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[73]

The burning of Richmond, April 3, 1865. [from the Richmond, Va., times-dispatch.]

Colonel Ripley, in command of the Federal troops, gives his recollections of the tragedy.


Editor of The Times-Dispatch.
Sir,—My attention has recently been called to an article in your paper recalling the memories of that eventful day, the 3d of April, 1865, which you may ‘well call the most memorable day in the history of Richmond.’

That day witnessed the entry of the Northern troops into the city after four years of desperate struggle for its possession to find it fired by its own defenders, and being pillaged by its own inhabitants.

The generation that knew of the dramatic events of that great day has mostly passed away, and few remain to tell the true story.

Your own account, correct in the main, leaves so much untold of the real history of that day, that in justice to the heroic and successful labors of the devoted troops to which the city owed its preservation from total destruction, accompanied by an appalling loss of life. I am led to ask you to publish something supplemental, which will let the public know exactly to whom the credit of the saving of the city and the care of the people was due.

At the close of the war, I had the honor of commanding the First Brigade, Third Division, (Deven's Division) Twenty-fourth Army Corps, Army of the James, lying in the trenches at the point where our works approached nearest the city.

My brigade was first over the Confederate works, and headed the advance upon the city. It led the column in the formal entry, and at the City Hall halted while I reported to Major-General Weitzel, commanding the troops operating on the north side of the James that day.

He had taken up his position on the platform of the high steps at the east front of the Confederate Capitol, and there looking down into a gigantic crater of fire, suffocated and blinded with the vast volumes of smoke and cinders which rolled up over and developed us, he assigned me and my brigade to the apparently hopeless task


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Edward H. Ripley (1)
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