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[746]

XXXV. death of President Lincoln—Peace.—Johnston — DavisTaylorKirby Smith.


President Lincoln had gone1 down to the front in anticipation of Grant's final movement against Lee's right south of Petersburg, and was thenceforward in constant communication with the Lieutenant-General commanding in the field, while Lee made his assault on our lines, Sheridan crossed the James, moving from our farthest right to our extreme left, and Grant impelled the advance of that left with such memorable results. He was mainly at City Point, receiving reports from Grant and telegraphing their substance to the War Department for dissemination over the country till the day after Richmond fell; when2 he accompanied Admiral Porter in a gunboat up to Rockett's, a mile below the city, and thence was rowed up to the wharf, and walked thence, attended by Admiral Porter and by a few sailors armed with carbines, to Gen. Weitzel's headquarters, in the house so recently and suddenly abandoned by Jefferson Davis. Recognized and stared at by all, his hearty greetings, aside from those of our soldiers, were all-but confined to the Blacks, who crowded in thousands to welcome and bless their emancipator; so that it became necessary to summon a military force to clear a way for him through the streets. After holding a hasty levee, the President took a rapid drive through the principal streets, and, at 6 1/2 P. M., left on his return to City Point; whence he repeated his visit to Richmond two days later — this time attended by Mrs. Lincoln, by Vice-President Johnson, several U. S. Senators, &c. He was now waited on by several leading Confederates, who, seeing that their cause was hopelessly lost, were naturally anxious to make the best terms possible; and to whom, in a spirit of kindness and magnanimity that had never been shaken, he lent a favorable ear. In deference to a suggestion by some of their number, he wrote the following:

headquarters armies of the United States, City Point, April 6, 1865.
Major-Gen. Weitzel, Richmond, Va.:
It has been intimated to me that the gentlemen who have acted as the Legislature of Virginia, in support of the Rebellion, may now desire to assemble at Richmond and take measures to withdraw the Virginia troops and other support from resistance to the General Government. If they attempt it, give them permission and protection, until, if at all, they attempt some action hostile to the United States; in which case, you will notify them, giving them reasonable time to leave, and at the end of which time arrest any who remain. Allow Judge Campbell to see this, but do not make it public. Yours, etc.,


The President returned, on the day of Lee's surrender, to Washington; whence he dispatched3 to Gen. Weitzel a recall of the permission above given — the object contemplated by it having been otherwise fully attained. He had, the day before, issued two Proclamations: one of them closing, till further orders, in accordance with law, certain ports in the Rebel States whereof the blockade had been raised by their capture respectively; the other, demanding

1 March 24.

2 April 4.

3 April 12.

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