Reminiscences of the Civil War

By John B. Gordon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII
EVACUATION OF PETERSBURG

Religious spirit of the soldiers in extremity -- Some amusing anecdotes -- Fall of Five Forks -- Death of General A. P. Hill -- The line of defence stretched to breaking -- General Lee's order to withdraw from Petersburg -- Continuous fighting during the retreat -- Stirring adventure of a Confederate scout -- His retaliation -- Lee directs the movement toward Appomattox.

PETERSBURG -- the Cockade City -- was scarcely less noted than Richmond itself for its high military spirit, its devotion to the Confederacy, and the extent of its sacrifices for the Southern cause. There was scarcely a home within its corporate limits that was not open to the sick and wounded of Lee's army. Its patriotic citizens denied themselves all luxuries and almost actual necessaries in order to feed and strengthen the hungry fighters in the trenches. Its women, who were noted for culture and refinement, became nurses, as consecrated as Florence Nightingale, as they soothed the sufferings and strengthened the hopes of the dying soldiers. Now and then, in the experiences of the young people, the subtle radiance of romance lighted up the gloom of the hospitals.

A beautiful Southern girl, on her daily mission of love and mercy, asked a badly wounded soldier boy what she could do for him. He replied: "I'm greatly obliged to you, but it is too late for you to do anything for me. I am so badly shot that I can't live long."

-414-

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