Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bitter Bitter Tears

The Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia fell to Union control April 3rd 1865.

Union General Ulysses S Grant had been working toward a takeover of the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia for nearly ten months.  On April 1st 1865 Grant crushed Confederate Robert E Lee’s line at Five Forks, and Grant kept up the pressure the next day all along the Confederate’s Petersburg line.  Lee’s line collapsed.  That same night the Confederate government in Richmond evacuated the city leaving on the last open railroad line, with the army leaving right behind them.  As the Confederate soldiers left, they set fire to the armory, bridges and warehouse, a fire that burned out of control and spread through the city.

On the morning of April 3rd 1865 the mayor and some other elite citizens surrendered Richmond, and Union troops entered the capital city.  The Union soldiers fought and put out the fires, but not before it burned about 10% of the city.  Mary Fontaine a resident of Richmond, Virginia wrote that she "saw them unfurl a tiny flag, and I sank on my knees, and the bitter, bitter tears came in a torrent."  Among the first Union troops to enter the city were the black troops of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry, many of the city’s residents considered this proof that their world was over.

President Abraham Lincoln toured the city just a few days later with his son Tad.

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