About noon we started for Gordonsville, very much lighter loaded than the night before, and reached that place (about nine miles) in the afternoon. A train of box-cars was waiting, and we were soon hustled on board, packed sixty in a car. We rode thus all night, reaching Lynchburg early the following morning. General Longstreet was brought into the place on the train following ours, having been severely wounded in the second day's fight at the Wilderness. I just got a glimpse of him as he was borne from the train upon a stretcher.

We were marched outside the village hall a mile, down through a steep gully, into a kind of natural basin containing perhaps five acres, surrounded on all sides by high hills, and over-head the blue sky. A brook, clear as the blue heavens above us, came leaping through it from the foot of the Blue Ridge; a prettier, more retired spot could not be imagined. Nature had done her best, and man absolutely nothing, for our convenience.

Here we remained one week, without any serious cause for complaint, except once they neglected to issue our daily allowance of hard-bread and two ounces of bacon. The weather was fair and warm, so we did not once think of shelter.

Additions were made to our number daily, so that at the end of a week we numbered three thousand. We had begun to congratulate ourselves upon having nearly enough to eat, and on the advantages of our prison over close confinement between brick walls. Many of my comrades were planning for an escape to the mountains, and were only waiting for a dark, stormy night to put those plans into execution, when it would have been a comparatively easy matter to pass our guard. But the chance was never given; instead, one morning all was bustle and confusion, because we were going to be sent South for "immediate exchange," so we were soberly informed by the officers of our guard. Our exchange proved to be from the open air to the crowded, filthy rooms of a large tobacco warehouse at Danville, Virginia. For once, and the only time during our travels in "Dixie," we were crowded into the regular passenger coaches, instead of the box or baggage cars, and accommodated with seats, for our "exchange” to—Danville.

It took us two days and one night to make this journey of less than one hundred and fifty miles. The first day exhausted our provisions; the following thirty-six hours we subsisted upon faith and the beautiful scenery of the upper James River, where we saw substantial-looking plantations and a rich country, but thrift-lessness was stamped upon it all.

Hit Counter visits since 02/20/2004.
Page updated 05/25/2006


In Association with