Entering Richmond

View of burned district of Richmond

View of burned district of Richmond

President Lincoln visiting the late residence of Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va.

President Lincoln visiting the late residence of Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Va.

The Fall of Richmond, Refugees, April 2, 1865

The Fall of Richmond, Refugees, April 2, 1865

President Lincoln Riding Through Richmond, April 4, 1865

President Lincoln Riding Through Richmond, April 4, 1865

On Monday, April 3, 1865, General Ulysses Grant invited President Lincoln to join him in Petersburg, the key Confederate city below Richmond whose liberation made continued Confederate control of the region untenable. Although the collapse of Richmond came suddenly, the symptoms of defeat were obvious. The Confederate army was bleeding over 100 deserters per day and was down to 50,000 soldiers. Meanwhile, Grant was tightening the noose on Richmond by extending his control of the area south and southwest of the city.

President Lincoln and his top general met for 1.5 hours in small house in Petersburg before Grant left to lead the Union pursuit of the Confederate army fleeing Richmond. Mr. Lincoln went to his stateroom aboard the U.S.S. Malvern. That night, he received a report from Union General Godfrey Weitzel that Richmond is being evacuated. Union troops quickly moved to fill the vacuum. The honor of first entering Richmond was claimed by black troops of the XXV Corps who crossed the county line into Richmond. They were told to stop before they reached the city itself.

“The report that black troops of the USCTs were first to enter Richmond was especially welcome to many in the North,” wrote historian Nelson Lankford in Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital. “In Washington, Gen. Benjamin Butler, former commander of the Army of the James, told a crowd it was divine retribution that black soldiers were the first to liberate Richmond. Despite the sense of poetic justice that the story represented to many northerners, it probably was an exaggeration. The point at which the 36th USCT stopped and cheered the passing white regiments of [General Charles] Devens’s division was certainly in the outskirts of Richmond. But it was at the point where the Osborne Turnpike and the New Market Road converge just below the city, not within the city limits. For days in the columns of newspapers – and for decades to come in Union soldiers’ memoirs – the issue of whose regiment got to Richmond first remained a hot one.”1

A representative of the U.S. Sanitary Commission reported his impression of the entry into Richmond: “Having a few leisure moments this morning I will use them up by troubling you with a few lines from this portion of Uncle Sam’s Domain, which at this time is an object of no small amount of attention The cry of on to Richmond is now played by the occupation of the late residence of the arch traitor Jeff [Davis] by the Uncle Sam’s brave boys in blue. You ought to have been with us when we entered the city [Richmond]. The citizens were out in goodly numbers, and were not at all offended by the sight of Old Glory [Stars & Stripes]. On the contrary they cheered the flag most heartily though it was born in the hands of the darker hued of the Uncle Sam’s brave defenders. The first troops that put into practical effect the long continued cry of on to Richmond was those portions of the 24 (white) and 25 (Col[ore]d) Corps (Army of the James) that were left on the right of the James when the other portion of the Army of the James moved across the James and joined with the Army of the Potomac in castigating the minions of Lee, which the boys done in fine style. The fighting at the left of Petersburg and vicinity was very severe, and of course our loss was quite large, though much smaller than that of the rebs. It is hardly worth while for me to write you the particulars as you will doubtless have learned them through the columns of the Boston Journal as lines reach you as Carleton is here, there and everywhere where there is ought to be obtained in the line of reliable news. He was in Petersburg this morning and now he is in Richmond. But I have not time to write more this morning. I told you I would write you from Richmond before I returned home – and here is the best that I have time to do. We are all in the A. No. 1 tip topest of spirits while the down-in-the-mouth representatives of Jeff and his ignoble supporters the northern copperheads are on the double quick.”2

General Godfrey Weitzel, who commanded the Union troops entering Richmond, later recalled: “There was some dispute as to which troops first entered Richmond, white or colored. As there was no fighting in going in I did not consider it of much consequence. ..Maj. Emmons E. Graves, senior aide-de-camp on my staff, in command, with Maj. Atherton H. Stevens, J., and about forty men of the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry were the first to enter.”3 Jay Winik wrote in April 1865:

As white Richmond retreated behind shutters and blinds, black Richmond spontaneously took to the streets. From the moment Union troops entered the city – ‘Richmond at last!’ Black Union cavalrymen shouted – crowds, the skilled and the unskilled, household servants and household cooks, rented maids and hired millworkers, jammed the sidewalks to catch a glimpse of the spectacle. No longer enslaved, they thrust out their hands to be shaken or presented the soldiers with offerings: gifts of fruit, flowers, even jugs of whiskey. Federal officers riding alongside promptly reached for the liquor bottles and smashed them with their swords. But the crowd was undaunted. Just a day earlier, they had been prohibited from smoking, publicly swearing, carrying canes, purchasing weapons, or procuring ‘ardent spirits.’ Yet now, to the sounds of ‘John Brown’s Body,’ they jubilantly waved makeshift rag banners; to the tune of the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic,’ they enthusiastically hugged and kissed the bluecoats. For hours, ignoring the furnacelike heat and the smoke-choked air, they lingered in the dusty streets as Federal soldiers passed, bowing and giving thanks (‘de Yankees at last has gone and cum!’). In the late morning, when black troops marched in lockstep (‘majestically and proudly defiant,’ in the words of an onlooker), the danced with unimpeded joy. And most of all, they praised God, shouting ‘hallelujah.’ Recalled on Connecticut soldier, ‘Our reception was grander and more exultant than even a Roman emperor…could ever know.'”4

President Lincoln had telegraphed Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton in Washington before leaving for the Petersburg front. Stanton had wired back to the President: “I congratulate you and the nation on the glorious news in your telegram just read. Allow me respectfully to ask you to consider whether you ought to expose the nation to the consequences of any disaster to yourself in the pursuit of a treacherous and dangerous enemy like the rebel army. If it was a question concerning yourself only I should not presume to say a word. Commanding Generals are in the line of their duty in running such risks. But is the political head of nation in the same condition.”5 The President wired back: “It is certain now that Richmond is in our hands, and I think I will go there to-morrow. I will take care of myself.”6

The President was in a good mood. “Escape from the confines of Washington had done Lincoln good. The thrill of being on hand when his armies achieved their final victories made them all the sweeter,” wrote historian Nelson Lankford. That night, President Lincoln relaxed aboard the Malvern with Union Admiral David Dixon Porter, who wrote in his memoirs:

The night before Richmond was evacuated by the Confederate forces we were sitting on the Malvern’s upper deck, enjoying the evening air. The President, who had been some time quiet, turned to me and said, ‘Can’t the navy do something at this particular moment to make history?’

‘Not much,’ I replied; ‘the navy is doing its best just now holding in utter uselessness the rebel navy, consisting of four heavy ironclads. If those should get down to City Point they would commit great havoc – as they came near doing while I was away at Fort Fisher. In consequence, we filled up the river with stones so that no vessels can pass either way. It enables us to ‘hold the fort’ with a very small force, but quite sufficient to prevent any one from removing obstructions. Therefore the rebels’ ironclads are useless to them.’

‘But can’t we make a noise?’ asked the President; ‘that would be refreshing.’

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘we can make a noise; and, if you desire it, I will commence.’

‘Well, make a noise,’ he said.

I sent a telegram to Captain Breese, just above Dutch Gap, to commence firing the starboard broadside guns of the vessels above, to have the guns loaded with shrapnel, and to fire in the direction of the forts without attempting any particular aim, to fire rapidly, and to keep it up until I told him to stop. The firing commenced about nine o’clock, the hour when all good soldiers and sailors turn in and take their rest.

The President admitted that the noise was a very respectable one, and listened to it attentively, while the rapid flashes of the guns lit up the whole horizon.

In about twenty minutes there was a loud explosion which shook the vessel.’

The President jumped from his chair. ‘I hope to Heaven one of them has not blown up! He exclaimed. ‘No, sir,’ I replied. ‘My ear detects that the sound was at least two miles farther up the river; it is one of the rebel ironclads. You will hear another in a minute.’

‘Well,’ he said, ‘our noise has done some good; that’s a cheap way of getting rid of ironclads. I am certain Richmond is being evacuated, and that Lee has surrendered, or those fellows would not blow up their ironclads.’

Just then there was a second explosion, and two more followed close after.

‘That is all of them,’ I said; ‘no doubt the forts are all evacuated, and tomorrow we can go up to Richmond. I will telegraph to Captain Breese to take the obstructions up to-night, or at least enough of them to let the Malvern go through.’

The telegram was sent, and the work of moving the obstructions commenced at once. It was completed by eight o’clock the following morning, and several of the smaller vessels went through, got their boats out, and began sweeping the river for torpedoes.7

Presidential bodyguard William Crook, who had accompanied Mr. Lincoln from Washington, later recalled: “On the 4th of April Admiral Porter asked the President to go to Richmond with him. At first the President did not want to go. He knew it was fool-hardy. And he had no wish to see the spectacle of the Confederacy’s humiliation. It has been generally believed that it was Mr. Lincoln’s own idea, and he has been blamed for rashness because of it. I understand that when Mr. Stanton, who was a vehement man, heard that the expedition had started, he was so alarmed that he was angry against the President. ‘That fool!’ he exclaimed. Mr. Lincoln knew perfectly well how dangerous the trip was, and, as I said, at first he did not want to go, realizing that he had no right to risk his life unnecessarily. But he was convinced by Admiral Porter’s arguments. Admiral Porter thought that the President ought to be in Richmond as soon after the surrender as possible. In that way he could gather up the reins of government most readily and give an impression of confidence in the South that would be helpful in the reorganization of the government. Mr. Lincoln immediately saw the wisdom of this position and went forward, calmly accepting the possibility of death.” Crook wrote:

“Mrs. Lincoln, by this time, had gone back to Washington. Mr. Lincoln, Taddie, and I went up the James River on the River Queen to meet Admiral Porter’s fleet. Taddie went down immediately to inspect the engine and talk with his friends the sailors; the President remained on deck. Near where Mr. Lincoln sat was a large bowl of apples on a table – there must have been at least half a peck. The President reached forward for one.

‘These must have been put here for us,’ he said. ‘I guess I will sample them.’ We both began to pare and eat. Before we reached the Admiral’s flagship every apple had disappeared – and the parings too. When the last one was gone the President said, with a smile, ‘I guess I have cleaned that fellow out.’8

The trip to Richmond began on April 5. According to Chester G. Hearn, biographer of Admiral David Dixon Porter, “At 10:35 A.M. on the 4th, River Queen, bearing the president, came alongside the Malvern, and both vessels headed for Richmond, followed by Bat, the transport Columbus, and a tug.Malvern grounded below Richmond, forcing Porter to transfer the president to a barge towed by the tug. Twenty-four marines accompanied the party, and as they neared the city, smoke still curled from the ashes of dozens of warehouses, and fires still burned throughout the city. “9 Admiral Porter recalled:

At daylight it was discovered that all the forts had been set on fire and evacuated, and nothing was to be seen of the ironclads but their black hulls partly out of water.

General Weitzel, who commanded the army on the left of the James, was marching into Richmond, and the whole tragedy was over.

‘Thank God,’ said the President, fervently, ‘that I have lived to see this! It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid dream for four years, and now the nightmare is gone. I want to see Richmond.

‘If there is any of it left,’ I added. ‘There is a black smoke over the city, but before we can go up we must remove all the torpedoes; the river is full of them about Hewlit’s Battery.’ It would have been simple destruction to attempt to go up there while the Confederates were in charge, and we could not have accomplished anything without a loss of life and vessels that would have been unjustifiable; it was better as it was, and the only course was to co-operate with the general of the army according to his own desire.

“When the channel was reported clear of torpedoes (a large number of which were taken up), I proceeded up to Richmond in the Malvern, with President Lincoln on board the River Queen, and a heavy feeling of responsibility on my mind, notwithstanding the great care that had been taken to clear the river.

Every vessel that got through the obstruction wished to be the first one up, and pushed ahead with all steam; but they grounded, one after another, the Malvern passing them all, until she also took the ground. Not to be delayed, I took the President in my barge, and, with a tug ahead with a file of marines on board, we continued on up to the city.

Bodyguard Crook recalled: “When we met Admiral Porter’s fleet the question of the best way to get to Richmond had to be decided. While some effort had been made to fish the torpedoes and other obstructions out of the water, but little headway had been made. The river was full of wreckage of all sorts, and torpedoes were floating everywhere. The plan had been to sail to Richmond in Admiral Porter’s flag-ship Malvern, escorted by the Bat, and with theColumbus to carry the horses. But it was soon evident that it would not be possible to get as large a boat as the Malvern through at Drury’s Bluff, where the naturally narrow and rapid channel was made impassable by a boat which had missed the channel and gone aground. It was determined to abandon the Malvern for the captain’s gig, manned by twelve sailors. When the party, consisting of President Lincoln, Admiral Porter, Captain Penrose, Taddie and myself, were seated, the Bat, a little tug which the President had used for his trips about City Point, came alongside and took us in tow. There were a number of marines on board the tug. We were kept at a safe distance from the tug by means of a long hawser, so that if she struck a torpedo and was blown up the President and his party would be safe. Even with this precaution the trip was exciting enough. On either side dead horses, broken ordnance, wrecked boats floated near our boat, and we passed so close to torpedoes that we could have put out our hands and touched them. We were dragged over one wreck which was so near the surface that it could be clearly seen.”10 Porter recalled:

There was a large bridge across the James about a mile below the landing, and under this a party in a small steamer were caught and held by the current, with no prospect of release without assistance. These people begged me to extricate them from their perilous position, so I ordered the tug to cast off and help them, leaving us in the barge to go on alone.

Here we were in a solitary boat, after having set out with a number of vessels flying flags at every mast-head, hoping to enter the conquered capital in a manner befitting the rank of the President of the United States, with a further intention of firing a national salute in honor of the happy result.

I remember the President’s remarks on the occasion. ‘Admiral, this brings to mind a fellow who once came to me to ask for an appointment as minister abroad. Finding he could not get that, he came down to some more modest position. Finally he asked to be made a tide-waiter. When he saw he could not get that, he asked me for an old pair of trousers. But tis well to be humble.’

The tug never caught up with us. She got jammed in the bridge, and remained there that tide.11

Weitzel recalled that on “April 5, I received a dispatch from City Point that Mr. Lincoln had started for Richmond on the Malvern, Admiral Porter’s flagship, and the time of probable arrival at the ‘Rockettes’ was given. I ordered my ambulance to be at my office in abundant time for me to reach the ‘Rockettes’ at the appointed time to meet the president. I was therefore very much surprised to hear just about the time I intended to get into my ambulance that the president was already at my quarters. I drove over as hastily as possible and found the report correct. I seems that the Malvern came up quicker than was expected, and not finding anyone at the landing to meet him the president started on foot. Porter ordered a guard of marines for an escort, but I am told that Mr. Lincoln saw nothing of his escort on his way. It differed from John Phoenix’s cavalry escort to the surveying party in California in this respect, too, that it followed instead by a rabble, mostly composed of Negroes. Some of the rabble had been told that he was Jefferson Davis, and consequently there were some cries of Hang him! Hang him!”12

“In a week filled with symbols and portents, Lincoln’s boat made landfall within sight of Libby Prison,” wrote historian Nelson Lankford.13 Another symbolic moment awaited the President. Black residents of Richmond were overjoyed by Mr. Lincoln’s arrival and tour of the city. Black journalist T. Morris Chester wrote of the excitement that word of Mr. Lincoln’s arrival engendered among Richmond’s former slaves: “The great event after the capture of the city was the arrival of President Lincoln in it. He came up to Rocket’s wharf in one of Admiral Porter’s vessels of war, and, with a file of sailors for a guard of honor, he walked up to Jeff Davis’ house, the headquarters of General Weitzel. As soon as he landed the news sped, as if upon the wings of lightning, that ‘Old Abe,’ for it was treason in this city to give him a more respectful address, had come. Some of the negroes, feeling themselves free to act like men, shouted that the President had arrived. This name having always been applied to Jeff, the inhabitants, coupling it with the prevailing rumor that he had been captured, reported that the arch-traitor was being brought into the city. As the people pressed near they cried ‘Hang him!’ ‘Hang him!’ ‘Show him no quarter!’ and other similar expressions, which indicated their sentiments as to what should be his fate. But when they learned that it was President Lincoln their joy knew no bounds. By the time he reached General Weitzel’s headquarters, thousands of persons had followed him to catch a sight of the Chief Magistrate of the United States. When he ascended the steps he faced the crowd and bowed his thanks for the prolonged exultation which was going up from that great concourse. The people seemed inspired by this acknowledgment, and with renewed vigor shouted louder and louder, until it seemed as if the echoes would reach the abode of those patriot spirits who had died without witnessing the sight.”14

Bodyguard Crook recalled: “The shore for some distance before we reached Richmond was black with negroes. They had heard that President Lincoln was on his way – they had some sort of an underground telegraph, I am sure. They were wild with excitement, and yelling like so many wild men, ‘Dar comes Massa Linkum, de Sabier ob de lan’ – we is so glad to see him!’ We landed at the Rocketts, over a hundred yards back of Libby prison. By the time we were on shore hundreds of black hands were outstretched to the President, and he shook some of them and thanked the darkies for their welcome. While we stood still a few minutes before beginning our walk through the city, we saw some soldiers not far away ‘initiating’ some negroes by tossing them on a blanket. When they came down they were supposed to be transformed into Yankees. The darkies yelled lustily during the process, and came down livid under their black skins. But they were all eager for the ordeal. The President laughed boyishly; I heard him afterward telling some one about the funny sight.”15 Porter later wrote:

I had never been to Richmond before by that route, and did not know where the landing was; neither did the coxswain, nor any of the barge’s crew. We pulled on, hoping to see some one of whom we could inquire, but no one was in sight.

The street along the river-front was as deserted as if this had been a city of the dead. The troops had been in possession some hours, but not a soldier was to be seen.

The current was now rushing past us over and among rocks, on one of which we finally stuck.

‘Send for Colonel Bailey,’ said the President; ‘he will get you out of this.’

‘No, sir, we don’t want Colonel Bailey this time. I can manage it.’ So I backed out and pointed for the nearest landing.

There was a small house on this landing, and behind it were some twelve negroes digging with spades. The leader of them was an old man sixty years of age. He raised himself to an upright position as we landed, and put his hands up to his eyes. Then he dropped his spade and sprang forward. ‘Bress de Lord,’ he said. ‘Dere is de great Messiah! I knowed him as soon as I seed him. He’s bin in my hear fo’ long yeahs, an’ he’s cum at las’ to free his chillun from deir bondage! Glory, Hallelujah!’ And he fell upon his knees before the President and kissed his feet. The others followed his example, and in a minute Mr. Lincoln was surrounded by these people, who had treasured up the recollection of him caught from a photograph, and had looked up to him for four years as the one who was to lead them out of captivity.

It was a touching sight – that aged negro kneeling at the feet of the tall, gaunt-looking man who seemed in himself to be bearing all the grief of the nation, and whose sad face seemed to say, “I suffer for you all, but will do all I can to help you.’

Mr. Lincoln looked down on the poor creatures at his feet; he was much embarrassed at his position. ‘Don’t kneel to me,’ he said. ‘That is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy. I am but God’s humble instrument; but you may rest assured that as long as I live no one shall put a shackle on your limbs, and you shall have all the rights which God has given to every other free citizen of this Republic.’

His face was lit up with a divine look as he uttered these words. Though not a handsome man, and ungainly in his person, yet in his enthusiasm he seemed the personification of manly beauty, and that sad face of his looked down in kindness upon these ignorant blacks with a grace that could not be excelled. He really seemed of another world.

All this scene of brief duration, but, though a simple and humble affair, it impressed me more than anything of the kind I ever witnessed. What a fine picture that would have made – Mr. Lincoln landing from a ship-of-war’s boat, an aged negro on his knees at his feet, and a dozen more trying to reach him to kiss the hem of his garments! In the foreground should be the shackles he had broken when he issued his proclamation giving liberty to the slave.

Twenty years have passed since that event; it is almost too new in history to make a great impression, but the time will come when it will loom up as one of the greatest of man’s achievements, and the name of Abraham Lincoln – who of his own will struck the shackles from the limbs of four millions of people – will be honored thousands of years from now as man’s name was never honored before.

It was a minute or two before I could get the negroes to rise and leave the President. The scene was so touching I hated to disturb it, yet we could not stay there all day; we had to move one; so I requested the patriarch to withdraw from about the President with his companions and let us pass on.

‘Yes, Massa,’ said the old man, ‘but after bein’ so many years in de desert widout water, it’s mighty pleasant to be lookin’ at las’ on our spring of life. ‘Scuse us, sir; we means no disrespec’ to Mass’ Lincoln; we means all love and gratitude.’ And then, joining hands together in a ring, the negroes sang the following hymn with melodious and touching voices only possessed by the negroes of the South:

‘Oh, all ye people clap your hands,

And with triumphant voices sing;

No force the mighty power withstands

Of God, the universal King.’

The President and all of us listened respectfully while the hymn was being sung. Four minutes at most had passed away since we first landed at a point where, as far as the eye could reach, the streets were entirely deserted, but now what a different scene appeared as that hymn went forth from the negroes’ lips! The streets seemed to be suddenly alive with the colored race. They seemed to spring from the earth. They came, tumbling and shouting, from over the hills and from the water-side, where no one was seen as we had passed.

The crowd immediately became very oppressive. We needed our marines to keep them off.

I ordered twelve of the boat’s crew to fix bayonets to their rifles and to surround the President, all of which was quickly done; but the crowd poured in so fearfully that I thought we all stood a chance of being crushed to death.16

President Lincoln was entering a city in chaos. The Confederates had set fire to tobacco warehouses before they abandoned the city and the resulting conflagration had destroyed most of the city’s commercial district. “Here was the President of the United States with four companions and guard of only ten marines, entering on foot a city which for four years he had been doing his utmost to capture by force. That city was in a condition of the wildest confusion. The army and government had abandoned it. Fire had destroyed a large part of it and was still raging. The Federals who had entered the day before had not as yet established any effective patrol. A hostile people filled the streets and hung from the windows,” noted Lincoln biographer Ida Tarbell.17 Admiral Porter recognized the potential danger too late:

I now realized the imprudence of landing without a large body of marines; and yet this seemed to me, after all, the fittest way for Mr. Lincoln to come among the people he had redeemed from bondage.

What an ovation he had, to be sure, from those so-called ignorant beings. They all had their souls in their eyes, and I don’t think I ever looked upon a scene where there were so many passionately happy faces.

While some were rushing forward to try and touch the man they had talked of and dreamed of for four long years, others stood off a little way and looked on in awe and wonder. Others turned somersaults, and many yelled for joy. Half of them acted as though demented, and could find no way of testifying their delight.

They had been made to believe that they never would gain their liberty, and here they were brought face to face with it when least expected. It was as a beautiful toy unexpectedly given to a child after months of hopeless longing on its part; it was such joy as never kills, but animates the dullest class of humanity.

But we could not stay there all day looking at this happy mass of people; the crowds and their yells were increasing, and in a short time we would be unable to move at all. The negroes, in their ecstasy, could not be made to understand that they were detaining the President; they looked upon him as belonging to them, and that he had come to put the crowning at to the great work he had commenced. They would not feel they were free in reality until they heard from his own lips.18

“Surrounded by admirers whose number was multiplying, the captive President realized that he must yield,” wrote historian Benjamin Quarles. “Holding up his hand for silence, he began to speak. Assuring his listeners that they were free, he told the told them it was now up to them to prove themselves worthy of their freedom.”19 Admiral Porter recalled the speech and the scene:

‘My poor friends,’ he said, ‘you are free – free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it; it will come to you no more. Liberty is your birthright. God gave it to you as he gave it to others, and it is a sin that you have been deprived of it for so many years. But you must try to deserve this priceless boon. Let the world see that you merit it, and are able to maintain it by your good works. Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them; obey God’s commandments and thank him for giving you liberty, for to him you owe all things. There, now, let me pass on; I have but little time to spare. I want to see the capital, and must return at once to Washington to secure to you that liberty which you seem to prize so highly.

The crowd shouted and screeched as if they would split the firmament, though while the President was speaking you might have heard a pin drop. I don’t think any one could do justice to that scene; it would be necessary to photograph it to understand it.

One could not help wondering where all this black mass of humanity came from, or if they were all the goods and chattels of those white people who had for four years set the armies of the Republic at defiance; who had made these people work on their defenses and carry their loads, the only reward for which was the stronger riveting of the chains which kept them in subjection.20

A black soldier from Connecticut, J. J. Hill, recalled a more militant version of President Lincoln’s speech: “In reference to you, colored people, let me say God has made you free. Although you have been deprived of your God-given rights by your so-called masters, you are now as free as I am, and if those that claim to be your superiors do not know that you are free, take the sword and bayonet and teach them that you are; for God created all me free, giving to each the same rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”21

Bodyguard Crook recalled: “”We formed in line. Six sailors were in advance and six in the rear. They were armed with short carbines. Mr. Lincoln was in the centre, with Admiral Porter and Captain Penrose on the right, and I on the left, holding Taddie by the hand. I was armed with a Colt’s revolver. We looked more like prisoners than anything else as we walked up the streets of Richmond not thirty-six hours after the Confederates had evacuated. “22Porter wrote:

At length we were able to move on, the crowd opening for us with shouts. I got the twelve seamen with fixed bayonets around the President to keep him from being crushed. It never struck me that there was any one in that multitude who would injure him; it seemed to me that he had an army of supporters there who could and would defend him against all the world.

But likely there were scowling eyes not far off; men were perhaps looking on, with hatred in their hearts, who were even then seeking an opportunity to slay him.

Our progress was very slow; we did not move a mile an hour, and the crowd was still increasing.

Many poor whites joined the throng, and sent up their shouts with the rest. We were nearly half an hour getting from abreast of Libby Prison to the edge of the city. The President stopped a moment to look on the horrid bastile where so many Union soldiers had dragged out a dreadful existence, and were subjected to all the cruelty the minds of brutal jailers could devise.

‘We will pull it down,’ cried the crowd, seeing where his look fell.
‘No,’ he said, ‘leave it as a monument.’…

He did not say a monument to what, but he meant, I am sure, to leave it as a monument to the loyalty of our soldiers, who would bear all the horrors of Libby sooner than desert their flag and cause.23

Crook recalled: “At first. except the blacks, there were not many people on the streets. But soon we were walking through streets that were alive with spectators. Wherever it was possible for a human being to find a foothold there was some man or woman or boy straining his eyes after the President. Every window was crowded with heads. Men were hanging from tree-boxes and telegraph-poles. But it was a silent crowd. There was something oppressive in those thousands of watchers without a sound, either of welcome or hatred. I think we would have welcomed a yell of defiance. I stole a look sideways at Mr. Lincoln. His face was set. It had the calm in it that comes over the face of a brave man when he is ready for whatever may come. In all Richmond the only sign of welcome I saw, after we left the negroes at the landing-place and until we reached our own men, was from a young lady who was on a sort of bridge that connected the Spotswood House with another hotel across the street. She had an American flag over her shoulders.”24 Admiral Porter wrote:

We struggled on, the great crowd preceding us, and an equally dense crowd of blacks following on behind – all so packed together that some of them frequently sang out in pain.

It was not a model style for the President of the United States to enter the capital of a conquered country, yet there was a moral in it all which had more effect than if he had come surrounded with great armies and heralded by the booming of cannon.

He came, armed with the majesty of the law, to put his seal to the act which had been established by the bayonets of the Union soldiers – the establishment of peace and good-will between the North and the South, and liberty to all mankind who dwell upon our shores.

We forced our way onward slowly, and, as we reached the edge of the city, the sidewalks were lined on both sides of the streets with black and white alike – all looking with curious, eager faces at the man who held their destiny in his hand; but there was no anger in any one’s face; the whole was like a gala day, and it looked as if the President was some expected guest who had come to receive great honors. Indeed, no man was ever accorded a greater ovation than was extended to him, be it from warm hearts or from simple ceremony.

It was a warm day, and the streets were dusty, owing to the immense gathering which covered every part of them, kicking up the dirt. The atmosphere was suffocating, but Mr. Lincoln could be seen plainly by every man, woman, and child, towering head and shoulders above that crowd; he overtopped every man there. He carried his hat in his hand, fanning his face, from which the perspiration was pouring. He looked as if he would have given his Presidency for a glass of water – I would have given my commission for half that…25

General Weitzel recalled that “when we entered Richmond we found ourselves in a perfect pandemonium. Fires and explosions in all directions; whites and blacks either drunk or in the highest state of excitement running to and fro on the streets apparently engaged in pillage or in saving some of their scanty effects from the fire; it was a yelling, howling mob.”26

“Now came another phase in the procession. As we entered the city every window flew up, from ground to roof, and every one was filled with eager, peering faces, which turned one to another and seemed to ask, ‘Is this large man, with soft eyes and kind, benevolent face, the one who has been held up to us as the incarnation of wickedness, the destroyer of the South?’ I think that illusion vanished, if it was ever harbored by any one there. I don’t what there was to amuse them in looking on the scene before them, but certainly I never saw a merrier crowd in my life, black or white,” Admiral Porter wrote in his memoirs.

We were brought to a halt by the dense jam before we had gone a square into the city, which was still on fire near the Tredegar Works, and in the structures thereabout, and the smoke, setting our way, almost choked us….

I think the people could not have had a gala day since the Confederates occupied Richmond as headquarters. Judging from present appearances, they certainly were not grieving over the loss of the Government which had just fled.

There was nothing like taunt or defiance in the faces of those who were gazing from the windows or craning their necks from the sidewalks to catch a view of the President. The look of every one was that of eager curiosity – nothing more.

While we were stopped for a moment by the crowd, a white man in his shirt-sleeves rushed from the sidewalk toward the President. His looks were so eager that I questioned his friendship, and prepared to receive him on the point of my sword; but when he got within ten feet of us he suddenly stopped short, took off his hat, and cried out, ‘Abraham Lincoln, God bless you! You are the poor man’s friend!’ Then he tried to force his way to the President to shake hands with him. He would not take ‘No’ for an answer until I had to treat him rather roughly when stood off, with his arms folded, and looked intently after us. The last I saw of him he was throwing his hat in the air.

Just after this a beautiful girl came from the sidewalk, with a large bouquet of roses in her hand, and advanced, struggling through the crowd toward the President. The mass of people endeavored to open to let her pass, but she had a hard time in reaching him. Her clothes were very much disarranged in making the journey across the street.

I reached out and helped her within the circle of the sailors’ bayonets, where, although nearly stifled with the dust, she gracefully presented her bouquet to the President and made a neat little speech, while he held her hand. The beauty and youth of the girl – for she was only about seventeen – made the presentation very touching.

There was a card on the bouquet with these simple words: ‘From Eva to the Liberator of the slaves.’ She remained no longer than to deliver her present; then two of the sailors were sent to escort her back to the sidewalk. There was no cheering that this, nor yet was any disapprobation shown; but it was evidently a matter of great interest, for the girl was surrounded and plied with questions.

I asked myself what all this could mean but that the people of Richmond were glad to see the end of the strife and the advent of a milder form of government than that which had just departed in such an ignoble manner. They felt that the late Government, instead of decamping with the gold of the Confederacy, should have remained at the capital, and surrendered in a dignified manner, making terms for the citizens of the place, guarding their rights and acknowledging that they had lost the game. There was nothing to be ashamed of in such a surrender to a vastly superior force; their armies had fought as people never fought before. ‘They had robbed the cradle and the grave’ to sustain themselves and all that was wanted to make them glorious was the submission of the leaders, with the troops, in a dignified way, while they might have said, ‘We have done our best to win, but you have justice on your side, and are too strong for us; we pledge ourselves to keep the peace.’

At length I got hold of a cavalryman. He was sitting his horse near the sidewalk, blocked by the people, and looking on with the same expression of interest as the others.

He was the only soldier I had seen since we landed, showing that the general commanding the Union forces had no desire to interfere, in any case, with the comfort of the citizens. There was only guard enough posted about the streets to protect property and to prevent irregularities.

‘Go to the general,’ I said to the trooper, ‘and tell him to send a military escort there to guard the President and get him through this crowd!’

‘Is that old Abe?’ asked the soldier, his eyes as large as saucers. The sight of the President was as strange to him as to the inhabitant; but off he went as fast as the crowd would allow him, and some twenty minutes later, I heard the clatter of horses’ hoofs over the stones as a troop of cavalry came galloping and clearing the street, which they did, however, as mildly as if for a parade.

For the first time since starting from the landing we were able to walk along uninterruptedly. In a short time we reached the mansion of Mr. Davis, President of the Confederacy, occupied after the evacuation as the headquarters of Generals Weitzel and Shepley. It was quite a small affair compared with the White House, and modest in all its appointments, showing that while President Davis was engaged heart and soul in endeavoring to effect the division of the States, he was not, at least, surrounding himself with regal style, but was living in a modest, comfortable way, like any other citizen.

Amid all his surroundings the refined taste of his wife was apparent, and marked everything about the apartments.

There was great cheering going on. Hundreds of civilians – I don’t know who they were – assembled at the front of the house to welcome Mr. Lincoln.27

Journalist Chester described President Lincoln’s arrival at the “Confederate White House”: “General Weitzel received the President upon the pavement, and conducted him up the steps. General Shepley, after a good deal of trouble, got the crowd quiet and introduced Admiral Porter, who bowed his acknowledgments for the cheering with which his name was greeted. The President and party entered the mansion, where they remained for half an hour, the crowd still accumulating around it, when a headquarters’ carriage was brought in front, drawn by four horses, and Mr. Lincoln, with his youngest son, Admiral Porter, General Kautz, and General Devin entered. The carriage drove through the principal streets, followed by General Weitzel and staff on horseback, and a cavalry guard. There is no describing the scene along the route. The colored population was wild with enthusiasm. Old men thanked God in a very boisterous manner, and old women shouted upon the pavement as high as they had ever done at religious revival. But when the President passed through the Capitol yard it was filled with people. Washington’s monument and the Capitol steps were one mass of humanity to catch a glimpse of him.”28

“Inside [the mansion], Lincoln was relieved to sit down and rest in Jefferson Davis’ easy chair, an image whose symbolism captivated northern reporters,” wrote historian Nelson Lankford. Bodyguard Crook recalled:

We were glad when we reached General Weitzel’s headquarters in the abandoned Davis mansion and were at last among friends. Every one relaxed in the generous welcome of the General and his staff. The President congratulated General Weitizel, and a jubilation followed.

The Jefferson Davis home was a large house of gray stucco, with a garden at the back. It was a place, though everything looked dilapidated after the long siege. It was still completely furnished, and there was an old negro house-servant in charge. He told me that Mrs. Davis had ordered him to have the house in good condition for the Yankees.

‘I am going out into the world a wanderer without a home,’ she had said when she bade him good-bye.

I was glad to know that he was to have everything ‘in good condition,’ for I was thirsty after so much excitement, and thought his orders must surely have included something to drink. I put the question to him. He said,

‘Yes, indeed, boss, there is some fine old whiskey in the cellar.’

In a few minutes he produced a long, black bottle. The bottle was passed around. When it came back it was empty. Every one had taken a pull except the President, who never touched anything of the sort. 29

Historian William C. Harris wrote:”Lincoln, exhausted by the walk and the adoration in the streets, wearily ascended the steps of the Davis mansion and took a seat in the reception room that also had served as the office of the Confederate president. One observer noted that as he sat down ‘there was no triumph in his gesture or attitude.’ His first words were ‘I wonder if I could get a glass of water,’ a request that was quickly granted. General Weitzel and other officers soon arrived and hurriedly organized a lunch reception for the president. Lincoln also met with some ‘gentlemen’ of the city, whom he received kindly.”30

According to Weitzel: “Soon after my arrival Judge [John A.] Campbell, General Anderson, and others called and asked for an interview with the president. It was granted and took place in the parlor with closed doors. At the special request of Mr. Lincoln, I was present at this and the subsequent one on the Malvern, as his witness. The pith of these interviews was briefly that Mr. Lincoln insisted that he could not treat with any Rebels until they had laid down their arms and surrendered, and that if this were first done he would go as far as he possibly could to prevent the shedding of another drop of blood, and that he and the good people of the North were surfeited with this thing and wanted it to end as soon as possible. Mr. Campbell and the other gentlemen assured Mr. Lincoln that if he would allow the Virginia legislature to meet it would at once repeal the ordinance of secession and that then Gen. Robert E. Lee and every other Virginian would submit; that this would amount to the virtual destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia and eventually to the surrender of all the other Rebel armies, and would ensure perfect peace in the shortest possible time. After the second interview Mr. Lincoln told me he would think over the whole matter carefully and would probably send me some instruction from City Point on the next day.”31

“On leaving the mansion, Lincoln stepped into a carriage drawn by four horses and toured the city with a cavalry escort and a large retinue of mounted officers. As the carriage drove slowly through the crowds, army bands played patriotic tunes and artillery fired blank charge in salute,” wrote historian Nelson Lankford. “Most of the throng consisted of former slaves, free but a day, and their joy could not be contained. Garidel, the Creole Confederate from New Orleans, saw the president’s entourage pass in front of his boardinghouse, ‘followed by the entire Negro population of Richmond who were shouting hurrahs. Their cheers were filling the air. I have never seen such an outpouring.’ They failed the president and ran alongside his carriage as it drove through the cobblestone streets. One woman shouted at the top of her voice, ‘Jesus Christ has come at last.'”32

But at this point there was problem with the official transportation. “An officer’s ambulance was brought to the door, and President Lincoln, Admiral Porter, General Weitzel, with some of his staff, Captain Penrose, and Taddie took their seats. There was no room for me,” Crook recalled. ‘Where is the place for Crook?’ Mr. Lincoln asked. ‘I want him to go with me.’ Then they provided me with a saddle-horse, and I rode by the side on which Mr. Lincoln sat. We went through the city. Everywhere were signs of war, hundreds of homes had been fired, in some places buildings were still burning. It was with difficulty that we could get along, the crowd was so great. We passed Libby Prison. The only place that we entered was the capitol. We were shown the room that had been occupied by Davis and his cabinet. The furniture was completely wrecked; the coverings of desks and chairs had been tripped off by relic-hunters, and the chairs were hacked to pieces.”33 Porter wrote in his memoirs:

General [George F.] Shepley made a speech and gave us a lunch, after which we entered a carriage and visited the State-House – the late seat of the Confederate Congress. It was in dreadful disorder, betokening a sudden and unexpected flight; members’ tables were upset, bales of Confederate scrip were lying about the floor, and many official documents of some value were scattered about. It was strange to me that they had not set fire to the building before they departed, to bury in oblivion every record that might remain relating to the events of the past four years.

After this inspection I urged the President to go on board the Malvern. I began to feel more heavily the responsibility resting upon me through the care of his person. The evening was approaching, and we were in a carriage open on all sides. He was glad to go; he was tired out, and wanted the quiet of the flag-ship.34

General Weitzel recalled: “I took the president to Libby Prison and Castle Thunder. Both were very crowded with Rebel prisoners. I had considerable conversation with him in regard to the treatment of the conquered people. The path of his answers was that he did not wish to give me any orders on that subject, but, as he expressed it, ‘If I were in your place I’d let ’em up easy – let ’em easy.”35

“Lincoln’s trip around the city was slowed not only by the fallen bricks which littered the streets of the badly burned city but also by the mass of Negroes who were bent on seeing him and, if possible, on touching him,” wrote historian Benjamin Quarles. “On one occasion when the party had to make a stop, two colored urchins climbed on the top of Lincoln’s carriage and took a downward peep into the President’s eyes. All along the way the Negroes gave expression to their sentiments. ‘De kingdom’s come, and de Lord is wid us,’ chanted on woman. ‘I’d rather see him than Jesus,’ exclaimed another, trying to get in front of the carriage so that she might get a full-face view of Lincoln.”36

Bodyguard Crook recalled: “The ambulance took us back to the wharf. Admiral Porter’s flag-ship Malvern had by this time made her way up the river, and we boarded her. It was with a decided feeling of relief that we saw the President safe on board.”37 Just before the President entered the rowboat to be taken back to the Malvern, an old black woman yelled to him, “Don’t drown, Massa Abe, for God’s sake.”38 The President recognized the danger in which he had placed himself, according to Dr. Phineas Gurley, the pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington. Dr. Gurley said that Mr. Lincoln recalled: “Why, Doctor, I walked alone on the street, and anyone could have shot me from a second-story window.”39 But in a conversation with House Speaker Schuyler Colfax, Mr. Lincoln disclaimed any fear: “Why, if anyone had been president and had gone to Richmond, I would have been alarmed too, but I was not scared about myself a bit.”40

Crook later recalled: “There is one point which is not understood, I think, about the President’s trip to City Point and Richmond. I would like to tell here what my experience has made me believe. The expedition has been spoken of almost as if it were a pleasure trip. Some one says of it, ‘It was the first recreation the President had known.’ Of course, in one sense this was true. He did get away from the routine of office-work. He had pleasant associations with General Grant and General Sherman, and enjoyed genial talks in the open over the camp-fire. But to give the impression that it was a sort of holiday excursion is a mistake. It was a matter of executive duty, and a very trying and saddening duty in many of its features. The President’s suspense during the days when he knew the battle of Petersburg was imminent, his agony when the thunder of the cannon told him that men were being cut down like grass, his sight of the poor, torn bodies of the dead and dying on the field of Petersburg, his painful sympathy with the forlorn rebel prisoners, the revelation of the devastation of a noble people in ruined Richmond – these things may have been compensated for by his exultation when he first knew the long struggle was over. But I think not. These things wore new furrows in his face. Mr. Lincoln never looked sadder in his life than when he walked through the streets of Richmond and knew it saved to the Union and himself victorious.”41

Richmond had truly been liberated. Black journalist T. Morris Chester reported how the evacuation of the Confederate Army had changed racial relations in the former Confederate capital:

Nothing can exceed the courtesy and politeness which the whites everywhere manifest to the negroes. Not even the familiarity peculiar to Americans is indulged in, calling the blacks by their first or Christian names, but even masters are addressing their slaves as ‘Mr. Johnson,’ ‘Mrs. Brown,’ and ‘Miss Smith.’ A cordial shake of the hand and a gentle inclination of the body, approaching to respectful consideration, are evident in the greetings which now take place between the oppressed and the oppressor.

Masters are looking through the camps of our colored troops to find some of their former slaves to give them a good character. The first night our troops quartered in the city this scene was enacted in Gen. Draper’s brigade limits, his being the first organization to enter the city. His troops now hold the inner lines of works. The rapid occupation of the city cut off the retreat of many rebels, who are daily being picked up by the provost guard. Every one declares that Richmond never before presented such a spectacle of jubilee. It must be confessed that those who participated in this informal reception of the President were mainly negroes. There were many whites in the crowd, but they were lost in the great concourse of American citizens of African descent. Those who lived in the finest houses either stood motionless upon their steps or merely peeped through the window-blinds, with a very few exceptions. The Secesh-inhabitants still have some hope for their tumbling cause.
The scenes at the Capitol during the day are of a very exciting character. The offices of General Shepley, the Military Governor, and Colonel Morning, the Provost Marshal General, are besieged by crowds, mostly poor people, with a small sprinkling of respectability, upon every kind of pretext. They want protection papers, a guard over their property, to assure the authorities of their allegiance, to take the oath, to announce that they are paroled prisoners and never have been exchanged, and don’t desire to be, and innumerable other circumstances to insure the protection of the military authorities.

The people of Richmond, white and black, had been led to believe that when the Yankee army came its mission was one of plunder. But the orderly manner in which the soldiers have acted has undeceived them. The excitement is great, but nothing could be more orderly and decorous than the united crowds of soldiers and citizens.

The Capitol building all day yesterday from the moment we took possession was surrounded by a crowd of hungry men and women clamoring for something to eat. The earnestness of their entreaties and looks showed that they were in a destitute condition. It was deemed necessary to station a special guard at the bottom of the steps to keep them from filling the building. These suffering people will probably be attended to in a day or so in that bountiful manner which has marked the advance of the Union armies.

I visited Yesterday (Tuesday) several of the slave jails, where men, women, and children were confined, or herded, for the examination of purchasers. The jailors were in all cases slaves, and had been left in undisputed possession of the buildings. The owners, as soon as they were aware that we were coming, opened wide the doors and told the confined inmates they were free.

The poor souls could not realize it until they saw the union army. Even then they thought it must be a pleasant dream, but when they saw Abraham Lincoln they were satisfied that their freedom was perpetual. One enthusiastic old negro woman exclaimed: ‘I know that I am free, for I have seen Father Abraham and felt him.’

When the President returned to the flag-ship of Admiral Porter, in the evening, he was taken from the wharf in a cutter. Just as he pushed off, amid the cheering of the crowd, another good old colored female shouted out, ‘Don’t drown, Massa Abe, for God’s sake!’

The fire, which was nearly extinguished when I closed my last despatch, is entirely so now. Thousands of persons are gazing hourly with indignation upon the ruins. Gen. Lee ordered the evacuation of the city at an hour known to the remaining leaders of the rebellion, when Gens. Ewell and Breckinridge, and others, absconded, leaving orders with menials, robbers, and plunders, kept together during the war by the ‘cohesive power of public plunder,’ to apply the torch to the different tobacco warehouses, public buildings, arsenals, stores, flour mills, powder magazines, and every important place of deposit. A south wind prevailed, and the flames spread with devastating effect. The offices of the newspapers, whose columns have charged with the foulest vituperation against our Government, were on fire; two of them have been reduced to ashes, another one injured beyond repair, while the remaining are not much damaged. Every bank which had the spurious notes of the rebels was consumed to ruins. Churches no longer gave audience to empty prayers, but burst forth in furious flames. Magazines exploded, killing the poor inhabitants, In short, Secession was burnt out, and the city purified as far as fire could accomplish it.42

Mr. Lincoln returned to Richmond the next day. Biographer Isaac N. Arnold. “On this occasion he was called upon by several prominent citizens of Virginia, anxious to learn what the policy of the government towards them would be. Without committing himself to specific details, he satisfied them that his policy would be magnanimous, forgiving, and generous. He told these Virginians they must learn loyalty and devotion to the nation. They need not love Virginia less, but they must love the republic more.”43

Meanwhile, Mrs. Lincoln, Senator Charles Sumner and Senator James Harlan departed from Washington by steamer to meet Mr. Lincoln at City Point. Mrs. Lincoln left for Richmond in the company of several members of Congress the same day that her husband returned. The Marquis Adolphe de Chambrun, a French writer with connections to the French government, accompanied Mrs. Lincoln and went with her to Richmond on Thursday, April 6:

Suddenly, on rounding a curve of the river, we came in sight of church steeples. Richmond was before us. A moment later, we tied up at the wharf. A guard was ready to protect us, a useless precaution, carriages were waiting and we hastened to jump in, feeling very chilly about the waist. Not a word was spoken in our party. Hundreds of Negroes, gathered near the boat landing, precipitated themselves upon us. As we passed, they saluted the ‘Yankees’ with loud enthusiasm. At the left was stacked a mass of burned railroad material, at the right, from a long row of houses, smoke and flame were still rising. We proceeded through the streets; on either side all the stores had been pillaged. Blinds were drawn down shutters tightly closed. Before retreating, the Confederates had released all the convicts in order to set fire to the town. From the doorways, terrified white people peed out; they darted angry glances toward us, but showed no other sign of hostility. The aristocracy of the place, when they had not already taken flight, remained close within doors. On the windows the green venetian blinds were hermetically shut. We arrived at Jefferson Davis’ mansion, now Federal Headquarters. General Weitzel, who is in command, showed us through the residence of the ex-President of the Confederacy, who had carried away everything movable in his hasty flight. But, foreseeing that his house would be used for this purpose, he had instructed the few domestics left on the spot to this effect: ‘Take good care of the General who will occupy my old home.’ The mansion was a fine building, with beautiful parlors, but the red velvet furniture was much worn. General Weitzel gave us all the information we could desire. Among other things, he told us that Mrs. Lee, with her two daughters, still remained in Richmond. After this, we went to the State Capitol.

Words cannot describe the condition of the rooms occupied by the Confederate legislature. What dirt and confusion these last days have accumulated there! It recalls nothing human. A Federal court is already installed in another in another part of the building. We then made a tour of the city, where the most painful sights awaited us. The entire center has been the prey of fire and the ruins are still smoking. Portions of brick walls have fallen and nearly obstruct the streets. Devastation is complete. We stopped at the prisons, now filled with rebel soldiers. Mrs. Lincoln was anxious to see them. Almost all these unfortunates rose respectfully; some few, however, hissed of whistled. There are nine hundred captives here at the moment. When the Confederates were in power, there were as many as three thousand Northerners packed into the same space. On learning of these numbers and noting the small capacity of the building, our indignation overflowed.44

Late on the night of Saturday, April 8, after visiting hospitals in Petersburg, President Lincoln and his party began their return trip to Washington on board the River Queen. By the time they arrived in Washington at 6 P.M. on Sunday, the city was celebrating the news that Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox the previous day. On April 11, President Lincoln delivered his final speech from the second floor window of the White House.


  1. Nelson Lankford, in Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital, p. 131.
  2. David Brion Davis and Steven Mintz, editor, The Boisterous Sea of Liberty: A Documentary History of America From Discovery Through the Civil War, p. 551-552 (Letter from A.R. Lord to Rugg, April 5, 1865).
  3. Peter Cozzens and Robert I. Girardi, The New Annals of the Civil War, p. 527 (Godfrey Weitzel, “The Fall of Richmond”).
  4. Jay Winik, April 1865, p. 115-116.
  5. Roy P. Basler, editor, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume VI, p. 384-85 (Letter from Edwin M. Stanton to Abraham Lincoln, April 3, 1865).
  6. Roy P. Basler, editor, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume VI, p. 385 (Letter to Edwin M. Stanton, April 3, 1865).
  7. David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War, p. 292-312.
  8. Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, William H. Crook, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 50-51.
  9. Chester G. Hearn, Admiral David Dixon Porter, p. 311-312.
  10. Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, William H. Crook, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 51-52.
  11. David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War, p. 292-312.
  12. Peter Cozzens and Robert I Girardi, The New Annals of the Civil War, p. 519 (Godfrey Weitzel, “The Fall of Richmond”).
  13. Nelson Lankford, Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital, p. 161.
  14. T.M. Chester, Black Civil War Correspondent, p. 294-297.
  15. Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, William H. Crook, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 52-53.
  16. David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War, p. 292-312.
  17. Ida Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, p. 228.
  18. David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War, p. 292-312.
  19. Benjamin Quarles, Lincoln and the Negro, p. 236-237.
  20. David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War, p. 292-312.
  21. Don E. and Virginia Fehrenbacher, editor, Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, p. 257.
  22. Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, William H. Crook, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 53.
  23. David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War, p. 292-312.
  24. Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, William H. Crook, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 53-54.
  25. David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War, p. 292-312.
  26. Peter Cozzens and Robert I. Girardi, The New Annals of the Civil War, p. 515 (Godfrey Weitzel, “The Fall of Richmond”).
  27. David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War, p. 292-312.
  28. T.M. Chester, Black Civil War Correspondent, p. 294-297.
  29. Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, William H. Crook, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 54-55.
  30. William C. Harris, Lincoln’s Last Months, p. 205.
  31. Peter Cozzens and Robert I Girardi, The New Annals of the Civil War, p. 519 (Godfrey Weitzel, “The Fall of Richmond”).
  32. Nelson Lankford, in Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital, p. 165.
  33. Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, William H. Crook, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 55-56.
  34. David Dixon Porter, Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War, p. 292-312.
  35. Peter Cozzens and Robert I. Girardi, The New Annals of the Civil War, p. 520 (Godfrey Weitzel, “The Fall of Richmond”).
  36. Benjamin Quarles, Lincoln and the Negro, p. 237-238.
  37. Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, William H. Crook, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 56.
  38. Benjamin Quarles, Lincoln and the Negro, p. 238.
  39. Don E. and Virginia Fehrenbacher, editor, Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, p. 192.
  40. Don E. and Virginia Fehrenbacher, editor, Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, p. 115.
  41. Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, William H. Crook, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 58-59.
  42. T.M. Chester, Black Civil War Correspondent, p. 294-297.
  43. Isaac N. Arnold, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 427.
  44. Marquis Adolphe de Chambrun, Impressions of Lincoln and the Civil War: A Foreigner’s Account, p. 74-77.


President Lincoln Enters Richmond, 1865