SOPO Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
WERE MUNFORD’S TROOPERS LAST TO LEAVE RICHMOND?
Private of Company C, Second Virginia Cavalry, Claims Distinction of Crossing Mayo’s Bridge as It Burned.
BY CHARLES T. PRICE,
Late of Company C, Second Virginia Cavalry.
A short time before the surrender of General Lee’s army at Appomattox Courthouse [on April 9, 1865], orders were issued from cavalry headquarters not to allow any horse furloughs to buy fresh horses for the dismounted men, whose horses had been killed in battle or otherwise disabled for service, until the spring of the year, when the grass came up. This was due to the scarcity of grain to feed on, consequently all the dismounted men of our command were put on other duty. The dismounted men of the Second Virginia Cavalry, [Thomas] Munford’s old regiment, were ordered to Fort Harrison, some nine miles from Richmond. Here we served as infantry and did picket and vidette duty in front of the breastworks, under command of First Lieutenant J[ohn]. W. Johnson, of Company F, which had been Major William A. Graves’s old company of sharpshooters and which had afterwards been commanded by Captain Waddey Burton, of Bedford county. In this capacity, I with others, happened to be on vidette duty and picket duty the night before the evacuation of Richmond in front of the breastworks and only about 100 yards from the Yankee pickets.
We were ordered back to the breastworks after daylight on the morning of the 3rd of April  by a man whom I always thought was a Yankee spy. On reaching the breastworks I found the artillery guns spiked and abandoned, and our command the only one on the line. The men were in great confusion, not knowing what to do. It was suggested to Lieutenant Johnson, as a horse was standing near by, that he ride down the road towards Richmond and find out what was going on. He came back in a short time, and said he come upon the rear guard of General Garey’s [sic, Gary’s] Cavalry, and that the army had retreated towards Richmond. He said we must make our escape at once. So we started for Richmond, nine miles off, and as we passed Chimborazo Hospital we were stunned by the explosion of the powder magazine. The boats in the James River were all on fire and most of the buildings on Main Street were on fire. We had some difficulty in getting to Fourteenth Street where we wanted to cross Mayo’s Bridge. When we reached the canal, the bridge across it had been burned, so we had to cross over in a boat, to reach Mayo’s Bridge. This was about 8 o’clock A. M.
Garey’s [sic, Gary’s] Men Not Last.
Colonel Clement Sulivane, of General W. H. F. Lee’s staff, says General M. W. Garey’s [sic, Gary’s] cavalry were the last troops to cross Mayo’s Bridge before it was burned, and as he was in front of our command on the retreat he crossed before we reached Richmond. Captain D[aniel]. B. Sanford, of Philips’s Georgia Legion [Cavalry], must be mistaken also. He says his command crossed just after daylight and Mayo’s Bridge was on fire at that time. He must have referred to the bridge over the canal. Mayo’s Bridge was set on fire just as soon as our command crossed at 8:15 o’clock A. M., on April 3, and as I stopped at Weisiger’s Confederate Clothing Department, which had just been broken into, I helped myself to several officer’s uniforms. This delay made me the last Confederate soldier to cross Mayo’s bridge.
CHARLES T. PRICE,
Company C, Second Virginia Cavalry,
Gala, Botetourt county, Va.1
- “Were Munford’s Troopers Last to Leave Richmond?” Richmond Times-Dispatch. February 20, 1910 p. 3, col. 1-2 ↩