Generals Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet briefly visited

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Stiles/Akin

Sergeant Major
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Location
Atlanta, Georgia
Generals Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet briefly visited, by invitation, Clover Hill on Monday, April 3, 1865, as the Army of Northern Virginia made its way westward. Clover Hill, a plantation home that still stands to this day, is in western Chesterfield County (the County itself is situated just south of Richmond and north of Petersburg). Clover Hill was the home of the Cox Family; Kate Virgi
nia Cox, 25 years old at the time of this encounter, recorded the following in her memoir, “My Confederate Girlhood:”

“The confusion was terrifying [(Richmond, Chesterfield, and Petersburg were being evacuated)], but as General Lee entered the house, everything and everybody was under the spell of his presence and dignity. Our drawing room was full of the staffs of the two generals, and friends of the family staying in the house, but to me belonged the privilege of a short talk with General Lee, which incident is written on my memory never to be effaced, and to this day, thrills me when I recall it...I did not feel timid, however, for there was no room on such an occasion for any self-consciousness, so, like a child seeking to give comfort, I said the thing uppermost in my mind: ‘General Lee, we shall still gain our cause, you will join General Johnston and together you will be victorious.’

My poor little attempt at sympathy—breathing hope, was met with these words, which will forever ring in my ears:

‘Whatever happens, know this, that no men ever fought better than those who have stood by me.’

No more, no less, and his words showed that his thoughts were with those ragged veterans, one mile away, resting by the roadside.

It is a pleasant thought to know that our chieftain had one good dinner, perhaps the last on the line of march from Chesterfield to Appomattox. Whether his heart was too sad to enjoy it was beyond us to know, but we had done our best, and it gave us untold gratification. While we were at the table coffee was passed around, and when I saw General Lee putting cream in his cup, I could not resist exclaiming:

‘Why, General Lee, do you take cream in your after-dinner coffee?’

This answer came with a smile, ‘I have not taken coffee for so long that I would not dare to take it in its original strength.’

These words surprised me, And when I repeated them to one of Lee’s staff, he said:

‘You know the general sends all of his coffee to the hospital.’

Well, our great hour came to an end, and our beloved chief had to shake hands, mount Traveler and turn his back on us...The night of that day came and folded us in mystery. We knew not what would happen, for we realized that many miles away on his last march, rode our defender.” Pp. 69-72.

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