railroad and beyond Amelia, on the way to Burkeville, the Federal cavalry were to be seen. Longstreet moved out Field, Wilcox, and Heth and attempted to bring on a fight, but he found the Unionists wary.47 Lee, himself, anxious to know the strength of the bluecoats, set out to reconnoitre behind the Fourteenth Virginia Cavalry, of Rooney Lee's division. He went some distance down the Avery Church road and soon found himself where the regiment was skirmishing with a Federal mounted outpost. Just as he rode up, the Federals dashed up and were met with a countercharge. Probably before he realized it, the General was spurring fast toward the approaching squadrons. Most of the Federals veered off, after an exchange of shots, but one of them rode straight on. In an instant three or four pistols were turned on him. Lee divined what had happened. "Don't shoot," he cried out. The men heard him and lowered their weapons. One of them caught the Federal's bridle p70 and brought the horse to a halt. Then they saw what had prompted Lee to give the order: the Federal was wounded and unable to control his runaway mount.48
At nightfall the Federals withdrew from in front of Amelia, and Longstreet's troops were able to leave their line of battle.49 But there was rest neither of mind nor of body for Lee. His tents were pitched in the large yard of a house occupied temporarily by Mrs. Francis L. Smith, a refugee from Alexandria, whose husband was one of General Lee's countless kinsmen.50 It was a quiet place of trees and grass and at another time it would have been a pleasant camp site. As it was, Lee was busy with troop dispositions and was wretched over the hunger of his men. Always sensitive to their suffering, he must have been tortured to know that after struggling for two days through the mud on a march of •from thirty-five to forty miles, they should have to sleep on empty stomachs and with no assurance of food on the morrow.
Now, at last, came word from Ewell. He had reached the Appomattox and had found no bridge on his designated route, but he had gone to Mattoax and reported from that point, telling General Lee that the engineers were planking the railroad bridge so that he could cross there.51 Lee answered with instructions and encouragement.52 He surmised that Ewell would have passed the stream by the time he wrote, 9 P.M., and in this he was not greatly mistaken. Kershaw of Longstreet's corps and the scratch division of Custis Lee, 6000 men altogether,53 were behind the Appomattox by night.54 Mahone, who had been holding the bridge at Goode's, passed over also and set out for Amelia.55 In anticipation p71 of the approach of Ewell's wagon train, which was moving by a roundabout road, Lee at 11 o'clock issued orders for it to follow some of the roads designated for the first stages of the movement of the surplus wagons and artillery, on the right of the Richmond and Danville Railroad. This general route was prescribed for the wagon train of Mahone and of the rest of the Third Corps.56
The situation, then, at the end of a torturing day was this: The reconcentration was nearly complete, but it was bringing more men together where no food was available. If the troops were to be fed at all, it was from what the wagons could collect in the adjacent country, and from what might be sent from Danville in answer to Cole's telegram. Should food be forthcoming on the morrow, then the army could move down the railroad and, being no longer slowed down by so large a wagon train, might regain some of the time it had lost in seeking provisions around Amelia. Still again, if they had good fortune, the excess wagons and artillery on the right of the railroad might reach their destination unharmed. There were many "ifs," however, and nearly all of them were contingent on the enemy's movements. Those movements, as yet, had disclosed nothing more formidable than cavalry that had disappeared when darkness came. Although the odds were all against Lee, there was still a chance of escape: twenty-four hours would dim it or bring it nearer reality. The Staunton River, a strong line, was distant only four days' forced marching, and beyond it lay Danville, where a million and a half rations were stored.57
On the morning of April 5, a showery, unhappy day,58 the wagons began to come in from foraging. One glance at them told the tale: they were almost empty. The farmers had scarcely anything to give or to sell. The county had already been stripped of food and of provender. It was worse than a disappointment; it was a catastrophe. Often the loyal old army had been hungry, but now starvation seemed a stark reality. Wet and gloomy, the men were slow to take their places in the ranks and to test what was, perhaps, their last hope — that of marching down the road p72 far enough to find the provisions that had been ordered from Danville.
At length the surplus artillery and the wagons were started on their roundabout way to Danville, west of the railroad and beyond the right flank of the army. The caissons and boxes of shells that had been found at Amelia were destroyed, except such as could be used to renew the supply of guns with the troops.59 The trains of most of the infantry were also sent to the right and, as planned, were to move on a narrower arc than the other vehicles.60 W. H. F. Lee's cavalry division, which had come up, was dispatched down the railroad. Gary's brigade was ordered to protect the wagon train.61 Gordon's infantry were to continue to cover the rear.62
Then Longstreet began to move southwestward, behind a cavalry screen, toward Jetersville and Burkeville, the road of escape to Danville. He was followed by Mahone and presumably by Pickett.63 After them marched the rest of Anderson's troops, who had now arrived.64 While the column was extended, Ewell reported with Kershaw and Custis Lee from Richmond.65 He was put in rear of Anderson but did not move until later in the day. These troops of Ewell's had outmarched their wagon train, which had contained 20,000 good rations for Custis Lee's division. The men did not know it until the next day, if then, but that precious wagon train, when within •four miles of Amelia, was struck by Federal cavalry and destroyed.66
Before these dispositions for the march down the railroad were made, rumors came that the vehicles to the westward had been attacked — bad news, if true, for it meant that the Federal cavalry had crossed the railroad ahead of the Confederate infantry and had worked their way well around to the right flank. Fitz Lee reported after these rumors reached headquarters at Amelia. He p73 had not seen his uncle since the morning of March 29, at Petersburg, and he had lost many troopers meanwhile. But this was no time for reminiscence or explanation. He was ordered to take his own division and Rosser's and to proceed at once in the direction of Painesville, near which the wagon train was supposed to be moving.67
General Lee kept his headquarters at Amelia until the infantry were well on the road toward Jetersville, the next station beyond Amelia on the Richmond and Danville Railroad. From the village he may have heard the sound of the skirmishing that marked the advance.68 About 1 P.M. he rode forward with Longstreet, and at a distance of •about seven miles from Amelia came upon the enemy, entrenching on a well-chosen position.69 The Federals had overtaken Lee. The road of the army's escape was blocked.70
2 All the guns that could not be removed were rendered useless, O. R., 46, part 1, p1281. The ammunition depots, etc., in and around Richmond and Petersburg were destroyed — Baldwin's report, Lee MSS. — L. A good account of the explosion of the magazines will be found in Captain J. C. G., Lee's Last Campaign, 27.
3 Corley's report, Lee MSS. — L.
4 McCabe, 630.
6 Cooke, 451.
7 McCabe, 616.
8 Taylor's General Lee, 280.
9 General W. H. Stevens pointed this out in his report, Lee MSS. — L.
10 This stream is called the Roanoke below Clarksville, Va., near which the Dan and Staunton Rivers unite. Lee could hope to reach the Staunton northeast of South Boston. The best small-scale map for the whole ground of the retreat is that in O. R. Atlas, Plates CXXXVII and CXXXVIII.
11 Kate V. C. Logan: My Confederate Girlhood, 69 ff.
12 Baldwin's report, Lee MSS. — L; Dispatch of Captain A. R. H. Ranson, Lee MSS. — N.
14 Longstreet's report, Lee MSS. — K.
15 32 S. H. S. P., 68. This is an important article by Colonel T. M. R. Talcott, who commanded the engineer troops.
17 Longstreet's report, Lee MSS. — K.
18 Gordon's report, Lee MSS. — K.
19 Anderson's report, Lee MSS. — K.
20 Pickett's report, Lee MSS. — K.
21 Pickett in his report, Lee MSS. — K, said his orders were to report at Sutherland's.
22 Pickett's report, loc. cit.
23 Anderson's report, Lee MSS. — K.
25 Cooke's report, Lee MSS. — K.
26 Wilcox's MS. report, 72.
29 Longstreet's report, Lee MSS. — K.
31 21 S. H. S. P., 97.
32 Baldwin's report, Lee MSS. — L.
33 Cooke, 452; W. M. Owen, 375; Eggleston, 147; W. A. McClendon: Recollections of War Times, 229.
34 7 Confederate Veteran, 223.
35 O. R., 46, part 3, pp560, 561. This message probably was sent to Jetersville because the telegraph line had been cut between Jetersville and Amelia before the dispatch could be put on the wire at Amelia. But of the exact point where the line was broken there is no definite information. A detachment of the 1st Maine Cavalry was sent out early on April 4 to "tap the railroad," but no report of when and where it struck the line is printed (O. R., 46, part 1, p1157). The message was not telegraphed from Jetersville, either because the wire was down below that point or else because the operator knew the Federals were "listening in." On his arrival at Jetersville, Sheridan found the dispatch, sent it to Burkeville and had it transmitted to Danville, in the hope that the supplies would be forwarded and captured. The commissary in Danville, however, soon discovered the condition of the railroad and made no shipment (2 Grant, 465. See also (p68)J. S. Wise: End of an Era, pp416‑18). Grant's statement that he learned of this dispatch to Danville and notified Sheridan (2 Grant, 464), obviously was at variance with the facts. The Federal commander evidently confused this incident with one when he sent information to Sheridan from Wilson's (O. R., 46, part 3, p557). Sheridan in his report (O. R., 46, part 1, p1107) said the supplies were ordered by Cole to Burkeville from Lynchburg and from Danville, but he wrote this May 16. The account he gave on the day of the finding of the dispatch is of course to be preferred, especially as it conforms to Lee's general statement (O. R., 46, part 1, p1265). For the reason why Lee found no supplies at Amelia, see Appendix IV-2.
36 Jos. R. Stonebraker: A Rebel of '61, p95.
37 Cooke: Wearing of the Gray, 594.
40 Wilcox's MS. report, pp78‑79.
41 McRae's report, Lee MSS. — L.
46 F. M. Myers, 371.
47 Longstreet's report, Lee MSS. — K.
48 33 S. H. S. P., 375‑76. This story sounds apocryphal, but its circumstances check with facts that can be established. The time of day is based on the hour of the Federals' advance, according to their own reports.
49 Longstreet's report, Lee MSS. — K.
50 An odd fact about this camp site is told by Captain F. M. Colston (38 S. H. S. P., 5). Dispatched to Amelia at the end of February to survey the ordnance supplies there, he had spent the night at Mrs. Smith's. She had remarked her acquaintance with the Lees but had said that she had not seen the General since the commencement of the war. Glancing out at the lawn, Captain Colston remarked that before the war was over General Lee might be camped under her trees. After the close of hostilities, Mrs. Smith insisted that Colston had knowledge at the time of his visit of Lee's intention to evacuate Petersburg. He denied it. "We never talked retreat," he wrote in recounting the coincidence.
55 Stevens, loc. cit.
58 Waldrop in 3 Richmond Howitzers, 57.
60 Those of the Third Corps and of Anderson were routed on a wide arc from the start of the day's march. It is not clear when the others were put on the same roads, but they probably were kept close to the army until it was halted.
65 O. R., 46, part 1, p1283. To Custis Lee, who had the heavy artillerists of the Richmond defenses as one of his brigades, the naval battalion and Smith's artillery from the Howlett line were immediately attached (O. R., 46, part 1, p1296).
68 Longstreet's report, Lee MSS. — K.
69 Alexander, 595.
70 In her memoir of her husband (2, 596), Mrs. Davis quoted a story that when the Federals entered Richmond they found in the Executive Mansion a confidential report, prepared by General Lee, in which he set forth for the information of Congress the route he proposed to follow on his march to join Johnston. This information is said to have been used by the Federals and is alleged to have facilitated the pursuit. General Custis Lee is given as authority for this statement, which he is said to have received from General Benham of the Federal army. This tale was repeated by various Southern writers and attracted the attention of James Ford Rhodes (see Livermore, quoted infra). Among the later writers to give currency to the report were Doctor R. H. McKim (A Soldier's Recollections, 265 ff.) and Thomas Nelson Page (op. cit., 548). The facts were examined by Colonel Thomas L. Livermore (Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1906, pp87 ff.) and the story was conclusively shown to be without foundation. In addition to the reasons given by Colonel Livermore for dismissing the alleged discovery as a fable, it might be said that never, in his whole military career, did General Lee outline his strategic plans "for the information of Congress." Only to the President or to the Secretary of War, and then in cautious terms, did he ever speak of what he intended to do. In this instance, it is manifest that the alleged letter was confused with a general report Lee had made to Secretary Breckinridge on the military outlook. The paper was of interest to the Federals but of no value in shaping the pursuit. It might be added that those who circulated the story did Grant little honor in assuming that if he knew Lee's route he did not march after him with greater assurance. Grant did well, but he would have done much better had he possessed such information of Lee's plans as McClellan found at Frederick (see supra, vol. II, p410).
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