previous next


Mr. Greeley has given, towards the close of his American Conflict, an affecting description of the parting of Lee with his devoted followers. He says: [486]
It 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 efforts at Antietam, and shattered Burnside's host at Fredericksburg, and worsted Hooker 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 nineteen miles from Richmond 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 supply of ordnance, small-arms, munitions, etc., 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; [487] 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.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Lee (4)
Meade (2)
McKenzie (2)
McClellan (2)
Hooker (2)
Griffin (2)
Horace Greeley (2)
Grant (2)
Gibbon (2)
Burnside (2)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: