Fall of Richmond


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 15, 1865

This site features online editions of newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers have stories and pictures that allow you to watch the war unfold just as people alive at the time saw it. We hope you find this resource useful in your studies of the conflict.

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


General Canby

General Canby

Richmond Fall

Fall of Richmond

General Winthrop

Death of General Winthrop

Sherman South Carolina

Sherman's March Through South Carolina

Five Forks

Battle of Five Forks

Prison Camps

Civil War Prison Camps

Lincoln Cartoon

Last Lincoln Cartoon


Black River

Battle of Black River

Fort Steadman

Battle of Fort Steadman


Battle of Bentonsville






[APRIL 15, 1865.




[Soon after the occupation of Wilmington by the United States forces a negro called at the head-quarters of General Schofield, to whom, being introduced, he made known his errand. He had gathered together hundreds of men and women, escaped slaves, marching them from the interior by night. Not knowing whether our forces were yet in possession of the city, he had left his people behind him and scouted through alone, promising them that if he found the Union soldiers he would ask the General to fire a ' joy-gun,' when they were all to come in and join him. The General ordered one of the heaviest pieces of artillery in the fort to be fired."—Army Letter.]

BORNE on the wings of the Northern breeze, Wafted on airs from happy seas,

The word of the Lord by his servant's mouth Came to the bondsmen of the South;

And young and old with a sudden cry,

Answered, " Yea, Master, here am I ! "

With the dread of his old life shuddering through him, With the hope of his new life beckoning to him, In his heart the goad of the troubled eyes Of those whose prayers flew on before him, And a vast vague dream of freer skies Bending like God's dear pity o'er him, The black man looked in our General's face, Speaking his word for himself and race.

He was only a black man; grim and gaunt, Torn and tattered and lean from want; Mired with the slime of the oozing fen Wherein he had crouched from tiger-men, Poor and ignorant, mean and low, Blossom of ages of shame and woe. Cowed by scourges and chains and whips, Starved of bountiful fellowships; Dull of feeling, heavy of brain: Dead to the finer spiritual sense Which through the white man's passion and pain Sees that the heavens are clear, and thence God shining on us. Only a slave, With the ache in his breast which dumb souls, have. But as he stood there bare of head, Telling the Union General How his people arose and fled Oat from the dreadful gates of hell, Into the darkness, into the night, Through terrible leagues of mortal flight, Past forest and thicket, swamp and flood, Leaving a trail of human blood, And how he too had crawled and crept Through the armed watch the enemy kept, To see for his brethren, hidden there Down in the jungle's fastnesses, Whether indeed a pathway were Open to Freedom for him and his. And how they waited with straining ear, And hearts on tip-toe of hope and fear, To catch the throb of the blessed gun

Which he prayed might shout to them all was won, And the General said it should be done:—Oh, it was wonderful to trace How, o'er his black and stolid face, Shot like an instant gleam from the sun A pained rapture, an awful grace, An august look in his lifted eyes,

Tranced with a vision through which there brake The self--same Infinite Voice which spake To the dead Lazarus, saying, Arise! So was the human soul within him Drawn from its hideous selpulchre, To where archangels might woo and win him, And the breath of the Lord be Comforter. So from his brows like a cowl there slid The stagnate seeming of sullen care, In the dark of which had the MAN lain hid: A new life stirred to the roots of his hair; The glory of God eclipsed the brute, And the slave fell dead at the freedman's foot.

Oh, gun of Freedom! that then and there Poured for the fainting fugitives Oil of gladness upon despair,

Healing balm upon bruised lives. Albeit thou spak'st but once, I know That thy grand thunder shall never die, But gather an ampler voice, and grow In greatening echoes around the sky, Over the hurtling shouts of war, Landward and seaward, near and far, Till every tyranny reels and rocks, Smitten to hell by mighty shocks;

And the wasted hearts of the weary rouse Spring-born from desolate wintry drowse; And its blessed billows of music roll To shackled body and thralled soul, Slave and master and bond and free,

Till the whole earth, Lord, lies pure in Thee.



WHEN OLIVER CROMWELL won a vast and decisive victory his earnest heart thanked
God for a "crowning mercy ;" and we may be
sure that nothing less than the consciousness of a great deliverance could have set every bell
ringing, every flag flying, every heart beating,
and have brought merchants and bankers to the steps of the Exchange at high noon of Monday, April 3, 1865, to unite in solemnly singing "Old Hundred" and "John Brown." The Virginian capital, dextrously defended for years as the very heart of the rebellion, was not surrendered by military or civil negotiation : the armies of the United States did not occupy it by permission of any man or body of men. They entered victorious, and liberated thousands

of their fellow-citizens from the most relentless despotism.

It was fit that the old flag should be restored to the city of Richmond by soldiers of the race to secure whose eternal degradation that flag had been pulled down ; and it was peculiarly fit that the army of the Potomac so brave and steady and persistent, so long baffled by various fortune, should at last justify their own patient heroism and the national confidence by striking the final blow. Nor less pleasant is it that the concluding operations of the war in its chief battle-field of Virginia should have been personally directed by the simple, silent, sagacious, tenacious soldier, whose name will be always precious in the national heart, the Lieutenant-General of the armies of the United States.

It is a natural speculation to wonder what the rebels will do next. Their leaders are not men who will relinquish the struggle until the defeat and disappearance of their soldiers assure them that there is no other alternative. Those soldiers comprise the most desperate men of the insurrection, and their fighting at Fort Steadman, and Bentonsville, and through the tremendous days that destroyed their cause before Petersburg, shows that then, at least, they were not demoralized. If LEE can escape with any considerable force tolerably well organized he will join JOHNSTON, and either make for the mountains or for the Southwest ; or, possibly, upon a calm military survey of the situation, considering his ghastly disaster in Virginia and the comparative fewness of his defeated troops, surrender unconditionally. If he can not escape, and is compelled to face GRANT again, the question will be decided before these words are read.

As for the country, solemnized by the war and inspired by its success, it has learned what it did not know at first and that is, what it is fighting for. While it has been defending its Government, assailed by rebels, it has learned that the assault was made in the interest of a system inconsistent with free government, as it is with manly honor and Christian civilization. An earlier and easier victory would have blinded its eyes, and have delivered it once more to the deadly political corruption of slavery, which would have made the next shock of inevitable war even more perilous than this has been. Bull Run was a bitter pang, but it was a higher wisdom that caused us to

" Wait beneath the furnace blast The pangs of transformation,"

until the costly blood of its noblest children washed the national blindness away, and every man saw the reality of the terrible conflict between humanity and brutality, civil order and barbarism.

And now, with no hatred of our fellow citizens with whom we have fought, and whom we know were deluded by leaders who can never be forgiven, without scorn or vituperation, but with devout gratitude to Almighty God for this crowning mercy, let us all, remembering the young and brave by whom we have been saved, the eyes that are dim and the hearts that are breaking, even in this hour of jubilee, resolve that the peace they have secured for us shall be as broad as liberty and as eternal as justice.


AMONG a host of heroes it is almost unfair to mention a single name only. But the attentive reader of the reports of the great battles before Petersburg will not be able to restrain his enthusiastic admiration of General SHERIDAN. For two days he was baffled, and his defeat would have imperiled the whole movement ; but with masterly skill he retreated, reformed, knew no such word as fail, and finally, grasping his army with the hand of genius, hurled it at the enemy, routed them, and secured the victory. No name will be sweeter to American ears than that of "LITTLE PHIL SHERIDAN."


THE generosity which sends our greatest naturalist and his party to South America deserves a permanent record. Mr. NATHANIEL THAYER, of Boston, knowing that Professor AGASSIZ was contemplating a tour of scientific exploration up the Amazon and Andes, authorized him to take with him as many assistants as he chose, and assumed all the expenses of the expedition. This is a national gift. It is not only spending money, but spending it wisely. Like the Astor Library, and Lawrence School, and Peabody Institute, the AGASSIZ expedition will be a monument of Mr. THAYER'S munificence. The jealousy of riches disappears when they are nobly used, and we feel that he has a right to be rich who shows that he considers himself a steward and trustee for the public benefit. Nor ought we to omit to mention that the Pacific Steamship Company, in the most generous spirit, have made their contribution to this expedition of AGASSIZ by conveying him and his party without expense in the splendid ship Colorado. It is a graceful munificence that will not be forgotten.

We wish the example of Mr. THAYER might be followed by some other of the rich men of the country. The Evening Post has already suggested a special agricultural embassy to China, which should be intrusted to Dr. MACGOWAN,

and there are many other good things that might be done. For instance, a complete gallery of casts from all the famous statues in the world would be a collection easily made and of the highest value. The expense would be great, but there are great fortunes that could well support it ; and as a cast is the most perfect copy of a work of art possible, we should have the treasures of all the capitals of the world gathered in our own. NAPOLEON brought the bronze horses of St. Mark from Venice to Paris, and Italy sighed and frowned to see her noble works borne away as trophies. But some of our peaceful conquerors might stretch their golden wands, and, without robbing a single foreign city, incalculably enrich their own. That is a secret which neither NAPOLEON nor Junius CAESAR knew. Peace bath her victories not less renowned than war.


Now that the beautiful doors of the new National Academy of Design are about to open upon an exhibition of paintings which will probably be more numerously visited than any previous one, the critics are burnishing their pens and preparing for their duties. The experience of last season admonishes us that there will be radical differences of opinion, and that frank and fearless censure both of the spirit and the manipulation of pictures will not always be agreeable to the artists. It is only fair that there should be no avoidable misunderstanding; and as we are friendly to the artists, and shall not hesitate to say what we think of the pictures upon exhibition, we will state what we believe to be the limits of just and generous criticism.

It seems to us, then, that the criticism of pictures should proceed from a kind and sympathetic study of them a study enslaved by no theory, no school or clique, while the judgment should be a candid statement of the impression produced. Smartness and sarcasm recoil upon the critic. A quip may easily excite a prejudice, and a sneer pass for a verdict. A critic has duties and responsibilities, and no man who remembers that the painting of pictures is the means of livelihood of many meritorious men and women, will wantonly injure them unless he is very contemptible.

On the other hand, the critic can not forget that he has undertaken to say what he sincerely thinks of certain objects of general public interest, and, if he have a true sense of honor, he will no more speak falsely about a picture than about any other subject upon which he is trusted. If he has duties to the artist he has them none the less to the public : and if a man exposes a wretched daub, hoping that nobody will discover it, another man who says that it is good, or who, having assumed to speak, allows his silence to be construed as approbation, is merely accomplice in an imposition. On the other hand, if a critic were to visit a gallery, and speak only of the pictures that he could honestly praise, those that he did not mention would be as emphatically censured by his silence. If a man's object is to say pleasant things it is a very excellent object, and we wish him unvaried success. But if he wishes to criticise pictures, or books, or human conduct, or character, he will often be compelled to say very unpleasant things.

Yet the relations and gradations of all things should be remembered. A man may paint a very wretched picture without the least moral offense. Because his imagination is at fault, or his eye for color is bad, or his drawing is defective, he is not necessarily so terrible a sinner that he must be overwhelmed with obloquy. The mildest and most innocent men do sometimes paint the most atrocious pictures, just as they whistle out of tune or quote poetry incorrectly. In treating of their poor pictures an overpowering solemnity of wrath is untimely. It recoils. It is crucifying a moth. It is proclaiming figs in the name of the prophet.

But while a poor picture does not betray a bad heart in the painter, a very clever picture may be of very corrupting influence ; and the critic who, in looking at any work, whether in literature or art, is persuaded that it is injurious to public morals, is certainly bound to say so. He may be mistaken, of course. Another man may be differently affected. But it would be very foolish for one reader of BYRON'S "Don Juan" to refrain from condemning what he thought to be the licentious tendency of the poem because another reader thought better of it, even though the other reader were SHELLEY, who considered it the greatest of modern poems.

It should be remembered, also, that the critic is not to be accused of personal malevolence because of his opinion of the immorality of a work, Is it hostility to the shade of the long forgotten. APHRA BEHN to say that her novels were prurient and disgusting ? And if a man for the first time encountered the tales of PAUL DE KOCK, not knowing who wrote them, could M. DE KOCK justly charge the critic with injuring his moral character if he advised his friends not to read them? If all honest moral censure of aesthetic works is to be interpreted as enmity of the authors there is an end of criticism. And if it be unkind or injurious to censure in print, it must be no less so in conversation ; and we thus arrive inevitably at the absurd conclusion, that if we think a book or a picture or a statue im

moral, we must carefully hold our tongues, and so permit the public mind to be corrupted, lest the feelings of the corrupter should be hurt. If, indeed, a critic should gravely declare that the Madonnas of RAPHAEL were demoralizing pictures, he would only make himself ridiculous. But if he said that CORREGGIO'S IO was a work which might harm young people the critic might be mistaken, but the sensible CORREGGIO could not be fairly angry. Or to take an illustration at hand. GEROME'S picture of the Almee is, in our opinion, a work which may wisely be exhibited; but if X, or Y, or Z, who write for other papers, should say that it is too indecent to be publicly seen, we should not at once angrily suppose they meant to injure M. GEROME, nor to spoil his market.

It is for this fidelity and frankness in criticism which distinguish the little monthly journal called The New Path that we are glad to see it taking a fresh lease of life and, we hope, of public attention. Its aim is single and sincere. If its criticisms seem to any one crude and unjust and severe, they yet have the radical merit of honesty. If it appear to favor a new and unpopular school of art, it is because, in common with some of the acutest and most thoughtful critics of the time, it believes the principles of that school to be correct. If it censure the departure of popular art from the great original, Nature, it censures in good faith and before the public judgment. We do not always agree with what it says, nor can we always commend the manner. But it has freshness, vitality, conviction, and a genuine interest in ,the subject. The sincere spirit of The New Path can not be too highly commended. What we all need painters and public and critics is a little more honest frankness ; and with the opening of the doors of the new Academy we heartily hope that the doors of a new era in current art criticism will also open.


THE important question is the disposition of the people in the Rebel States. Are the people actively hostile to the Government, or is the strength of the rebellion in the army ? The answer to these questions is best found in the unconscious admission of the chief rebel journals.   

The Richmond Sentinel of March 30, in a very long and serious article, says truly of the opening campaign of GRANT, SHERMAN, and THOMAS : " Without doubt this combination is very formidable, and installs a tremendous campaign. It is to be the life and death struggle, the crisis and solution of the war. GRANT is about to make an effort full of peril to us, but full of peril also to himself. He will give us a death wound or we will give him his." It proceeds to say that " the great question is, will our people do their duty?"

The Sentinel was DAVIS'S organ, and its tone for several weeks before the fall of Richmond was one of doubt as to the popular resolution. It rang with appeals to the faithful to stand fast. On the 1st of March it said : " Why is it that our public men can not see the importance of cultivating a cheerful spirit and encouraging hopeful sentiments among the people and soldiers?" On the 7th it said: " We will surely win the fight if we do our duty......Let no one
imagine that the few poltroons with beards on who are whipped without ever having been in a fight are a sample of our population......We do not intend to be sold out or betrayed by them.....   

Stand up like men in this hour of trial." On the 8th it said: "Nothing can be more unpatriotic or in worse taste than to threaten the majority with defection and abandonment unless they shall yield their opinions to a listless and unenergetic minority...... We do not credit any threats or rumors of desertion." On the 15th it said : " In the great occasion which is upon us all have opportunity for the display of whatever courage and greatness of soul God has implanted in them...... The opportunity has come to all; are all improving it?" On the 25th it said: " The tone of the public confidence is daily improving, and all except the contemptible Tories, who harbor the desire of their country's overthrow, are elated at the prospect of the coming victories."

All this is full of significance. It shows a profound consciousness of a fatal division of sentiment and mortal apathy. The Richmond Sentinel was fond of appealing to the illustrious.

examples of history. Let us remind its wandering conductors, then, that this tone of doubt, of expostulation, of contempt, of spite, of pathetic appeal, irresistibly suggests that the people to which it is addressed are not like the Romans after Cannae, nor like the Gauls destroying their cities before JULIUS CAESAR, nor like the French in the beginning of their struggle with allied Europe, nor like the Dutch fighting with Spain.

The cardinal fact of the situation is clearly read in its own late editorials, and that is, that the rebellion is as strong as the combined army and no stronger. It does not actively exist in the population of the rebel section. And when JEFFERSON DAVIS'S organ declared that this campaign was the solution of the war it confessed that DAVIS'S talk about fighting for twenty years was the utter fully which every sensible (Next Page)




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