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[694] its reality. The disorder increased each hour. The streets were thronged with fugitives making their way to the railroad depots; pale women and little shoeless children struggled in the crowd; oaths and blasphemous shouts smote the ear. Wagons were being hastily loaded at the Departments with boxes, trunks, etc., and driven to the Danville depot. In the afternoon a special train carried from Richmond President Davis and some of his Cabinet. At the Departments all was confusion; there was no system; there was no answer to inquiries; important officers were invisible, and every one felt like taking care of himself. Outside the mass of hurrying fugitives, there were collected here and there mean-visaged crowds, generally around the commissary depots; they had already scented prey; they were of that brutal and riotous element that revenges itself on all communities in a time of great public misfortune.

The only convocation, the only scene of council that marked the fall of Richmond, took place in a dingy room in a corner of the upper story of the Capitol Building. In this obscure chamber assembled the City Council of Richmond, to consult on the emergency, and to take measures to secure what of order was possible in the scenes about to ensue. It appeared to represent all that was left of deliberation in the Confederate capital. It was a painful contrast to look in upon this scene; to traverse the now almost silent Capitol House, so often vocal with oratory, and crowded with the busy scene of legislation; to hear the echo of the footstep; and at last to climb to the dismal show of councilmen in the remote room where half a dozen men sat at a rude table, and not so many vacant idlers listened to their proceedings. At the head of the board sat an illiterate grocer of the name of Saunders, who was making his last exhibition of Southern spirit, and twenty-four hours thereafter was subscribing himself to some very petty Federal officer, “most respectfully, your most obedient servant.” Here and there, hurrying up with the latest news from the War Department, was Mayor Mayo, excited, incoherent, chewing tobacco defiantly, but yet full of pluck, having the mettle of the true Virginian gentleman, stern and watchful to the last in fidelity to the city that his ancestors had assisted in founding, and exhibiting, no matter in what comical aspects, a courage that no man ever doubted. When it was finally announced by the Mayor that those who had hoped for a despatch from Gen. Lee contrary to what he had telegraphed in the morning, had ceased to indulge such an expectation, and that the evacuation of Richmond was a foregone conclusion, it was proposed to maintain order in the city by two regiments of militia; to destroy every drop of liquor in the warehouses and stores; and to establish a patrol through the night. But the militia ran through the fingers of their officers; the patrols could not be found after a certain hour; and in a short while the whole city was plunged into mad confusion and indescribable horrours.

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