The column of gray and brown clad men trundle past their general as he paused by the cross roads directing their march along the proper road. Some men called out or waved as they move passed and he acknowledged them with a nod and a word of encorgment.
No one cheered, he had never been a cheering general in any case, and after the months they had spent "below ground" around Petersburg only to be force out a last no one really felt much like cheering.
Men were deserting, even in his old brigade, men knew when a cause was lost and as much as he need every man he could hardly blame them for wanting to get home alive after so much struggle. Every day fewer men answered call, some gone, some broken down, and some dead of too much marching on too little food.
He had been at a meeting of Corps commanders (his own "corps" was barely the size of a small division these days) the previous night. In theory they were trying to break out of the closing ring of Union troops and unite with Joe Johnson but really they were just trying to keep the army together and moving one day, and one fight at a time.
General Lee rides up (the men do cheer when they see him and he raises his hat in reply) and speaks "General Carriere my scout's report the enemy is a head of us somewhere do you have any definite news of him?"
"I am sorry General I do not. I have a screen of cavalry a head of me but fear they are too few."
General Lee looks troubled "We cannot be cut off if you find the enemy in front of you break through if you can, but if he holds the position in strength then try to hold the road open so we may slip around him."
"Yes sir, I have issued those orders to my brigade and regimental commanders they understand what is at stake. I will break through if it is possible... if not we will buy you all the time we can. God grant it has not all been in vain."
"God grant it has not been in vain" repeated General Lee "and God Grant you find you way home again General. Save as many of are boys as you can, we will need them come what may." With that Lee spurred his horse and road off his aids training behind him like the tail of a kite.
General Carrier stood there a moment longer before mounting his horse and turning to his aid "Well I had best go see what is ahead of us... this cannot last much longer."
John and I have our last battle of the Longstreet Campaign planned for Thursday July 24th (tomorrow night) John has a strong army and a thin lead in epic point going into this final battle.
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