Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
TRAGIC DEATH ENDED COL. [REUBEN B.] BOSTON’S CAREER
Commander of 5th Virginia Cavalry Met His Fate in Last Trying Days of the War.
BY T. J. DAVIS, CO. H, 5TH VA. CAV.
On the Sunday morning [April 2, 1865] after the fight of Five Forks, the surgeon of the Fifth Virginia Cavalry called for five volunteers for the Ambulance Corps, of which I was one of four detailed to carry the litters to remove the dead and wounded from the field of battle. On Sunday night Payne’s Brigade was placed at a ford on Namosine [sic, Namozine] Creek for the purpose of holding the enemy in check until the infantry could get away to join the main line of retreat at Amelia Court House.
Monday morning [April 3, 1865] the enemy made their appearance at the ford a little after sunrise; they were fired upon by our skirmish line, which was placed a little in advance of our line of battle, that being behind some temporary breastworks which we built during the night. They soon retreated and advanced again with several pieces of artillery, placing them near enough for us to hear the unlimbering and command to load and fire. After firing several rounds in our front they limbered up and moved their guns to our right and commenced firing shrapnel in our midst. After receiving several shots our line gave way in disorder, retreating to the place where our horses were left. Much to our surprise our horses had been carried back with the infantry evidently leaving our brigade to be captured by the enemy. Information was gained from a farmer who directed us to the ford over which the army was retreating.
Our Adjutant-General being mounted, rode to Gen. W. H. F. Lee, who was hotly engaged in holding the enemy in check, while the army was crossing the river, persuaded Gen. Lee to hold the ford until he could bring our horses to us, thus enabling our escape.
When the horses reached us some of our men were so exhausted that they were unable to mount, some five or six had to be placed in front of us and brought out. We finally crossed the ford, the enemy reaching the bank of the river as we were going out on the opposite side. After getting our men together we found that I was the only one left of the litter detail. I reported to the surgeon and offered to go to my company, but he ordered me to remain with Dr. Spindle, who was hospital steward. We had nothing to do on the retreat until Thursday morning [April 6, 1865], when the fight took place at High Bridge.
Burial of Boston.
When informed of the death of Colonel [Reuben B.] Boston I went along with several others, among whom was W. F. Jones, now an eminent physician of Gloucester county, and brought off the body of Colonel Boston. He was shot through both temples, death being instantaneous. While preparing him for burial in the garden of a nearby farmer (I think by the name of Watkins), a youth whose name was Logan, who was courier for Colonel Boston, wanted a ring which the colonel wore which he said belonged to his sister. The ring proved to be hard to get off, and it was first proposed to cut off his finger to get the ring. I proposed going to the house and getting some hot water and soap, which the lady kindly gave me, with which the ring was soon removed and given to young Logan. We then wrapped his body in a woolen blanket and oil cloth, and tenderly laid him in the grave which had been prepared by his men. We then fired a volley over his remains, where they still rest.
I hope some day to see his remains removed to beautiful Hollywood [Cemetery in Richmond]. It grieves me to think that the remains of our beloved colonel should remain neglected, when so many of his comrades still live and are able to place him among the thousands that fell in the same cause that are so beautifully cared for and remembered at all times by the noble ladies of Richmond. I think very likely that young Logan may have taken his sabre and other trinkets home with him. The last time I heard of Logan he was in New Orleans. Perhaps some of his family could tell you if alive and his whereabouts.1
- “Tragic Death Ended Col. Boston’s Career.” Richmond Times-Dispatch. March 13, 1910 p. 3, col. 3-4 ↩