War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 1059 PARLEY BETWEEN GEN. COJ3B AND COL. KEY. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Official Records

unteers, general field officer of the day, in charge of the pickets. On this the said officer introduced huijiseif as Colonel Key, of General McClellans staff. I am here holding a conversation with General Cobb, to whom permit me to introduce you. Though not recognizing the general at first on account of the great length and color of his beard (it was a brown color, as if burned by the sun), I at once did 50~ 50 S00~ as his name was mentioned, and on Colonel Key~s saying Colonel Simpson, General Cobb, we shook hands and I added F era], I believe, Secretary of Treasury.~~ ~ he ormerly, gen- replied, I once held that position. Why, general, I rejoined, I really did not at first recognize you, though I used to see you in Washington and have had business with you in your office. You have become so metanior- l)hosed by your beard that really I could not identify you.~~ Yes, lie replied, we all seem to be fighting nuder masked faces. The remark I thought singular, and as bearing a construction at variance with the sincerity of the war, though I did not make any reply to show in what sense 1 understood his language. After a few more words of civility, not wishing to unnecessarily intrude myself, I left them, amid joined the officer in command of the dragoon escort, with whom I had some conversation of a general character. Soon after, not feeling satisfied with the condition of things, I returned to the shanty, and requested Colonel Key to see me for a few minutes aside. I said to him, Colonel Key, it has so happened that, though I have beemi acquainted with a number of the officers of General McClellans staff, I have never before been introduced to you. I do not doubt you ai-e on General Mc- Clellans staff, but I am the general field officer of the day, and you must at once perceive the responsibility of my duties in that position. Now, I cannot feel satisfied in relation to this conference you are hold- mug with General Cobb until you show me your credentials. Why, replied lie, do nt you see my escort ~ Dont you see they are United States Dragoons? Yes, said I, but this does not satisfy me. Perceiving that I was in earnest, he bronglit out some papers which lie submitted to me, to one of which I perceived General RobCrt E. Lees name attached. On another, or the samefor I felt a delicacy in examining critically the papersI noticed an indorsement of Dixs name. Colonel Key then notifying me that the interview was on the subject of an exehamige of prisoners, and perceiving, as I have already state(l, the names of Lee and Dix, and, without wishing to appear prying, I felt satisfied that he (Key) had sufficient credentials to hold the parley, and thereupon told him I was satisfied. We then separated, he return- imig to continue the talk with General Howell Cobb in the shamity and I to converse with the lieutenant in charge of the escort. Probably a half hour elapsed after this, when both Key amid Cobb came out of the shamity together and went to the Mechanicsville Bridge, they bid- ding eacl ii at this point, and General Cobb walking over a plank laid across a bro -en ~f e bridge to join the Confeder- ates on the other side. The general having gone Colonel Key mounted his horse audi mine, when I joined him and we rode together up the road to ~th~7iiiTh~ville. For a whmie t~ oo!onel appeared to be in a sort of study, and then re- marked, with a good deal of coolness and dehiberH.tien, Those leaders on the other side talk as if they would fight. Why, who ever doubted it? replied I. Do you think, contimined he, that they, the leaders, re- flect the sentiments of the great mass of the people South? Whether they do or not, I rejoined, there is one thing certain, the masses can- not be reached till you kill the leaders. But, continued he, do