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Xxxiv. Fall of Richmond--end of the War.—Grant-Lee — Sheridan.

  • Grant passive
  • -- Rebel attempt to arm negroes -- Warren's advance to the Meherrin -- raid of the Rebel gunboats -- fight at Dabney's Mill -- our left on Hatcher's Run -- Rosser's raid to Beverly -- capture of Kelly and Crook -- Sheridan up the Valley -- Annihilates Early at Waynesboroa -- captures Charlottesville -- Fa is to Cross the James above Richmond -- crosses below, and reaches Grant -- Gordon surprises Fort Steedman -- is repulsed at Fort Haskell -- surrender of 2,000 Rebels -- Meade counter-assaults -- Grant directs a General advance by our left -- Griffin's fight at the White Oak road -- Sheridan advances to five Forks -- falls back to Dinwiddie C. H. -- Lee strikes Warren heavily -- is successful, but finally stopped -- Sheridan again pushed back to Dinwiddie C. H. -- repels his assailants -- Warren hurried to his support -- Rebels recoil -- Sheridan again advances to five Forks, and attacks -- Warren's corps ordered to strike enemy's left flank -- combined attack completely successful -- Pickett routed and driven westward -- Warren superseded by Sheridan -- our guns reopen on Petersburg -- General assault along our front -- forts Gregg and Alexander carried -- miles dislodges the enemy at Sutherland's depot -- Longstreet joins Lee -- Heth repulsed -- A. P. Hill killed -- Lee notifies Davis that Richmond must be evacuated -- the Confederacy fires and quits that City -- Weitzel enters it unopposed -- captures of prisoners and arms -- the news flashed over the loyal States -- universal rejoicings -- Connecticut Election -- Petersburg abandoned -- Lee concentrates at Chesterfield C. H. -- retreats westward by Amelia C. H. -- Sheridan heads hun off from Danville, at Jetersville -- Davies strikes his train at Sabine's Cross-roads -- Lee hastening westward -- Crook strikes him in flank -- is repulsed -- Custer strikes his train at Sailor's creek, and destroys 400 wagons -- Ewell cut off, and, after a fight, compelled to surrender -- Ord strikes Lee's van near Farmville -- is repulsed, and Gen. Read killed -- Lee crosses the Appomattox at Farmville -- his desperate condition -- Grant proposes a surrender -- Humphreys attacks Lee, and is bloodily repulsed -- Lee resumes his flight -- Sheridan heads him at Appomattox C. H. -- last charge of the army of Virginia -- correspondence between Lee and Grant -- Lee surrenders -- parting with his soldiers -- his army dissolved.


Gen. Grant's comprehensive strategy, while it exacted offensive activity in almost every other quarter, was best subserved by quiet in Virginia throughout the eventful Winter of 1864-5. Instead of wishing to drive the Rebel Government and Army from the banks of the James, he constantly apprehended and dreaded a movement by Lee which, abandoning Virginia at least for the time, should precipitate the main Rebel army, [725] reenforced to the utmost, suddenly, unexpectedly, upon Sherman, as he struggled through the gloomy forests and treacherous quicksands of eastern Georgia, or the flooded swamps of South Carolina. Had Lee's effective force (by his muster-rolls, 64,000 men — but suppose the number available for such a campaign but 50,000), swelled by such reenforcements as Hardee, Beauregard, Wheeler, and Hoke, might have afforded him, been hurled upon Sherman, as he confidently approached Savannah, Columbia, or Fayetteville, it is indeed possible that the blow — so closely resembling that dealt to Cornwallis at Yorktown by Washington and Rochambeau — might have been effectively, countered (as theirs was not) by the hurried movement southward by water of corps after corps of the Army of the Potomac; yet the necessity of stopping Sherman's career was so indubitably manifest and vital that it seems strange that every thing was not staked on a throw where success would have kindled new hope in so many sinking hearts, while defeat could only have been what inaction was — ruin. But any suggestion of the abandonment of the Confederate capital was met with such a deafening clamor by the Richmond journals — by which it was pronounced synonymous with surrender at discretion — that Davis and Lee must have been strong men indeed to have chosen to defy it. It does not appear, however, that they ever seriously inclined to an expedient which, even if desperate, was neither so hopeless nor so mortifying as that to which they were actually driven in their grudging, eleventh-hour attempt to recruit their wasted ranks by freeing and arming such slaves (only) as were deemed fit for military service. Had they met Lincoln's first Proclamation of Freedom to such slaves (only) as were not then within his jurisdiction, by an unqualified liberation of every slave in the South and a proffer of a homestead to each of them who would shoulder his musket and help achieve the independence of the Confederacy, it is by no means unlikely that their daring would have been crowned with success; since the passions of their adherents had, by this time, been so thoroughly aroused that they would have welcomed any resort that promised then a triumph over the detested ‘Yankees’; while the Blacks must have realized that Emancipation, immediate and absolute, at the hands of those who had power not only to decree but to enforce, was preferable to the limited, contingent, as yet unsubstantial, freedom promised by the Federal Executive. Unmeasured vituperation of President Lincoln's edict as unwarranted, outrageous, and designed to whet the assassin's knife for the throats of the mothers and sisters of the heroes who had hurled back his armies from the banks of the James and the Tennessee, would have sweetened its bitterness to the Southern Whites, without being especially obnoxious to the emancipated Blacks. But, after having so fiercely reprobated emancipation as essentially a wrong to both races, utterly unjustified by any conceivable exigency of war, and denounced the enlistment on our side of Black soldiers as at once a crime, a futility, and a confession of defeat, and after having mercilessly ridiculed the suggestion that negro slaves could ever be transformed into effective soldiers, [726] the Rebel attempt to replenish with Blacks the thinned ranks of their armies — hitherto largely swelled by appeals to the intense prejudice of the lowest Whites against “Nigger Equality” --was a most palpable and damaging confession that the knell of the Confederacy had sounded.

A single expedition, under Warren, was sent out1 from Meade's left to destroy the Weldon railroad farthe<*> southward, and thus prevent its use by the enemy in transporting supplies from North Carolina nearly up to our lines; whence they were wagoned around our left to Lee's camps. This expedition, consisting of Warren's (5th) corps, Mott's division of the 2d, and Gregg's mounted division, moved down the railroad so far as the Meherrin; across which to Hicksford the few Rebels encountered were driven, while the road was effectually destroyed down to that point — some 20 miles. Hicksford had been fortified, and was strongly held by the enemy; while our troops, having started with but four days rations, were constrained to hasten their return. No considerable loss was suffered, nor (otherwise than in destroying the railroad) inflicted.

The withdrawal of most of our naval force from the James, to participate in the operations against Wilmington, tempted the authorities in Richmond again to try their luck upon the water. Their three ironclads — the Virginia, Fredericksburg, and Richmond — with five wooden steamers, and three torpedo-boats, dropped2 silently down from the city under cover of darkness, passing Fort Brady at midnight, responding to its fire, and dismounting a 100-pounder in its battery; then passing out of its range, and breaking the chain in front of the obstructions placed in the channel by Gen. Butler at the lower end of Dutch gap, so that the Fredericksburg passed through; while the Richmond, Virginia, and Drewry, attempting to follow, grounded: the last-named, being immovable, was abandoned by her crew at day-light, and soon blown up by a shell from one of our batteries; while the Virginia received a 300-pound bolt from a monitor which killed 5 of her crew. Firing was continued on both sides throughout the day; and at night the Rebel fleet — all but the Drewry — drew back to Richmond.

The next effort on our side was made — probably with intent mainly to develop the strength with which the Rebel lines confronting ours were still held — on the old beaten and bloody track ; the 5th and 2d corps, with Gregg's cavalry, pushing out3 from our left to Reams's station, and thence to Dinwiddie C. H.: the 5th corps being directed to turn the Rebel right, while the 2d assailed it in front. The two corps having taken position on the Rebel flank — Smythe's division and McAllister's brigade of Mott's having gallantly repulsed the enemy's attempt to turn the right of the former — Gregg's cavalry were drawn back from Dinwiddie C. H. to Warren's left, which, under Crawford, was now4 thrown forward to Dabney's mill, whence he drove a Rebel force under Gen. Pegram, who was killed. By this time, the enemy had sent a strong force around our left, to strike it in flank and rear, after the Stonewall Jackson [727] fashion. Gregg's cavalry was first assailed by this force, and pushed back to Hatcher's run; Ayres's division, which was hurrying up to the support of Crawford, was next stricken in flank while marching, and pushed back; when the blow fell on Crawford, who was likewise driven, with heavy loss. Following up their success quite too eagerly, the Confederates now attacked Humphreys's (2d) corps, which had had time to intrench, and which promptly sent them to the right about. The loss in this affair on our side was nearly 2,000; that of the Rebels was about 1,000. The ground taken by the 2d corps was held, and our left thus permanently extended to Hatcher's run.

The Rebels in Northern Virginia evinced the greater activity during the Winter. Aside from sundry inconsiderable but annoying dashes through our lines at several points, by the alert, ubiquitous guerrilla, Moseby, Gen. Rosser, with a mounted force, slipped across the main range of the Alleghanies into West Virginia; surprising Beverly, Randolph county; which was held by a garrison of 700, who were caught5 sound asleep, with pickets only 300 yards from their camp; 400 of them made prisoners, the residue dispersed, and much spoil secured in the shape of horses, commissary's and quarter-master's stores. All that could be carried off in their haste was taken; the residue destroyed.

Lt. McNiel, with a squad of Rebel cavalry, dashed into Cumberland, Md., about 3 A. M.;6 seizing Maj.-Gens. Kelley and Crook in their beds, mounting them on horses, and hurrying them off to Richmond. The loss was small; but the impunity with which it was inflicted argued extreme looseness and inefficiency in the picketing and guarding of our lines. Of course, such an enterprise was not attempted without preconcert with traitors on our side.

Gen. Sheridan, still in command in the Valley, was instructed by Gen. Grant to open the campaign of 1865 in Virginia by a magnificent and daring cavalry raid aimed at Lynch-burg and the Rebel communications generally, but with liberty to Sheridan to move southward until he reenforced Sherman — still deficient in cavalry — if that should seem advisable. Sheridan left7 Winchester with 10,000 men — all mounted — and moved so rapidly as to save the bridge at Mount Crawford across the middle fork of the Shenandoah; passing through Staunton,8 and hurling himself on Early, who had made a stand in his intrenchments at Waynesboroa, at the head of some 2,500 men; who were almost instantly routed, with a loss of 1,600 prisoners, 11 guns, 17 flags, and 200 loaded wagons. In fact, there was little left of Early's force but Early himself. The prisoners were sent to Winchester, guarded by 1,500 men; while Sheridan, destroying the railroads, proceeded to Charlottesville;9 which succumbed without a blow: and here he spent two days destroying Rebel depots, manufactories, bridges, &c. By this time, Lynch-burg had taken the alarm, and was too strong for his depleted force: so, dividing it, he struck for the James: one of his two columns destroying the canal from Scottsville to New-market, [728] while the other tore up the Lynch-burg railroad so far.west as Amherst C. H.; thence crossing the country to Newmarket and uniting with the former.

Attempts to surprise and seize bridges over the James at Duguidsville; Hardwicksville, &c., so as to cross and come in on Grant's left, were all baffled by the vigilance of the enemy; while heavy rains had so swollen that river that Sherman's pontoons would not reach across it: so he was compelled to choose between returning to Winchester and passing behind Lee's army to White House and thence to Grant's right. He wisely chose the latter; following and destroying the canal to Columbia,10 where he rested a day, sending scouts with advices to Grant; thence moving easterly, destroying bridges and railroads, across the Annas to the Pamunkey, and down the right bank of that stream to White House;11 where four days were given to most needed rest and recuperation; when he moved down to the James, crossed it at Jones's landing, and reported to Grant in front of Petersburg on the 27th--just in time.

Gen. Lee--foreseeing clearly the speedy downfall of the Confederate cause unless averted by a prompt concentration of its remaining forces and a telling blow delivered thereby on some one of our encircling armies, which were now palpably crushing out the life of the Rebellion — resolved to anticipate Grant's initiative by an attack on his lines before Petersburg and Richmond. This attack was made on Fort Steedman, nearly east of Petersburg, where its success would have cut our army in two, and probably compelled a hasty concentration to recover our lines and works; thereby opening a door for the unassailed withdrawal of the Rebel army southward by the most direct route, to unite with that of Johnston and thus overpower Sherman. It was delivered by Gordon with two divisions: all that was disposable of the Rebel Army of Virginia being collected just behind the assaulting column and held in hand as a support.

Gordon charged at daybreak;12 his men rushing instantly across the narrow space that here separated the confronting lines, and pouring into Fort Steedman, which was held by the 14th N. Y. artillery, who were completely surprised and overwhelmed; part of them fleeing for their lives, while the residue were made prisoners. The guns were deserted without a struggle, and immediately turned by their captors on the adjacent works, whereof three batteries were abandoned by the Union troops and seized by the enemy.

Here their triumph ended. Their assault on Fort Haskell, next to Fort Steedman on the left, was but feebly made and easily repulsed; they failed to press forward and seize the crest of the ridge behind the forts, thus cutting our army in two; the 20,000 men whom Lee had massed in their rear to support the assault either were not promptly ordered forward or failed to respond: so that their initial success had only isolated them, a comparative handful in the midst of an army of foes. In short, it was the Mine explosion repeated with the parts reversed. For, when our soldiers had recovered from their astonishment, [729]

Lee's retreat from Petersburg. Explanations. A. Union lines.

B. Rebel lines.

C. Union routes of march.

D. Rebel routes of march.

28. Positions held previous to movement, March 28.

31. Positions held March 31.

1. Positions at battle of Five Forks, April 1.

2. Extension of lines to the Appomattox, April 2.

5. Positions at Jetersville, April 5.

6. Positions at battle of Sailor's creek, April 6.

7. Positions held evening of April 7.

9. Positions held at times of Lee's surrender, April 9.

[730] and the 9th corps was rallied to drive the foe out — Hartranft's division making the counter-assault — the Rebels were too few to hold their perilous position; while the 5th ground over which they had reached it was so swept by our guns from either side, that 2,000 preferred to surrender rather than follow their fleeing comrades through that terrible fire. Aside from this, the loss of either army was some 2,500.

Nor was this the extent of the enemy's mishap. Gen. Meade, convinced that their lines generally must have been depleted to strengthen this assault, ordered an advance along the front of the 6th and 2d corps, holding our works before Petersburg to the left of Fort Steedman; and this was made with such spirit that the thinned line of the enemy recoiled before it, and their strongly intrenched picket-line was wrested from them and permanently held by their antagonists. Thus, instead of shaking himself free from Grant's gripe, Lee had only tightened it by this bold stroke; rendering his withdrawal to North Carolina even more difficult and hazardous than before.

Grant had already13 prepared, if not issued, his order for a general, determined advance by his left on the 29th. To the obvious reasons which had formerly impelled a movement to flank the enemy's right was now added the necessity of intercepting and precluding Lee's withdrawal to North Carolina. Hence, the strategy of a nearly simultaneous attack on both flanks of the Rebel position was now abandoned: three divisions of the Army of the James, now commanded by Ord, being withdrawn14 from the banks of the James, where it had so long menaced Richmond, and brought over to the left of our lines facing Petersburg; when the (Warren's) and 2d (Humphreys's) corps moved quietly out15 southwestward till they had crossed Hatcher's run; when, facing northward, they advanced, feeling for the enemys right. Sheridan was on our extreme left, at the head of nearly 10,000 cavalry, acting under orders directly from Gen. Grant. The 9th (Parke's) and one of Ord's divisions were left to hold our extended lines under the command of Gen. Parke: all dismounted troopers being ordered to report to Gen. Benham, who guarded our immense accumulation of supplies at City Point.

Humphreys crossed Hatcher's run at the Vaughan road; while Warren, moving farther to the left, crossed four miles below, where the stream, since its junction with Gravelly run, has become Rowanty creek; thence moving up by the Quaker road to strike the Boydton plank-road. Sheridan moved nearly south to Dinwiddie C. H.; where, at 5 P. M., he halted for the night.

Warren's corps alone encountered any serious resistance this day. Approaching the Confederate lines, Griffin's division, leading, was sharply assailed; but held its ground and repulsed the enemy, taking 100 prisoners. Our loss here was 370 killed and wounded. Warren rested for the night in front of the Rebel intrenchments covering the White Oak road. Humphreys — moving in an extended line, over a densely wooded and difficult country, repelling skirmishers only — had not struck the [731] enemy's intrenched line when night arrested his advance.

Rain fell heavily all that night and next day: our infantry doing little beyond perfecting their formation and their connections; while Sheridan, pressing back the enemy, without much fighting, behind his intrenchments, pushed forward part of his cavalry on their right flank to five Forks, where they found the enemy too strong to be ridden over or driven off; and returned, through the rain and mud, to Dinwiddie C. H. Grant, who was on the field, directing the general movement, ordered Warren to support the cavalry; placing him under Sheridan's command.

Next morning,16 the rain had ceased; but the earth was so soaked and flooded that Grant proposed in the main to stand still. But Lee had other views. Alive to his peril, he had left his works immediately covering Richmond to be held by some 8,000 men, under Longstreet, while he hurried all the rest of his infantry, through rain and mire, to the support of his endangered right; his cavalry, which had been posted at Stony creek, far on his right, and which Sheridan's advance had isolated, making a long detour around Dinwiddie C. H. to regain its lost communications.

Warren had pushed forward skirmishers on his left to seize the White Oak road beyond the Rebel right, and had ordered Ayres to advance Winthrop's brigade through the woods to support the effort; when, at 10 1/2 A. M., Lee dealt him an unexpected and staggering blow: striking Ayres heavily in flank and rear; hurling his division back in disorder on Crawford's, which likewise broke; so that there was, for a moment, a prospect of another Chancellorsville. But behind these two stood Griffin's division, well posted in more open ground, whence it refused to be driven; stopping the Rebel advance, while the routed divisions rallied behind it, enabling Warren to assume the offensive; Humphreys supporting his counter-charge by sending in Miles's division on Warren's right to strike the enemy's left flank. Before these well-timed charges the enemy recoiled; taking refuge behind his intrenchments along the White Oak road; having lost heavily by his assault, mainly in prisoners. Still, his position was so strong that repeated and vigorous attempts by Miles, Mott, and Hays, under Humphreys's orders, to penetrate it at different points, were repelled — the abatis which covered its front being even more formidable than the Rebels behind it.

Sheridan, meantime, had renewed his once foiled effort to turn the Rebel right by a resolute advance from Dinwiddie C. H. to Five Forks; and, while Lee's infantry was in conflict with Warren, he had advanced to and carried the coveted position. But now — the attack on Warren having failed — Lee impelled Pickett's and Bushrod Johnson's divisions of infantry westward along the White Oak road to Five Forks, where they fell upon Devin's division and Davies's brigade of cavalry there posted, drove them out in disorder, and followed them nearly to Dinwiddie C. H.; at length interposing between Devin and Sheridan's main line, and compelling [732] Devin to make a long detour by the Boydton plank-road to rejoin his chief. The Rebels, mistaking this for a farther retreat, attempted pursuit; thereby presenting their flank and rear to Sheridan, who charged with the brigades of Gregg and Gibbs; compelling the enemy to let go of Devin, and permit him to rejoin his chief without farther trouble. And, though they now assailed the latter in superior force, fully resolved to drive him, they were unable to make any headway. Sheridan dismounted his troopers, posted them behind a slight breastwork, and received his assailants with so deadly a fire that they recoiled; and darkness fell before they were ready to try again. When morning came, they had been withdrawn by Lee; who doubtless saw that Pickett was exposed to be struck in flank by Warren, while assailed in front by Sheridan, and thus disastrously routed.

Meantime, there was very natural alarm and anxiety at headquarters, where it was only known that Sheridan had been driven back from Five Forks to Dinwiddie, and there attacked by the enemy in force, with every prospect of routing him. Warren received order after order to hasten to Sheridan's rescue, and had sent Ayres's division through the mire and darkness; but Ayres, moving on the Boydton plank-road, had been stopped at Gravelly run, where the bridge was gone; and it was 2 A. M. before he had rebuilt and got across it; hurrying on to Dinwiddie; where he arrived at daybreak;17 just as the last of the Rebels--a picket of cavalry — were hurrying off to join their departed comrades.

Sheridan, who had ascertained by midnight that the enemy were leaving, had been perfectly at ease while all beside his command had passed a night of apprehension on his account; so at daybreak he advanced, supported by Ayres, on the track of his late assailants; being, at 7 A. M., joined midway by Warren with his two other divisions.

Advancing steadily and boldly, Sheridan had, with his cavalry alone, by 2 P. M., pressed back the Rebels into their works at Five Forks, leaving Warren's corps entirely disposable: and now, while directing Gen. Merritt, with his division of cavalry, to threaten to turn the Rebel right, at the same time that they were sharply pressed in front, Sheridan ordered Warren — hitherto passive in his rear — to advance the 5th corps on our right to the White Oak road, so as to be fully on the enemy's left flank, and then, by a left-wheel movement, fall upon that flank in full force, striking the enemy well toward the rear, and rolling his force up on itself, in utter rout and confusion. Meanwhile, McKenzie, with the inconsiderable cavalry of the Army of the James, just arrived, was to cover Warren's right flank against attack from the direction of Petersburg. This order was promptly and thoroughly obeyed; McKenzie vigorously attacking and driving the only Rebel force discoverable in that quarter. This done, he promptly countermarched, and was back in the vicinity of Five Forks, ready to participate in the combined attack, before Warren was prepared to charge.

Sheridan was profoundly dissatisfied with the slowness of Warren's [733] movements, and suspected him of not wishing, to make a decisive charge that day. It was now 4 P. M.--darkness, in that wooded region, would quickly follow sunset — when all offensive operations, over ground to which our men were strangers, must utterly cease. As yet, many more of our men than of the enemy had fallen this day; and the morrow would doubtless show the Rebels either strongly reenforced or missing. Sheridan — a raging lion on the battle-field — sought to hurry Warren's movements, using some language more energetic than courteous; and at length — the whole corps having reached the position assigned it and faced westward — the charge was made; McKenzie's horsemen having been thrown out on Warren's right, so as completely to outflank the Rebels and bar their retreat northward.

Ayres's division advanced nearest to the White Oak road and the Rebel defenses, with Crawford's on its right, or farther north; Griffin's being in reserve behind it. But Crawford's left, advancing across open ground under fire of the enemy — whose left had been refused and formed at right angles with its main line to meet this attack — swerved to the right to gain the shelter of the woods, opening a gap between it and Ayres's right, on which the Rebels now directed their fire, causing it to waver and crumble; a portion of it going to the right — about in haste and disorder.

Sheridan was watching this turning movement and charge in no amiable temper, and now saw its success imperiled by what he considered Warren's indifference or inefficiency; for he believed this chasm in our charging lines could never have been opened if our troops had been handled with energy and resolution. He therefore deprived18 Warren of his command, giving it to Griffin, whose division he ordered thrown forward to fill the gap in our line, which was now impelled forward with irresistible momentum; while Merritt, with the cavalry, charged the enemy's front.

The Confederates, facing their foes in each direction, stood bravely to their arms; but they were two divisions — Pickett's and Bushrod Johnson's — against at least double their number, and their case was manifestly hopeless. In a few minutes, Ayres's division burst over their flank intrenchments, taking 1,000 prisoners; while Griffin struck their refused flank in the rear, capturing 1,500 more; and Crawford — resisted only by skirmishers — pressed forward rapidly to the Ford road, running northward from their center, precluding their retreat toward Lee; and then, turning southward on that road, came rapidly down upon their rear, taking 4 guns — our cavalry all the time sharply assailing their front and right, and at length charging over their intrenchments, as Ayres and Griffin, having turned their left out of its works, bore down upon its renewed front, hurling all that remained of the enemy in disorderly flight westward; charged and pursued for miles by our cavalry until long after dark, and until our prisoners exceeded 5,000 ; while our total loss this day was but about 1,000. At this cost, [734] Lee's right wing had been substantially demolished. Among our killed was Brig.-Gen. Fred'k Winthrop (Col. 9th N. York), cousin to Maj. Theo. Winthrop, killed at Big Bethel.

Sheridan now directed Griffin to move eastward with two divisions of his infantry to Gravelly church, some miles toward Petersburg, thus reopening his communications with the rest of our army, while Griffin's own division (now Bartlett's) supported McKenzie's cavalry, which had pushed northward up the Ford road to Hatcher's run.

And now, as darkness fell, by Grant's order, our guns in position before Petersburg opened from right to left, making the night lurid with a bombardment that proclaimed the signal victory just achieved on our left, and predicted more decisive triumphs at hand. Wright, Parke, and Ord, still holding our intrenchments facing Petersburg and thence eastward to the Appomattox, were ordered to assault, and did assault, at daybreak next morning.19 Parke, in front of Petersburg, carried, with his (9th) corps, the outer line of Rebel works confronting him, capturing some guns; but found an inner line behind them which he could not force, and desisted; Wright, on his left, with the 6th corps, supported by two divisions of Ord's, charging at dawn, drove every thing before him up to the Boydton road; on which, wheeling to the left, toward Hatcher's run, he swept down the rear of the Rebel intrenchments, capturing many guns and several thousand prisoners: meantime, Ord's other division had forced the enemy's lines at the run; and now Weight and Ord swung to the right, pressing on Petersburg from the west; while Humphreys, farther to our left, with Hays's and Mott's divisions of the 2d corps, having stormed a redoubt in his front, came up with two divisions, closing in on their left. Thereupon, the Rebel lines defending Petersburg on the south were assaulted by Gibbon's division of Ord's corps, which carried by storm two strong and important works--Forts Gregg and Alexander--shortening our besieging lines, and weakening the defenses of that city. Fort Gregg was held by Harris's Mississippi brigade, now reduced to 250; of whom but 30 remained when it fell. Gibbon's loss in this assault was about 500.

Miles's division of the 2d corps had been sent to reenforce Sheridan, reaching him at daybreak, and had been directed to follow the White Oak road eastward toward Petersburg, and attack the enemy at the intersection of the Claiborne road, where they were reported in force; Sheridan following immediately, with Griffin's and Crawford's divisions of the 5th. Miles assailed and carried the designated position; forcing the enemy northward across Hatcher's run, and pursuing them to Sutherland's depot; where he was about to attack when Gen. Humphreys came up and reclaimed Miles's division: when Sheridan desisted, returned to Five Forks, and took the Ford road out to Hatcher's run, where he crossed the 5th corps and moved rapidly toward Sutherland's depot, to strike in flank and rear the enemy who had confronted Miles. But Miles, ere this, under Humphreys's order, had dislodged [735] and defeated his antagonists, taking 2 guns and 600 prisoners.

Longstreet, who had hitherto held the defenses of Richmond north of the James, had joined Lee at Petersburg at 10 A. M. this day, with Benning's brigade; and A. P. Hill, on Lee's left, now ordered a charge by Heth to regain some of the works carried by Parke in his assault. The attack was so vigorous and persistent that our men holding City Point were ordered up to Parke's support. Heth was repulsed. Hill was shot dead while reconnoitering this day. He was among the ablest of Lee's lieutenants.

Petersburg was still held by the Rebel army; but Lee saw that it could not be held much longer. His heavy losses — by this time exceeding 10,000 men — and the utter demolition of his right, rendered it morally certain that to hold on was to insure the capture or destruction of his army; and well he knew that his veterans were the last hope of the Rebellion. For Grant was now at liberty to throw forward his left to the Appomattox; while it was morally certain that his cavalry would soon clutch the railroad junction at Burkesville, which had now become the jugular vein of the gasping Confederacy. At 10 1/2 A. M., therefore, he telegraphed to Davis in Richmond a dispatch, containing very nearly these words:

My lines are broken in three places. Richmond must be evacuated this evening.

That message found Mr. Davis, at 11 A: M., in church, where it was handed to him, amid an awful hush; and he immediately went quietly, soberly out — never to return as President of the Confederacy. No word was spoken; but the whole assemblage felt that the missive he had so hastily perused bore words of doom. Though. the handwriting was not blazoned on the wall, it needed no Daniel to declare its import.

But no one can duly depict that last afternoon and night of Confederate rule in Richmond but an eyewitness: so let Pollard narrate for us the visible collapse and fall of the Slave Power in its chosen metropolis. After stating how, upon Mr. Davis's withrawal from church, “the rumor was caught up in the streets that Richmond was to be evacuated, and was soon carried to the ends of the city,” he proceeds:

Men, women, and children, rushed from the churches, passing from lip to lip news of the impending fall of Richmond. And yet, it was difficult to believe it. To look up to the calm, beautiful sky of that Spring day, unassailed by one single noise of battle, to watch the streets, unvexed by artillery or troops, stretching away into the quiet, hazy atmosphere, and believe that the capital of the Confederacy, so peaceful, so apparently secure, was in a few hours to be the prey of the enemy, and to be wrapped in the infernal horrors of a conflagration I

It was late in the afternoon when the signs of evacuation became apparent to the incredulous. Wagons on the streets were being hastily loaded at the departments with boxes, trunks, &c., and driven to the Danville depot. Those who had determined to evacuate with the fugitive Government looked on with amazement; then, convinced of the fact, rushed to follow the Government's example. Vehicles suddenly rose to a premium value that was astounding; and ten, fifteen, and even a hundred dollars, in gold or Federal currency, was offered for a conveyance. Suddenly, as if by magic, the streets became filled with men, walking as though for a wager, and behind them excited negroes with trunks, bundles, and luggage of every description. All over the city, it was the same — wagons, trunks, bandboxes, and their owners, a mass of hurrying fugitives, filling the streets. The banks were all open, and depositors were as busy as bees removing their specie deposits; and the directors were equally active in getting off their bullion. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of [736] paper money was destroyed, both State and Confederate. Night came; and with it came confusion worse confounded. There was no sleep for human eyes in Richmond that night.

The City Council had met in the evening, and resolved to destroy all the liquor in the city, to avoid the disorder consequent on the temptation to drink at such a time. About the hour of midnight, the work commenced, under the direction of committees of citizens in all the wards. Hundreds of barrels of liquor were rolled into the street, and the heads knocked in. The gutters ran with a liquor freshet, and the fumes filled and impregnated the air. Fine cases of bottled liquors were tossed into the street from third-story windows, and wrecked into a thousand pieces. As the work progressed, some straggling soldiers, retreating through the city, managed to get hold of a quantity of the liquor. From that moment, law and order ceased to exist. Many of the stores were pillaged; and the side-walks were encumbered with broken glass, where the thieves had smashed the windows in their reckless haste to lay hands on the plunder within. The air was filled with wild cries of distress, or the yells of roving pillagers.

But a more terrible element was to appear upon the scene. An order had been issued from Gen. Ewell's headquarters to fire the four principal tobacco warehouses of the city-namely, the public warehouse, situated at the head of the basin, near the Petersburg railroad depot; Shockoe ware-house, situated near the center of the city, side by side with the Gallego flour-mills; Mayo's warehouse, and Dibrell's warehouse, on Cary-st., a square below Libby prison.

Late in the night, Mayor Mayo had dispatched, by a committee of citizens, a remonstrance against this reckless military order, which plainly put in jeopardy the whole business portion of Richmond. It was not heeded. Nothing was left for the citizens but to submit to the destruction of their property. The warehouses were fired. The rams in the James river were blown up. The Richmond, Virginia, and another one, were all blown to the four winds of heaven. The Patrick Henry, a receivingship, was scuttled. Such shipping, very little in amount, as was lying at the Richmond wharves, was also fired, save the flag-of-truce steamer Allison.

The bridges leading out of the city — namely, the Danville railroad bridge, the Petersburg railroad bridge, Mayo's bridge, leading to Manchester and the opposite side of the James were also fired, and were soon wrapped in flames.

Morning broke upon a scene such as those who witnessed it can never forget. The roar of an immense conflagration sounded in their ears; tongues of flame leaped from street to street; and in this baleful glare were to be seen, as of demons, the figures of busy plunderers, moving, pushing, rioting, through the black smoke and into the open street, bearing away every conceivable sort of plunder.

The scene at the commissary depot, at the head of the dock, beggared description. Hundreds of government wagons were loaded with bacon, flour, and whisky, and driven off in hot haste to join the retreating army. Thronging about the depot were hundreds of men, women, and children, black and white, provided with capacious bags, baskets, tubs, buckets, tin pans, and aprons; cursing, pushing, and crowding; awaiting the throwing open of the doors, and the order for each to help himself.

About sunrise, the doors were opened to the populace; and a rush that almost seemed to carry the building off its foundation was made, and hundreds of thousands of pounds of bacon, flour, &c., were soon swept away by a clamorous crowd.

Our lines opposite Richmond — that is, north of the James — had been held, since Ord's withdrawal south-ward, by Gen. Godfrey Weitzel, with Kautz's division of the 24th, and Ashborne's and Thomas's divisions of the 25th corps, under instructions from Grant to make the utmost show of strength and purpose to assault, so as to keep the enemy here in force, while the bulk of our army should be flanking and fighting him out of Petersburg. These instructions had been faithfully, efficiently obeyed; though Longstreet, confronting Weitzel, had at length suspected the true character of Grant's strategy, and had himself, with a part of his force, moved southward to the help of Lee at Petersburg. Weitzel, however, persisted in speaking daggers, but using none; and, throughout the memorable Sunday evening of the Rebel Hegira, though his guns were silent, his bands were vocal far into the night, treating our friends behind the opposite intrenchments with variations [737] and iterations of “Hail Columbia,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “The star-spangled Banner,” in utter disregard of Shakspeare's dictum averring a natural antagonism between Treason and Melody. No one on our side seems to have suspected that the Rebel soldiery were even then stealthily withdrawing from their works in our front, preparatory to hastening after their comrades who had already filed hurriedly and dolefully out of the opposite portals of Richmond.

At length, our musicians having played the soldiers to sleep, had themselves sunk also to rest, when, about 2 A. M.,20 Weitzel, still alert, was startled by the sound of explosions. They were fewer, nearer, and heavier, than the dull, continuous booming of cannon in the south, which had been audible throughout the previous morning; and they evidently claimed instant attention. Lt. J. L. Depeyster, of his staff, having ascended the signal tower, 70 feet high, at headquarters, reported, on his return, that he had seen a great light in the direction of Richmond, but could not determine whether that city was or was not on fire. Efforts were now made to capture a Rebel picket; and, about 3 A. M., one was clutched; who, in response to inquiries, said he belonged to the 37th Virginia artillery, but could tell neither where his regiment nor its commander then was. Gen. G. F. Shepley, Weitzel's chief of staff, at once inferred that the Rebels were evacuating Richmond — a conjecture which was verified at 3 1/2, by the report of a deserter; and at 4, a negro drove into our lines in a buggy, who confirmed the statement. Yet the Rebel works in front were so intricate, and the ground was known to be so studded with torpedoes, that it was not till after broad daylight that our soldiers went forward — Draper's Black brigade in advance — over a road strewn with all manner of abandoned munitions and amid a perpetual roar of bursting shells. But the position of each of the abundant torpedoes planted by the Rebels was indicated, for their own safety, by a little red flag, which, in the hurry of their departure, they had failed to remove: so there were few, if any, casualties.

The Rebel defenses appeared to have been, while manned, almost impregnable. Two separate lines of abatis, three lines of rifle-pits and earth works — the first and second connected by regular lines of redans — with a fort or very strong earth-work on every elevation — such were a part of the impediments which had so long kept our soldiers out of Richmond. If one of these lines had been carried, it was completely commanded by that next behind it; so that our loss while holding it must have been ten to one; while to advance and storm the next barrier must, for the moment, have involved still greater prodigality of life. Yet these works our troops had lain down the previous night expecting to assail at daybreak in the morning.

At 6 A. M., Gen. Weitzel and staff, having already cleared the exterior defenses, riding rapidly past our still advancing column, entered the immediate suburbs of the burning city, amid a constant roar of exploding shells and falling walls, and were received with shouts of welcome and exultation from thousands of (mainly) [738] negro throats. The last of the Rebel soldiers had departed, or were just going. Majs. A. H. Stevens, 4th Mass., and E. Graves, of Weitzel's staff, had already hoisted two cavalry guidons over the imposing Capitol of Virginia, wherein the Confederate Congress had, since July, 1861, held its sittings; but these, being scarcely visible from beneath, were now supplanted by a real American flag, formerly belonging to the 12th Maine, which had floated over the St. Charles, at New Orleans, when that hotel was Gen. Butler's headquarters. Gen. Shepley had long since expressed a hope that it might yet wave over Richmond; whereupon, Lt. Depeyster had asked and obtained permission to raise it there, should opportunity be afforded; and now, having brought it hither on purpose, it was run up on a flag-staff rising from the Capitol, and saluted with enthusiastic huzzas from the excited thousands below.

Jefferson Davis had left at 10 P. M. of Sunday. Nearly all the Rebel officials, including their members of Congress, had also taken their leave; as had William Smith, Rebel Governor of Virginia, and most of his satellites. There was no shadow of resistance offered to our occupation; and there is no room for doubt that a large majority of all who remained in Richmond heartily welcomed our army as deliverers. Probably some cheered and shouted who would have done it with more heart and a better grace if our soldiers had been brought in as prisoners of war.

The city was of course placed under military rule: Gen. G. F. Shepley being appointed Governor; Lt.-Col. Manning, Provost-Marshal. The fire was extinguished so soon as possible; but not till it had burned out the very heart of Richmond, including its great warehouses, the post-office, the treasury, the principal banks, newspaper offices, &c. The losses of private property by the conflagration must have amounted to many millions of dollars, since a full third of the city was destroyed. Libby prison, Castle Thunder, and the Tredegar Iron-works, were unharmed.

Though most of the Confederate stores had been burned, the spoils were considerable. They included 1,000 prisoners, beside 5,000 sick and wounded left in the hospitals, over 500 guns, at least 5,000 small arms, 30 locomotives, 300 cars, &c., &c. Lack of time or of fuel doubtless prevented the loading of these cars with munitions and provisions, and taking them along with the fugitive host.

Before noon of that day, the news of Richmond's fall had been flashed across the loyal States, and it was soon confirmed by telegrams from President Lincoln, then at City Point, and from the Secretary of War at Washington. At once, all public offices were closed, all business suspended by that great majority who profoundly rejoiced in the National triumph, so long, so anxiously awaited — which had seemed so often just at hand, and the next moment farther off than ever — so intensely longed for by the Millions' who had for years been constrained to endure the taunts of Northern sympathizers with the Rebels, and “the heart-sickness of hope deferred.” These instantly and undoubtingly comprehended that the fall of Richmond was a death-blow to the Rebellion, and rejoiced over it accordingly. In New York, an impromptu [739] gathering of many thousands immediately filled Wall-street, and listened, with cheers and thanks-giving, to dispatches, addresses, &c.; while the bells of Trinity and St. Paul's chimed melodiously with the general joy and praise. So in Washington and other great cities, the popular feeling of relief and gratitude found many modes of expression, wherein the readers of next day's journals will detect no unmanly exultation over the fallen, and scarcely a word bespeaking wrath or bitterness, or demanding vengeful inflictions on those whose unhallowed ambition had so long divided, so widely devastated, and so nearly destroyed, the Republic.

That joyful Monday was the Annual Election in Connecticut--a State so closely contested barely five months before — but now every county went Republican by an aggregate majority of over 10,00021--the victorious host, for the first time in many years, choosing a Representative in Congress from each of the four districts, and making a pretty clean sweep locally and generally. A leading Democratic journal accounted for its party's over-whelming defeat by the fact that the votes were cast while guns were thundering, bands playing, and excited crowds shouting themselves hoarse, over the fall of Richmond.

Petersburg was of course evacuated simultaneously with Richmond; and so noiselessly that our pickets, scarcely a stone's throw from the abandoned lines, knew not that the enemy were moving till morning showed that they were gone — no explosions and no conflagration having here marked the flight of the Rebels; who were miles away when our troops, at daybreak, proudly marched unopposed into the city for which they had so long struggled, and which, although surrendered by its civil authorities, gave but a sullen welcome to its new masters. The hearty responses to the enthusiastic cheers of the victors issued from Black throats alone.

Hours ere this, the Rebel government, with its belongings, had passed down the railroad several miles north of Petersburg to Danville, where it halted, and whither Lee hoped to follow it with the remnant of his army; thence forming a junction with Johnston, and thus collecting a force which, if too weak to protract the contest, would at least be strong enough to command favorable terms. But now the purpose and value of Grant's tenacious, persistent extensions of his left became palpable to the most obstinate of the multitudinous decriers of his military capacity. To have beaten Lee by a fair front attack would have thrown him back possibly to Lynchburg or Danville: beating him by turning and crushing his right might prove his utter destruction. For, now that his shattered array could no longer cling to its formidable intrenchments around Richmond and Petersburg, and must retreat hurriedly westward or south-ward, the position of the 5th (Griffin's) corps at Sutherland's, 10 miles west of Petersburg, with Sheridan's cavalry at Ford's, 10 miles farther west, barring his way up the south bank of the Appomattox, with nearly all the residue of Grant's forces but Weitzel's command south or south-west [740] of Petersburg, so narrowed and distorted his possible lines of retreat as to render the capture or dispersion of his entire army at least possible. And, with Grant and Sheridan as his antagonists, it was morally certain that all would be made of their advantages that could be.

The Army of Virginia--now reduced by desertions and its recent heavy losses, mainly in prisoners, to 35,000 men — was concentrated, from Richmond on the north to Petersburg on the south, at Chesterfield C. H.; thence moving rapidly west-ward to Amelia C. H., where Lee had ordered supplies to meet him by cars from Danville; but where he found none — an order from Richmond having summoned22 the train to that city to aid in bearing away the fugitives; and it was taken with-out unloading: so that the over-matched, worsted, retreating, and fainting Rebel soldiery, while endeavoring to evade the fierce pursuit of Sheridan's troopers, must snatch their subsistence from the impoverished, exhausted country. And, while Lee halted here, throughout the 4th and 5th, trying to gather from any and every quarter the means of feeding his famished men, Sheridan, moving rapidly westward by roads considerably south of Amelia C. H., had struck the Danville railroad at Jetersville, while his advance had swept down that road nearly to Burkesville, scattering by the way such portions of the Rebel cavalry as had fled west-ward from their discomfiture at Five Forks. At Deep creek, a considerable force of infantry was encountered,23 and ultimately driven by the 5th corps. Concentrating at Jetersville, Sheridan had here planted him-self across the railroad, intrenched his infantry, and, supported by his cavalry, prepared to stop Lee's entire force, until Grant and Meade, pursuing, should be able to overtake and crush him. Meade, with the 2d and 6th corps, came up late on the 5th, while Lee was still at Amelia C. H. Thus the provisions which the Confederates at Lynchburg and Danville had collected and prepared to send to Lee were intercepted, and all hope of succor to his sore beset army cut off.

Lee left Amelia C. H. at nightfall of the 5th; moving around the left of Meade and Sheridan's position at Jetersville, striking for Farmville, in order to recross there the Appomattox, and, if possible, thus escape his pursuers.

But this was not to be. Already, Gen. Davies, making a strong reconnoissance to our left and front, had struck, at Paine's cross-roads, Lee's train, moving in advance of his infantry, and destroyed 180 wagons; capturing 5 guns and many prisoners. Lee's soldiers, not far behind, attempted to envelop and crush our cavalry, now swelled by Gregg's and Smith's brigades, sent to support Davies; and a spirited fight ensued; but Davies was extricated; falling back on Jetersville; where nearly our whole army was next morning24 concentrated, and the pursuit vigorously resumed: Sheridan returning the 5th corps to Meade, and henceforth commanding the cavalry only.

Crook, now holding Sheridan's left (facing eastward), advanced to Deatonsville, where Lee's whole army was seen moving rapidly westward. [741] He immediately charged, as directed by Sheridan; well knowing the inferiority of his force, but determined to detain the enemy, at whatever cost, until supports on our side could arrive.

The result justified the daring. Crook was repulsed; but meantime Custer, with his division of horse, struck again, farther on; gaining the road at Sailor's creek — a petty tributary of the Appomattox — where, Crook and Devin coming promptly to his support, he pierced the Rebel line of march, destroying 400 wagons and taking 16 guns, with many prisoners.

Ewell's corps, following the train, was thus cut off from Lee. Its advance was now gallantly charged by Col. Stagg's brigade; and thus time was gained for the arrival of the leading division (Seymour's) of the 6th (Wright's) corps, pursuing the Confederate rear; when Ewell recoiled, fighting stoutly, till Wheaton's division also came up, and, a part of our infantry, advancing, were momentarily repelled by a deadly fire. But the odds were too great: Ewell's veterans — inclosed between our cavalry and the 6th corps, and sternly charged by the latter, without a chance of escape — threw down their arms and surrendered. Ewell him-self and four other Generals were among the prisoners, of whom over 6,000 were taken this day.

Ere this, Ord, reaching out from Jetersville farther west, had struck the head of Lee's marching column near Farmville, as it was preparing to cross the river. Ord's advance consisted of two regiments of infantry and a squadron of cavalry under Brig.-Gen. Theodore Read, who at once attacked, defying immense odds, in the hope of arresting the flight of the Rebels, and burning the bridges before them. But this they could not permit, and, rallying in over-whelming strength, they hurled their assailants aside with heavy loss, clearing their way to the bridges; Read being among our killed. His attack, however, had arrested the enemy's march, compelling him to lose precious time.

Lee, during tile ensuing evening, crossed the Appomattox on bridges at Farmville, and, marching all night, he seemed to have left his pursuers well in the rear. But, while his men were fainting and falling by the way, his animals were dying of hunger. ( “Soldiers,” says a cynic, “ may live on enthusiasm; but horses must have oats.” ) His remaining handful of cavalry was useless; his few residuary guns were yet too heavy for the gaunt beasts who drew them. Though his van was miles away, his rear was barely across the river before dawn;25 and the bridges were only fired, not consumed, when the van of our 2d corps (Humphreys's)--which had now taken the lead — rushed up and saved that on the wagon-road. The rail-road bridge was destroyed. Barlow's division was soon over the river, expecting a fight, as the enemy threatened it; but there was only a rearguard left, and they soon retired; blowing up a bridge-head, and abandoning 18 guns.

During the night of the 6th, many of the chief officers of the fleeing army met around a bivouac-fire to discuss their desperate situation. Upon a full survey, they unanimously concluded [742] that a capitulation was inevitable. Even if they were yet strong enough to beat off and cut through the host of pursuers so sharp upon their trail, they could only do so by the sacrifice of their remaining guns and munitions, and in a state of utter inefficiency from famine. Already, weakness and fatigue had compelled half of their followers to throw away the arms which they were no longer able to carry. Lee was not present; but the judgment of the council was conveyed to him through Gen. Pendleton.

Gen. Lee was spared by Gen. Grant the pain of first proposing a surrender. While directing from Farmville the pursuit, the latter dispatched to the front next morning the following letter:

April 7, 1865.
General — The result of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so; and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.


The letter reached Lee toward night; ere which, Humphreys, following on his track, had been halted, 4 or 5 miles north of Farmville, by all that was left of Lee's forces, intrenched in a strong position, covering both the old and plank roads to Lynchburg, with batteries commanding an open, gentle southward slope of half a mile, over which an assaulting column could only advance at a heavy cost. Humphreys attempted to turn the enemy's flank, but found this impracticable with his single corps; when, sending up Barlow in front, and extending his right, he ordered Miles to attack on this wing; which he did, and was repulsed with a loss of over 600 killed and wounded. Brig.-Gen. Smyth and Maj. Mills were among our killed; Maj.-Gen. Mott, Brig.-Gens. Madill and McDougall, and Col. Starbird, 19th Maine, were severely wounded. When Barlow had got into position, it was too late to assault again that night; and, when darkness had shrouded his movements, Lee silently resumed his retreat, first sending this response to Grant, which reached him at Farmville next morning:

April 7, 1865.
General — I have received your note of this date. Though not entertaining the opinion you express on the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia, I reciprocate your desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and therefore, before considering your proposition, ask the terms you will offer on condition of its surrender.


To this, Grant immediately replied:

April 8, 1865.
General — Your note of last evening, in reply to mine of same date, asking the condition on which I will accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, is just received. In reply, I would say that, peace being my great desire, there is but one condition I would insist upon, namely: that the men and officers surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms again against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged. I will meet you, or will designate officers to meet any officers you may name for the same purpose, at any point agreeable to you. for the purpose of arranging definitely the terms upon which the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia will be received.


Sheridan, with all his cavalry, had started again on the morning of the 7th; Merritt, with two divisions, moving by the left to Prince Edward C. H., to head off Lee from retreating on [743] Danville. This was a miscalculation; and exposed Crook, who, with the remaining division, with difficulty forded the Appomattox near Farmville, to repulse from a body of Rebel infantry defending a train which they charged; our Gen. Gregg being here captured. So our brilliant successes of the 6th were followed by none whatever on the 7th.

Pursuit was resumed by all hands on the morning of the 8th; the 2d and 6th corps, under Meade, moving north of the Appomattox, or directly on the trail of the enemy; while Sheridan, undeceived as to Lee's making for Danville, led his cavalry to head him off from Lynchburg, his only remaining refuge. Ord's and Griffin's corps followed the cavalry; but of course did not keep pace with them.

SheridanCrook having already, by order, recrossed the Appomattox — concentrated his troopers on Prospect station, and pushed on Merritt's and Crook's divisions briskly to Appomattox station, on the Lynchburg railroad, 5 miles south of Appomattox C. H., where he had been apprised by scouts that four trains had just arrived from Lynchburg, laden with supplies for Lee's hungry followers. By a march of 28 miles, the depot and trains were reached; and, by the skillful dispositions of Gen. Custer, holding our advance, surrounded and captured. Without a moment's hesitation, Custer, supported by Devin, pushed on toward Appomattox C. H., finding himself confronting the van of Lee's army, which he fought till after dark, driving it back on the main body, capturing 25 guns, a hospital train, a large park of wagons, and many prisoners. Sheridan brought up the rest of his cavalry so fast as possible; planting it directly across the path of the enemy, and preparing to hold on, while securing the captured trains, and sending word to Griffin, Ord, and Grant, that the surrender or destruction of Lee's entire force was now inevitable. In consequence of these advices, Griffin and Ord, with the 5th, the 24th, and one division of the 25th corps, reached, by a forced march, Appomattox station about daylight next morning.26

But one hope remained to Lee. Ruefully aware that Sheridan had intercepted his flight, he presumed his way blocked by cavalry alone, and at once ordered a charge of infantry. He had sent, at evening before, the following response to Grant's later overture:

April 8, 1865.
General — I received at a late hour your note of to-day. In mine of yesterday, I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender of this army; but, as the restoration of peace should be the sole object of all, I desired to know whether your proposals would lead to that end. I can not, therefore, meet you with a view to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia; but, as far as your proposal may affect the Confederate States forces under my command, and tend to the restoration of peace, I should be pleased to meet you at 10 A. M. to-morrow, on the old stage-road to Richmond, between the picket-lines of the two armies.


Grant was with the column pursuing directly under Meade, and received the above about midnight. Before starting next morning to join Sheridan and Griffin, he dispatched the following reply: [744]

April 9, 1865.
General — Your note of yesterday is received. I have no authority to treat on the subject of peace. The meeting proposed for 10 A. M. to-day could lead to no good. I will state, however, General, that I am equally anxious for peace with yourself, and the whole North entertains the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms, they will hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed. Seriously hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of another life, I subscribe myself, &c.,


Sheridan was with his cavalry near the Court House, when the Army of Virginia made its last charge. By his order, his troopers, who were in line of battle, dismounted, gave ground gradually, while showing a steady front, so as to allow our weary infantry time to form and take position. This effected, the horsemen moved swiftly to the right and mounted, revealing lines of solid infantry in battle array, before whose wall of gleaming bayonets the astonished enemy recoiled in blank despair, as Sheridan and his troopers, passing briskly around the Rebel left, prepared to charge the confused, reeling masses. A white flag was now waved by the enemy before Gen. Custer, who held our cavalry advance, with the information that they had concluded to surrender. Riding over to Appomattox C. H., Sheridan was met by Gen. Gordon, who requested a suspension of hostilities, with the assurance that negotiations were then pending between Gens. Grant and Lee for a capitulation.

Gen. Grant, before reaching Sheridan's head quarters, had received the following additional note:

April 9, 1865.
General — I received your note of this morning on the picket-line, whither I had come to meet you, and ascertain definitely what terms were embraced in your proposal of yesterday with reference to the surrender of this army. I now ask an interview in accordance with the offer contained in your letter of yesterday for that purpose.


The two commanders met immediately at the dwelling of Mr. W. McLean, near the Court House. The interview was brief: the business in hand frankly discussed, as became soldiers. Three commissioners on either side were appointed; but the day's work was done by the chiefs, and its result summed up in these concluding letters:

Appomattox Court House, Va., April 9, 1865.
General — In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th instant, I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate; one copy to be given to an officer to be designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged; and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery, and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officers appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.


headquarters army of Northern Va., April 9, 1865.
General — I received your letter of this date, containing the terms of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia as proposed by you. As they are substantially the same as those expressed in your letter of the 8th instant, they are accepted. I will proceed to designate the proper officers to carry the stipulations into effect.


[745]

The parting of Lee with his devoted followers was a sad one. Of the proud army which, dating its victories from Bull Run, had driven McClellan from before Richmond, and withstood his best effort at Antietam, and shattered Burnside's host at Fredericksburg, and worsted Looker at Chancellorsville, and fought Meade so stoutly, though unsuccessfully, before Gettysburg, and baffled Grant's bounteous resources and desperate efforts in the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania, on the North Anna, at Cold Harbor, and before Petersburg and Richmond, a mere wreck remained. It is said that 27,000 were included in Lee's capitulation; but, of these, not more than 10,000 had been able to carry their arms thus far on their hopeless and almost foodless flight. Barely 19 miles from Lynchburg when surrendered, the physical possibility of forcing their way thither, even at the cost of half their number, no longer remained. And, if they were all safely there, what then? The resources of the Confederacy were utterly exhausted. Of the 150,000 men whose names were borne on its muster-rolls a few weeks ago, at least one-third were already disabled or prisoners, and the residue could neither be clad nor fed — not to dream of their being fitly armed or paid; while the resources of the loyal States were scarcely touched, their ranks nearly or quite as full as ever, and their supplies of ordnance, small arms, munitions, &c., more ample than in any previous April. Of the million or so borne on our muster-rolls, probably not less than half were then in active service, with half so many more able to take the field at short notice. The Rebellion had failed and gone down; but the Rebel Army of Virginia and its commander had not failed. Fighting sternly against the Inevitable — against the irrepressible tendencies, the generous aspirations of the age — they had been proved unable to succeed where success would have been a calamity to their children, to their country, and the human race. And, when the transient agony of defeat had been endured and had passed, they all experienced a sense of relief; as they crowded around their departing chief, who, with streaming eyes, grasped and pressed their outstretched hands, at length finding words to say, “Men, we have fought through the War together. I have done the best that I could for you.” There were few dry eyes among those who witnessed the scene; and our soldiers hastened to divide their rations with their late enemies, now fellow-countrymen, to stay their hunger until provisions from our trains could be drawn for them. Then, while most of our army returned to Burkesville, and thence, a few days later, to Petersburg and Richmond, the work of paroling went on, under the guardianship of Griffin's and Gibbon's infantry, with McKenzie's cavalry; and, so fast as paroled, the Confederates took their way severally to their respective homes: many of them supplied with transportation, as well as food, by the Government they had fought so long and so bravely to subvert and destroy.

1 Dec. 7, 1864.

2 Jan. 23, 1865.

3 Feb. 5.

4 Feb. 6.

5 Jan. 11.

6 Feb. 21.

7 Feb. 27.

8 March 2.

9 March 3.

10 March 10.

11 March 19.

12 March 25.

13 Dated March 24.

14 March 27.

15 March 29.

16 March 31.

17 April 1.

18 Swinton says that “After the close of the action, Sheridan relieved Gen. Warren from duty.” Sheridan's official report does not sustain this averment. Warren, however, in his defense, asserts positively that Sheridan's order did not reach him till after the fighting was over.

19 Sunday, April 2.

20 Monday, April 3.

21 Governor — Buckingham (Repub.), 42,374; O. S. Seymour (Dem.), 31,339.

22 April 2.

23 April 3.

24 April 6.

25 April 7.

26 Sunday, April 9.

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