A brief history of the military serviced rendered by
JOHN FRANCIS METHVIN
In the Confederate Army from January 1863 to April 9, 1865.
I was born in the 6th District of Coweta County, Georgia, June 14th, 1848. In January 1863 I enlisted in Company "I" a company organized at Newnan Ga. by Capt. Kendrick, which company became a unit of the 37th, Georgia Regiment, which at that time was in winter-quarters at Shelbyville, Tennessee, where I entered the company. We remained there until about the first of April when we broke winter-quarters and moved up near McMinville, Tenn. here we tented and drilled. About the middle of May I was taken seriously sick and was transferred to the hospital at Chattanooga, Tenn. and from there was sent down to Catoosa Springs, and some two weeks later I was discharged from the Army on account of my youth and physical condition. I was considered too young to be in the Army so was sent home and entered school for the remainder of the year.
In the latter part of January 1864, I went to Virginia to again enlist in the Army and on February 2nd, 1864 I enlisted in the Jeff Davis Artillery, a company organized by Wm. J. Reese, at Selma, Alabama, in 1861. The Jeff Davis Artillery company formed a unit in Carter's Battalion, which battalion was composed of the Rockbridge battery, Frye's battery, Page's battery and the Jeff Davis battery, which became a component part of that grand body of soldiers known to history as the first Army Corps of Northern Virginia, first commanded by J.T. (Stonewall) Jackson, and after he was killed at, or near, Chancelorsville in 1865, General Ewell took command, followed in command by General John B. Gordon of Ga., then by General Clement A. Evans of Ga. At the time I enlisted in the Jeff Davis Artillery the battalion was in winter quarters at Fredrick Hall, near Orange Court House, Va. We abandoned winter quarters in March 1864 and moved down near Gordonsville where we tented, drilled and grazed our horses, and on the 4th day of May we moved out to a little place called Locust Grove, located near the Rapidan River. The incidents which this narrative now deals with, took place in 1864. The campaign of that year had opened when the Federal Army under General Ulysses S. Grant crossed the Rapidan River on May 4th, and attacked the Confederate Army the next day in the Wilderness, where bloody fighting took place during the following three days. 5th, 6 and 7th.
My battery and battalion were in position during the conflict on the extreme left wing of the Confederate line. On the afternoon of the 5th, of May we captured about 1300 prisoners from the 5th, Corps of the Federal Army commanded by General Warren. This engagement terminated by the withdrawal of the Federal army, moving by the left flank and the Confederate Army moving by the right flank to meet it; they met on the 8th, of May near Spotsylvania Court House, Va. and considerable maneuvering and bloody fighting took place during the following three days. On May 11th, which was a day of comparative quiet, my battery was put into position at the toe or apex of what was called Horse Shoe Bend, recorded in history as the "Bloody Angle". Just before dark Gen. A.L. Long, commanding the artillery of Ewell's Corps, issued orders for removal of the artillery from the lines; this order and movement were made in anticipation of another flank movement of the Federal army and that the Confederate artillery would be prepared to move promptly to meet it. The locality in the vicinity of the lines occupied by Ewell's Corps was covered with dense undergrowth, pine thickets and briar patches, interspersed with boggy streams and marshes. It was because of the great difficulty in moving the artillery after night that it had been removed from the lines before dark on the evening of May 11th. Instead of moving the left flank as we expected, the Second Federal Army Corps, commanded by Gen. W.S. Hancock, was massed during the night of May the 11th. in front of the Confederate line occupied by the division of Gen. Edward Johnson of Ewell's Corps. This movement on the part of the Federals was not discovered until about 3 o'clock on the morning of May 12th. Active efforts were made to reinstate the Confederate artillery but the difficulties confronting it were not overcome in time. The darkness and dense fog which prevented a prompt return of the Confederate artillery were of great advantage to the assaulting Federals. They were enabled to approach and quietly capture the Confederate pickets without being discovered, and to reach the Confederate lines; the result was the capture of the Confederate works and infantry defending them, before the greater part of returning artillery reached them, and they also captured nearly all the returning Confederate batteries before they succeeded in reaching their assigned places. That part of the Confederate line occupied by the division of Gen. Edward Johnson, to the left of Stewart's brigade, had been so quietly captured that the returning batteries were not aware of it. As they galloped in column towards their assigned positions they were met by the exultant victorious Federals, and their guns were taken possession of, except our battery. The particular position aimed at by the Federals was the salient about one and half miles north of Spotsylvania Court House, know to history as the "Bloody Angle" and received this name because of the fierce and bloody fighting which took place there on this date, May 12. Pieces numbered one and two composing the first section of our battery were located on the right side of the angle, or salient, near the apex, and pieces numbered three and four composing the second section were located on the left side, and also near the apex. The infantry troops that occupied that part of the line were the regiments composing the brigade of Gen. George H. Stewart, of MaJor-General's division of Ewell's Corps. The Confederate line to the left of our battery's position could be seen but a short distance. The battery went into position shortly after dawn, after a hurried and difficult trip over a rough and crooked road, created by boggy marshes. There was but little firing going on at this time; there was but little in sight to indicate the near approach of the furious storm which burst upon our battery; subsequent information showed that to the left of the angle, all that part of the line occupied by Johnson's division was in possession of the enemy before our battery reached it's position. The capture, however, had been so quietly made that the troops near the angle were not aware of it. An occasional shot was heard but these were so few that they attracted little attention. Every body was alert however and the men knew, in reason, that because of the hour at which they had been called and the speed at which they had been rushed through the dark woods, that there was work ahead. The battery had been in position but a short while when the assaulting column of the enemy were seen by the men of the second section of our battery, which was in position on the left, or west side, of the salient. When first seen it was within cannister range. The officers and men of the infantry were quietly lounging behind the earth works feeling secure as the pickets had given no alarm or notice of the approach of the enemy. The men at the number two guns, second section of our battery, were standing up and on the lookout and when the assaulting column was discovered so close and advancing they began to clamor for permission to shoot, and the non-commissioned officers, sergeants and gunners, actually ordered cannister and began firing. Gen. Stewart ordered firing to cease as his pickets were being fired upon; Capt. Reese in command of our battery repeated Gen. Stewart's order; the men of the battery immediately protested that there were no Confederate pickets in sight; that the field was blue with the advancing army of the enemy, and began firing, and continued firing, in spite of orders to the contrary. Gen. Stewart did not realize that in the darkness and fog his pickets had been captured before they fired a gun. The cannister shots from the second section of our battery which pointed west caused the advancing Federal columns to falter and even come to a slight halt. The fire had been followed by the usual destruction; each discharge had cut a lane through the assaulting column and as the column was several lines deep destruction wrought was heavy. When the firing began no enemy had made appearance in front of the first section of our battery. The gun's of this section were pointing toward the north and at right angles to the gun's of the second section, which had been hotly engaged, but soon after the firing began, the men manning the first section discovered a column of Federals advancing from the left, along the inside of the salient and in rear of the section, having crossed the works to the left of the combating section on the opposite of the salient. The head of this column had approached very near the section pointing northward before its discovery. As no enemy was approaching its front, the section composed of pieces one and two immediately reversed, charged with cannister and fired into the column. This unexpected storm of cannister caused a further faltering of the victorious Federal column. It was at this Juncture that MaJor R.C.N. Page, commanding the battalion, rode to the first piece number one (to which I belonged) and ordered it to limber up and move off. The drivers of the limber promptly moved in concert, attached the gun, and we escaped. Three of the four guns carried into that action with their limber chests and horses (several of the horses killed) were captured by the Federals. Capt. Reese and Lieut Bates, the only commissioned officer of the battery, three sergeants, two corporals, and twenty-eight privates were killed and captured. Those of us who escaped capture stopped at the first point that offered a prospect of safety sufficient to rally the demoralized troops who had escaped capture, took our gun and another that had been abandoned, placed them in position at the heel of Horse Shoe Bend, manned them with the men of the Jeff Davis Artillery and went back into the fight. The thunder of those two guns, the shriek of their case-shot and shell, were the contribution of the remnant of men left of the Jeff Davis Artillery to the furious battle that day and far into the night. After we went into position a battery of four guns from Washington Georgia, (don't remember the name of the company) ran up and went into action Just to our right and together we cleaned up the woods in front of us of timber and men (Yankees as fast as they came.) About this time General Lee and his staff ran up and dismounted some forty or fifty feet in the rear of our guns; in a few minutes Gen. John B. Gordon of Ga., came up the line from towards the Court House, ran up to where General Lee and Staff were standing, stood up in his stirrups, with his hat in his right hand raised high above his head, said, in a loud voice to Gen. Lee, "General Lee you should not be here, go to the rear and I will hold this line." Gen. Gordon then quickly turned his horse around and dashed off back down the line. (The pose that Gen. Gordon presented when addressing his remarks to Gen. Lee have been exactly reproduced in the statue of him which stands on the Capital ground at Atlanta, Ga.) A few minutes later Gen. Lee's Staff carried him off the field on foot. We remained in line here at Spotsylvania Court House until May 18th. In the meantime the remnant of my company - the Jeff Davis Artillery, consisting of thirty five men and one gun was divided into two detachments, one assigned to Capt. Frye's company, and the other assigned to Capt. Griffin's company, an artillery company organized at Roanoke-Salem Va. I was placed in Capt. Griffin's company. From Spotsylvania Court House we moved down to Hanover junction, Va., where we were engaged in a bloody conflict with the Federal forces May 22nd to 27th; from here we moved down to Cold Harbor, where we engaged in another bloody conflict June 1st, 2nd and 3rd. We then moved to Walker's farm below Richmond, and there engaged in another conflict with the Federal forced on July 16th. From here we moved around to Deep Bottom on the James River, below Richmond, Va. where we were engaged in a desperate, bloody conflict with the Yankees, July 16th, again on July 18th, and on august 3rd, we had another battle with the Yankees at Wilcox Wharf. A few days after this the majority of men who had been engaged in the conflicts above mentioned were sent up into the valley around Staunton, Va. under the command of Gen. Earley. Capt. Carters battery and Capt. Griffin's battery (to which I belonged) were left on the south side of the James River below Richmond for guard duty.
The government Works below Richmond commenced at Chafin's Bluff on the James River and extended south about one mile; on this line about three quarters of a mile from the river was built a large fort called Fort Harrison; about a quarter of mile south of this was Fort Fields; at Fort Fields the Government Works forked- the right fork extended south down to New Market Heights on the Barby Town road; the left hand fork extended south and towards Richmond; on this later branch of the fork about a quarter of mile from Fort Fields was built Fort Varina and 500 or 400 yards from Fort Varina was Fort Gilmer, a large stockade fort consisting of several large siege guns carrying 160 pound shells and one field battery. The reason for this description of the Government Works and fortifications will appear in the following narrative of the battle of Fort Harrison. The Confederate forces stationed below and around Richmond, Va.. on the south side of the James River in September, 1864 consisted of one regiment of calvary, one regiment of infantry-Texas Regulars- three City battalions and two batteries of field artillery, one of which was Capt. Griffin's battery (to which I belonged) and the siege guns in Ft. Harrison and Fort Gilmer. On the night of September 28th, 1864, 30,000 Federal troops were brought across the James River at Dutch Gap canal, three-fourths of which were negro troops. On the morning of September 29th, these troops advanced on our lines from Chaffin's Bluff to Fort Fields; they made the attack about day in the morning; our boys held them in check for some two hours when we were forced to surrender the line from Chaffin's Bluff to and including Fort Harrison, but we held Fort Fields, in which Capt. Carter's battery was placed. The Yankees held the line from the river to, and including Ft. Harrison until the end of the war in 1865. The lack of good generalship on the part of the Federals on that day saved Richmond. The Yankees advanced on our lines in sections; about two hours after they captured Ft. Harrison they massed the Negro troops in from of Ft. Varina (in which my battery was located) and their slow movement gave our infantry time to assemble at and around our fort in time to meet the assault. The Federal Negro troops charged our Fort Varina and in the charge came within ten to fifteen yards of our Fort. With the aid we got from an enfilade, or cross fire, from the artillery guns at Ft. Gilmer and Ft. Fields on either side, we repulsed the negroes and they fled in confusion, leaving at least half their number dead on the ground. About an hour later the Yankees massed their troops in front of Ft. Gilmer, behind a line of cord wood; we opened fire on them with solid shot and tore the line of cord wood down and killed many of the Negroes with wood; then charged Ft. Gilmer and more than 1000 of them reached the fort and fell into the ditch around the fort. From their conduct we thought they were partly drunk. From the ditch many of them got upon the shoulders of others and attempted to crawl into the fort, but our boys were standing with loaded guns and when one put his head above the ground he lost that head and went back to the ground dead. In this charge there were two leading colored officers-Sergeant Green, who was killed behind the cord wood; the other Corporal Dick, who did not have a hair on his head--it was so slick it reminded me of a Virginia onion. He was one of those who got upon the shoulder of another negro and made an effort to come over into the Fort; he was shot between the eyes and fell back into the ditch to sleep. Our boys took shells and set them up on the breastworks, put a fifteen second fuse in them, lit them off with a match and rolled them off into the ditch among the negroes. They would explode about the time they struck the bottom of the ditch and you could judge the result that followed their explosion. This mode of operation soon brought a surrender of those left. There was a well forty feet deep just in front of Ft. Gilmer and our boys removed the curb, filled the well with dead negroes, putting Corporal Dick at the bottom, and I don't suppose they were ever disenterred. About an hour after the above described engagement the Yankees ran up two pieced of field artillery upon the rise about three hundred yards in front of Fort Fields, which was occupied by Capt. Carter's battery, unlimbered, put their guns in position and opened a furious fire of Ft. Fields. The Yankees were good shots, they got the range and after the second or third shots they exploded their shell in the fort; in a few minutes they killed every horse in the company, except one, and forty-six of Capt. Carter's men. This was a terrible loss to the company. While this fighting was going on our battery opened an enfilade upon this Yankee battery from the guns in Ft. Gilmer and Fort Varina and in a few minutes we succeeded in dismounting those two Yankee guns. The Federal negro troops then charged Ft. Fields and never stopped until they reached the fort. While this was going on the Texas Regiment ran behind the breastworks from around Fort Gilmer and Ft. Varina, and arrived at Ft. Fields about the time the Federal troops arrived. As soon as the Texas boys got into the Fort they, without any ceremony went over the works and engaged in hand to hand conflict with the negro troops; they did not have time to load their guns so they used bayonets and breach of their guns, in a few minutes the negroes became confused and broke and ran back. The negro troops carried a large flag, as large as a bed sheet, made from purple changeable silk. On top of the flag was printed in large letters "PRESENTED TO THE FIFTH CORPS COLORED TROOPS BY THE LADIES OF NEW YORK". When our boys routed the negroes in front of Ft. Fields, one of them shot the color-bearer with the flag and when the flag went down another Federal picked it up and ran with it; he was shot down and a third one picked it up and ran and one of the Texas boys after him, shot him down and captured the flag and brought it into the fort. After things quieted down the captured flag was brought into Fort Varina by it's captor and about this time Gen. Billy Mahone and Staff rode up to our fort, saw the flag, asked the name of the of the man who captured it and was told by one of the officers; the next day that fellow was given a thirty day furlough for his act of bravery. This closed the fighting on this line and the Federals contented themselves by holding the line they had captured from Chaffin's Bluff to, and including Ft. Harrison. The Confederate Government soon after the battle of September 29th, 1864, above described, built strong fortifications about four hundred yards in front of Ft. Harrison.
Soon after the battle of Ft. Harrison the detachment of Jeff David boys assigned to Capt. Griffin's company after the battle of Spotsylvania Court House were transferred from Capt. Griffin's company to Capt. Lamkin's mortar battery, which consisted of twenty-two mortars which carried twenty-five pound shells. You may wonder what a mortar is--it is, so to speak, a short cannon about two feet long and is made to sit on a wood block at an angle of about forty five degrees; they are used for the purpose of dropping shells for explosion in forts and behind breastworks. During the fall and winter of 1864 we used these mortars two and three times a week to drop shell over Ft. Harrison. I remained with Capt. Lampkin's Mortar Battery in front of Ft. Harrison during the winter of 1864. About the first of February 1865 our detachment of Jeff David Artillerymen were transferred to Fort Clifton over the Appomatox River just out of the city of Petersburg, Va. The Confederate Government had five large siege guns carrying one hundred and sixty pound shells, which were place along the bank of the Appomatox River to protect the City of Petersburg from invasion of gun boats coming down the river from James River. I was placed in charge of these guns until we evacuated Petersburg the night of April 2nd, 1865. On the night of April 2nd, the Confederate Army evacuated Richmond and Petersburg, we spiked our guns and took our march headed towards Appomatox Court House. Our first stop was at Amelia Springs, Va. April 5th, here we had a serious conflict with the Federal forces and lost several men, wounded and captured. It was here we drew our first rations after leaving Petersburg, these rations consisted of three small ears corn, and this was the last rations I received from the Confederate Government. As soon as I drew my corn (it was early in the morning) I made a fire and shelled one ear, parched in my tin pan, which was half of an old canteen. While I was parching my corn Gen Wright's Brigade to which my oldest brother Thomas W. Methvin belonged. In passing he discovered me parching my corn, got leave of the officer in charge and stopped to speak to me. He asked me if I had any other rations; I told him 'no'; he dropped down on his knee and took off his haversack which contained about half gallon meal-poured half of it into my meal sack, got up and hurried on; the next time I saw him was about a mile southeast of Newnan, Coweta County, Ga. on the forenoon of May 10th, 1865. I did not have to cook any of the meal he gave me but finished parching my corn, put it in my haversack to cool, and lit out. A few minutes after I left there i got into a scrape with the Yankees, but came out all right. On the next day, April 6th, we reached Sailor's Creek about one o'clock in the afternoon. When about half our ordinance and wagon train crossed the bridge the bridge broke in and we had to stop. The Federals who were pursuing us closely soon learned our condition and crowded our troops; we quickly resented it and a bloody conflict there ensued. When the smoke had cleared away there were many dead and wounded men found covering the ground. My commander, Colonel Carter, was mortally wounded in this battle and died that night.
My grand-daughter, Emlyn Spence, who is now a student in the Medical Department of Emery University here in Atlanta, Ga has insisted that I incorporate my experience in cooking some of the meal Brother Tom gave me at Amelia Spring, Va., and here it is- just before the battle of Sailor's Creek commenced, I got permission to go down to a branch for water. My commanding officer consented but cautioned me to hurry on. I ran down to the branch, built up a quick fire in the woods near by, I wet up a pint of my meal and spread it out in my canteen tin plate in a thin hoe-cake, set it over the fire to cook. In a few minutes it was done enough to eat but not cool enough--the pan and bread both boiling hot, so I split a stick to carry my hot pan and bread until it had cooled enough for me to eat and set off to rejoin my battery. When I left to go to the branch they were going south, but when I left the woods I heard the ordinance train going around the hill toward the north and I started in that direction where I heard the wagons moving. On the way up the hill I discovered a clump of small trees on a high mound on which were a large number of boulders and beside these lay a dead Yankee, face down with his arms stretched above his head and in his right hand an Enfield rifle; he had been shot in the breast. His gun was loaded so I took the gun and a package of ten cartridges out of his belt and went up to this clump of trees on the mound, took a seat on one of the large rocks and set my pan with my hoe-cake down on the rock to finish cooling so I could eat it. Soon after taking my seat I discovered just down east of me a heavy column of Yankees moving along the ravine and concluded to take a shot at them as they were so thick I could not miss a man, so I laid the gun up on the rock and fired, loaded the gun again and took another shot; I repeated the shots six or seven times; as I was fixing to take another shot I heard some commotion behind me and I looked around and saw a heavy line of pickets; they were coming up to where I was and marching in a breast about five or six feet apart. I presume they heard me shooting and took the place I occupied for a picket post; they were about one hundred and fifty yards away from me and they fired a volley into this clump of bushes in which I was sitting; when the bullets struck the rock on which I was sittingand whizzed by and all around me, I fell off the rock on the opposite side. I was in such a hurry to move I forgot my pan of bread and did not go back for it either. It was about tow hundred yards to Sailor's Creek and I have always thought I measured the distance between that clump of rock on which I was sitting and the creek in about ten or twelve feet jumps. The Yankees were on the opposite side of the hill and never saw me, if they had they would have killed me before I could have got away. When I got to the creek I did not wait for ceremonies but went into the creek up to my neck in water; when I got through the creek and up on the hill I looked back and saw that picket line of Yankees had come around that place up there where I made my shots at the Yankee column. On the next day, April 7th, we had a terrific picket firing from both sides, especially at High Bridge; this picket firing was kept continually up our march the next day, April 8th. We reached Appomattox Court House about midnight of April 8th so stopped at a branch just across from the Court House, I was dead for sleep, and crawled under the limbs of a pine tree where I was protected from being run over myself up in my blanket and went to sleep. When I awoke the next morning, April 9th, I crawled out, went to the branch and washed my face and hands wishing I had the hoe-cake I had left behind for my breakfast. Soon after this the boys got together and we marched up the hill, around the Court House, stopping beside a garden some fifty yards west of the Court House. At this time there was terrific fighting with small arms going on from just below the Court House for a mile east, and while we were standing in the road beside a garden a courier came down the road from the west, his horse in a lope, stopped, talked with Capt. Frye who was sitting on his horse that the Yankees had cut down the timbers and blocked the road about a half mile from the Court House and it was impossible for us to move out of the road. We stood there for something like an hour, then John Dunn, T.R. Traylor, Andrew Kain and myself got permission to go down to the branch which was on the north side of the Court House to get water; we did not return then but went across a patch up to a fence that ran along by the side of the woods and get up on the fence to see what was going on. While we were sitting on the fence we saw General Lee and his Staff down in the apple orchard. Just east of the Court House. Soon after this we saw a man on a horse with a white flag, going hurriedly across the field towards where the fighting was going on down the line; some thirty minutes later we discovered this man came back with the white flag with two or three Federal officers; all went into the apple orchard where Gen. Lee and his Staff were and in a short time after the man with the white flag together with the Federal officers, one of whom also carried a white flag, rode off hurriedly down the line where the fighting was going on; some thirty minutes later the firing down the line ceased and it was not long before several Federal officers came across the field and went into apple orchard where Gen Lee and Staff were and when those Federal officers came out of the woods there was a wagon following them in which were several men, one of whom was General Grant, who was dressed in civilian clothes instead of uniform. This wagon stopped and stood there; soon after General Lee and his Staff and the Federal officers rode out of the apple orchard and down to a house that stood some one hundred yards or more, north of the wagon carrying General Grant. When General Lee, his Staff and the Federal officers reached the house, the wagon in which Grant was riding went down to the house, where the terms of surrender were agreed upon.
After the surrender all the Confederate soldiers remained upon the ground until they were all paroled. John Dunn, T.G. Traylor and I received our paroles on April 12th, 1865; they were printed blanks and signed by M.A. Minick, commanding the Pennsylvania Calvary. I brought my parole home with me and regret very much that I have not it to copy in this narrative but it was burned in my office in Atlanta, Ga., on December 9th, 1901. After parole, Dunn, Traylor and I went out to the tow-path of the canal alongside the James River and walked on down to Lynchburg, Va. arriving there just at night where we got something to eat and a place to sleep out in the great open. The next morning before we left I was walking along the sidewalk and discovered a man lying on a bunk in a room on the edge of the sidewalk. I saw he was a Confederate soldier from Virginia, and his face was burned very black. I stopped and asked him what was the matter with him and he said while handling powder the day before it ignited and burnt his face; his eyes were so badly burned he did not know that he would ever see again. He asked me who I was, about my command and where I was going; I told him I was going to walk home to Georgia. He asked me if there was not a gun sitting in the corner of the room, and to hand it to him. It was a new Enfield rifle. He took the gun and pulled out the ramrod, gave it to me and asked me to take it to a blacksmith around the corner and ask him to crook the end of the ramrod for a walking stick. I did this and the blacksmith heated it, crooked the end for a nice handle and I took it back to the man in the room; he felt it and said it was all right and asked me if I had a blanket and oilcloth; I told him I did and he said "My son, you have a long way to go and I want to give you this walking stick so you can twist your blanket and oilcloth and hang them over your shoulder on the handle of this stick; that it will not be so hot and make them easier to carry that if twisted around your neck." I thanked him and accepted the stick and brought it home with me and have it now in my possession here in my room.
Directly after this, John Dunn, Tom Traylor and I hit the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad track, now the main line of the Southern Railway from Selma, Ala. to Washington, D.C. We walked on the railway to a place called Liberty, about forty miles south of Lynchburg, Va. from there we came through to Charlotte N.C. and down to Monroe and Rock Hill, N.C. and to Chester S.C. and from there to Augusta, Ga. We arrived at Augusta on the 8th day of May, 1865, remained there that night and early next morning crawled on top a freight train and came to Atlanta, Ga. arriving just at night. We walked around Atlanta long enough to find nothing left, so to speak, but a pile of burnt debris. I wandered on to the old Union Railroad Station, went out on a lawn where no building had ever been built but which was later the site of the old Markham Hotel; it was about 9 o'clock and I was pretty tired and sleep so got a broad plank, elevated it at one end with a couple of bricks, wrapped myself in my blanket, head and ears, and went to sleep. When I awoke next morning, May 10th, the sun was shining in my face; I got up and looked about me to find I was in the middle of a battery of Yankee artillery that had been brought in and parked around me during the night. About twenty feet from me were several Federal officers having breakfast. One of the officers called to me, "Hello, Johnny Reb, we thought you were dead." I replied that I was not dead by a d--m sight; they laughed and said all that I needed was a good breakfast, and very kindly invited me to come have a seat with them at the mess-chest. I gladly accepted the invitation, took a seat, and had a grand breakfast consisting of number one, good coffee, hard-tack and cured pork, and I did myself full justice to that meal. Soon after breakfast (Dunn and Traylor did not participate in the breakfast as they were prowling around) Dunn, Traylor and I crawled up on top of another freight train going by Newnan, Ga, my home town, down to West Point, Ga. When we arrived at Newnan - John Dunn and I got off, Traylor going on to West Point. We walked up in town where we met a number of men whom I knew, but the town seemed very dilapidated and it looked as if everyone were gone from home, this the 10th day of May, 1865. Dunn and I went out Greenville Street and down the Gordon road - Father and Mother lived on the Gordon road about six miles from Newnan. On the way out we met Uncle E.P. Bailey and my brother, Thomas W. Methvin, whom I had not seen since the little episode at Amelia Springs, Va. to which I referred to in another part of this narrative, coming in a buggy, they were coming to see if there was any news of me. All four of us got into the buggy -- and arrived home about one o'clock - Mother was preparing dinner; when she saw me she ran to the gate and I shall never forget that scene of reunion -- that demonstration of mother love. Father had gone to church, but soon came with a number of relatives who had learned of our arrival. He said that he had prayed for years that God would keep and preserve his three sons who were fighting for their Southland, and return them safely home and that his prayers that his prayers had been answered and we all knelt down then and there and offered up a Thanksgiving. A word about the three sons referred to - my eldest brother Thomas W. Methvin and next brother, Richard R. Methvin, belonged to Company "I" 10th Ga. Battalion, commanded by Major Rylander of Americus, Ga. and were in Rance Wright's Brigade, Hill's Corps, Army of Northern Va. In March 1865 Brother Dick was taken sick and sent to the Jackson Hospital in Richmond, Va. from there he was transferred. Just before the surrender to West Point, Ga. where he remained until the latter part of May before he was able to come home. Brother Tom was at the surrender at Appomatox Court House, and in company with Capt. James W. English of Atlanta, Ga. and Dr. A.B. Calhoun, of Atlanta, formerly of Newnan, Ga. went down to City Point, Va and by boat to Norfolk, from there by steamer to Savannah, Ga. and then home, which put Brother Tom home two or three weeks ahead of me, as I walked all the way to Augusta, Ga. getting my first train ride from there as narrated. After my return home I entered school for the remainder of the year 1865, and for the following four years aided as far as I could in the fight of reconstruction against Scalawags, carpetbaggers from the New England states who infested the country, preaching negro predominancy and social equality at that time. Those scalawags and carpetbaggers took charge of the Government, took full control of the Judicial, executive and legislative departments of the Government, filling offices with scalawags, carpetbaggers and ignorant negroes, many of whom could not write their names, white nor black. It took the heroic and drastic measure to rid the country of this gang of thieves, but by the aid of such men as Ben H. Hill, Alexander Stephens, Bob Toombs, Howell and Tom Cobb, Julius C. Alford, Alfred H. Colquit, John B. Gordon, and many othe patriotic men of Georgia, we finally eliminated this gang of vandals and established a decent and orderly form of Constitutional Government. Those days were even more terrible than the days of actual fighting. In order that every true patriotic southern man and woman should know something of the terror of scallawagism, they should read the "TRAGIC ERA" a book written by Claude G. Bowers, who was born and reared in Indianapolis, Indiana, but now resides in the City of New York and is editor of one of the leading daily papers of New York City. This book is the most complete and truest history of the Reconstruction period of four years that followed the Civil War that was ever written by the pen of man. In reading this book you will see that the author has placed a foot-note on nearly every page which cites the evidence and record from which information was procured, and to authenticate the truth of his statements.
Now in conclusion, I want to thank God for the preservation of life to this day, giving me sufficient physical and mental strength to write this brief history for the part that I took in the Confederate War in defense of my beloved Southland, as I contend, it was for the maintenance and perpetuation of the three great fundamental principles of the Constitutional Government, reserved by our forefathers and delegated to the several state--namely State's Rights, State Sovereignty and Local Self-Government.
I write this brief history and transmit it to my children as a heritage that they may know the truth.
This 1st, day of June 1932. John F. Methvin
Since concluding this brief history I find two items of Historical interest regarding the battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Va. and the results of the "Bloody Angle," in which I participated, which follows. In 1931, the United States Government, dedicated, through the Secretary of War, the cemetery at Spotsylvania Court House in which were buried those who were killed at the Battle of Spotslyvania Court House on the 12th day of May, 1864, and placed marble markers at the head of each grave with the names of each that could be identified, and the cemetery now becomes a National Cemetery.
I noticed an article written Fredericksburg, Va. May 23rd, 1932. "Bloody Angle" a four-acre area in the Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield, has been given to the United States by Mr. and Mrs. Edward T. Stewart, of Philadelphia, Pa. Gifts of the sector was announced here Monday. It included trench lines of fierce battles fought in May 1864. It will become a part of the "War Between the States," monument here. Major Arthur E. Wilborn, secretary of the Battlefield Memorial Commission, announcing the gift, said Mr. Stewart regarding "Bloody Angle" as a sacred spot, and bought it for preservation purposes.
As I participated in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse May 12th, 1864, and at the apex of Bloody Angle, where my battery was in position on the morning of the 12th, May, we lost every officer of my company-Jeff Davis Artillery, three guns, equipment and horses, and twenty-eight men, killed, wounded and captured; the gun to which I belonged was the only one that escaped. This fact induces me to attach the two above historical articles to my record.
This May 23rd, 1932 John F. Methvin
Cottie Methvin/Father Home