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coming up. I wish you were here yourself. I feel confident of capturing the arty of Northern Virginia, if we exert ourselves. I see no escape for Lee. I will put all my cavalry out on our left flank, except Mackenzie, who is now on the right. "(Signed)
P. H. SHERIDAN, Major-General.” On receipt of this he immediately started for my head-quarters at Jettersville, arriving there about 11 o'clock of the night of April 5th. Next morning, April 6th, the infantry of the army advanced on Amelia Court-house. It was found before reaching it that the enemy had turned our left flank and taken another road to Sailor's Creek and Farmville. The cavalry did not advance with the infantry on Amelia Court-house, but moved to the left and rear, at daylight on the morning of the 6th, and struck the moving columns of the enemy's infantry and artillery, with which a series of contests ensued that resulted in the battle of Sailor's Creek, where Lieutenant-General Ewell lost his command of about ten thousand men, and was himself taken prisoner, together with ten other general officers.
We now come to the morning of the 7th. I thought that Lee would not abandon the direct road to Danville through Prince Edward's Court-house, and early on the morning of the 7th, directed General Crook to follow up his rear, while with Merritt (Custer's and Devin's divisions), I swung off to the left, and moved quickly to strike the Danville road six or eight miles south of Prince Edward's Court-house, and thus again head or cut off all or some of the retreating Confederate army. On reaching that road, it was found that General Lee's army had not passed, and my command was instantly turned north for Prince Edward's Court-house. A detachment ordered to move with the greatest celerity, via Prince Edward's Court-house, reported that Lee had crossed the Appomattox at and near Farmville, and that Crook had followed him. On looking at the map it will be seen that General Lee would be obliged to pass through Appomattox Court-house and Appomattox station on the railroad, to reach Lynchburg by the road he had taken north of the Appomattox River, and that that was the longest road to get there. He had given the shortest one-the one south of the river— to the cavalry. General Crook was at once sent for, and the three divisions, numbering perhaps at that time 7000 men, concentrated on the night of the 7th of April at and near Prospect station on the Lynchburg and Richmond Rail
pass he railroaa ppomatte had given. Generering perhn of April 1
road, and Appomattox station became the objective point of the cavalry for the operations of the next day, the 8th.
Meantime my scouts had not been idle, but had followed down the railroad, looking out for the trains with the 300,000 rations which they had telegraphed for on the night of the 4th. Just before reaching Appomattox station, they found five trains of cars feeling their way along in the direction of Burkesville Junction, not knowing exactly where Lee was. They induced the person in charge to come farther on by their description of the pitiable condition of the Confederate troops. Our start on the morning of the 8th was before the sun was up, and having proceeded but a few miles, Major White, of the scouts, reached me with the news that the trains were east of Appomattox sta tion, that he had succeeded in bringing them on some distance, but was afraid that they would again be run back to the station. Intelligence of this fact was immediately communicated to Crook, Merritt, and Custer, and the latter, who had the advance, was urged not to let the trains escape, and I pushed on and joined him. Before reaching the station, Custer detailed two regiments to make a detour, strike the railroad beyond the station, tear up the track and secure the trains. This was accomplished, but on the arrival of the main body of our advance at the station, it was found that the advance-guard of Lee's army was just coming on the ground. A sanguinary engagement at once ensued. The enemy was driven off, forty pieces of artillery captured, and four hundred baggage wagons burned. The railroad trains had been secured in the first onset, and were taken possession of by locomotive engineers, soldiers in the command, whose delight at again getting at their former employment was so great that they produced the wildest confusion by running the trains to and fro on the track, and making such an unearthly screeching with the whistles, that I was at one time on the point of ordering the trains burnt; but we finally got them off, and ran them to our rear ten or fifteen miles, to Ord and Gibbon, who with the infantry were following the cavalry. The cavalry continued the fighting nearly all that night, driving the enemy back to the vicinity of Appomattox Court-house, a distance of about four miles, thus giving him no repose, and covering the weakness of the attacking force.
I remember well the little frame-house just south of the station where the head-quarters of the cavalry rested, or rather, remained, for there was no rest the night of the 8th. Dispatches were going back to our honored chief, General Grant, and Ord was requested to push on the wearied infantry. To-morrow was to end our troubles in all reasonable probability, but it was thought necessary that the infantry should arrive, in order to doubly insure the result. Merritt, Crook, and Custer were, at times, there. Happiness was in every heart. Our long and weary labors were about to close; our dangers soon to end. There was no sleep; there had been but little for the previous eight or nine days. Before sunrise, General Ord came in reporting the near approach of his command. After a hasty consultation about positions to be taken up by the incoming troops, we were in the saddle and off for the front, in the vicinity of Appomattox Court-house. As we were approaching the village, a heavy line of Confederate infantry was seen advancing, and rapid firing commenced. Riding to a slight elevation, where I could get a view of the advancing enemy, I immediately sent directions to General Merritt for Custer's and Devin's divisions to slowly fall back, and as they did so, to withdraw to our right flank, thus unmasking Ord's and Gibbons's infantry. Crook and Mackenzie, on the extreme left, were ordered to hold fast. I then hastily galloped back to give General Ord the benefit of my information. No sooner had the enemy's line of battle reached the elevation from which my reconnoissance had been made, and from whence could be distinctly seen Ord's troops in the distance, than he called a sudden halt, and a retrograde movement began to a ridge about one mile to his rear. Shortly afterward I returned from General Ord to the front, making for General Merritt's battle-flag on the right flank of the line. On reaching it, the order to advance was given, and every guidon was bent to the front, and as we swept by toward the left of the enemy's line of battle, he opened a heavy fire from artillery. No heed was paid to the deadly missiles, and, with the wildest yells, we soon reached a point some distance to his right and nearly opposite Appomattox Court-house. Beyond us, in a low valley, lay Lee and the remnant of his army. There did not appear to be much organization, except in the advanced troops under General Gordon, whom we had been fighting, and a rear-guard under General Longstreet, still further up the valley. Formations were immediately commenced, to make a bold and sweeping charge down the grassy slope, when an aide-de-camp from Custer, filled with excitement, hat in hand, dashed up to me with the message from his chief: “Lee has surrendered! Do not charge; the white flag is up!” Orders were given to complete the formation, but not to charge.
Looking to the left, to Appomattox Court-house, a large group was seen near by the lines of Confederate troops that had fallen back to that point. General Custer had not come back, and, supposing that he was with the group at the Courthouse, I moved on a gallop down the narrow ridge, followed by my staff. The Court-house was, perhaps, three-fourths of a mile distant. We had not gone far before a heavy fire was opened on us from a skirt of timber to our right, and distant not much over three hundred yards. I halted for a moment, and taking off my hat, called out that the flag was being violated, but could not stop the firing, which now caused us all to take shelter in a ravine running parallel to the ridge we were on, and down which we then traveled. As we approached the Courthouse, a gentle ascent had to be made. I was in advance, followed by a sergeant carrying my battle-flag. Within one hundred to one hundred and fifty yards from the Court-house and Confederate lines, some of the men in their ranks brought down their guns to an aim on us, and great effort was made by their officers to keep them from firing. I halted, and hearing some noise behind, turned in the saddle, and saw a Confederate soldier attempting to take my battle-flag from the colorbearer. This the sergeant had no idea of submitting to, and had drawn his saber to cut the man down. A word from me caused him to return his saber, and take the flag back to the staff-officers, who were some little distance behind. I remained stationary a moment after these events, then calling a staffofficer, directed him to go over to the group of Confederate officers, and demand what such conduct meant. Kind apologies were made, and we advanced. The superior officers met were General J. B. Gordon, and General Cadmus M. Wilcox, the latter an old army officer. As soon as the first greeting was over, a furious firing commenced in front of our own cavalry from whom we had only a few minutes before separated. General Gordon seemed to be somewhat disconcerted by it. I remarked to him, “General Gordon, your men fired on me as I was coming over here, and undoubtedly they have done the same to Merritt's and Custer's commands. We might just as
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