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and anon the flag would wig-wag on Gregg, but Wagner was still; then that on Wagner, but Gregg's did not reply, and so it seemed that hours passed. At last both flags waved. The key was touched once and again. There was no answering explosion.'
Again in this report we find the following:
"Though non-combatants, none ran greater risks than the Signal Corps. Perched on the highest and most conspicuous spots of Battery Gregg, flag in hand, the cynosure of all eyes, both friend and foe, exposed to the fire of sharpshooters and artillery, often their special aim, in the thick as well as the surcease of the conflict, the wig-wag of their flags conveyed to the commandant at Charleston, the needs of the garrison, or received from him orders for defence. By their intelligent service, likewise the dispatches passing from fleet to shore were read, so that forewarned by them on several occasions, the Confederates were forearmed, and ready so as to repel, with little loss, assaults that would otherwise have been fatal."
Such is the tribute paid to the Signal Corps by a disinterested party, one whose record is such that his words of praise would be heard with feelings of pride by any veteran, however brave he may have shown himself on many a hard fought battlefield. Such we are proud to claim as our record, and submitting the same, is there one of you who will challenge our right to the grand title of "Veterans of the Lost Cause?"
[From the Richmond (Va.) Dispatch, April 25, 1897.]
BURNING OF RICHMOND.
Incidents of the City's Evacuation Described.
LAST TO CROSS MAYO'S BRIDGE.
Experiences of an Officer on the Retreat.
"SUNNY SIDE," ALBEMARLE Co., VA., April 6, 1897.
To the Editor of the Dispatch:
During part of the month of February and during March, 1865, the Second Battalion of Virginia Reserves (boys between sixteen and eighteen, and old men between forty-five and fifty, commanded by the undersigned) were stationed in the City of Richmond on guard duty, having been withdrawn from the lines nearly opposite Fort Harrison, about the 15th of February. On the afternoon of Saturday, the 1st of April, 1865, I went down on a small steamer to "Wilton," the home of my friend, Colonel W. C. Knight, and spent Sunday with him and his family. I expected to return to Richmond early Monday morning. During Sunday all was quiet on the north side of James river, but away to the south we could hear sounds that indicated a serious engagement. The Colonel and myself in the afternoon walked down nearly opposite Drewry's Bluff, when a steamer-the one I came down on Saturday-passed down, loaded, as we thought, with Federal prisoners. As it passed by rapidly, we heard from the boat that Richmond was to be evacuated, and that was the last trip the boat would make. As all was so very
quiet in our neighborhood, we did not credit this report. About 10 o'clock P. M. Sunday I retired, and before I had fallen asleep the Colonel came to my door, knocked, and informed me that the lines on the north side were being evacuated; that all of his horses and wagons had been just then impressed, and were to be used in moving stores, etc. I was then about nine miles from the city, and my quarters were out in the neighborhood of what was formerly known. as Buchanan Spring, so there was nothing for me to do but walk about twelve miles. It was then 11 o'clock at night. I placed in my haversack a small piece of hambone and a loaf of bread, which
good Mrs. Knight gave me, little dreaming that I would get nothing. more to eat for more than three days.
ORDERS TO BURN.
Reaching my quarters in the city about 2 o'clock A. M. of the 3d, my adjutant, Linden Kent, a youth about eighteen (who afterwards. became a distinguished lawyer in Washington city, and died a few years since), showed me an order from General Ewell, directing all the tobacco warehouses, then full of tobacco, to be burned at a certain signal. He and Captain Herron, of Orange, the ranking officer in my absence (Captain W. T. Early, of Albemarle, and Major James Strange, of Fluvanna, then being absent, sick), had made all the arrangements necessary to carry this order into effect. I directed Captain Herron and Adjutant Kent, so soon as the signal was given, to fire these buildings, then pass over the river on Mayo's bridge and follow the army. Being dead tired, I threw myself down to rest, fell asleep, and did not waken until the arsenal exploded. This woke me up most effectually. I threw my blanket over my shoulder, sword and haversack on one side, and canteen, with a little brandy, on the other. I struck out for Mayo's bridge, some one or two miles distant. The streets were quiet and apparently deserted. When I reached Mayo's bridge the small bridge over the canal connecting the basin with the dock was on fire on one side, a burning canal-boat having drifted up against it.
LAST TO CROSS.
As I was passing over the bridge a few cavalry videttes passed me. I shall ever believe we were the last Confederates who crossed the bridge, for that had also been fired and was now in flames on one side. As I climbed the slope beyond the bridge, the rising sun was just beginning to peep over the eastern hills. I turned and looked back; the city of Richmond was in flames. From all the windows of the Gallego Mills tongues of flame were bursting out; dense clouds of smoke, sparks and flames were reaching skyward. Were I a painter, even now, after thirty-two years, I could paint the scene. The sight was awfully grand. I felt the end was nigh. After gazing on this sublime spectacle for a time, I trudged on in pursuit of my command. After proceeding about a mile, I met Mr. Davis, father of Dr. H. Wythe Davis, of your city, and brother-in-law of Colonel Knight, who lived nearly opposite Wilton. He was on horseback,
and insisted upon my taking his horse. I declined to do so at first, but he remarked that I had better take him, because if I did not the Yankees certainly would. He had dismounted and tendered me the bridle. I took it, mounted; we shook hands and parted, he to return to his home, and I to follow and overtake my command. About I o'clock P. M. I overtook them, and we proceeded together with other commands, things being a good deal mixed.
THE OBJECTIVE POINT.
Our objective point was, as I learned, Burkeville Junction. On the night of the 3d of April, we encamped about twelve or fifteen miles from Manchester. On the 4th we crossed the Appomattox on the railroad bridge at Mattoax Station. On the 5th we passed Amelia Courthouse.
Owing to some trouble in our front, we made very slow progress, and that night we marched, or tried to march, all night, but only progressed a short distance; frequently we would move a few yards and then halt for an hour or two. Just before day we were ordered into camp. Captain Herron and I spread our blankets together and fell asleep. We had not slept more than an hour, when the ominous long roll sounded through the camps. We immediately fell into line and marched on. Up to this time the command had received no rations. Seeing that my men were nearly exhausted for want of food I directed two of my most active men to push forward a little distance from the main road, and try to secure a mutton, and rejoin us on the march. On we proceeded, very slowly, owing to the constant dashes of Sheridan's cavalry on our wagon train. We had not gone more than two or three miles, when we came to the two men with a dressed mutton hanging up near the road. We stacked arms and were about to divide our plunder, when Sheridan's cavalry struck our wagon train a few hundred yards in advance of us.
We at once fell into ranks, moved on, and in the excitement of the moment forgot our mutton, except that your writer pulled off a kidney and put it in his haversack, which delicacy he broiled on a few coals during a temporary halt. About two o'clock P. M. we approached Sailor's creek. When about a mile from the creek, the main road bore to the right. We passed directly forward, through two gate posts (I presume along a private road). As we wound down the hill, we saw on our left a house flying the yellow flag. We crossed the creek on a few fence rails thrown in. The creek was shallow, but marshy. As we went up the hill, the road bearing to
the left, we came to several pieces of artillery and caissons which had been abandoned, and near them I found a soldier of this county -R. D. Burruss, by name-badly wounded, who belonged to the 46th Regiment, Virginia Volunteers, Wise's Brigade (this regiment I had commanded for about two years). He informed me that nearly all the brigade had been killed, wounded, or captured, around Petersburg, or on the retreat.
GROUP OF OFFICERS.
After going a short distance further, I came to a group of mounted officers, consisting of Generals Ewell, Custis Lee, Barton and others. In a few moments the artillery of the enemy opened on us. For myself, I must confess I felt somewhat excited, but General Ewell remarked in his ordinary tones: "Tomatoes are very good; I wish I had some." This remark, under the circumstances, at once calmed my excitement, and with great difficulty I restrained my disposition to laugh.
In a few minutes we were moved to the right, and as the ground was rough, hilly and thick with trees and undergrowth, I dismounted and turned my horse over to my orderly.
We proceeded a half a mile or more and were halted a little below the crest of a steep ridge, with a deep ravine in front of us, and another ridge opposite us as high, if not higher than our ridge. From our position the opposite crest was distant some 200 to 300 yards. On our extreme left (being the left of the entire corps) was the naval battalion, under Commodore Tucker, then came my little command of some ninety muskets, then came the command of Colonel Crutchfield (who was killed not far from where I stood). My belief has always been that there was a considerable interval between Crutchfield's right and the next command. I think the troops named above numbered not more than 600 muskets.
Soon after we took our position the artillery of the enemy opened upon us, but the range was too high and did no damage, except to the tree tops. After the artillery had ceased firing a line of skirmishers appeared on the crest of the opposite ridge, but soon retired from a brisk fire opened by our line. After they retired a long line of infantry appeared on the opposite ridge. Our men opened on them and for a time there was brisk musketry fire on both sides. We had the advantage of position; the enemy were shooting below