But I have again digressed. George was still in the 4th Virginia cavalry, and John was crazy to go. A friend of Jeanie’s came on a visit and offered to take John as his aid. He was colonel of a regiment, so finally our parents consented. John was a fine horseman and a good shot, so he was allowed to go. Colonel Bolton let him take a servant, George Nicholas, one of our dining room boys. There was great excitement in the family, white and black, when they left.
We lived along, anxious and hungrey*, getting news of the death of our friends at every battle and of great suffering among our soldiers. General Lee sent a request for food and everyone nobly responded. This left the whole section with a limited supply. We had nothing but meat and bread to give, so we lived on until spring. Then the fighting was concentrated around Richmond and Petersburg. We, my mother, Jeanie and I decided to go to Richmond, hearing that the cavalry would be ordered to the south side. We hoped to see our boys. We boarded with a Mrs. Wolfe on Franklin street. In a few days the cavalry passed through the city. It was a sad and solmen* procession of ragged, downcast, starving men who passed us by, horses lank and lean, scarcely able to march. Our hearts bled and tears overflowed as our dear “boys” went by. This was on Friday. We stayed a few days seeing friends. On Sunday my mother went to St. Pauls church, and I went to St James. Willie Worthing went with me. When we came out we noticed great excitement and horror depicted on every face and citizens rushing to and fro with pictures and valuables in their arms.
We hurried to our boarding house, and my mother had much to tell us. Jean was with us having also returned from church. The desolating news was that the enemy had captured Petersburg. This was a dark hour. Everyone left Richmond that could get away, the President and the Cabinet also. Of course there was no hope left for Richmond. There we were, forty miles from Dungeness, and no way to communicate. The canal, our only mode of transportation destroyed by Yankees, no telegraph. We were in despair. We packed our clothes with the assistance our maid Eliza gave us. She had gone to Richmond with us. We have our inherited silver with us so we fastened it under our hoop skirts. I was determined not to be captured by the Yankees and told my friends that I would walk home.
My soldier friends tried to get a conveyance, but it seemed impossible. All horses and mules were taken by the confederate government, taken while the owners were riding them. Once a friend of mine, Mrs. Julian Harrison was being borne to the grave and the hearse was stopped on the way to the cemetary and the horses taken. All was fearful.
Our landlady left us and all the boarders. We were left alone. She left us the little food she had and bade us goodbye with tears. Our friends came in to say goodbye and there we sat all night. About 3 o’clock, two friends, soldiers on furlough, knocked. We all three went to the door. It was Captain Edward Owen of Washington Artillery and Lt. Caskie Cabell. They came to say that they have taken two little dump coal carts from two boys at the point of their pistols. One had a lame horse and the other a blind mule. They asked if we would go.
My mother said if she could get two miles to a friend, Colonel Carrington, that she knew he would send us home. We doubted if the maimed and emaciated animals could get us there, but we started. I insisted on carrying our two trunks, so we unfastened the pieces of silver which we had worn all day, packed it in our trunks and started, Eliza decided she would stay in the city.
We got in the dirty carts, perched on our trunks. The gentlemen walked, urging the animals along. By this time the Yankees had entered the lower end of the city, set fires, and were bombarding. As we drove slowly and in silence, we heard glass in windows shatter around and could hear the tramp of the cavalry and the glaring flames. We hoped and prayed. The day began to break, and when we reached Colonel Carringtons they gave us a hearty welcome, as good a breakfast as they had and they gave us a road wagon, four horses, a driver, and a lunch basket of meat and bread. They started us on our journey to Dungeness, fory* miles, and as we drove along our driver showed great unwillingness to go, so our soldiers again drew their pistols.
As we went along we passed the patients from the hospitals and many others. The sick were so pale and hungry, that we decided to go hungry and gave our lunch to them. It was insufficient, of course.
We had great joy as we neared home. We stopped and fed the horses, we had brought food for them, and some kin* persons gave our party something to eat. We arrived at home about dark. Oh, the perfect delight of all, white and black to see us. My father was going the next day in search of us, having heard from those who arrived before that Richmond had been captured. My Aunt Martha told us she had been cooking (I mean the servants had) for the travelers. When we got there, the yard and house were full. The poor tired things were glad to sleep anywhere. They had no where to go, many remained for weeks. They came every day. We were kept busy.
We could here* the fighting going on, but no news and we were so anxious about the boys and our army. On April 9th General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Grant. This sad news was brought to us by a straggler. We knew it was inevitable. Our soldiers, people and prisoners were starving and exhausted, dropping by the wayside as they marched. Where were our boys? We watched and prayed for them with anxious eyes. The house was full of soldiers wondering where they would go. At last, as we sat on the porch one afternoon, we saw two horsemen coming toward the house. They looked dejected and weary. As they came nearer, we recognized my brother John and his body servant George Nicholas. We hurried to meet John, and he literally fell in our arms, completely unnerved. George, the servant, said, “You see Mistus, I brought Marse John back like I promised you. I got him home by the hardest, Mistus, but I kept my word.”
Colonel Boston was shot in the last battle the day before. John was riding by his side in battle when he was shot and instantly killed, falling on John’s horse. It was a terrible shock. Fortunately George, my brother, was in the same battle and helped to bury him. He was buried in his uniform without a coffin. They marked his grave.
The next 9th of April the surrender was made at Appomattox Court House. John was detailed to convey the sad news of Col. Boston’s death to his family. His sister worte*, “I opened the door and there sat this soldier boy with his hear* on his arms, weeping. I asked him, “My dear boy, what is the matter?” “I have to tell you Colonel Boston is killed’. He was sore distressed. I almost forgot my grief in his.”
After delivering his message John thought he ought to go back to the army. George, his servant, spoke, “No sir, Marse John. You ain’t got nobody to report to. General Lee done surrendered. We’re going home to Mistus.”
So they came. We were all so glad George had so much sense. Then we all asked for my brother George. They said George did not surrender but left the day before after Colonel Boston was buried, for Lynchburg, hoping to join General Johnston. But when they arrived they saw the futility of it and retraced their steps. Dr. Fleming, Dr. Miclie and George came together. There was great rejoicing, though our hearts were very sad.