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Chapter 21: closing events of the War.--assassination of the President.

  • Flight of the Confederate troops from Richmond and Petersburg, 552.
  • -- Lee hotly pursued, 553. -- his skillful retreat, 554. -- he is ordered to surrender, but refuses to acknowledge that all is lost, 555. -- his chances for escape diminishing, 556. -- Lee again attempts to break through the National lines, 557. -- he fails, and Capitulates, 558. -- terms of capitulation -- Lee's farewell address to his troops, 559, 560. -- surrender of Lee's Army -- torpedo fishing in the James River, 561. -- the President in Richmond, 562. -- rejoicings in Washington City, 563. -- murder of the President, 564. -- minute account of the assassination plot, 565, 566. -- effects of the President's death, 567. -- a testimonial of reverence for Mr. Lincoln from 40,000 French Democrats, 568. -- attempt to murder the Secretary of State, and others, 569. -- inauguration of a new President, 570. -- Sherman moves against Johnston, 571. -- Peace commissioners in Sherman's Camp, 572. -- meeting of Sherman and Johnston. 573. -- Agreement between Sherman and Johnston, 574. -- surrender of Johnston's Army, 575. -- surrender of other Confederate forces, 576. -- flight of Jefferson Davis and his “Cabinet,” 577. -- capture of Davis -- his disguise as a woman, 578. -- hostilities continued in Texas, 579. -- the last battle of the War, 580. -- end of the Civil War, 581. -- the return of the Union soldiers to their homes, 582. -- the National Army in 1865, 583. -- the Navy, its strength and services, 584, 585. -- the author's visit to the Army of the James, 586. -- facilities given to the author by the Government, 587. -- visit to Richmond and Petersburg, 588.

While the Confederates were leaving Richmond with great noise, those holding the lines before Petersburg were stealing away so silently, that they did not awaken even the suspicions of the Union pickets only a few yards distant from the works; and when, at dawn, the abandonment of the Confederate intrenchments was discovered, their late occupants were miles away to the westward, seeking to join the column hurrying from Richmond, in a flight for safety. The fugitive “Government” had then reached Danville with its archives and gold, whither Lee hoped to conduct his army, and was now straining every nerve to do so. When Grant was informed of the evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg, and the direction of Lee's retreat, he pushed forward his columns with all possible energy to intercept the march of his adversary.

The appointed place of concentration of Lee's troops, in their retreat, was Amelia Court-House, on the south side of the Appomattox River, where the forces would reach the Danville railway, and thereafter use it in their flight. Lee, therefore, simultaneously with the sending of his dispatch to Richmond, saying it must be evacuated that night, ordered commissary and quartermasters' stores to be forwarded from Danville to Amelia Court-House. They were promptly sent; but when, on Sunday afternoon, the loaded trains reached their destination, the officer in charge received orders from the Confederate authorities at Richmond to push on to that city, the object being to use the trains for the transportation of the “Government” and its effects. The stupid officer obeyed, but took with him all the supplies that were to be left at Amelia Court-House for the use of Lee's army on its retreat, and these were among the things destroyed by the conflagration. When Lee arrived at the Court-House

April 4, 1865.
and discovered the calamity, hope forsook him. He knew that Grant, for the sake of celerity in pursuit, would break up his army in detachments; and Lee intended, with a bountifully supplied force kept well in hand, to fall upon these fragments, and cut up the Union army in detail. Now, instead of being able to have all his forces in hand for such a purpose, he was compelled to detach nearly one-half of it for foraging for supplies; and instead of pushing on toward Danville, and eluding the Union army pressing on to intercept him, he was compelled to remain at Amelia Court-House all of the 4th, and the next day, waiting for supplies. [553]

Meanwhile, Grant had taken possession of Petersburg, and his army was moving in vigorous pursuit. Sheridan, with his cavalry and the Fifth Corps, were far in advance, and on the afternoon of the 4th

April, 1865.
he struck the Danville road at Jetersville, seven miles southwest of Amelia Court-House, when some of his cavalry swept along its course almost to Burkesville Station, at the junction of that road with the South Side railway. Sheridan was now squarely across Lee's pathway of retreat, with his infantry intrenched, and ample cavalry to support them. Lee's only important avenue of supply from Lynchburg and Danville was now cut off, and he was compelled to choose between the perilous business of falling with his whole force upon Sheridan's isolated troops, before support could arrive, or attempting to escape to Lynchburg and the mountains beyond, by taking a westerly course at the left of Jetersville, and recrossing the Appomattox at Farmville, thirty-five miles from Amelia Court-House, where the South Side railway touched that stream. Lee hesitated; and on the evening of the 5th
an attack on Sheridan was out of the question, for General Meade had joined the latter at Jetersville, with the Second and Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac, late that afternoon. Then it was too late for

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