It would be hard to estimate the number who had gathered when the grounds were reached.
It could hardly have been less than twenty thousand, probably more.
Every moment the crowd was augmented by new contingents.
Nothing was done by the people but to secure strands of the ropes and look at other people.
The band returned to the city, the small boys played ball on the fields adjacent, and the general mass of citizens, veterans and ladies, finding out by one common consent that no exercises or speech-making would be indulged in, slowly dispersed.
In two's, three's, and in half-dozens, all left the scene, and with one thought, that they had at least contributed by their presence to the honoring of the great chieftain.
Thus closed the day that will long be remembered in Richmond
Never has there been at any public gathering more enthusiasm manifested or greater love shown, and from the baby, who, in nurse's arms, touched the rope, to the old veterans of the ‘Lost Cause,’ who helped to draw the bronze, the people of this city, with one accord, paid loyal tribute to their dead General; and that night there swelled in many hearts and minds the recollections of days that are no more—days when, with martial tread and polished steel, men went forth to meet the enemy; days when, in camp and field, they had suffered the pangs of hunger and thirst; days when, by overwhelming numbers, they had been forced to yield; the day when, at Appomattox
, drawn up in line, they presented an appearance far from that they had made when they had marched forth in 1861; days of strife and misery; days of joy and gladness; days of sickness and death.
These, and many more, were the thoughts that arose to many veterans, and with a deep, drawn sigh, did they remember their comrades who have passed over the river, and who are now sleeping their last sleep under the shade of the trees.
The veterans paid Robert
tribute on the field of battle, while shot and shell awoke the echoing hills.
With as much fervor and patriotism they paid equally as loyal tribute on this occasion; and the 7th of May, 1890, will go down through many ages as the day when, inspired by enthusiasm, they, with tender hands, hauled the bronze image of their leader to the ground of its permanent resting place.