Editor's note: The Times columnist and Investigative Editor Marc Chase is portraying a 19th century journalist at the 150th anniversary of the surrender that effectively ended the Civil War in Appomattox Court House, Va. He is embedded with the 20th Indiana Infantry re-enactors, covering the re-enactment for The Times as if the events are unfolding in real time.
APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE, VA., 1865 | The Northwest Indiana boys of the 20th Indiana Infantry and the rest of the Union Army appear to have the rebels on their last leg in Old Virginia.
News filtered to the fighting men of Lake County Friday that commanding Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia is completely cut off from its supply lines, courtesy of dashing Union Cavalry Gen. George Armstrong Custer's horseback soldiers.
On its last last leg and marching for five days since the fall of the Confederate capital to our boys in blue, Lee's army was attempting to hook up with four needed supply trains.
While our Northwest Indiana boys drilled in camp Friday — in anticipation of a fight that's sure to come Saturday — Custer's cavalry clashed with Lee's artillery, and the Union won the day. All Confederate supply trains were taken.
The 20th Indiana Infantry camp appeared convinced this would spell an end for Lee.
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Pvt. John H. Myers, an original Company B soldier of Lake County, reported following a trail of discarded rebel weapons, blankets and other supplies from fleeing Confederates lightning their loads between Petersburg and Appomattox Court House.
That means the Confederates are running low on rations and any ability to fight, Myers concluded.
Capt. John Shafer, 20th Indiana commander, received orders Friday to drill his men in marching and formations all day, in anticipation of perhaps one final battle Saturday.
Our boys are thinking of home and are ready to finish this.
So many Lake County boys reflected in camp Friday about everyone who has fallen to enemy fire and disease throughout this bloody four-year war, including their own commander, Crown Point's Col. John Wheeler two years ago at Gettysburg, Pa.