New York Herald, 4/14/1865, p. 1, c. 4

Important Action of Members of the Virginia Legislature.
The First Step Towards the Restoration of the State to the Union Taken.
The Legislature to Meet at Richmond Under United States Protection.
The Virginia Soldiers Reported to Have Deserted Lee Before the Surrender.
Visit of the French Consul to Washington to Claim Payment of the Tobacco Destroyed by the Rebels, &c., &c., &c.
Mr. William H. Merriam’s Despatches.

RICHMOND, Va., April 11 – 12 M.


It is known here that the recent surrender of Lee’s army was due in a great measure, among other causes, to the wholesale desertions from its ranks of the Virginia elements of which it was largely composed. The Virginians really took up their line of departure from the fallen chieftain by thousands, and so weakened him that surrender, or rather rout, were the only alternatives left. His Virginia troops would not leave the State.


A recent occurrence is significant as an evidence of the sentiments of the leading citizens of Richmond. It is stated that William G. Crenshaw, Esq., one of Richmond’s wealthiest and most influential merchants, volunteered in the Union interest to go to Lloyds, Essex county, the home of R. M. T. Hunter, for the purpose of inviting that gentleman to this city to aid the members of the Legislature in the matter of the pending reconstruction. The Crenshaw family represent more wealth in Richmond than any fifty of its citizens, with perhaps two exceptions – the representatives of which to not exceed the Crenshaws in wealth. The latter actually had five millions of dollars invested in blockade-running steamers, and made in that form a sufficient fortune to render the loss of the vessels a trifling matter. The Crenshaws were wealthy before the war, but since its inauguration, in 1861, have become vastly more so through the enormous profits derived from this contraband traffic. When such men interest themselves so zealously I the direction of peace the terms approach final adjustment, and that without the usual attendant difficulties upon important State negotiations.


All the members of the late Virginia Legislature now or recently in the city, numbering at least ten or fifteen, are prepared, it is said, to take the oath of allegiance to the government of the United States; and as I have before stated, fully nineteen-twentieths have determined to follow them in this creditable example. The spirit of submission to the authority of the government, as it is being manifested each day would nigh ??? ??? the people whom Jeff. Davis left behind in his precipitous flight certainly regard the change wrought by the Union advent as a most auspicious one, and as foreshadowing bright prospects to individuals no less than to communities.


Ex-Governor Extra Billy Smith, who fled the rebel capital with Davis and his Cabinet, is believed to have been sent for, through the exertions of Judge Campbell, who is recognized here as the principal party whose labor it is to bring about peace and the restoration of Virginia to the Union on the best possible conditions. Mrs. Governor Smith has returned to the late Executive mansion, now the quarters of General Charles Devens, by whom she has been gallantly accorded as many apartments as she desired for her own use.

Public order is fast being restored in Richmond, and the military administration is fast duly regulating public affairs and private griefs, the latter of which are numerous. Nothing of marked interest has occurred up to this hour.


RICHMOND, Va., April 11 – 11 P. M.


A private meeting of the leading citizens of Richmond is in session to-night, having for its object the organization of action looking to the immediate requesting of the military authorities to permit the re-establishment of the municipal government of Richmond and the return of Mayor Mayo to the functions of his office. These requests will doubtless be made by the citizens. Another and important object of the meeting is to inaugurate arrangements for the presentation of an impressive donation in money and property to General Robert E. Lee, lately commanding the dispersed rebel armies. The details of the meeting have not transpired at this hour.

Major General Weitzel was serenaded this evening at the late residence of Jefferson Davis.

Major General Ord is announced to arrive here tomorrow.


RICHMOND, Va., April 12 – 2 A. M.


The announcement is just made that Monsieur Paul, the Consul of France residing in this city, has left for Washington, with a view, it is said, of submitting to our government a claim of some nature for the French tobacco destroyed here in the immense conflagration of Monday week. Rumor, not ill founded, I hear, has it that Paul fears removal or dismissal because of his alleged want of energy in failing to place the French flag over the tobacco belonging to Napoleon. From what I have gathered on this subject it seems rather strange that Monsieur Paul, living in Richmond, and knowing the purpose, as he must have known, of the late rebel government to destroy the tobacco which was in immediate proximity to the French accumulation of that article, should have taken no steps to have it remove to a place of safety. He was doubtless aware, too, of a rumor, very prevalent here anterior to the evacuation of the city, of a purpose on the part of the citizens to fire by way of an accident the warehouse in which the French tobacco was store. No effort was made to guard against a contingency so imminent as that referred to. Mercier, the late French Minister at Washington, it will be borne in mind visited Richmond, passing through General Butler’s lies last summer, I believe, to look after the French interests in this respect. At that time Mercier expressed some anxiety regarding the safety of the tobacco owned by his government. If indemnity is desired, it would be well to foreclose the five million balance of the Erlanger loan now to the credit of Jeff. Davis, at Paris or Frankfort-on-the-Main.

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