XLIX. April, 1865
- Rumors of battles. -- excitement in the churches. -- the South side Road captured by the enemy. -- evacuation of Richmond. -- surrender of Gen. Lee. -- occupation of Richmond by Federal forces. -- address to the people of Virginia by J. A. Campbell and others. -- assassination of President Lincoln.
April 1Clear and pleasant. Walked to the department. We have vague and incoherent accounts from excited couriers of fighting, without result, in Dinwiddie County, near the South Side Railroad. It is rumored that a battle will probably occur in that vicinity to-day. I have leave of absence, to improve my health; and propose accompanying my daughter Anne, next week, to Mr. Hobson's mansion in Goochland County. The Hobsons are opulent, and she will have an excellent asylum there, if the vicissitudes of the war do not spoil her calculations. I shall look for angling streams: and if successful, hope for both sport and better health. The books at the conscript office show a frightful list of deserters or absentees without leave-60,000--all Virginians. Speculation! Jno. M. Daniel, editor of the Examiner, is dead. The following dispatch from Gen. Lee is just (10 A. M.) received:
A rumor (perhaps a 1st of April rumor) is current that a treaty has been signed between the Confederate States Government and Maximilian.
April 2Bright and beautiful. The tocsin was sounded this morning at daybreak, and the militia ordered to the fortifications, to relieve some regiments of Longstreet's corps, posted on this side of the river. These latter were hurried off to Petersburg, where a battle is impending, I suppose, if not in progress. A street rumor says there was bloody fighting yesterday a little beyond Petersburg, near the South Side Road, in which Gen. Pickett's division met with fearful loss, being engaged with superior numbers. It is said the enemy's line of intrenchments was carried once or twice, but was retaken, and remained in their hands. I hear nothing of all this at the department; but the absence of dispatches there is now interpreted as bad news! Certain it is, the marching of veteran troops from the defenses of Richmond, and replacing them hurriedly with militia, can only indicate an emergency of alarming importance. A decisive struggle is probably at hand-and may possibly be in progress while I write. Or there may be nothing in it — more than a precautionary concentration to preserve our communications. Mrs. Davis sold nearly all her movables-including presentsbefore leaving the city. She sent them to different stores. An intense excitement prevails, at 2 P. M. It pervaded the churches. Dr. Hoge intermitted his services. Gen. Cooper and the President left their respective churches, St. James's and St. Paul's. Dr. Minnegerode, before dismissing his congregation, gave notice that Gen. Ewell desired the local forces to assemble at 3 P. M.-and afternoon services will not be held. The excited women in this neighborhood say they have learned the city is to be evacuated to-night. No doubt our army sustained a serious blow yesterday; and Gen. Lee may not have troops sufficient to defend both the city and the Danville Road at the same time. It is true! The enemy have broken through our lines and attained the South Side Road. Gen. Lee has dispatched the Secretary to have everything in readiness to evacuate the city to-night. The President told a lady that Lieut.-Gen. Hardee was only twelve miles distant, and might get up in time to save the day. But then Sherman must be in his rear.--There is no wild excite-ment-yet. Gen. Kemper was at the department looking for Gen.  Ewell, and told me he could find no one to apply to for orders. The banks will move to-night. Eight trains are provided for the transportation of the archives, etc. No provision for civil employees and their families. At 6 P. M I saw the Hon. James Lyons, and asked him what he intended to do. He said many of his friends advised him to leave, while his inclination was to remain with his sick family. He said, being an original secessionist, his friends apprehended that the Federals would arrest him the first man, and hang him. I told him I differed with them, and believed his presence here might result in benefit to the population. Passing down Ninth Street to the department, I observed quite a number of men — some in uniform, and some of them officershurrying away with their trunks. I believe they are not allowed to put them in the cars. The Secretary of War intends to leave at 8 P. M. this evening. The President and the rest of the functionaries, I suppose, will leave at the same time. I met Judge Campbell in Ninth Street, talking rapidly to himself, with two books under his arm, which he had been using in his office. He told me that the chiefs of bureaus determined which clerks would have transportation — embracing only a small proportion of them, which I found to be correct. At the department I learned that all who had families were advised to remain. No compulsion is seen anywhere; even the artisans and mechanics of the government shops are left free to choose — to go or to stay. A few squads of local troops and reserves-guards — may be seen marching here and there. Perhaps they are to burn the tobacco, cotton, etc., if indeed anything is to be burned. Lee must have met with an awful calamity. The President said to several ladies to-day he had hopes of Hardee coming up in time to save Lee-else Richmond must succumb. He said he had done his best, etc. to save it. Hardee is distant two or three days march. The negroes stand about mostly silent, as if wondering what will be their fate. They make no demonstrations of joy. Several hundred prisoners were brought into the city this afternoon-captured yesterday. Why they were brought here I am at  a loss to conjecture. Why were they not paroled and sent into the enemy's lines? At night. All is yet quiet. No explosion, no conflagration, no riots, etc. How long will this continue? When will the enemy come? It was after 2 o'clock P. M. before the purpose to evacuate the city was announced; and the government had gone at 8 P. M.! Short notice and small railroad facilities to get away. All horses were impressed. There is a report that Lieut.-Gen. A. P. Hill was killed, and that Gen. Lee was wounded. Doubtless it was a battle of great magnitude, wherein both sides had all their forces engaged. I remain here, broken in health and bankrupt in fortune, awaiting my fate, whatever it may be. I can do no more. If I could, I would.
April 3Another clear and bright morning. It was a quiet night, with its million of stars. And yet how few could sleep, in anticipation of the entrance of the enemy! But no enemy came until 9 A. M., when some 500 were posted at the Capitol Square. They had been waited upon previously by the City Council, and the surrender of the city stipulated — to occur this morning. They were asked to post guards for the protection of property from pillage, etc., and promised to do so. At dawn there were two tremendous explosions, seeming to startle the very earth, and crashing the glass throughout the western end of the city. One of these was the blowing up of the magazine, near the new almshouse — the other probably the destruction of an iron-clad ram. But subsequently there were others. I was sleeping soundly when awakened by them. All night long they were burning the papers of the Second Auditor's office in the street-claims of the survivors of deceased soldiers, accounts of contractors, etc. At 7 A. M. Committees appointed by the city government visited the liquor shops and had the spirits (such as they could find) destroyed. The streets ran with liquor; and women and boys, black and White, were seen filling pitchers and buckets from the gutters. A lady sold me a bushel of potatoes in Broad Street for $75, Confederate States money-$5 less than the price a few days ago.  I bought them at her request. And some of the shops gave clothing to our last retiring guards. Goods, etc. at the government depots were distributed to the poor, to a limited extent, there being a limited amount. ;--A dark volume of smoke rises from the southeastern section of the city, and spreads like a pall over the zenith. It proceeds from the tobacco warehouse, ignited, I suppose, hours ago, and now just bursting forth. At 81 A. M. The armory, arsenal, and laboratory (Seventh and Canal Streets), which had been previously fired, gave forth terrific sounds from thousands of bursting shells. This continued for more than an hour. Some fragments of shell fell within a few hundred yards of my house. The pavements are filled with pulverized glass. Some of the great flour mills have taken fire from the burning government warehouses, and the flames are spreading through the lower part of the city. A great conflagration is apprehended. The doors of the government bakery (Clay Street) were thrown open this morning, and flour and crackers were freely distributed, until the little stock was exhausted. I got a barrel of the latter, paying a negro man $5 to wheel it home — a short distance. Ten A. M. A battery (United States) passed my house, Clay Street, and proceeded toward Camp Lee. Soon after the officers returned, when I asked the one in command if guards would be placed in this part of the city to prevent disturbance, etc. He paused, with his suite, and answered that such was the intention, and that every precaution would be used to preserve order. He said the only disturbances were caused by our people. I asked if there was any disturbance. He pointed to the black columns of smoke rising from the eastern part of the city, and referred to the incessant bursting of shell. I remarked that the storehouses had doubtless been ignited hours previously. To this he assented, and assuring me that they did not intend to disturb us, rode on. But immediately meeting two negro women laden with plunder, they wheeled them to the right about, and marched them off, to the manifest chagrin of the newly emancipated citizens. Eleven A. M. I walked down Brad Street to the Capitol Square. The street was filled with negro troops, cavalry and infantry, and were cheered by hundreds of negroes at the corners.  I met Mr. T. Cropper (lawyer from the E. Shore) driving a one-horse wagon containing his bedding and other property of his quarters. He said he had just been burnt out-at Belom's Block --and that St. Paul's Church (Episcopal) was, he thought, on fire. This I found incorrect; but Dr. Reed's (Presbyterian) was in ruins. The leaping and lapping flames were roaring in Main Street up to Ninth; and Goddin's Building (late General Post- Office) was on fire, as well as all the houses in Governor Street up to Franklin. The grass of Capitol Square is covered with parcels of goods snatched from the raging conflagration, and each parcel guarded by a Federal soldier. A general officer rode up and asked me what building that was --pointing to the old stone United States Custom House-late Treasury and State Departments, also the President's office. He said, “Then it is fire-proof, and the fire will be arrested in this direction.” He said he was sorry to behold such destruction; and regretted that there was not an adequate supply of engines and other apparatus. Shells are still bursting in the ashes of the armory, etc. All the stores are closed; most of the largest (in Main Street) have been burned. There are supposed to be 10,000 negro troops at Camp Lee, west of my dwelling. An officer told me, 3 P. M., that a white brigade will picket the city to-night; and he assured the ladies standing near that there would not be a particle of danger of molestation. After 9 P. M., all will be required to remain in their houses. Soldiers or citizens, after that hour, will be arrested. He said we had done ourselves great injury by the fire, the lower part of the city being in ashes, and declared that the United States troops had no hand in it. I acquitted them of the deed, and told him that the fire had spread from the tobacco warehouses and military depots, fired by our troops as a military necessity. Four P. M. Thirty-four guns announced the arrival of President Lincoln. He flitted through the mass of human beings in Capitol Square, his carriage drawn by four horses, preceded by out-riders, motioning the people, etc. out of the way, and followed by a  mounted guard of thirty. The cortege passed rapidly, precisely as I had seen royal parties ride in Europe.
April 4Another bright and beautiful day. I walked around the burnt district this morning. Some seven hundred houses, from Main Street to the canal, comprising the most valuable stores, and the best business establishments, were consumed. All the bridges across the James were destroyed, the work being done effectually. Shells were placed in all the warehouses where the tobacco was stored, to prevent the saving of any. The War Department was burned after I returned yesterday; and soon after the flames were arrested, mainly by the efforts of the Federal troops. Gen. Weitzel commanded the troops that occupied the city upon its abandonment. The troops do not interfere with the citizens here any more than they do in New York-yet. Last night everything was quiet, and perfect order prevails. A few thousand negroes (mostly women) are idle in the streets, or lying in the Capitol Square, or crowding about headquarters, at the Capitol. Gen. Lee's family remain in the city. I saw a Federal guard promenading in front of the door, his breakfast being just sent to him from within. Brig. Gen. Gorgas's family remain also. They are Northernborn. It is rumored that another great battle was fought yesterday, at Amelia Court House, on the Danville Road, and that Lee, Johnston and Hardee having come up, defeated Grant. It is only rumor, so far. If it be true, Richmond was evacuated prematurely; for the local defense troops might have held it against the few white troops brought in by Weitzel. The negroes never would have been relied on to take it by assault. I see many of the civil employees left behind. It was the merest accident (being Sunday) that any were apprised, in time, of the purpose to evacuate the city. It was a shameful abandonment on the part of the heads of departments and bureaus. Confederate money is not taken to-day. However, the shops are still closed.
April 5Bright and pleasant. Stayed with my next door neighbors at their request last nightall females. It was quiet; and so far the United States pickets and guards have preserved perfect order. The cheers that greeted President Lincoln were mostly from the negroes and Federals comprising the great mass of humanity. The white citizens felt annoyed that the city should be held mostly by negro troops. If this measure were not unavoidable, it was impolitic if conciliation be the purpose. Mr. Lincoln, after driving to the mansion lately occupied by Mr. Davis, Confederate States President, where he rested, returned, I believe, to the fleet at Rocketts. This morning thousands of negroes and many white females are besieging the public officers for provisions. I do not observe any getting them, and their faces begin to express disappointment. It is said all the negro men, not entering the army, will be put to work, rebuilding bridges, repairing railroads, etc. I have seen a New York Herald of the 3d, with dispatches of the 1st and 2d inst. from Mr. Lincoln, who was at City Point during the progress of the battle. He sums up with estimate of 12,000 prisoners captured, and 50 guns. The rumor of a success by Gen. Lee on Monday is still credited. Per contra, it is reported that President Davis is not only a captive, but will soon be exhibited in Capitol Square. The Rev. Mr. Dashiell, who visited us to-day, said it was reported and believed that 6000 South Carolina troops threw down their arms; and that a large number of Mississippians desertedgiving such information to the enemy as betrayed our weak points, etc. Three P. M. I feel that this Diary is near its end. The burnt district includes all the banks, money-changers, and principal speculators and extortioners. This seems like a decree from above! Four P. M. The Square is nearly vacated by the negroes. An officer told me they intended to put them in the army in a few days, and that the Northern people did not really like negro equality any better than we did. Two rumors prevail: that Lee gained a victory on Monday, and that Lee has capitulated, with 35,000 men.  The policy of the conquerors here, I believe, is still undecided, and occupies the attention of Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet.
April 6Showery morning. I perceive no change, except, perhaps, a diminution of troops, which seems to confirm the reports of recent battles, and the probable success of Lee and Johnston. But all is doubt and uncertainty. The military authorities are still reticent regarding the fate of those remaining in Richmond. We are at their mercy, and prepared for our fate. I except some of our ladies, who are hysterical, and want to set out on foot “for the Confederacy.”
April 7Slight showers. Wm. Ira Smith, tailor, and part owner of the Whig, has continued the publication as a Union paper. I visited the awful crater of the magazine. One current or stream of fire and bricks knocked down the east wall of the cemetery, and swept away many head and foot stones, demolishing trees, plants, etc. It is said President Lincoln is still in the city. Dr. Ellison informed me to-day of the prospect of Judge Campbell's conference with Mr. Lincoln. It appears that the judge had prepared statistics of our resources in men and materials, showing them to be utterly inadequate for a prolongation of the contest, and these he exhibited to certain prominent citizens, whom he wished to accompany him. Whether they were designed also for the eye of President Lincoln, or whether he saw them, I did not learn. But one citizen accompanied him-Gustavus A. Myers, the little old lawyer, who has certainly cultivated the most friendly relations with all the members of President Davis's cabinet, and it is supposed he prosecuted a lucrative business procuring substitutes, obtaining discharges, getting passports, etc. The ultimatum of President Lincoln was Union, emancipation, disbandment of the Confederate States armies. Then no oath of allegiance would be required, no confiscation exacted, or other penalty; and the Governor and Legislature to assemble and readjust the affairs of Virginia without molestation of any character. Negotiations are in progress by the clergymen, who are directed to open the churches on Sunday, and it was intimated to the Episcopalians that they should pray for the President of the United  States. To this they demur, being ordered by the Convention to pray for the President of the Confederate States. They are willing to omit the prayer altogether, and await the decision of the military authority on that proposition.
April 8Bright and pleasant weather. We are still in uncertainty as to our fate, or whether an oath of allegiance will be demanded. Efforts by Judge Campbell, Jos. R. Anderson, N. P. Tyler, G. A. Myers and others, are being made to assemble a convention which shall withdraw Virginia from the Confederacy. Hundreds of civil employees remained, many because they had been required to volunteer in the local defense organization or lose their employment, and the fear of being still further perfidiously dealt with, forced into the army, notwithstanding their legal exemptions. Most of them had families whose subsistence depended upon their salaries. It is with governments as with individuals, injustice is sooner or later overtaken by its merited punishment. The people are kinder to each other, sharing provisions, etc. A New York paper says Gen. H. A. Wise was killed; we hear nothing of this here. Roger A. Pryor is said to have remained voluntarily in Petersburg, and announces his abandonment of the Confederate States cause.
April 9Bright and beautiful. Rev. Mr. Dashiell called, after services. The prayer for the President was omitted, by a previous understanding. Rev. Dr. Minnegerode, and others, leading clergymen, consider the cause at an end. A letter from Gen. Lee has been found, and its authenticity vouched for (Rev. Dr. M. says) by Judge Campbell, in which he avows his conviction that further resistance will be in vain-but that so long as it is desired, he will do his utmost in the field. And Dr. M. has information of the capture of three divisions of Longstreet since the battle of Sunday last, with some eight generals-among them Lieut.-Gen. Ewell, Major-Gen. G. W. Custis Lee, etc. The clergy also seem to favor a convention, and the resumption by Virginia of her old position in the Union-minus slavery. Charlottesville has been named as the place for the assembling of  the convention. They also believe that Judge Campbell remained to treat with the United States at the request of the Confederate States Government. I doubt. We shall now have no more interference in Caesar's affairs by the clergy — may they attend to God's hereafter! Ten o'clock P. M. A salute fired-100 guns — from the forts across the river, which was succeeded by music from all the bands. The guard promenading in front of the house says a dispatch has been received from Grant announcing the surrender of Lee! I hear that Gen. Pickett was killed in the recent battle!
April 10Raining. I was startled in bed by the sound of cannon from the new southside fort again. I suppose another hundred guns were fired; and I learn this morning that the Federals declare, and most people believe, that Lee has really surrendered his army — if not indeed all the armies. My Diary is surely drawing to a close, and I feel as one about to take leave of some old familiar associate. A habit is to be discontinued-and that is no trifling thing to one of my age. But I may find sufficient employment in revising, correcting, etc. what I have written. I never supposed it would end in this way. Ten A. M. It is true! Yesterday Gen. Lee surrendered the “Army of Northern Virginia.” His son, Custis Lee, and other generals, had surrendered a few days previously. The men are paroled by regimental commanders, from the muster rolls, and are permitted to return to their homes and remain undisturbed until exchanged. The officers to take their side-arms and baggage to their homes, on the same conditions, etc. There were 290 pieces of artillery belonging to this army a few weeks ago. This army was the pride, the hope, the prop of the Confederate cause, and numbered, I believe, on the rolls, 120,000 men. All is lost! No head can be made by any other general or army — if indeed any other army remains. If Mr. Davis had been present, he never would have consented to it; and I doubt if he will ever forgive Gen. Lee.
April 11Cloudy and misty. It is reported that Gen. Johnston has surrendered his army in North Carolina, following the example of Gen. Lee. But no salutes have been fired in honor of the event. The President (Davis) is supposed to be flying toward the Mississippi River, but this is merely conjectural. Undoubtedly  the war is at an end, and the Confederate States Government will be immediately extinct---its members fugitives. From the tone of leading Northern papers, we have reason to believe President Lincoln will call Congress together, and proclaim an amnesty, etc. Judge Campbell said to Mr. Hart (clerk in the Confederate States War Department) yesterday that there would be no arrests, and no oath would be required. Yet ex-Captain Warner was arrested yesterday, charged with ill treating Federal prisoners, with registering a false name, and as a dangerous character. I know the contrary of all this; for he has been persecuted by the Confederate States authorities for a year, and forced to resign his commission. My application to Gen. Shepley for permission to remove my family to the Eastern Shore, where they have relatives and friends, and may find subsistence, still hangs fire. Every day I am told to call the next day, as it has not been acted upon.
April 12Warm and cloudy. Gen. Weitzel publishes an order to-day, requiring all ministers who have prayed for the President of the Confederate States to pray hereafter for the President of the United States. He will not allow them to omit the prayer. In answer to my application for permission to take my family to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where among their relations and friends shelter and food may be had, Brevet Brig.-Gen. Ludlow indorsed: “Disallowed — as none but loyal people, who have taken the oath, are permitted to reside on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.” This paper I left at Judge Campbell's residence (he was out) for his inspection, being contrary in spirit to the terms he is represented to have said would be imposed on us. At 1-P. M. Another 100 guns were fired in Capitol Square, in honor, I suppose, of the surrender of Johnston's army. I must go and see. Captain Warner is still in prison, and no one is allowed to visit him, I learn. Three P. M. Saw Judge Campbell, who will lay my paper before the military authorities for reconsideration to-morrow. He thinks they have acted unwisely. I said to him that a gentleman's word was better than an enforced oath-and that if persecution and confiscation  are to follow, instead of organized armies we shall have bands of assassins everywhere in the field, and the stiletto and the torch will take the place of the sword and the musket-and there can be no solid reconstruction, etc. He says he told the Confederate States authorities months ago that the cause had failed, but they would not listen. He said he had telegraphed something to Lieut.-Gen. Grant to-day. The salute some say was in honor of Johnston's surrenderothers say it was for Lee's-and others of Clay's birthday.
April 13Raining. Long trains of “supply” and “ammunition” wagons have been rolling past our dwelling all the morning, indicating a movement of troops southward. I suppose the purpose is to occupy the conquered territory. Alas! we know too well what military occupation is. No intelligent person supposes, after Lee's surrender, that there will be found an army anywhere this side of the Mississippi of sufficient numbers to make a stand. No doubt, however, many of the dispersed Confederates will join the trans-Mississippi army under Gen. E. Kirby Smith, if indeed, he too does not yield to the prevalent surrendering epidemic. Confederate money is valueless, and we have no Federal money. To such extremity are some of the best and wealthiest families reduced, that the ladies are daily engaged making pies and cakes for the Yankee soldiers of all colors, that they may obtain enough “greenbacks” to purchase such articles as are daily required in their housekeeping. It is said we will be supplied with rations from the Federal commissariat.
April 14Bright and cool. Gen. Weitzel and his corps having been ordered away; Major-Gen. Ord has succeeded to the command at Richmond, and his corps has been marching to Camp Lee ever since dawn. I saw no negro troops among them, but presume there are some. Gen. Weitzel's rule became more and more despotic daily; but it is said the order dictating prayers to be offered by the Episcopal clergy came from Mr. Stanton, at Washington, Secretary of War. One of the clergy, being at my house yesterday, said that unless this order were modified there would be no services on Sunday. To-day, Good Friday, the churches are closed. The following circular was published a few days ago: 
To-day the following order is published:
Judge Campbell informs me that he saw Gen. Ord yesterday, who promised to grant me permission to take my family to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and suggesting some omissions and alterations in the application, which I made. Judge C. is to see him again to-day, when I hope the matter will be accomplished. Judge Campbell left my application with Gen. Ord's youngest adjutant, to whom he said the general had approved it. But the adjutant said it would have to be presented again, as there was no indorsement on it. The judge advised me to follow it up, which I did; and stayed until the adjutant did present it again to Gen. Ord, who again approved it. Then the polite aid accompanied me to Gen. Patrick's office and introduced me to him, and to Lieut.-Col. John Coughlin, “Provost Marshal General Department of Virginia,” who indorsed on the paper: “These papers will be granted when called for.”