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was culminating; and, on the day that Sherman entered Goldsboro, Mr. Lincoln arrived at City Point, partly to relieve himself of official cares that had made him sick, and partly to be near operations which involved momentous consequences to the country. On the twenty-fifth of March, Lee attacked and captured Fort Stedman, but was driven out of it with terrible losses; and Mr. Lincoln visited the scene on the same day, cheered by the soldiers wherever he appeared. The day had been fixed upon for a grand review, in honor of the President; but Mr. Lincoln said: “This is better than a review." On the twenty-eighth of March, a council of war was held on the steamer River Queen, at City Point, attended by the President and Generals Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Meade, and Ord; and, soon afterwards, Sherman left to rejoin his army.
New dispositions of troops had been in progress for several days; and, on the day following the council of war, the grand movement of the army of the Potomac began. Before the morning was passed, a new line of battle had been formed, whose right was on the extreme left of the former position; and here the army commenced éntrenching. A sharp little fight occurred in the afternoon, without material results. On the following day, it rained; but on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Grant's whole line was engaged in a series of heavy battles; and, while these were in progress, the President remained at City I oint, receiving dispatches from the field, and forwarding the substance of them to the country. His first dispatch, on Saturday, reported that there had been much hard fighting that morning, in which our forces had been driven back. Later in the day, he announced that the ground had all been retaken, and that our troops were occupying the position which the rebels held in the morning. On Saturday, Sheridan and Warren met with great successes.
On Sunday, the President announced “the triumphant success of our armies, after three days of hard fighting, during which the forces on both sides displayed unsurpassed valor.” At halfpast eight in the evening, Mr. Lincoln telegraphed to Mr. Stanton that, at half-past four in the afternoon, General Grant
reported that he had taken twelve thousand prisoners, and fifty pieces of artillery. In the smoke of this great day of battle, the rebellion was overthrown. Lee, with his shattered army reduced to half of its original numbers, by the three days of fighting, evacuated Richmond. The rebel rams and wooden fleet were blown up during the night, with terrific explosions. On the north side of the James, lay General Weitzel's corps, waiting to occupy Richmond, whenever the signs should indicate the safety of an advance. On Monday morning, April third, Weitzel pushed out the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry to reconnoiter; and they reported that no enemy was to be found. At eleven in the morning, he announced by telegraph that he entered Richmond at a quarter past eight; that the enemy had left in great haste; that he had many guns; that the city was on fire; and that the people received him with enthusiastic expressions of ioy. His dispatch closed with the statement that Grant had started to cut off Lee's retreat, and that President Lincoln had gone to the front.
The day on which Richmond fell will long be remembered by the people of America, in both sections of the country. When the news was made public on Monday, the whole North was thrown into a frenzy of joyous excitement. Every bell on every public building, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was rung for hours. Cannon answered to cannon, from mountain to mountain, and from valley to valley. Men grasped one another's hands in the streets, and wept, or embraced each other in the stress of their joyous enthusiasm. Public meetings were called, at which the deeds of the gallant heroes who had won the decisive victories were praised and cheered, and the public exultation found expression in speech and music. Nothing like it was ever seen upon the continent. The war was over. Richmond, that had so long defied the national authority and resisted the national arms, was ours.
The rebel President and his associates were fugitives. Lee's army was running away, and Grant was pursuing them. The sun of peace had fairly risen. The incubus of war that had pressed upon the nation's heart for four long, weary years, was lifted; and the nation
sprang to its feet, with all possible demonstrations of joyous exultation
The pursuit of Lee was relentlessly prosecuted by our victorious forces; and, after two or three battles, the rebel General was obliged to surrender his whole army, which had been reduced by his losses to less than twenty thousand men. Within a period of less than two weeks, the city of Richmond was taken, and the proud army of Virginia passed out of existence. The capture of Lee was made the occasion of another day of popular rejoicing; and the scenes and sounds that followed the capture of Richmond were repeated.
Of the feelings of Mr. Lincoln, as he sat in his tent at City Point, receiving the dispatches which informed him of the momentous movements in progress at the front, no imagination can form an exaggerated estimate. But he could not sustain the excitement of those days without relief; and he found it in a way which none but he would have adopted. Just before he arrived at City Point, a pet cat, belonging to General Grant, had presented the General with a little family of kittens. On their owner's departure, the President took them into his care; and, during all those days of battle, in the intervals while he waited for dispatches, he relieved the pressure upon his heart and brain by playing with these kittens. When Richmond had fallen, and he was about to start for the front, he took up one of the kittens, and said: "Little kitten, I must perform a last act of kindness for you, before I go. I must open your eyes.” He then manipulated the closed lids as tenderly as a mother would handle her child, until he had accomplished his purpose. Then he put her down, and, as he stood enjoying her surprise at being able to see, he said sadly: “Oh that I could open the eyes of my blinded fellowcountrymen, as easily as I have those of that little creature!" The eyes of his blinded fellow-countrymen were soon opened, but alas! it involved the closing of his own!
Mr. Lincoln belied his own estimate of his physical courage, by going directly into the fallen capital, so lately swarming with armed enemies, and so crowded still with sullen rebels. He did this apparently without a thought of danger, although the whole loyal North trembled with apprehension. He went up in a man-of-war, on the afternoon of Monday, landed at the Rocketts below the city, and with his boy “Tad” rode up the remaining mile in a boat. He entered the city in no triumphal car. No brilliant cavalcade accompanied him; but on foot, with no guard except the sailors who had rowed him up the James, he entered and passed through the streets of the fallen capital. But his presence soon became known to the grateful blacks, who pressed upon him with their thankful ejaculations and tearful blessings on every side. Better and more expressive were the hats and handkerchiefs, tossed in the air by these happy and humble people, than flags and streamers, floating from masts and house-tops. “Glory to God! Glory! Glory!” shouted the black multitude of liberated slaves. “I thank you dear Jesus, that I behold President Linkum,” exclaimed a woman standing in her humble doorway, weeping in the fullness of her joy. Another, wild with delight, could do nothing but jump, and strike her hands, and shout with wild reiteration: 6 Bless de Lord! Bless de Lord! Bless de Lord!” At last, the streets became choked with the multitude, and soldiers were called to clear the way.
. A writer in the Atlantic Monthly, to whom the author is indebted for the most of these particulars, says that one old negro exclaimed: “May de good Lord bless you, President Linkum!” while he removed his hat, and the tears of joy rolled down his cheeks. “The President," the account proceeds, "removed his own hat, and bowed in silence; but it was a bow which upset the forms, laws, customs, and ceremonies of centuries. It was a death-shock to chivalry, and a mortal wound to caste."
After a visit to General Weitzel's headquarters, and a drive around the city, he returned to City Point. On Thursday, he visited the city again, accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln and the Vice-president, with others. While he was in Richmond on this occasion, he held important interviews with leading citizens, prominent among whom was Judge Campbell
, one of the parties in the Hampton Roads conference. The Judge urged him to issue a proclamation, permitting the Virginia Legislature to assemble, under the representation that that body would recognize the situation, and withdraw the Virginia troops from the support of Lee. After his return to City Point, he addressed a note to General Weitzel, directing him to permit the legislature to assemble, and to protect them until they should attempt some action hostile to the United States. He was also directed to show the note to Judge Campbell, but not to make it public. The Judge sent an account of his interview and its results to the Richmond Whig; and, this having been copied into the Washington Chronicle, after Mr. Lincoln's return to the federal capital, the President was very indignant. The breach of confidence on the part of Judge Campbell, and the misrepresentations which accompanied it, quite exhausted his patience. As Lee's army had surrendered, and there was no further apology for the desire to have the legislature assemble, he revoked his permission for its convocation. It was evident, in a cabinet meeting that was held a few days afterward, that Judge Campbell's course had much embittered him. He had been inclined to trust in the personal honor of rebels with whom he had been brought in contact: but he evidently felt that his confidence had been practiced upon by Campbell; and the fact stung him to indignation, if not anger.
The order produced an unpleasant effect upon the public mind, and its revocation was received with gratification all over the North. The revocation did not come early enough, however, to save serious difficulty in other quarters; for Sherman, negotiating with Johnston, patterned his policy upon that of the President, and brought down upon himself the reprobation of the loyal press of the country-reprobation which, in extreme instances, assumed the form of direct charges of disloyalty against this gallant and most loyal soldier. But Johnston surrendered; and soon there was not an army
of the rebellion that had not given itself up to our forces, or been disbanded and scattered.