Saturday, April 4, 2015

Let 'Em Up Easy

The Appomattox Campaign

Abraham Lincoln had been at General Grant's headquarters at City Point near Petersburg since March 24 when the news came of the fall of Richmond on April 3 and he could not resist the temptation to see the rebel capital which the armies under his command had sought to capture for four often frustrating and always bloody years.

The next morning Lincoln, accompanied by his son Tad, traveled by ship and barge up the James River.  Landing two miles from the city he proceeded ahead with an armed escort from the U.S. navy eventually linking up with Federal cavalry which took him to the Confederate Executive Mansion where the President sat in Jefferson Davis' chair.

After leaving the mansion, the American President set out on a tour of the city accompanied by General Godfrey Weitzel whose troops were the first to enter Richmond the prior day.  Large crowds turned out to watch, the whites mostly silent, the blacks often cheering and reaching out to grab the President's hand.  Not all the blacks were slaves; there were more than 2,500 freed blacks in the city and even more in nearby Petersburg where 1/3 (3,614) of the black population was free according to the 1860 census, the largest such population in the Confederacy. Civil War Roundtable)

At one point Weitzel asked the President for advice on how he should treat the citizens of the captured city.  Lincoln replied that he did not want to give orders on that topic but "If I were in your place,  I'd let 'em up easy, let 'em up easy."

On April 7, President Lincoln returned to Washington.

Forty miles away at Amelia Court House, Lee's scattered troops were beginning to assemble as ordered.  The hungry soldiers expected to find 350,000 rations sent from Richmond on April 2 at the Richmond & Danville Railroad Station in the town but due to a mix-up in orders they found nothing awaiting them.  The crushing disappointment was yet another blow to Lee's getaway plans and further incentive for more disillusioned soldiers to quietly leave the ranks and go home.


  1. Huh, didn't know that. dm

  2. Huh, didn't know that. dm