New York Herald, 4/12/1865, p. 1, c. 1

Important Measures to Restore Virginia to the Union.
A deputation Sent to Invite the Virginia Legislature to Return to Richmond.
Thirty Millions of Property Destroyed in the Late Conflagration by the Enemy.
General Lee’s Promotion to the Command of the Rebel Armies.
His Reception by the Virginia Convention.
The Citizens of Richmond Fast Growing Loyal,
&c., &c., &c.
Mr. William H. Merriam’s Despatches.

Richmond, April 9, 1865.


Richmond is still enveloped in excitement, and I cannot perceive as yet any abatement. I leaves the truth somewhat in the rear to say that almost everybody eminent has visited and is now viewing the precincts of this captured city. The provost marshals of the North must grow lean with labor in supplying passes to the regiments, brigades, divisions, corps and columns of people who are knocking at these gates for admission. The President of the United States came and saw, and, it may be added, conquered; Senators and legislators of less degree followed in rapid succession; and in all the throng yesterday I noticed the Vice President, accompanied by Senator Sumner, riding along Clay street in an ambulance; but I shall not stop to notice or name the long array of eminent men and lovely women who have flocked to the this city since Monday last.


To-day Richmond has witnessed a glory which she could now ill afford to spare the remembrance of. A division of tried and faithful troops from the Twenty-fourth army corps of the Army of the James, who have been patiently waiting for the opportunity to walk these streets unmolested, have marched them with all the accompaniments of military display. Accompanying the command, I had a fair opportunity of witnessing this triumph of our arms, and a more impressive and striking military pageant has seldom occurred. The streets were lined literally with gaping rebels ready to take the oath, and a more motley set of Indians it would be, indeed, difficult to “fish up.” I can scarcely tell you how penitent these really impenitent Richmondites appeared as the division passed through the city. They gazed at the glittering uniforms of the officers and then at their own rags. They turned their eyes to behold the glistening bayonets that had aided to assert the supremacy of the constitution with a success wholly destitute of any vanity on our part, and wondered why they had ever been rebels, without apparently desiring to surrender their opinions though their bodies were ours. The review was full of purport and an evidence of the march of events.


This morning a deputation, consisting of Henry W. Thomas, former State Senator from the Fairfax district, and more recently Second State Auditor; David J. Burr, member of the House of Delegates from this city; General Joseph B. Anderson, proprietor of the Tredegar Works; and Nathaniel Tyler, part proprietor of the Richmond Enquirer, leave for Lynchburg for the purpose of inviting the Virginia Legislature back to Richmond. This movement is conducted under the immediate auspices of Judge Campbell, R. M. T. Hunter, and others of a class of Southern men who are just now unable to determine whether they are on foot or horseback, so far as the Confederacy may be concerned. Several members of the Virginia Legislature who remained here after the evacuation are working zealously in behalf of the return of Virginia to the Union, and – the statement will startle you, as coming from living me – upon the condition of the abolition of slavery. A mummy of three thousand years standing in Egyptian catacombs, approaching with a proposition about slavery, in this crisis of Southern fate, ought to be embalmed by Dr. Hill in order to modernize him and let him know what is going on. The members who favor this undertaking, it is proper to state, are among the influential of this body and State.


The city assessor of Richmond estimates the losses by the conflagration resulting from Ewell’s order to burn the tobacco at two thirds of the aggregate value of the whole city. The area embraced by the fire comprised the great business portion of the town; while the amount of goods stored in the burned buildings enhances to the extent of fifty per cent the losses sustained by the destruction of houses. Thirty millions of dollars will hardly cover the losses in every way and from every view.


The First National Bank of Richmond is to go into operation in the course of ten days.

The Hon. John Van Buren was a guest of General Weitzel in the late halls of Jeff. yesterday.


It has been ascertained that only eight hundred hogsheads of the French tobacco were destroyed by the late conflagration. From this it will be seen that the duties of the French consul in this city are measurably lightened.


is coming to establish his headquarters in Richmond. The army headquarters will soon be moved here.


[large column describing Robert E. Lee taking command of the Virginia forces in 1861 was not transcribed – MDG]


Mr. William H. Stiner’s Despatch.

April 10 – 5 A. M.


One short week ago to-day the devoted denizens of this city were in feverish anxiety concerning the evacuation of their hitherto capital, and the expected entrée of the Union army. Then the best part of the business locality was in flames, and burning with a rapidity which not only defied the exertions of the firemen, but threatened to destroy the whole city. To-day the fire is subdued, after having devoured millions of dollars worth of property. The wheels of the newly established government are well greased, and running very smoothly; and the citizens generally are rejoiced at the change in affairs, and are quietly settling down, satisfied with the new regime inaugurated by the defenders of the noble old flag, and that its guardians throttled the snake rebellion in its own nest.

Among the many visitors to this place was your correspondent, who, finding military affairs at Fortress Monroe uninteresting and monotonous, sought for a wider field to exercise his functions, and the ex-capital of the decayed confederacy offers the inducement in a most ample form. At half past twelve o’clock yesterday afternoon I arrived here from City Point, on the mail steamer Metamora, Captain Wm. Van Valkenburgh, landing at Rocketts. A walk of two miles or more in a broiling hot sun brought the passengers to this hotel, the only one open as yet for business, by Messrs. Millward, Crowley & Cox. The throng of officers, business men, generals, Assistant Secretary of War Dana, and others of lesser light, are stopping here, and in consequence the house is crowded to repletion; and only for the fact that Captain Millward, late captain of the post at Fortress Monroe, was an old friend, I obtained a bed in one of the sky parlors. Thus am I domiciled, and if the elevation I occupy over the city of Richmond ???s the current of thought this epistle should soar very high.


The damage by the conflagration, caused by that drunken brute Ewell, as he is called here, can hardly be animated, if ciphered in rebel currency. In greenbacks it will not fall short of from twenty to thirty millions of dollars. Tobacco, cotton goods, machinery, stores, warehouses, banks, shops, stalls, dwellings, and even hovels of mechanics and laborers, did not escape the terrible fury of the firs, and rich and poor, loyal and disloyal suffered alike, and unanimously agree that the act was vandalism uncalled for, and tended to bring wholesale destruction on the entire city. Main street, from the landing up to the Spottswood Hotel, on both sides of the street, is one heap of smouldering ruins. The walls, as a general thing, have been pulled down, and the greater portion of the street is blocked up by bricks from the ruins, which are fast being ground into fine powder by the many army wagons passing up and down, giving the pedestrian more of an appearance of having walked through the State of New Jersey than the principal street of the rebel capital. Whether the stores and houses destroyed will ever be rebuilt is a question of time and money. Certain it is, however, that Northern Enterprise and capital will have to do it, if done at all.


In consequence of the demolition of the many stores there is a scarcity of warehouses; and there being so many persons here seeking to establish business, there is a great demand for places, and the owners, having their eye to profit, demand exorbitant prices, and in some instances inferior stores have been rented for the enormous sum of $3,000 per annum. Whether the amount of trade which these speculators expect to do will justify such a heavy outlay only time will show.


The general feeling of the people, from what I have been able to judge, in conversation with several of the old residents yesterday, is a spirit of meekness and disposition to become good and loyal citizens of the United States government, and receive that protection under the old flag which the rattlesnake banner could not afford. A very respectable old gentleman whom I met in the street I engaged in conversation, and from him I obtained a great deal of interesting information. He said that he had been a resident of Richmond for more than forty years. He had been opposed to secession from the start, but a despotic, tyrannical and unscrupulous government chocked every outburst of Union sentiment, and punished such treason with the utmost rigor. He repeated the statement that nothing of the contemplated evacuation was known until Sunday evening at eight o’clock, and the intelligence was received with great delight by those entertaining Union sentiments, and with apprehension by the secesh sympathizers. However, the Yankees have come, and their presence for an entire week has not only reconciled the people to the change, but every one is loud in praise of the manly and upright conduct of the Union troops. People now can go to bed with some degree of safety, without dreading robbery, and even murder, and amply assured by the able commander of full protection to life and property. Unlike Norfolk and other heretofore captured cities, the ladies are not so bitter. They venture into the streets more freely, and our officers and soldiers are treated with great respect. The suffering among the poorer classes for provisions is very extensive, and even a number of once wealthy families are reduced to the necessity of applying to the United States commissary of subsistence for soldiers’ rations to subsist their families upon. Relief to these people is granted judiciously and without stint, and gratefully received. On the whole, the inhabitants generally look upon our occupation of Richmond, as the leaders of the late rebel government did upon Lee’s, Johnston’s and Bragg’s defeats, as a “blessing in disguise.”

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