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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 22, 1865

This site features an online archive of our extensive collection of Harper's Weekly newspapers. These papers have a wealth of important news and information on the war. It is fascinating to watch the war unfold on the pages of these original Civil War Newspapers.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)

 

Five Forks

Battle of Five Forks

End Civil War

End of the Civil War

Lee's Surrender to General Grant

Petersburg

Petersburg Civil War Map

Richmond Capture

Capture of Richmond

Illinois Central Railroad Land

Illinois Central Railroad Land

 

 

Appomattox River

Lee Crossing the Appomattox River

Petersburg

Union Troops Occupying Petersburg Virginia

Richmond Fall

Fall of Richmond in the Civil War

Capitol

Confederate Capitol in Richmond

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[APRIL 22, 1865

242

(Previous Page) city, to the Navy-yard at Rocketts a distance of two miles -- including the laboratories, artillery-shops, arsenals, Franklin paper-mill, the Petersburg and Danville depots, all the Commissary and Quarter-master buildings on and near Fourteenth Street, Rahm's Foundry, and other buildings. By seven o'clock A.M. nearly the whole city south of Main Street between Eighth and Fifteenth streets, and Twentieth and Twenty-third streets was one great sea of flame. The aspect of Main Street has been so completely changed by the fire, that those best acquainted with the buildings can not point them out with certainty; the street is an amphitheatre of crumbling walls and falling chimneys. While the city was burning, about nine o'clock on Monday morning, terrific shell explosions, rapid and continuous, added to the terror of the scene, and led to the impression that the city was being shelled by the retreating Confederate army from the Southside ; but the explosions were soon ascertained to proceed from the Government arsenal and laboratory, then in flames.

Other illustrations which we give of the city of Richmond portray its present desolate aspect. We give a view of Castle Thunder and of Libey Prison on page 252. In regard to the former of these buildings we quote the following interesting description from the World :

Leaving Richmond proper, and descending into the low, squalid portion of the town known as Rocketts, one sees among the many large warehouses, used without exception for the storage of tobacco, a certain one more irregular than the rest. An archway leads into it, and upon the outside of the second story windows runs a long ledge or footway, whereupon sentries used to stride, guarding the miserable people within. This is the jail of Castle Thunder, and it was the civil or state prison of the capital. We enter its strong portal, and there in the new commandant's room lay the record left behind by the Confederates. Its pages made one shudder.

These are some of the entries:

"GEORGE BARTON giving food to Federal prisoners of war; forty lashes upon the bare back. Approved. Sentence carried into effect July 2.

" PETER B. INNIS passing forged government notes; chain and ball for twelve months; forty lashes a day. Approved.

"ARTHUR WRIGHT attempting to desert to the enemy; sentenced to be shot. Approved. Carried into effect March 26.

"JOHN MORTON communicating with the enemy; to be hung. Approved. Carried into effect March 26." In an inner room are some fifty pairs of balls and chains, with anklets and handcuffs upon them, which have bent the spirit and body of many a resisting heart. Within are two condemned cells, perfectly dark a faded flap over the window peep hole the smell from which would knock a strong man down.

For in their centre lies the sink, ever open, and the floors are sappy with uncleanliness. To the right of these a door leads to a walled yard not forty feet long, nor fifteen wide, overlooked by the barred windows of the main prison rooms, and by sentry boxes upon the wall top. Here the wretched were shot and hung in sight of their trembling comrades. The brick wall at the foot of the yard is scarred and crushed by balls and bullets which first passed through some human heart and wrote here their damning testimony. The gallows had been suspended from a wing in the ledge, and in mid air the impotent captive swung, none daring or willing to say a good word for him; and not for any offense against God's law, not for wronging his neighbor, or shedding blood, or making his kind miserable, but for standing in the way of an upstart organization which his impulse and his judgment alike impelled him to oppose. This little yard, bullet marked, close, and shut from all sympathy, is to us the ghastliest spot in the world. Can Mr. Davis visit it and pray as he does so devoutly afterward? When men plead the justice of the South, and arguments are prompt to favor them, let this prison yard rise up and say that no such crimes in Liberty's name have ever been committed, on this continent, at least. Up stairs in Castle Thunder there are two or three large rooms, barred and dimly lit, and two or three series of condemned cells, pent up and pitchy, where, by a refinement of cruelty, the ceiling has been built low so that no man can stand upright. Here fifteen or twenty were crowded together, and in the burning atmosphere they stripped themselves stark naked, so that when in the mornings the cell doors were opened they came forth as from the grave begging for death. There are women's cells, too; for this great and valiant Government recognized women as belligerents and locked them up close to a sentry's cartridge, so that in the bitterness of solitude they were unsexed, and railed, and blasphemed like wanton things. The pavements before the jail were hidden by remorseless guards who shot at every rag fluttering from the cages, and all this little circle of death in life was enacted close to the light, river, and under the cover of that high Capitol where bold men held the sinews of war to wring from a reluctant Union a little path of arrogant independence to rein civilization as they pleased, and warp the destinies of our race. Now only a few renegade soldiers he in Castle Thunder. The captives who survived the fame of the city made a perilous descent from the windows and scaled the dead walls.

The " Libey" is now occupied by rebel prisoners, and our artist has taken the moment of their occupation for the sketch which we have engraved.

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 1865.
PALM SUNDAY.

UNDER the shadow of waving palms the Prince of Peace rode into the holy city ; and on the festival that commemorates that day, Peace, amidst sheathed swords, returned to our beloved country. So great an event our history has not known. For Peace, under her joyous palms, brings Justice and Union. The light that mildly beams from her starry brow is the light of liberty. The flag that was lowered in sorrow and shame four years ago, now floats again in serene triumph, and no man henceforward will doubt what that flag means.

It is not possible in the moment of jubilee to comprehend the scope of this event. The victory that has been won is not selfish or limited. It is not an American victory only. It is the vindication of the equal rights of men every where. " Man," says the historian MERIVALE, speaking of Junius CAESAR, "can not defy mankind with impunity." No class, no privilege, no theory, which involves permanent injustice to men can withstand the course of civilization. That God works in history is only a way of saying that the progress of human development will inevitably assert itself against all resistance. Four years ago it was hard for us

in this country to believe that we, too, must be forced through blood and sorrow to defend this truth. We thought we fully believed it. But in the fierce glare of war we can now see that even this sharp and bitter struggle was necessary to establish our own principles not only before the world but in our own hearts.

Let us thank God that we have not faltered. Let us rejoice that, through all the doubt and darkness, through the fires of opposing guns, and the sneers and taunts and skepticism of those who believed and wished those fires might prevail, the great heart of the American people has beat steadily on to victory. Nor less will we thank God that the young and noble who obeyed the call of their brave souls, and, leaving all that makes life dear and lovely, gladly died that their country might live, have not died in vain. Peace may return, but the precious darlings of a thousand hearts and homes shall return no more. Those whose names shone in dying, and those who fell unnamed in the heroic ranks, were not divided in their deaths, and shall forever share a common gratitude and glory. And by the love we bore them and they bore us, by the untold and unimaginable sacrifice, let us fervently pray that God may strengthen us to secure the victory they have won, and perpetuate a peace which will not shame their memory, and that Palm Sunday may henceforth be the symbol of a national repose founded upon that true brotherhood which the Prince of Peace proclaimed.

WHAT NEXT ?

THE overwhelming victory of the Government turns every mind to the consideration of the means of restoring its normal and tranquil operation. But in our present ignorance of the real condition of public sentiment at the South, it is impossible to do more than see what should not be done. The victory of the Government must not be thrown away. The terrible war, under which the country pants and bleeds, must not have been fought in vain. Justice, liberty, and peace must not be imperiled in a swash of weakness called by a fine name. If the Southerners are our brethren, the Northerners are not less so. If we ought not to punish deluded rebels, neither ought we to betray true men.

We all say, and undoubtedly not without reason, that the South was unwillingly precipitated into rebellion, and that only certain leaders are actually morally guilty. But there can be no doubt whatever that the heart of the South had been long and systematically alienated from the Union. The doctrine of State sovereignty, sedulously taught, had destroyed all true sense and pride of nationality. " In every house," said a Southerner who served two years in the rebel army, and was never north of Mason and DIXON'S line until he was brought as a prisoner, " the works of CALHOUN lay side by side with the Bible." That the United States Government was a league of consenting sovereign powers, each of which might withdraw at its pleasure, was a fundamental article of faith. The Southerners were proud of being Carolinians, Georgians, Virginians, not of being Americans. "Yankee" was a term of contempt and reproach, and the free expression of opinion by American citizens in the South, if unfavorable to slavery, was punished and annihilated by every form of insult and crime, from a glass of wine flung in the face at the table of " the hospitable Southern gentleman," to the arrest and trial by a secret committee, and hanging, burning, maiming, and expulsion, according to the whim of the mob.

Such things reveal the state of public opinion. Hostility to the Union and to the essential principles of a free government were not exceptional at the South ; they were general. They were carefully enforced by every appeal to the basest prejudice and the profoundest ignorance. Millions of American citizens, of the greatest intelligence and of the highest character, could venture into the whole Southern section of their country only at the risk of outrage and the peril of their lives, or upon condition of the most shameful and treacherous silence. The union of sympathy, of purpose, of national pride and feeling, was gone long before the shot at Sumter ; and such a union can be restored only by time and careful thought, by patience and unshrinking firmness, not by sentimental emotion.

We recall these facts not for the sake of recrimination but of instruction. It was cowardice, calling itself conservatism, that led us into the war ; and we may be very sure that blindness, calling itself magnanimity, will not lead us out of it. If we would establish the Government in tranquil permanence, we must look backward as well as forward.

The Southern people, who had grown up in ignorance and prejudice, the extent of which we can hardly comprehend, and who have been deluded into the active support of so enormous a conspiracy, have been deluded because their minds were prepared for delusion. Even ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS who was not considered peculiarly a Southern man, and to whom many persons now look as a possible mediator diligently fostered this delusion. He was a Union man in the Southern sense. That is to say, he

believed that the Union was essential to the prosperity of the South, but upon the sole condition that the South controlled the Government in its own interest. When he retired from Congress, in 1858, he publicly stated that he withdrew because he was not needed, because the South had carried every point in the long debate with the North, and because its future supremacy in the Union was absolutely assured by the decision of the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case. " The Union," said ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS and we quote his words " has always been to me, and ought to be to you, subordinate to Southern security in it." This was said two years before the war, and neither CALHOUN nor JEFFERSON DAVIS ever stated the doctrine of secession more forcibly or persuasively. His famous " Union" speech at Milledgeville, before the Georgia Legislature, in November,1860, was an effort to show that dissolution was an unnecessary risk even for the purposes of the South, enforced by a prophecy of the horrors of war. It was a passionate appeal to the South to remember that it had always controlled the Government ; that the election of Mr. LINCOLN, while the South held the Senate, the House, and the Supreme Court, did not really endanger its policy ; and that if it only stood fast it would control the Union forever, and permanently establish the state of things then existing, which was a practical subversion of the essential principles of the Government. And when he asked TOOMBS why, under the circumstances, he wished to risk every thing by drawing the sword, the fiery TOOMBS replied, substantially, " Don't be uneasy. I will agree to drink every drop of blood that will be shed in the war ; and I draw the sword only to show the edge, and precipitate by terror, and the consequent submission of the country, the very supremacy of the South in the Union which you advocate."

The public sentiment of the South was radically hostile to the Union because it was opposed to the principles upon which alone the Union was possible. If it could have its own way it was satisfied. If it could suppress free speech, if it could indefinitely extend slavery, and prostitute the National Government to its protection by giving it a Constitutional sanction, as STEPHENS believed it had effectively done, it was. willing to continue to use the Union as its tool. This, and this only, was the Unionism of the South. It was a Union subordinate to State sovereignty. It was a Union which had no power of coercion except against the enemies of the Southern policy. It was a Union whose Government had no right to enforce its authority against any citizen of the United States if the State in which he lived released him from his allegiance. And it was because this was not only the argument of the leaders but the conviction of the people of the South, that those leaders were able to begin and maintain with remarkable unanimity of popular support this long and strenuous rebellion against the national authority.

The practical question now is how much this opinion is changed by the war. Cannon conquer, but they do not necessarily convert. The South has learned that it can not establish State sovereignty by force of arms ; but does it any the less believe that every State is rightfully sovereign ? If it still holds that view, can the Government of the United States wisely recognize the resumption of political power by the people of the South until it is satisfied that that power will not be used against the Union ? Must not the resumption of that power be preceded by an acknowledgment upon oath, in every instance, of the supreme authority of the nation, and the relinquishment of the doctrine of State sovereignty in the Southern sense ? Is the present triumph of the national power to prove merely that this particular revolt of State sovereignty has failed, or that all rebellion upon that ground is hereafter to be impossible ? Unless we utterly mistake the feeling of the American people, they are resolved that no man shall henceforth serve in their army or navy who recognizes any flag before the Stars and Stripes ; nor any man sit in their Congress who does not solemnly swear that he holds the Government of the United States, and not of any individual State, to be the supreme political authority in the country. We have no less faith in the common sense than in the magnanimity of the nation.

GRANT.

ELEVEN months ago on the 3d of May, 1864 General GRANT broke up on the Rapidan, and advanced toward Richmond. The route he chose had been declared impracticable. The army that confronted him was the choicest force of the enemy, long and carefully trained, and led by their most trusted chief. The preparation upon both sides had been most elaborate and prolonged, and the issue of the campaign was the life or death of a nation. The battles that followed were tremendous and sanguinary. The loss upon both sides was enormous, and will never be known. Driven back step by step, slowly retreating toward Richmond, the rebel General disputed every mile. Flanked and worsted, he still held his army compact and effective. Receding before the terrible blows in his front, he still guarded his rear, and, post

ing himself outside his capital, was suddenly forced into the works that immediately defended it by one of the most daring and successful of military movements.

When GRANT crossed the James he had demonstrated that his route to Richmond was not only the best, because it entirely covered Washington, but was the most effective, because it had so fearfully disabled LEE'S army. He had not indeed driven it in a rout, nor compelled its surrender. He had the further disadvantage of an entire failure in his subsidiary movements in the Shenandoah and to the south of Richmond, and there were good military critics who thought that his campaign had failed. But they did not know the man. They did not remember Vicksburg or Chattanooga. GRANT said, quietly, " I shall fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer." It did take all summer and all winter. But he fought it out, and obliterated the army and the cause of his antagonist together.

The whole career of Lieutenant-General GRANT shows the most profound comprehension of the rebellion, and the most absolute mastery of the means necessary to suppress it. An earnest, faithful, silent man, he understood both the spirit and the resources of the enemy. Consequently he struck heavily at both. The loss of life in the Wilderness was fearful. Timid folk and traitors were appalled, and called him a butcher. The devastation of the Shenandoah was terrible. The same objectors exclaimed that it was inhuman. General GRANT knew that to reduce the rebellion it was necessary to kill men and to destroy provision. He knew that the sacrifice of life on our side was the shortest and least bloody way to peace, because it compelled a greater loss upon the enemy's. We could better lose a hundred lives than they could lose ten. And in his position fighting was imperative.

But while thus he struck at their resources of life and food, and sat before Richmond, holding the doomed city and LEE'S army in both hands, he ordered THOMAS to extinguish HOOD, and then SHERMAN to advance, that the spirit of the rebellion might be ruined at home and its prestige destroyed abroad, by showing that it was a crust, and that the people of the South had resigned their defense to their army. The great march of SHERMAN to Savannah, and northward into the heart of North Carolina, revealed this truth. GRANT had demonstrated that LEE'S army was the rebellion.

From that moment the cardinal necessity of his position was to prevent LEE'S escape and transfer of the field of war. If he could hold him to a battle for the defense of Richmond, and in case of success cut off his retreat, there would be no alternative but surrender, and in LEE'S surrender the rebellion would fall. To this end he moved out upon his extreme left to secure the interior line in the event of victory. The battle began, and turned, as GRANT intended, upon SHERIDAN at the extreme left, as the pivot. The indomitable energy and soldierly skill of SHERIDAN did exactly the work upon which GRANT counted ; and then the masterly ability of the Lieutenant-General, seconded by the glorious and tireless valor of his soldiers, struck the blow he had designed, broke through the enemy's lines, compelled a hasty evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and at the same moment loosened his own victorious columns to the left that he might complete the work. How he completed it is already history.

It was reserved for the modest soldier who practically finished the war at the West to end it at the East, and to end it not only with the most prompt and effective support of all his noble lieutenants but with their profound admiration and sympathy, while the country pays now, and will forever pay, the homage of its unqualified gratitude to his genius and his spotless character. For it is not the least of "the crowning mercies" of these days, that our political and military chiefs are men upon whose simple, earnest, unselfish devotion to their country no taint of suspicion was ever breathed ; and our children will be forever grateful that our national salvation was achieved by the people under two such leaders as ABRAHAM LINCOLN and ULYSSES S. GRANT.

ROBERT E. LEE.

THAT the general satisfaction with the surrender of LEE should beget a kind feeling for the rebel General is not unnatural. But it is a great folly to invest him with any romance. ROBERT E. LEE may be an honest man, as doubtless many of the rebels were, but beyond that he has no claim of any kind whatever upon the regard of the American people.

His story is very briefly told. Educated an army officer, he acknowledged the doctrine of State sovereignty, and, honestly holding it, he followed his State when she seceded. Now even if a man believed that his State had a right to secede at her pleasure, if he thought the occasion insufficient, as LEE confessed he did, lie would silently acquiesce, and no more. But if the occasion were infamous, if the object of the exercise of State sovereignty at such enormous peril to the lives and happiness of his fellow citizens were nothing but the perpetuity of human slavery, a noble and generous man would (Next Page)


 

 

  

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