Master Lee sits just there yonder upon Traveler. They is the only ones not muddy, not hunkered down in the ground. I hope there ain’t no sharpshooters across Union way what can see him and be good enough at shootin’ to put a ball in his brain. Master Lee’s about all we still gots.
Funny me seein’ him now I’m fixin’ to vamoose. Maybe I’m only seein’ him ‘cause I’ve already made it far enough back. Come night, I’ll be gone. Me along with about half the army, done tricked away, gone home. Home where’s we should’ve always been. Ain’t just that we’s hungry, though I’m here to tell you powerful damn hungry we are. I actually managed to get myself in on a bit of coosh some nights ago but had barely aught before and hardly aught since. Men down to catchin’ and eatin’ what rats still be around.
Thing is, lookit Master Lee over there – clear to me he been eatin’; maybe not high on the hog but starvin’ he ain’t. Getting’ by fine, it seems, and got a couple slaves attendin’ him besides. And see, that there’s the thing; ain’t just that we’re hungry. We been fightin’ and dyin’ and now starvin’ to hold on to some sort of a life we ain’t had and ain’t never gonna have anyway. I’ve been doin’ this from the beginning. I got whooped up into a ruckus early on and I was there in Montgomery with my troop and I heard Jeff Davis and that Stephens vice president get up there and lay their hands on the good book and then go speechifying, and I heard them say then, right then and there that this here war is all about the slaves. That Stephens guy got up there and went into a tirade over how bad the Negro is and how this slavery stuff was a God given right and ain’t no Yankees gonna tell him different. That be close to four years back now and I admit it riled me up, but the thing is I don’t see now how this slavery thing is my affair at all. They got all us poor whites fightin’ so’s the rich whites can have slaves that just makes them richer and look more so down on us poor whites doin’ they biddin’. And I don’t see no more how they biddin’ matters a hoot in hell.
So I’m a gonna get; leave this Petersburg place in its mud. Hell, I dunno what’s gonna happen. Don’t know how those rich whites‘ll manage without their slaves or how the slaves will manage without them; don’t believe they know either. Don’t know that anybody’s really thought about it. Don’t know how we’re all gonna treat each other afterwards; don’t know that I care. DO know that it cain’t be much worse than I been gettin’ treated, basically lied to and used from the start. Not all a us figured that out, but a bunch have and I’m off to join ‘em. Home to my Mama; guess she’s still there, anyways. (I know Pa ain’t – saw him fall). See how the farm still is – hear’d there’s been lots of destruction. If it ain’t; if it’s all shot up, well hell, I hears California’s nice.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.