The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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Gordon for instructions, who, awhile before day, accompanied by General Fitz Lee, came to my position, when we held a council of war. General Gordon was of the opinion that the troops in our front were cavalry, and that General Fitz Lee should attack. Fitz Lee thought that they were infantry, and that Gordon should attack. They discussed the matter so long that I became impatient, and said it was the duty of some one to attack, and that too immediately; and I felt satisfied that they could be driven from the cross-roads occupied by them, which was the route it was desirable our wagon train should pursue, and that I would undertake it. Whereupon Gordon said: "Well drive them off;" I replied, "I cannot do so with my division alone, but require assistance." He then said, "You can take the other two divisions of the corps." About this time it was becoming sufficiently light to make the surrounding localities visible.

        "I then rode down and invited General Walker, who commanded a division on my left composed principally of Virginians to ride with me, showed him the position of the enemy, and explained to him my views and plan of attack. He agreed with me as to its advisability.The enemy, observing me placing these troops in position, opened upon me with four pieces of artillery. I then gave the signal to advance; at the same time Fitz Lee charged those posted at the cross-roads, when my skirmishers attacked the breastworks, which were taken without much loss on my part; also capturing several pieces of artillery and a large number of prisoners, I at the same time moving the division up to the support of the skirmishers en echelonby brigades, driving the enemy in confusion for three-quarters of a mile beyond a range of hills covered with oak under-growth.I then sent an officer to General Gordon announcing our success and that the Lynchburg road was open for the escape of the wagons, and that I awaited orders. Thereupon I received an order to withdraw, which I declined to do, supposing that General Gordon did not understand the commanding position which my troops occupied, but he continued to send me orders to the same effect which I still disregarded being under the impression that he did not comprehend our favorable location, until finally I received a message from him with an additional one as coming from General Lee to fall back. As my troops approached their position of the morning, I rode up to General Gordon and asked where I should form line of battle. He replied, "Anywhere you choose."

        "Struck by the strangeness of the reply, I asked an explanation, whereupon he informed me that we would be surrendered. I expressed very forcibly my dissent at being surrendered, and indignantly upbraided him for not giving me notice of such an intention, as I could have escaped with my division, and joined General Jo. Johnston, then in North Carolina; furthermore, that I should then inform my men of the purpose to surrender, and whomsoever desired to escape that calamity could go with me, and galloped off to carry this idea into effect. Before reaching my troops, however, General Gordon overtook me, and placing his hand on my shoulder, asked me if I was going to desert the army and tarnish my own honor as a soldier; that it would be a reflection upon General Lee and an indelible disgrace to me that, I, an officer of rank, should escape under a flag of truce which was pending. I was in a dilemma and knew not what to do, but finally concluded to say nothing to my troops on the subject. We were then beyond the creek at Appomattox Court House, and stacked arms amid the bitter tears of bronzed veterans, regretting the necessity for captulation."

        Dr. Richard H. Lewis, the most distinguish-occulist
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