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lodged and defeated his antagonists, taking 2 guns and 600 prisoners.
Longstreet, who had hitherto held the defenses of Richmond north of the James, had joined Lee at Petersburg at 10 A. M. this day, with Penning's brigade; and A. P. Hill, on Lee's left, now ordered a charge by Heth to regain some of the works carried by Parke in his assault. The attack was so vigorous and persistent that our men holding City Point were ordered up to Parke's support. IIeth was repulsed. Hill was shot dead while reconnoitering this day. He was among the ablest of Lee's lieutenants.
Petersburg was still held by the Rebel army; but Lee saw that it could not be held much longer. His heavy losses—by this time exceeding 10,000 men—and the utter demolition of his right, rendered it morally certain that to hold on was to insure the capture or destruction of his army; and well he knew that his veterans were the last hope of the Tebellion. For Grant was now at liberty to throw forward his left to the Appomattox; while it was morally certain that his cavalry would soon clutch the railroad junction at Burkesville, which had now become the jugular vein of the gasping Confederacy. At 10% A. M., therefore, he telegraphed to Davis in Richmond a dispatch, containing very nearly these words:
“My lines are broken in three places. Richmond must be evacuated this evening.”
That message found Mr. Davis,
at 11 A. M., in church, where it was handed to him, amid an awful hush; and he immediately went quietly, soberly out—never to return as President of the Confederacy. No word
was spoken ; but the whole assemblage felt that the missive he had so hastily perused bore words of doom. Though the handwriting was not blazoned on the wall, it needed no Daniel to declare its import. But no one can duly depict that last afternoon and night of Confederate rule in Richmond but an eyewitness: so let Pollard narrate for us the visible collapse and fall of the Slave Power in its chosen metropolis. After stating how, upon Mr. Davis's withrawal from church, “the rumor was caught up in the streets that Richmond was to be evacuated, and was soon carried to the ends of the city,” he proceeds:
“Men, women, and children, rushed from the churches, passing from lip to lip news of the impending fall of Richmond. And yet, it was difficult to believe it. To look up to the calm, beautiful sky of that Spring day, unassailed by one single noise of battle, to watch the streets, unvexed by artillery or troops, stretching away into the quiet, hazy atmosphere, and believe that the capital of the Confederacy, so peaceful, so apparently secure, was in a few hours to be the prey of the enemy, and to be wrapped in the infernal horrors of a conflagration
“It was late in the afternoon when the signs of evacuation became apparent to the incredulous. Wagons on the streets were being hastily loaded at the departments with boxes, trunks, &c., and driven to the Danville dépôt. Those who had determined to evacuate with the fugitive Government looked on with amazement; then, convinced of the fact, rushed to follow the Government's example. Vehicles suddenly rose to a premium value that was astounding; and ten, fifteen, and even a hundred dollars, in gold or Federal currency, was offered for a conveyance. Suddenly, as if by magic, the streets became filled with men, walking as though for a wager, and behind them excited negroes with trunks, bundles, and luggage of every description. All over the city, it was the same—wagons, trunks, bandboxes, and their owners, a mass of hurrying fugitives, filling the streets. The banks were all open, and depositors were as busy as bees removing their specie deposits; and the directors were equally active in getting off their bullion. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of
ing, and resolved to destroy all the liquor in the city, to avoid the disorder consequent on the temptation to drink at such a time. About the hour of midnight, the work commenced, under the direction of committees of citizens in all the wards. Hundreds of barrels of liquor were rolled into the street, and the heads knocked in. The gutters ran with a liquor freshet, and the fumes filled and impregnated the air. Fine cases of bottled liquors were tossed into the street from third-story windows, and wrecked into a thousand pieces. As the work progressed, some straggling soldiers, retreating through the city, managed to get hold of a quantity of the liquor. From that moment, law and order ceased to exist. Many of the stores were pillaged; and the side-walks were encumbered with broken glass, where the thieves had smashed the windows in their reckless haste to lay hands on the plunder within. The air was filled with wild cries of distress, or the yells of roving pillagers. “But a more terrible element was to appear upon the scene. An order had been issued from Gen. Ewell's headquarters to fire the four principal tobacco warehouses of the city—namely, the public warehouse, situated at the head of the basin, near the Petersburg railroad dépôt; Shockoe warehouse, situated near the center of the city, side by side with the Gallego flour-mills; Mayo's warehouse, and Dibrell's warehouse, on Cary-st., a square below Libby prison. “Late in the night, Mayor Mayo had dispatched, by a committee of citizens, a remonstrance against this reckless military order, which plainly put in jeopardy the whole business portion of Richmond. It was not heeded. Nothing was left for the citizens but to submit to the destruction of their property. The warehouses were fired. The rams in the James river were blown up. The Richmond, Virginia, and another one, were all blown to the four winds of heaven. The Patrick Henry, a receivingship, was scuttled. Such shipping, very little in amount, as was lying at the Richmond wharves, was also fired, save the flag-oftruce steamer Allison. “The bridges leading out of the city— namely, the Danville railroad bridge, the Petersburg railroad bridge, Mayo's bridge, leading to Manchester and the opposite side of the James, were also fired, and were soon wrapped in flames. “Morning broke upon a scene such as those who witnessed it can never forget.
The roar of an immense conflagration sounded in their ears; tongues of flame leaped from street to street; and in this baleful glare were to be seen, as of demons, the figures of busy plunderers, moving, pushing, rioting, through the black smoke and into the open street, bearing away. every conceivable sort of plunder. “The scene at the commissary dépôt, at the head of the dock, beggared description. Hundreds of government wagons were loaded with bacon, flour, and whisky, and driven off in hot haste to join the retreating army. Thronging about the dépôt were hundreds of men, women, and children, black and white, provided with capacious bags, baskets, tubs, buckets, tin pans, and aprons; cursing, pushing, and crowding; awaiting the throwing open of the doors, and the order for each to help himself. “About sunrise, the doors were opened to the populace; and a rush that almost seemed to carry the building off its foundation was made, and hundreds of thousands of pounds of bacon, flour, &c., were soon swept away by a clamorous crowd.” Our lines opposite Richmond— that is, north of the James—had been held, since Ord’s withdrawal southward, by Gen. Godfrey Weitzel, with Kautz's division of the 24th, and Ashborne's and Thomas's divisions of the 25th corps, under instructions from Grant to make the utmost show of strength and purpose to assault, so as to keep the enemy hereinforce, while the bulk of our army should be flanking and fighting him out of Pe: tersburg. These instructions had been faithfully, efficiently obeyed; though Longstreet, confronting Weitzel, had at length suspected the true character of Grant's strategy, and had himself, with a part of his force, moved southward to the help of Lee at Petersburg. Weitzel, however, persisted in speaking daggers, but using none; and, throughout the memorable Sunday evening of the Rebel Hegira, though his guns were silent, his bands were vocal far into the night, treating our friends behind
the opposite intrenchments with va