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‘ [537] haste. The city is on fire in two places. Am making every effort to put it out.’

But the capture of the rebel capital had now become a comparatively unimportant circumstance. The all-absorbing object was the capture of the rebel army; and when the news that had been waited and wished for so long was communicated to the troops, it created no surprise, no especial exultation even. In the crowd of events and emotions that filled this day, it was only one great subject of rejoicing among many others. ‘Richmond is taken,’ was the word passed along the column. ‘Ah, is it?’ the soldiers said; ‘well, we must make haste now to catch Lee.’

It is difficult to conceive a more dastardly act or a more pitiable fate than supplemented and consummated the fall of Richmond. Here was a city of a hundred thousand inhabitants, which for nearly four years had been the capital of an armed rebellion; the centre and focus of the opposition to the government, now abandoned by its defenders and exposed alone to the punishment which its garrison should have remained to share; which had collected a surplus population, composed in large part of the adventurers and miscreants, the drunkards, and gamblers, and libertines, the characterless characters that congregate around a falling political conspiracy; a city where every man had been engaged in treason, and was liable to its penalties, and every woman had abetted it; a city which had endured the privations of a siege, where provisions were scarce and dear, and money would now be annihilated;1 a

1 The so-called Confederate money of course became worthless wherever the national armies were in possession. It had been almost worthless for months in advance.

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Fitz Hugh Lee (1)
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