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he gained a brilliant victory. The enemy was vigorously pursued, and more than five thousand prisoners were added to his other severe losses.
The same night Grant issued orders for a cannonade all along the Petersburg lines the next morning, to be followed by a general assault. All was ready at the first dawn of light, and in a few hours the work was done.
At II o'clock on that eventful spring morning, Jefferson Davis, sitting in his church pew, was handed a dispatch just sent him from Petersburg by the General-in-chief of the Confederate armies, which said:
My lines are broken in three places. Richmond must be evacuated this evening.”
Church services were soon over for that day in Richmond. Wild excitement, bustle, confusion prevailed until night. Burning cotton, burning supplies, burning houses cast their dread glare over the city — now abandoned by all that remained of the Confederate government. At an early hour on the next morning General Weitzel, with a force of colored troops, marched into Richmond, to the music of the old national melodies, and took possession.
Lee withdrew quietly from Petersburg during the night, and Davis fled by railway to Danville. There was no such rapid transit possible for his army, whose capture was Grant's objective point. Concentrating at Chesterfield, Lee hastened thence to Amelia Courthouse, where, disappointed at not finding the supplies he had ordered, he stopped to gather provisions during the 4th and 5th from a region already well exhausted. By thoroughfares farther south, Sheridan, with his cav
alry and the Fifth Corps, hurried westward, determined to lose no chance of intercepting the fugitive enemy. Defeating and crushing an infantry force at Deep Creek, he struck the Danville railway at Jetersville, where he was joined by two of Meade's corps on the evening of the 5th. Lee set forward after dusk the same evening, swinging clear of Meade and Sheridan, and aiming to reach Lynchburg. Pursuit was pushed from Jetersville in the morning. Ewell, isolated and hotly assailed by continually increasing numbers, surrendered his force of more than six thousand men. The Confederate army that remained after large and small captures was hourly diminishing — weary, hungry, demoralized men continually falling out of the ranks. Its cavalry was worn out. Within a day's march of Lynchburg, Lee was loath to surrender; but the inevitable end came on the 9th of April at Appomattox.
Visit to Richmond — Return to Washington Speech on
Reconstruction — Orders to Weitzel.
On the 4th of April, the day after Weitzel occupied Richmond, Lincoln was the guest of the General at his headquarters, the late Executive Mansion of the now vanishing Confederacy. Going up by steamboat from City Point, the President and a few personal attendants had walked from the landing, apparently without a thought of danger. On the same day he took a drive through the city, and was everywhere respectfully greeted, the colored population being jubilant over the presence of their “ liberator." Next day he returned to City Point, and on the 6th and 7th visited Petersburg, examining with lively interest the fortifications as they had been left by the belligerents. Much of the 8th, as some hours of the previous days, he spent in visiting the hospitals. In the evening he started on his return to Washington.
Mrs. Lincoln had suffered much anxiety during the President's prolonged stay on the James. Mr. Seward also had misgivings, and thought the President should be put on his guard, or at least more closely watched over by alert friends. It was of her own motion, however, that Mrs. Lincoln asked the Attorney-General, with others, to join him at City Point. That gentle