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Confederate CitadelRichmond and Its People at War$
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Mary A. DeCredico

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813179254

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813179254.001.0001

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The Fall of Richmond, 1865

The Fall of Richmond, 1865

“We Slept, as It Were, over the Heaving Crater of a Volcano”

(p.124) 5 The Fall of Richmond, 1865
Confederate Citadel

Mary A. DeCredico

University Press of Kentucky

This final chapter describes Richmond’s last days as the Confederate capital. Union general Ulysses S. Grant continued extending his lines, forcing Confederate general Robert E. Lee to do the same—but with less men. The Army of Northern Virginia was hemorrhaging as desertions averaged 100 men a day. When Grant broke Lee’s lines in three places, Lee had no choice but to call for the evacuation of the Confederate capital on April 2. Lee had decided months earlier to set fire to the tobacco stored in the city. Following Lee’s orders, Department of Richmond commander General Richard Ewell torched the hogsheads. A breeze turned into a swift wind, and before long the city was in flames. Locals, escaped prisoners, slaves, and free blacks looted stores and pillaged government warehouses, enraged by the bounty they discovered there, hoarded during the famine. Mayor Joseph Mayo surrendered Richmond to Federal forces on April 3. The chapter concludes with President Lincoln’s visit to the burned-out capital.

Keywords:   evacuation, fires, looting, surrender of Richmond, Lincoln’s visit

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