From the New York Times, 4/10/1865, p. 1
Thanks to God, the Giver of Victory.
Honors to Gen. Grant and His Gallant Army.
A NATIONAL SALUTE ORDERED.
Two Hundred Guns to be Fired at the Headquarters of Every Army, Department, Post and Arsenal.
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.
April 9, 1865—9:30 P.M.
Thanks be to Almighty God for the great victory with which he has this day crowned you and the gallant armies under your command.
The thanks of this Department and of the Government, and of the People of the United States—their reverence and honor have been deserved—will be rendered to you and the brave and gallant officers and soldiers of your army for all time.
EDWIN M STANTON, Secretary of War.
WAR DEPARTMENT. WASHINGTON. D.C.,
April 9, 1866—10 o’clock P.M.
Ordered: That a salute of two hundred guns be fired at the headquarters of every army and department, and at every post and arsenal in the United States, and at the Military Academy at West Point on the day of the receipt of this order, in commemoration of the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia to Lieut.-Gen. Grant and the army under his command. Report of the receipt and execution of this order be made to the Adjutant-General at Washington.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
Perils and Excitements of a Voyage Up the James—Scenes and Incidents Along the River.
From Our Own Correspondent.
Richmond, Va., Wednesday. April 5.
The inspiration of the scene and the scope of the theme before us are far beyond the feeble descriptive powers of of the pen of your correspondent. No brilliant rhetoric, no vivid word-painting, no oratorical eloquence can portray the sublimity and immensity of the great victory. It is almost beyond the power of the human mind to comprehend its extent, and when you begin to descend to detail, the task is simply appalling in its magnitude. Think of a line of operations, held defensively and operated from offensively with such success, ‘thirty-nine miles long from flank to flank, thoroughly fortified throughout its entire length! Think of the cities captured, of the fortificationss stormed and taken, with their hundreds of guns, great and small, of the material of war now in our hands, yet beyond the possibility of computation of the terrible battles, and the overwhelming defeat, and rout of the chief army of the rebellion of the prisoners captured. Counted by the tens of thousands; of the terrified flight of the arch-traitor and the his few desperate minions; of the triumphant entry of ABRAHAM LINCOLN into treason’s fallen capital. Let every lover of his country depict the vast scene in his own imagination for words to fitly describe it fails altogether.
Through the courtesy of Provost-Marshal Gen. Patrick, I enjoyed an exceedingly pleasant sail from City Point to the Richmond wharves this morning, on his fleet flag ship, the Mattine. Accompanying the General were Hon. C.H. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, his wife and son, and Hon. Roscoe Conkling, member of Congress from New-York. The snake-like bends of the James between City Point and Varina Landing, were quickly passed, and at the latter place assurance was given that the river was clear for our vessel to the very docks of Richmond; thickly sown with obstructions and supposed torpedoes, was an exceedingly delicate task, and full of excitement. Our pilot knew the channel of old, but he knew not the warlike devices of the enemy.
We were, however. Very fortunate, and the approach to the city, especially during the last eight miles from Drewry’s Bluff, was full of the intensest interest, for over these waters the Union flag had never before floated during the war. When we leave Dutch Gap and that famous canal, which looks as though it might have been washed out by a billow, we at once enter upon the lines held by the enemy. Howlett House Battery, famous for its determined resistance to our engineering operations on the north side of the river, stands abandoned and gloomy, with its twelve large guns still in the embrasures, but all silent as we steamed rapidly by. Another long and large earthwork appears on the left bank, mounting eight or ten guns, and bearing directly upon the mouth of the canal. This, too, like the rest, is abandoned, with its armament unimpaired. We next pass the wreck of the rebel gunboat, blown up by our batteries during the effort made to run through our fleet some months ago.
The next point of interest is Fort Brady, on the north bank of the river, and the left of the position of our Army of the James. What strikes one as very remarkable here is the fact that owing to the intricate windings of the James there are two rebel batteries, Howlett House and another, absolutely in the rear of this former position of our army. Fort Brady is the point where Gen. Gibbon opened on the retreating rebel rams. Had there been larger guns at his disposal, the range is so good that they would have stood a poor chance of escape.
We are now fairly in that part of the river held solely by the rebels, and a knowledge of the channel and obstructions is absolutely necessary to a safe voyage. The gunboat Monticello is therefore halled, and on asking for information, a pilot who has been up and down is tendered with much politeness. The obstructions sunk by our own fleet are soon passed, likewise the fleet of monitors, and the next object which greets the vision is a gaily dressed tug, with a guard of marines, having in tow Admiral Porter’s barge with the President, on his return from Richmond, complacently seated in the stern sheets. It looks very much like a pic-nic. Following a short distance after is the President’s handsome flag-ship, the River Queen. Not far behind is the beautiful steel gunboat [Bat], ex-blockade runner, now general convoy to distinguished guests, guests, and one of the fastest vessels in the navy. The River Queen, which took the President up the river, proceeded no farther than the obstructions at Drewry’s Bluff. We are soon abreast of this historic fortification, and eager eyes scan closely its formidable walls and positions.
Here is the chief line of obstructions sunk by the rebels early in the war, and located as they are, directly under the guns of Fort Darling, subjecting every approaching thing to a terrible plunging fire, it is readily admitted that this was the impassable barrier to the naval advance on Richmond. The river here is very narrow, and the movement of large vessels attended with much danger. The obstructions were placed directly across the river, and filled it completely with the exception of a gap of fifty or sixty feet left for the passage of the rebel fleet and flag-of-truce boats. They consist of the hulls of two or three old steamships, that formerly plyed between Richmond and New York. The wheel-houses, foul crumbling to decay, still rise above the water, and present the appearance of a melancholy ruin.
We pass so hurriedly under the guns of Fort Darling, that we have no good opportunity to observe its construction. We know it looks very strong, and on the north side it has one or two small outlying works on its flank. Our naval companions tell us that it is a casemated fortification, and with its surrounding field works, all parts of the fort itself, mounts not less than forty guns. All these, like hundreds more, are our trophies without blemish or injury.
Not far above Fort Darling lies the wreck of one of the famous rebel fleet in the James, the iron-clad Virginia. Whether she has been blown up or simply scuttled and sunk, cannot be ascertained from looking at her as she lies. She sank in deep water, and is careened over on her side, leaving a portion of her overhang visible above the water-line. Of the other iron-clad, the Richmond, we find no trace.
In the immediate vicinity of Fort Darling we pass through a very substantial bridge with a draw, used by Lee for the speedy transfer of troops from the north to the south side of the James. Ere reaching Richmond we pass two more of the same kind, though hardly so well built as the first; but all demonstrating that Lee had no pontoon bridges across the James anywhere—probably, because the rapid current rendered them unsafe, and probably, too, because he had not any pontoons to spare, when something else would answer just as well.
We have now steamed safely by all obstructions and chances of torpedoes, and the very pardonable trepidation which we felt in view of our possible danger, gives way to a feeling that just now is a moment in our lives, the significance, importance and sublimity of which cannot be justly appreciated. The City of Richmond is in view. The spires pointing heavenward; the smoke still rising from the conflagration’s awful ruin, and the Stars and Stripes floating from a hundred house-tops and mastheads, all form a picture so sublimely grand and inspiring, that the human mind is simply lost in mute contemplation.
In a few moments we land at the Rockets, and a brisk walk of a mile and a half brings us to the Spotswood House, where we find dinner and a very comfortable room amid hundreds of loyal guests.
L L CROUNSE
First Impressions of Richmond—The Great Conflagration in the City—Who Was Responsible for it?—The Libby and Castle Thunder—Suffering for Food—Distribution of Supplies—Lee’s Family.
From Our Own Correspondent.
Richmond, Thursday, April 6, 1865.
So many thousand facts are presented to the mind of the visitor here in such a very short space of time, that to record them systematically is almost impossible. The great features of the evacuation, the entrance of our troops, the conflagration, the President’s visit and reception, have already been forwarded to you in detail by your correspondents who can in with the troops, and I will, therefore, allude to them only in a general way.
Let me say, though, at the outset, that the best part of the city is a ruin. That the awful fire kindled by the enemy, and which at first promised to consume but a few buildings, was so fanned by the rising wind, that before it could be got under subjection, thirty squares, comprising not less than eight hundred buildings in the very best and most valuable business part of Richmond were in ashes. What the pecuniary loss is no one can estimate. Nearly all the principal mills, factories, warehouses, stores, banks and insurance offices were destroyed, and the losses being so heavy, the insurance companies, perhaps insolvent already from their countenance of the rebel currency, are now more than bankrupted, and thousands of property owners, computed wealthy in their actual possessions three days ago, are now reduced to beggary. It is among the things easily discernable, that this ruin, wrought by their own friends, to whom they have given all, and to whose tyranny they have submitted, with even cheerfulness, is the cause of far deeper gloom among many than that produced by the loss of the city or the defeat of their army. It is apparent indeed that the transfer of the city to the Union flag was not only not distasteful to a very large portion of the people, many of them among the best classes, but even highly gratifying. No captured city, not even Savannah nor Columbia, can present the ruin apparent here in Richmond. It will carry its painful evidences for half a score of years, and the only thing which will speedily alleviate the dire distress that must prevail, and give the city a chance for a speedy recovery from its present stagnation, is immediate peace. It is Richmond’s only salvation. The origin of the fire and the incendiaries are so well and positively known that no extended investigation on these points is required. It seems that Gen. Lee was not responsible for it, but that Jeff. Davis and his Secretary of War, Breckenridge, were. The destruction of the supplies and the arsenal involved the destruction of the city, and it was so decided by the leading citizens. Gen. EWELL and Maj. CARRINGTON both protested against it in the most earnest manner, as did also a committee of citizens, but BRECKINRIDGE, in reply, exclaimed that he didn’t care a d—m if every house in Richmond was consumed, the warehouse must be burned. Thus this wretched rebel, foisted into a powerful position with no constituents, is responsible for the dreadful ruin, and his master DAVIS is likewise responsible, because he silently countenanced it.
The fire was started in two places, among the supply warehouses near the wharves, and at the Danville Depot, where there were 1,500 hogsheads of tobacco belonging to the Confederate Government. This consumed the Danville Depot, also the Petersburg Depot, and the bridge over the James to Manchester. The famous Libby Prison, and Castle Thunder, as I have already informed you, were not burned. They were reserved for a far more appropriate fate. I visited them yesterday, and found Castle Thunder used as a guard-house for factious and thieving negroes, caught in acts of plunder, while the Libby contained 700 rebel prisoners, officers and privates, temporarily shut up together. They looked through the iron gratings with gloomy countenances, while the Union guard outside seemed to richly enjoy the transition that the famous building had undergone, evidently having been there himself. The whirligig of time makes all things even, and the thousands of loyal officers and soldiers who have suffered the tortures and horrors of these dungeons may now contemplate their present uses with serene satisfaction, and yet without resentment.
A close inspection of Castle Thunder reveals one of the most hideous dungeons that can be conceived. We failed to see it, however, in all its filth and nastyness, for a strong force of men had been engaged two days in carrying out the accumulation of the past three years. The corporal of the guard who conducted us through, pointed out a spot on the floor on one of the main halls, not yet cleaned, where the dirt was three inches thick, and alive with vermin, and yet on this floor, in this condition, prisoners were obliged to sleep either upon the dirt itself or upon palets of decaying straw.
But I will not descant further upon this vile relic of the rebellion. Its career is too well known. The prisoners confined here, it will be recollected, were those against whom special vengeance was directed, prisoners of State, persons charged with harboring Union prisoners, Union officers charged with being spies, blockade-runners, &c. Well has it been said that a confinement in Castle Thunder is a foretaste of the tortures of the damned.
This building, together with the Libby belongs to the estate of JOHN ENDERS, and was leased by the rebel Government. They were originally built for stores, but subsequently turned into tobacco manufactories. But their base uses are now at an end.
This is the fourth day of the Union occupation, and the confusion in the city necessarily attendant upon such an evacuation, and such an occupation, is gradually subsiding. Could the ruins of the fire be removed from sight, Richmond would present and attractive appearance, for it is really a handsome city; but, after all, the saddest scenes are at the headquarters of the Provost-Martial, the Commissioners of Subsistence, and the office of Sanitary Commission, the latter being already established here. Gen. WEITZEL had no sooner established his headquarters here than thousands of citizens besieged him for rations. And as the city is now shut out from all supplies from the country, the crowd of applicants for subsistence is rapidly increasing. This morning there was nothing in the markets but a few small fish caught by negroes. The Capitol, the City Hall and the Capitol-square are filled with a great throng of all classes, condition, sexes and ages, with basket in hand and an appealing expression of face. What the regulations yet are in regard to the issue of rations to the citizens, I do not know, but a limited quantity is being supplied them at present.
In order to study this peculiar social feature of the rebellion, I mingled with these crowds this morning for a short time, to observe their temper, desires and condition. They were, of course, largely made up of what appeared to be the poorer classes, and many negroes were among them, some for subsistence for themselves and some as servants of families. I found many whose intelligent expressions of countenance, fair features and attempted gentility of dress, indicated that they were of the higher classes, on whom the demands of want and hunger were as insatiable as upon those of less position. I noticed several ladies approach the officer in charge at the City Hall, genteelly attired, and with their faces so closely veiled as to defy the gaze of the keenest eye. They spoke in such tremulous tones when giving their names as to cause us to suspect their names were as foreign to them as the hunger they now sought to appease had been in days gone by. Many of the wealthiest families, however, who had the means, have far larger supplies of provisions on hand than was consistent with the repeated appeals of Confederate officials for such to spare from their bounty to feed the army.
The exodus of prominent citizens was confined mainly to those connected with the rebel government, and a few who had made themselves very conspicuous in rebel politics—all the rebel Cabinet and their chief assistants, though not much of their clerical force, got away. The preparations for the evacuation began very quietly among the officials. At noon of Sunday the important records of the departments were boxed up and carted to the depot; but very little suspicion was excited among the citizens as to the real state of the case. A strong guard was stationed at the Danville depot, and four trains were got ready, the first of which left, with DAVIS on board, at seven o’clock in the evening, and the last at midnight. DAVIS’ family had gone into the country on the Friday preceeding, but not because of any apprehension that the city was to be given up. Very few families left the city, and there are very few vacant houses, the mansions of JEFF. DAVIS and Gov. BILLY SMITH being among those now in want of tenants. The family of Gen. LEE, consisting of his wife, who is invalid, and three daughters, are among those who remain. They occupy a stylish house on Franklin-street, and for their protection a well disciplined guard is placed at the dwelling, and the family are scrupulously protected from annoyance of any character, the staring gaze of the passer-by hardly being allowed. This is the second time that Mrs. Gen. LEE has been in our hands. She was once captured by our cavalry near White House in 1862, and sent through our lines to Richmond under flag of truce, by order of Gen. McCLELLAN.
Union Sentiment in Richmond—Projects of Reconstruction—Distinguished Visitors—Recruiting Negro Troops—The Truth about Rebel Enlistment of Negroes.
From Our Own Correspondent.
Richmond, Friday, April 7, 1865.
I can give you news, to-day, which will gratify the heart of every loyal American. Virginia will return to the Union, and that right speedily. Desiring to ascertain the exact truth with reference to the alleged existence of a strong Union sentiment in the city, I availed myself of an opportunity to call upon certain gentlemen here whom I had heard alluded to by Secessionists as Union men, and I must say, that I spent two of the happiest hours of my life in full and free conversation with some of the most thorough and radical Union men in the country; men of wealth and position, whose faith has never wavered for an instant, and who, slaveholders, as they are, demand that Virginia shall be taken back into the Union “under the Emancipation Proclamation;” that no vestige of the rebellion shall be tolerated; that the usurpation State, and Confederate, which has wrecked Virginia, shall not be recognized in a single respect; that the State Government must be organized anew, by a convention of the people, as soon as that can be properly effected, and the State and its inhabitants thoroughly purged of treason in every shape.
Union sentiments in this strong form exist here to a far greater extent than has yet been conceived; not alone among the poorer classes, --mechanics and laborers, --but in wealthy and influential circles, where may be found men who have never lost faith in the Union; who have confidently anticipated its triumph, and who greeted the old flag with tears of joy. They are men of the John Minor Botts school, and they are the leaven which shall leaven the whole lump here in this venerable old commonwealth of Virginia. They will delight to see the mass of the people treated with magnanimity, but they have felt too deeply the Iron heel of despotism to permit the amnesty of the prominent leaders of the rebellion. I am not at liberty to-day to mention the names of the most prominent of these men; but were I to do so, many of your readers would recognize them as the most sterling character.
In addition to this, there is another element, not so thoroughly Union, but ready to stop and talk about the best terms of reconstruction. When the President was here on Tuesday a committee waited on him, headed by Judge CAMPBELL, of Alabama, and late Assistant Secretary of War, also late Peace Commissioner, and asked him what were the best terms he could offer to Virginia—what plan of action must people adopt to secure reconstruction on the most favorable terms? The President wrote on a slip of paper, without address or signature: That the Emancipation Proclamation must stand; that in all other matter the people would be treated with liberality; that passports might possible be granted to the Governor, members of the Legislature, or any other public men to come to Richmond and decide the destiny of Virginia.
This little document was the basis of a private conference held this afternoon at the office of the Whig, at which were assembled Judge CAMPBELL, Gen. J.R. ANDERSON of the Tredegar Iron Works, and the following members of the State and city governments: Senators MARSHALL of Faquier, GARRISON of Accomac, and Messrs. ENGLISH, HALL, BURR, and SCOT, of the House of delegates; JOSEPH MAYO, Mayor of the city, WILLIAM THOMAS, city auditor, and Messrs WALKER, BURR, SAUNDERS and SCOTT, of the city council. There were also several prominent Union citizens present. Mr. ANDERSON was called to the chair, and Judge CAMPBELL stated what he had obtained from the President. The meeting was intended to be private, and I have not been able to learn fully what transpired, but I believe it is proposed to send four Commissioners to Gen. LEE with the terms proposed by Mr. LINCOLN, and see if he can be induced to cease hostilities which the Legislature is convened to deliberate and decide the fate of the State, and that the village of Charlottesville be made neutral ground, there to convene the Legislature and deliberate.
This project contains several impracticable features, and does not express the views of the thoroughly loyal people here, who declare that “BILLY” SMITH, the present Governor, is a far worse rebel than JEFF. DAVIS himself, and that he must be repudiated, and the Legislature with him, for both were elected, not by the people, but by a terrible despotism under which no freedom of choice could be exercised. But even such signs are vastly encouraging, though the completeness of our great victory should never be marred by any compromise, when there is an absolute majority of Union men here in the city of Richmond to day.
There will be further developments of deep interest in a few days, which I trust I may have the pleasure of chronicling.
The city is thronged with distinguished visitors. Yesterday two steamers arrived with Mrs. LINCOLN, Mrs. GRANT, Senator SUMNER, Senator HARLAN, and other well-known people. To-day there arrived Vice-President JOHNSON, PRESTON KING and others. The city is really crowded. All the sutlers and traders City Point have rushed up here, and trade will soon be lively.
The recruiting of negro troops goes on with great rapidity, two or three hundred per day being enlisted. A branch of Gen. CASEY’S Examining Board is already established, by Col. FREDERICKS and Maj. TAGGART of the War Department. The truth about the rebel enlistment of negroes here appears to be that about two hundred only were ever sworn into service. No inducements could tempt the black man to enter the rebel army.
The great news to-day that SHERIDAN has captured 12000 more prisoners, including Gens. EWELL, KERSHAW and FITZHUGH LEE, thrills every heart with enthusiasm, and there is the greatest good feeling everywhere to-night.
As I close my letter, bands are playing in the Capitol Square, the moon shines brilliantly overhead, and the scene seems not at all one of war.
L. L. CROUNSE.
Important Debate of the Rebel State Legislature of Virginia—Great Capture of ??? of War—Quartermasters’ Work—Libby and Castle Thunder.
Richmond, Va. Friday, April 7.
The State Legislature of Virginia, about three weeks since, debated in secret session the subject of a return to the Union, and the majority of the members present, expressed the determination that she would return if their State Rights and local governments were preserved, and that the people would return back to the Union, if they were reassured on the subject of confiscation and the protection of their property.
The institution of Slavery was not only not made ????, but it was determined that it should be abandoned. It is asserted by Southern residents of influence that if Virginia be allowed to return to her allegiance under such a liberal policy as this, the other seceding States will at once follow her example. It is also asserted that the appointment of JOHN MINOR BOTTS to be Governor of the State would facilitate the execution of the programme. This may be taken for what it is worth.
In addition to the 500 guns of all caliber abandoned by the rebels when they evacuated Richmond, we have captured 10,000 stand of small arms in the city, with an immense quantity of ordnance stores and military equipments of all kinds; a large quantity of sulphur nitre, and unfinished work has also been captured in the Government laboratories.
Lieut.-Col. HOWARD, Chief Quartermaster of the army of the James, has established his headquarters at the corner of Tenth and Franklin-streets, in a large building, formerly used as a female institute. The amount of work which the occupation of Richmond by our troops necessitated is enormous, and it is highly satisfactory to state that the progress which has been made reflects the highest credit upon the energy and untiring exertion of Lieut.-Col. MANNING and Lieut. MERRILL, A. Q. M. of the army of the James. A very large amount of property has been collected and stored under safe keeping. A search has been made of various tobacco houses and their contents, also of all the iron foundries, flour, paper and cotton mills. A forage depot has been established to supply the vast number of trains with forage. Seven steamboats, which were found on the James in good working order, are now in active use by the Quartermaster’s department. Strong guards have been placed over the railroads running out of the city, subject to the order of the Military Superintendent of the railroad.
Preparations are in progress for again supplying the city with gas and water—two luxuries of which Richmond stands much in need. It is expected that the city will be again lighted on Sunday night. A ??? has been selected and is being fitted for the subsistence and the shelter of the contrabands, who are thus found useful labor and comfortable quarters. The cleanliness of the streets is also being attended to, and other sanitary and salutary regulations, indispensable in a large and crowded city. All these most important and useful works are being executed under the order of Maj.-Gen. SHIPLEY, and the superintendence of Lieut.-Col. HOWARD.
Large quantities of cordwood are in the immediate vicinity of Richmond, and as fast as circumstances will permit, it will be brought into the city. The population here have been for months almost without fuel. Military operations have interfered with the transportation of everything essential to domestic use. The Central Railroad to Fredericksburgh, and the York Railroad, are uninjured for fifteen miles out of Richmond.
There are, to-day, confined in the Libby Prison, fifteen hundred Confederate prisoners; two hundred and eighty-two of this number are prisoners of war who had straggled from the main army on Monday last. The balance are deserters from the Confederate army. With but a very small exception, the whole number have expressed the wish to take the oath of allegiance to the United States Government, and the reason which the few who hesitated gave, was that their families were south of Richmond, and they wished to have and opportunity of visiting them.
Mrs. President LINCOLN, accompanied by Senator SUMNER, paid a visit to the Libby, yesterday, and took great interest in examining the rebel records, which have most fortunately been found there. Vice-President JOHNSON also visited the prison to-day. Capt. M. T. BITTON, Thirteenth New-Hampshire, is Commandant, and Capt. W. APPLEBY, Eighty-first New York, is stationed there as assistant.
I trust I shall not be open to the charge of egotism in alluding to the fact that just two months since this very day, after nine months’ confinement in rebel prisons, I left the Libby almost too weak to walk to the Rocketts, with 1200 other emaciated prisoners, who had just been exchanged. I return to it to-day and find that the cells which were then occupied by Union officers, starved there for the crime of loyalty to their country, were now occupied by some of the wretches who lost no opportunity of increasing the misery of all who had the misfortune to be in any way subject to them. I find, moreover, that the prisoners now confined there have as much tea, coffee, sugar, and good hard tack and meat as is good for them daily, and I cannot forget the fact that a few ounces of stale corn bread, a pint of rice soup and occasionally a small piece of meat, was our daily ration. It is not surprising that the men want to take the oath of allegiance. The present commandants of Castle Thunder are Capt. L.V. MADDRAN, Eighty-first New-York, and Lieut. W. BRAYLEY, Eighty-first New-York, and they have under their charge about 120 deserters from the United States army, who have been picked up in Richmond. It is computed that there are about 300 more of these wretches secreted in Richmond, and from the measures adopted they will in all probability very soon join their comrades in the castle.
The Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania, Third Brigade of Gen. DENNIS’ division of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, were paid by Maj. B.B. HAMO. Paymaster United States, on Tuesday morning, and were the first paid-regiment that entered Richmond.