Historie Podcasts

Den konfødererede hovedstad Richmond erobres

Den konfødererede hovedstad Richmond erobres

Oprørernes hovedstad Richmond, Virginia, falder til Unionen, det mest betydningsfulde tegn på, at Forbundet nærmer sig sine sidste dage.

I ti måneder havde general Ulysses S. Grant uden held forsøgt at infiltrere byen. Efter at Lee foretog et desperat angreb mod Fort Stedman langs Unionens linje den 25. marts, forberedte Grant sig på en større offensiv. Han slog til på Five Forks den 1. april og knuste enden af ​​Lees linje sydvest for Petersborg. Den 2. april slog Yankees langs hele Petersborgbanen, og de konfødererede styrtede sammen.

LÆS MERE: Amerikansk borgerkrig: Årsager og datoer

Om aftenen den 2. april flygtede den konfødererede regering fra byen med hæren lige bag. Nu, om morgenen den 3. april, kom blå-belagte tropper ind i hovedstaden. Richmond var den hellige gral i Unionens krigsindsats, genstand for fire års kampagne. Titusinder af Yankee -liv gik tabt i forsøget på at få det, og næsten lige så mange konfødererede liv mistede at forsøge at forsvare det.

Nu kom Yankees for at tage deres præmie i besiddelse. En beboer, Mary Fontaine, skrev: "Jeg så dem folde et lille flag ud, og jeg sank på knæ, og de bitre, bitre tårer kom i en strøm." En anden observatør skrev, at da føderalerne red ind, var byens sorte indbyggere "fuldstændig tossede, de dansede og råbte, mænd krammede hinanden, og kvinder kyssede." Blandt de første styrker ind i hovedstaden var sorte tropper fra det 5. Massachusetts Cavalry, og dagen efter besøgte præsident Abraham Lincoln byen. For beboerne i Richmond var disse symboler på en verden vendt på hovedet. Det var, sagde en reporter, "... for forfærdeligt at huske, hvis det var muligt at blive slettet, men det kan ikke være."

LÆS MERE: Hvorfor borgerkrigen faktisk sluttede 16 måneder efter, at Lee overgav sig


Fanger i Richmond

Konflikten skulle ende hurtigt. Efterhånden som krigen trak ud i 1862, havde både unions- og konfødererede regeringer brug for krigsfangelejre for at holde det voksende antal fangede mænd. Anslået 400.000 fanger blev holdt under barske og skæve betingelser for afsavn i unions- og konfødererede lejre under krigen. Cirka 56.000 af disse fanger, ti procent af krigens døde, omkom i disse lejre. Som hovedstad i konføderationen var Richmond et aktivitetscenter under krigen. Talrige fængsler blev etableret i og omkring byen for at imødekomme den store tilstrømning af fanger fra både østlige og vestlige teatre. Libby -fængslet, Castle Thunder, Castle Lightning og Belle Isle er repræsentative for fængslerne i Richmond, adskilt fra de fanger, de havde og i dagligdagen for de fængslede.

    Libby fængsel
    I 1861 konfiskerede de konfødererede myndigheder et tre-etagers muret lager i Cary og Canal Street, der ville blive Richmonds mest berygtede fængsel: Libby Prison. Denne isolerede og let bevogtede placering var ideel til et fængsel, og den var tilgængelig med både jernbane og vand. Kort efter at de første fanger ankom i marts 1862, blev Libby Fængsel hurtigt overfyldt, og der var brug for yderligere fængsler i byen. Libby Fængsel tjente som hovedkvarter for de konfødererede staters militære fængsler og var depotet, hvor alle fangede krigsfanger blev bragt, før de blev overført til omgivende fængsler. Selvom Libby Fængsel primært husede fængslede unionsofficerer, gav det ikke nogen fordel i livskvalitet i forhold til andre fængsler. Fanger led af trange kvartaler, dårlig sanitet, sygdomsudbrud og ekstreme temperaturer i vinter- og sommermånederne.
    Da general Lee opgav Petersborg og rådede Jefferson Davis til at evakuere Richmond i april 1865, evakuerede Libby -fængslet også og efterlod kun få syge eller sårede krigsfanger. Bygningen overlevede evakueringsbranden, blev demonteret i december 1888 og blev taget til Ohio for at blive oprettet som et museum. I 1895 var det blevet demonteret igen med det formål at flytte det til Washington DC. Projektet gik konkurs, og Libby Fængsel forblev adskilt med sine dele distribueret som souvenirs.
    Libby -fængslet var ikke så uundgåeligt, som konfødererede myndigheder mente, at det var -Følg dette link for at læse om en af ​​borgerkrigens mest succesfulde fængselsflugter.

Gleanors tobaksfabrik og to mindre murstensbygninger, Palmers fabrik og Whitlocks lager, blev beslaglagt af den konfødererede regering og genanvendt som et fængsel. Dette kompleks blev passende opkaldt efter sin ekstreme brutalitet: Castle Thunder. De tre bygninger husede 1.400 politiske fanger og desertører, der blev adskilt efter køn, race og strafbare handlinger. Forholdene på Castle Thunder var særligt umenneskelige med ekstrem fysisk straf og misbrug. Det er blevet bemærket, at fængselsembedsmænd på hovedstol ofte ville give 50 til 100 piskeslag til nyankomne konfødererede ørkener.

Ligesom Libby -fængslet overlevede Castle Thunder evakueringsbranden, der ødelagde næsten alle andre tobaksfabrikker og lagre i byen. Efter krigen blev ejendommen returneret til de oprindelige ejere, der satte ild i branden i 1879.

På tværs af gaden fra Castle Thunder stod Castle Lightning, et fængsel oprettet for at holde kriminelt anklagede konfødererede soldater og civile. Dette fængsel husede primært desertører fra den konfødererede hær samt overløbsfanger fra Castle Thunder. Castle Lightning ser ud til at have lukket i 1863 og blev omdannet til kaserne til indkvartering af flere virksomheder, der varetog vagttjeneste i byen. Fangerne, der var begrænset her, blev fjernet og sandsynligvis placeret i Castle Thunder.
Nogle fængslede desertører mistede aldrig deres lyst til at undslippe krigen. Læs deres historier her.

Dette populære rekreative område i det 19. århundrede Richmonders blev omdannet til et træningssyn for nye rekrutter i begyndelsen af ​​borgerkrigen. Ved krigens anden sommer åbnede Belle Isle imidlertid som krigsfanger for at lette overbelægningen i Libby Fængsel. Belle Isle lukkede i september samme år, fordi et fangeudvekslingssystem, der blev vedtaget mellem Unionen og Konføderationen, reducerede antallet af soldater, der havde brug for langvarig indespærring. Men en sammenbrud af dette system gjorde pladsen på Belle Isle nødvendig igen, og fængslet blev genaktiveret i maj 1863.

Beliggende nær en faldlinje i James River fungerede de hurtige strømme omkring Belle Isle som afskrækkende mod fangeflugt. Lejren bestod af fangetelte, officer- og vagtkvarterer, et kogebad, fem hospitalstelt og en kirkegård. Selvom dens påtænkte kapacitet var 3.000, var der kun 300 fangetelte til husly. På sit højeste var der 10.000 fanger på Belle Isle, og mange fanger led af mangel på husly. I løbet af den kolde vinter 1863 ville op til fjorten mennesker fryse ihjel hver nat.

Elementerne var ikke den eneste trussel i lejren. Sygdomme som dysenteri, tyfus, lungebetændelse og småkopper rasede gennem Richmond og fængslerne. Syge indsatte på Belle Isle blev behandlet i de nærliggende hospitals telte, hvor alvorlige tilfælde blev sendt til et hospital i byen. Den sparsomme og inkonsekvente tilførsel af mad var ikke nok til at opretholde fangerne, og desperate fanger tyede til at stjæle. Det var kendt, at sultne soldater stjal vagternes kæledyr, såsom kyllinger og hunde og fortærede dem.

I februar 1864 blev fanger på Belle Isle flyttet til et nyetableret fængsel i Andersonville, Georgia. Mændene, der forlod Belle Isle, var beskidte, dårligt klædte på, og næsten alle vejede mindre end 100 pund. I sin atten måneders periodiske operation mellem 1862-1864 blev der modtaget omkring 20.000 fanger og næsten 1.000 døde. I dag er Belle Isle et populært rekreativt område for lokale beboere, ligesom det var før borgerkrigen. Ved blot at se på øens skønhed og ro i dag, ville man ikke forvente, at den var vidne til sådan rædsel og lidelse.

Nogle fanger førte dagbøger om deres oplevelser. Læs om en mands oplevelse på Belle Isle her.


Richmond, Embattled Capital, 1861-1865

3. april 1865. & quot Da solen stod op på Richmond, blev et sådant skue præsenteret, som aldrig kan glemmes af dem, der var vidne til det. Alle rædsler ved den endelige brænding, da jorden skulle være pakket ind i flammer og smelte med inderlig varme, var, forekom det os, præfigureret i vores hovedstad. Flammernes brusende, knitrende og hvæsende, skallernes sprængning ved det konfødererede arsenal, lydene fra kampmusikens instrumenter, hestenes gnid, mængdenes råb. gav en idé om alle rædslerne ved Pandemonium. Frem for alt denne terrorscene hang en sort røgklæde, hvorigennem solen skinnede med et grumset vredt blænding som en enorm kugle blod, der udsendte kedelige lysstråler, som om man ikke ville skinne over en scene, der var så forfærdelig. . [Så] blev der råbt et råb: 'Yankees! Yankees kommer! '& Quot

Således mindede Sallie Putnam, der havde boet i Richmond under hele krigen, de sidste katastrofale timer i byen, hvis eksistens optog både nordlændere og sydlændinge gennem fire bitre, blodige år, og hvis sidste underkastelse signalerede begyndelsen på enden for de konfødererede stater i Amerika.

Beliggende ved navigationshovedet på James River og kun 176 kilometer (110 miles) fra forbundshovedstaden Washington, havde Richmond været et symbol og et førsteklasses psykologisk mål siden begyndelsen af ​​borgerkrigen i 1861. Hvis byen skulle blive fanget, kan sydlændinge miste deres vilje til at modstå-så begrundede ledere på begge sider. Men der var endnu mere overbevisende grunde til, at Richmond blev et militært mål, for udover at være det politiske centrum i Sydforbundet, var det et medicinsk og fremstillingscenter og det primære forsyningsdepot for tropper, der opererede på konføderationens nordøstlige grænse.

Af de syv store drev, der blev lanceret mod Richmond, bragte to unionsstyrker inden for syne af byen-George B. McClellans halvøskampagne fra 1862, der kulminerede i de syv dages kampe og Grants knusende Overland-kampagne fra 1864, som i sidste ende fik konføderationen til at falde ned .

I begyndelsen af ​​1862 havde general George B. McClellan smedet omkring de "kvindende regimenter", der overlevede det første slag ved Manassas, en svær, men disciplineret kampmand på 100.000 mand kaldet Potomac-hæren. Med det flyttede han af vand for at investere øst i det centrale Virginia og fange Richmond. Operationen skulle have været assisteret af et overlandsangreb af tropper under general Irvin McDowell og koordineret med et vandbårent træk op ad James River. Et unions flådeangreb blev standset den 15. maj ved Drewry's Bluff og inden den 24. maj, da McClellan blev indsat inden for 10 kilometer (6 miles) fra den konfødererede hovedstad, havde præsident Lincoln blevet foruroliget over Washingtons sikkerhed og suspenderet McDowells bevægelse.

General Joseph E. Johnston, den konfødererede kommandør. nu tror, ​​at McClellan planlagde at blive nord for James River, besluttede at angribe. Den 31. maj faldt Johnstons tropper på Federals nær Fair Oaks. Selvom den resulterende kamp viste sig ubeslutsom, gav den betydelige resultater for begge hære. Den allerede bevidste McClellan blev gjort endnu mere forsigtig end normalt. Mere vigtigt på grund af et alvorligt sår, som general Johnston pådrog sig under slaget, satte præsident Jefferson Davis general Robert E. Lee i kommando over de forsvarende styrker.

McClellan, der havde bevaret en farlig position ved Chickahominy -floden og forventede, at McDowells korps ville slutte sig til ham, tøvede for længe. Den 26. juni angreb Lee's Army of Northern Virginia Unionens højre flanke ved Mechanicsville og led derefter store tab i forgæves angreb mod de stærke Union -positioner på Beaver Dam Creek. Således begyndte de syv dages kampe, en række sidestigende tilbagetrækninger og afholdende aktioner, der toppede halvøen -kampagnen ved Malvern Hill og gjorde det muligt for unionshæren at undgå katastrofe ved at cirkulere øst for Richmond til sikkerhed for føderale kanonbåde på James River ved Harrison's Landing . Da de syv dage sluttede, var omkring 35.000 soldater, nord og syd, ofre, og mange på begge sider delte nok opfattelsen af ​​en ung georgier, der skrev hjem: & quotI har set, hørt og følt mange ting i den sidste uge, som jeg aldrig vil se, høre eller føle igen. & quot

I to år, mens arméerne kæmpede ubeslutsomt i det nordlige Virginia, Maryland og Pennsylvania, forskansede og bifaldt Richmond Lees uafbrudte succeser med at holde de nordlige hære i skak. I marts 1864 overtog general Ulysses S. Grant kommandoen over alle Unionens hære i feltet. Ved at knytte sig til Army of the Potomac, derefter under kommando af general George Gordon Meade, indledte Grant en uoverskuelig kampagne mod Richmond og Army of Northern Virginia. Lee sagde: & quot Vi må stoppe denne hær af Grant, før han kommer til James River. Hvis han kommer dertil, vil det blive en belejring, og så vil det være et spørgsmål om tid. & Quot

I en række flankerende bevægelser designet til at afskære Lee fra den konfødererede hovedstad gled unionshæren forbi sydboerne ved Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna River og Totopotomoy Creek, selvom den led store tab. Ved Cold Harbor den 3. juni 1864 mislykkedes Grants massive frontalangreb mod de stærkt forankrede konfødererede linjer uhyggeligt med frygtelige tab. I 10 dage broiled de hårdt forslåede føderaler og sultne konfødererede i skyttegravene under 100 graders varme, derefter trak Grant sig stille tilbage, krydsede James-floden og kørte mod det vigtige jernbanecenter i Petersborg, syd for Richmond.

Gennem sensommeren og efteråret fortsatte Grant med at true det ydre forsvar, der beskytter Richmond og Petersborg. Flere større overgreb mødtes med delvis succes, herunder erobringen af ​​Fort Harrison i september 1864. Vintervejret sluttede til sidst aktiv drift. Livet i skyttegravene omkring de belejrede byer blev rutine og trist. Bare det at finde nok at spise og holde varmen blev konstante bekymringer.

Grants vellykkede belejring af Petersborg i løbet af vinteren 1864-65 tvang Lee til at trække sig tilbage vest fra byen den 2. april 1865. Den følgende dag, kort efter daggry, leverede Richmonds borgmester, Joseph C. Mayo, følgende besked til chefen for de unionsstyrker, der ventede på at komme ind i den konfødererede hovedstad: & quot at du vil tage den i besiddelse med organiseret kraft for at bevare orden og beskytte kvinder og børn og ejendom. & quot

Ved evakuering af byen godkendte den konfødererede regering brænding af lagre og forsyninger, hvilket resulterede i betydelig skade på fabrikker og huse i forretningskvarteret. Inden de forkullede ruiner af Richmond var afkølet, overgav Lee sig med resten af ​​sin hær til Grant i Appomattox Court House den 9. april 1865. Konføderationens sammenbrud fulgte hurtigt.


Forbundets hovedstæder

Capitol -bygningen i Richmond, Virginia (Library of Congress)

Grundlagt i 1819, på de høje bluffe over Alabama -floden og 330 miles fra Den Mexicanske Golf, Montgomery, blev Alabama hurtigt hjertet i statens plantageøkonomi. I 1846 blev Montgomery opkaldt til Alabamas hovedstad. I 1861 boede 9.000 mennesker i byen, betragtet som den rigeste for sin størrelse i nationen. Montgomery var et transportcenter med dampbåde, der rejste til Mobile, stagecoaches, der rejste mod øst, og en jernbane, der kørte nordøst og sydvest.

Den 11. januar 1861 løsrev staten Alabama sig fra Unionen. Mindre end en måned senere, i begyndelsen af ​​februar, inviterede løsrivelseskonventionen i Alabama delegater fra de andre løsrevne stater til at mødes i Montgomery for at danne den nye konfødererede nation. Delegater fra seks af de syv adskilte stater (Texanerne kom for sent) skrev en forfatning for Amerikas Forenede Stater på kun fire dage den næste dag, de valgte Jefferson Davis Konføderationens præsident. I slutningen af ​​februar aflagde Davis eden, mens han stod på portiklen i statshovedstaden i Montgomery.

Montgomerys tre hoteller og talrige pensionater var overfyldt med embedsmænd, politikere, soldater og avisfolk. Det blev mere en storby end en stille landsby med gader fyldt med vogne og heste og folk på jagt efter sladder, skænderier og diskussioner. Alle beundrede byens skønhed.

Men i maj ændrede sommerens fugtige varme og myg mange menneskers mening om Montgomery. Så da de nyudskilte jomfruer tilbød deres egen stat og deres egen hovedstad som sæde for Forbundet, var mange ivrige efter at tage imod tilbuddet. Mary Boykin Chesnut bemærkede i sin dagbog, at hendes mand, en tidligere amerikansk senator, var imod trækket. Hun bemærkede imidlertid, "Jeg tror, ​​at disse ubehagelige hoteller vil flytte kongressen. Vores statsmænd elsker deres lethed."

Jefferson Davis var først imod og mente, at hovedstaden skulle bo i det dybe syd, hvor følelserne for løsrivelse var mest inderlige. Imidlertid godkendte den konfødererede kongres flytningen og udsatte den 21. maj og planlagt at mødes i Richmond to måneder senere. Som Dr. James McPherson skriver i Battle Cry of Freedom, "Virginia bragte afgørende ressourcer til konføderationen. Hendes befolkning var Sydens største. Hendes industrielle kapacitet var næsten lige så stor som den i de syv oprindelige konfødererede stater tilsammen. Tredegar Iron Works i Richmond var det eneste anlæg i Syd, der var i stand til at fremstille tung ammunition. Virginia's arv fra generationen Washington, Jefferson og Madison gav hende en enorm prestige. "

Forbundets mest permanente hovedstad: Richmond, Virginia

Davis forlod Montgomery den 26. maj ved højdepunktet af inderligheden efter faldet i Fort Sumter og Lincolns opfordring til 75.000 tropper. Da han ankom til Richmond, hovedstaden i Virginia, den 29. maj, blev han mødt af skarer på jernbanestationen og mylder langs gaderne til Spotswood Hotel.

Richmond var en meget større metropol end Montgomery. Hjertet i Sydens industri, Richmond var også en købstad med speciale i mel og slaver. Det var en smuk by beliggende ved foden af ​​James Falls -flodens store vandfald og på syv bakker. Dens borgere sammenlignede det med Rom. Mellem 1861 og 1865 svulmede befolkningen til 100.000 og mere. Til stor forfærd for borgerne var mange af de nye beboere larmende, støjende og besværlige. Fordi byen desuden var den konfødererede hovedstad, blev den i fokus for Unionens opmærksomhed. Truslen om indfangning af føderale styrker var konstant.

Richmond trivedes først som hovedstad i konføderationen. Derefter sultet. Derefter brændt, da endelig Robert E. Lees styrker blev tvunget til at trække sig tilbage og efterlade byen forsvarsløs.

Den sidste hovedstad: Danville, Virginia

Beliggende i det sydlige centrale Virginia, ikke langt fra grænsen til North Carolina, var Danville den vestlige ende af Richmond og Danville Railroad og en stor konfødereret forsyningsbase. Jefferson Davis og hans regering rejste til Danville, da Richmond faldt til den føderale hær. Byen var sæde for den konfødererede regering i kun otte dage, 3-10. April 1865.

Danvilles kvartermester, major William T. Sutherlin, tilbød sit hjem til Davis og den konfødererede regering. Davis besatte et soveværelse ovenpå, og konfødererede kabinet mødtes i spisestuen i Sutherlin. Davis leverede sin sidste proklamation til den konfødererede nation fra hjemmet den 4. april.

Davis mente, at Danville kun var et midlertidigt sted for regeringen. Han mente, at Forbundet havde "trådt ind i en ny fase af kampen", hvor kampen ikke ville være bundet til forsvaret af byer, men ført til bjergene i guerillakrig.

Men Lees decimerede hær kunne ikke holde ud. Skabet sad ved middagen, da ordet om Lees overgivelse ved Appomattox nåede Danville. Den konfødererede regering skulle flytte med det samme. De havde oprindeligt tænkt sig at flytte til Lynchburg, men uden nogen hær, der opererede i Virginia, skulle regeringen flytte sydpå mod Joseph Johnstons hær. Davis havde stadig håb om, at konføderationen kunne overleve de seneste katastrofer. Han forlod Danville, Virginia til Greensboro, North Carolina, i regnen.


Richmond Virginia under borgerkrigen

Confederate Museum (Jefferson Davis hus), Richmond, Va. Library of Congress

Richmond, Virginia, var hovedstaden i de konfødererede stater i USA under borgerkrigen. Selvom det især er kendt for at være hovedstad, ændrede Richmond sig som en by i løbet af krigen fra en landbrugsby til et industrielt kraftcenter. Den tumultrige fireårige periode i borgerkrigen fik Richmond til at skifte fra en by med embedsmænd og industrifabrikker, der støttede krigsindsatsen i 1861 til en hærget og lammet by i 1865.

Virginia State Capitol måtte rumme den nye konfødererede kongres såvel som statslovgiver. De to lovgivende organer mødtes i denne bygning indtil 1865, da den blev taget til fange af unionens soldater som disse, der standsede på portikoen for et billede.

I 1860 var store dele af Virginia oprindeligt modstandere af løsrivelse på grund af de stærke økonomiske bånd til Unionen gennem tobaksindustrien, landbrugshandelen og fremstillingskraftværket Tredegar Ironworks, der producerede jern, der blev brugt i jernbaner og våben til føderalt lager.

Da Virginia løsrev sig fra Unionen den 17. april 1861, blev debatten om, hvorvidt hovedstaden i konføderationen skulle flyttes fra Montgomery, Alabama, til Richmond, Virginia, argumenteret. Den konfødererede vicepræsident Alexander Stephens mente at flytte hovedstaden ville give Virginians et incitament til at kæmpe for konføderationen. Richmonds nærhed til Washington, DC, ville samle Virginians for at kæmpe for det nyoprettede konføderation. Richmond havde også en vigtig symbolsk historie fra revolutionskrigstiden. Stephens, sammen med andre konfødererede kendte til Patrick Henrys "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" -tale holdt i Richmond, de vidste også, at Thomas Jefferson designede Capitol -bygningen i Richmond. Richmonds symbolske historie var en af ​​grundene til at flytte hovedstaden, da Montgomery, Alabama, ikke havde sådanne historiske rødder. Praktisk taget var Richmond imidlertid den mest industrialiserede by i syd, såvel som en af ​​de få byer i syd med et stort jernbanenetværk og gav konføderationen en større industriel fordel, end Montgomery kunne.

Under krigen var Richmond en anarkistisk by, der var præget af kriminalitet. Da Richmonds befolkning eksponentielt voksede på grund af en stigning i konfødererede embedsmænd fra andre stater, der flyttede til hovedstaden, var kriminel aktivitet udbredt i hele Richmond. Whiskyforretninger foret ved Main Street, og soldater, der blev afsat, spredte sig ud på fortovene i deres fulde stupor. I begyndelsen af ​​krigen var berusede soldater hovedårsagen til kriminel aktivitet i Richmond. De fleste civile udførte ikke kriminel aktivitet før midten og slutningen af ​​krigen. Civile ville lommetyver forbipasserende lommer, og nogle ville slå til i baghaven, når der var madmangel. Den 2. april 1863 fandt Richmond Bread Riot sted på grund af de stigende madomkostninger og andre fornødenheder. Oprørere gik på gaden og plyndrede i to timer, indtil det konfødererede militær truede med at gribe ind mod dem. The Bread Riot øgede byens bevidsthed om, hvor desperat byen var blevet efter nødvendigheder og forsøgte at rette op med sultende Richmonders.

Richmond var den medicinske frontlinje til sårede soldater, der ankom fra kampens frontlinjer. Det største hospital, der plejede sårede soldater i Richmond, var Chimborazo, der ligger på en bakke i den østlige del af byen. Chimborazo tjente som det største hospital for konføderationen og havde en af ​​de laveste dødelighedsrater. Medical College of Virginia (MCV) var en af ​​de eneste medicinske sydlige skoler, der forblev åbne og dimitterede klasser gennem hele krigen. MCV’s nyligt opførte hospital i 1860 hjalp til med behandling af sårede soldater under krigen, hvilket gav lindring til Chimborazo såvel som andre felthospitaler, der var aktive i Richmond.

Richmond var hjemsted for mange slaver, og krigen påvirkede deres liv drastisk. Før borgerkrigen havde Virginia det største antal slaver i enhver sydlig stat i Unionen. Slaveri var rygraden i den konfødererede arbejdsstyrke, især i Richmond. Enslavede mennesker i Richmond arbejdede i alle facetter af krigen. De arbejdede på plantager for at dyrke mad og forbrugsvarer som bomuld og tobak. De arbejdede i industrisektoren i Tredegar Ironworks, da flere hvide arbejdere var nødvendige af den konfødererede hær. Enslavede personer blev sat på arbejde på Chimborazo Field Hospital som sygeplejersker og kokke. Slaver blev også tvunget til at bygge befæstninger til forsvaret i Richmond og Petersborg.

I 1865 oplevede Richmond og hendes omkringliggende naboer en lang og langvarig belejring. Selve belejringen var kaldet belejringen af ​​Petersborg og var et væld af brutale skyttegravskampe, der blev udkæmpet i byen Petersborg i ni måneder. Nyligt udnævnte general Ulysses S. Grant var i belejringens kappe. Grant håbede at bryde en dødvande mellem Unionen og Konføderationen ved at tage kampen direkte til Robert E. Lees hær. Grant aftappede Lees styrker omkring Richmond og Petersborg, hvilket igen tillod føderalerne at engagere sig i konfødererede styrker i andre sektorer og beslaglægge eller ødelægge sydlige krigsmaterialer. Under hele belejringen forsøgte Grant at angribe i Petersborg og Richmond samtidigt, hvilket ville lægge pres, så oprørsstyrker ikke kunne flytte forstærkninger til truede punkter.

Generelt syn på det brændte distrikt Richmond Library of Congress

Efter det knusende nederlag ved belejringen af ​​Petersborg begyndte den konfødererede regering at evakuere fra Richmond. Under evakueringen af ​​Richmond brændte konføderationen enhver militær forsyning, som de ikke ønskede at falde i Unionens hænder. Brandvæsenet kunne ikke dæmpes af brandvæsenet på grund af en brise, der førte brandene over byen. Efter ikke at have noget andet valg, opgav borgmesteren i Richmond kontrollen med byen til Unionens styrker for at slukke brande. Den 4. april besøgte præsident Abraham Lincoln Richmond og det tidligere konfødererede hvide hus sammen med Virginia State Capital. Lincoln blev mødt med et øredøvende rosende brøl af nyligt frigjorte slaver langs sin rute gennem den faldne konfødererede hovedstad. Da Richmond endelig faldt efter næsten fire års krig, traskede det, der var tilbage, general Robert E. Lees hær mod vest, og fandt til sidst sig selv uden forsyninger og afskæring af føderale styrker i Appomattox. Lee overgav sig til Grant den 9. april 1865, hvor de officielle overgivelsesceremonier fandt sted den 12. april 1865.

Efter krigen genopbyggede Richmond sig fra asken i konføderationen. Richmond blev næsten ødelagt af brandene. Den lange genopbygningsproces viste sig at være en udfordrende opgave for mange Richmonders. Statens embedsmænd i Richmond omskrev Virginia's forfatning, der gav en fornuftig ændring, der appellerede til både demokrater og republikanere i Virginia.

Efter krigen blev mange afdøde konfødererede militære embedsmænd begravet i Richmond, især Hollywood Cemetery. Hollywood Cemetery er det sidste hvilested for embedsmænd som tidligere konfødererede præsident Jefferson Davis sammen med 25 konfødererede generaler, herunder: J.E.B. Stuart, George Pickett, Fitzhugh Lee og Henry Heth. Hollywood Cemetery er også det sidste hvilested for tidligere amerikanske præsidenter James Monroe og John Tyler. Hollywood Cemetery huser resterne af tusinder af konfødererede soldater samt en stor stenpyramide dedikeret til 18.000 ukendte konfødererede soldater. Efter krigen rejste Richmond mange markører og monumenter til minde om de konfødererede soldater og generaler, der kæmpede i krigen på den berømte Monument Avenue.

Richmond spillede en yderst vigtig rolle i borgerkrigen. Ikke alene var det Hovedkvarteret for Forbundet, men byen spillede en afgørende rolle i udførelsen af ​​Forbundets krigsindsats. Fra industricentre, der fremstiller artilleri og bevæbning til felthospitaler, der plejer de sårede, var Richmond under borgerkrigen en by, der tog udfordringen på at blive et symbol for konføderationen.


Den konfødererede hovedstad i Richmond erobret - HISTORIE

Når nogen tænker på berømte eller vigtige kampe fra den amerikanske borgerkrig, kommer Slaget ved Gettysburg øjeblikkeligt i tankerne. Borgerkrigen blev udkæmpet mellem Unionen (Nord) og Konføderationen (Syd). Striden opstod fra debatten om slaveri, men i virkeligheden havde det mere at gøre med økonomi og geografi. Bomuld voksede i overflod i syd, men slet ikke i nord. Meget af konflikten opstod fra, at plantageejere høstede store overskud ved at bruge gratis arbejdskraft.

På denne dag, den 3. april, i 1865, blev Richmond, Virginia, hovedstaden i de konfødererede stater i Amerika, fanget af Unionens styrker. Denne kamp markerede i det væsentlige afslutningen på borgerkrigen. For alle, der forstår strategi, er det at få kontrol over en regerings kapital svarende til at afskære et dyrs hoved. Norden væltede i det væsentlige sit bytte.

Richmond var et centralt knudepunkt for jernbanen, for militære hospitaler og for krigsfanger. Det var økonomisk vigtigt for Konføderationen på grund af dets forskellige økonomiske bestemmelser, og det betød sikkerhed for mange konfødererede på grund af de job og militære beskyttelse, det tilbød. Fangst af Richmond var begyndelsen på enden for en af ​​de blodigste krige i USA's historie.


Richmond, Virginia's historie

Richmond er beliggende langs faldlinjen ved James River og er hovedstaden i Commonwealth of Virginia. Selvom Richmond blev inkorporeret som en by "for at blive stylet byen Richmond" i 1742, var det først i 1782, at den blev inkorporeret som en by. Richmond var rigelig i revolutionskrigenes historie og fungerede også som hovedstaden i Amerikas konfødererede stater under borgerkrigen. Begyndelsen I 1607, efter 10 dages rejse op ad Powhatans flod (senere kendt som James River), bosatte kaptajn John Smith og 120 mand fra Jamestown, Virginia sig ved flodens højeste sejlbare placering. Deres var det første forsøg på at bosætte sig ved James Falls. Four years later in 1611, the governor of the new Jamestown colony organized an expedition to sail up the James and settled below the falls in a place they called Henricus. The first hospital in North America was located there, serving also as the home of Pocahontas. Struggles with the indigenous peoples began to simmer and then boil over after the death of Pocahontas in 1617, and her father Chief Powhatan the following year. Widespread Indian attacks during the Powhatan uprising of 1622 destroyed every English settlement along the James River except Jamestown. Led by the more aggressive Chief Opechancanough, the tribe massacred nearly 400 white settlers during a surprise attack in 1644. Two years later, the tribe was forced to sign a treaty that granted the English possession of the land below the Falls of the James. The neighborhoods of Shockoe Bottom, Shockoe Slip, and Church Hill, where St. John's Church had been built the prior year, coalesced into one entity when Richmond was chartered as a town, in 1742. They were governed by the Virginia House of Burgesses, located in Jamestown. Importance during the Revolutionary War Richmond became a center of activity prior to and during the Revolutionary War. Patrick Henry’s famous speech “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death,” was delivered at Richmond’s St. John’s Church and was said to have inspired the House of Burgesses to pass a resolution to deliver Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War in 1775. One year later, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. In 1780, during the War of Independence, Virginia’s state capital was moved to Richmond from Williamsburg. A year later, Richmond was burned to the ground by British troops during Benedict Arnold’s watch. By 1782, Richmond had recovered and was incorporated as a city. Slave trade center It is believed that between 1800 and 1865, an estimated 300,000 to 350,000 slaves were processed through the Shockoe Bottom slave auction blocks in Richmond, on their way to the Deep South. Shockoe Bottom served also as a burial ground for thousands of Africans whom had not survived the journey or died shortly after their entry into America. In one of the more creative and dangerous escapes by a slave in the mid-1800s, Henry “Box” Brown, with the help of a sympathetic white shoemaker, Samuel Smith, had himself nailed into a two- by three-foot box labeled “dry goods” and was loaded onto a northbound train from Richmond to freedom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Civil War headquarters With an asset such as the city’s Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond became the capital for the Confederate States of America, in 1861. They served as the largest foundry in the South and the third-largest in antebellum United States. The foundry produced more than 2,200 cannon including 12-pounder Napoleans, three-inch ordinance guns, and heavy coastal cannon, and more than 700 tons of ironclad, some of which was used to cover the CSS Virginia * which engaged the USS Overvåge, in the four-hour battle of Hampton Roads, also known as the Battle of the Overvåge og Merrimack, in March 1862. When it was imminent that Ulysses S. Grant would overtake nearby Petersburg in April 1865, CSA President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet abandoned Richmond. Taking the last unobstructed railroad train out of Richmond, they fled south to safer territory in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they met in secret until the end of the war. Having been instructed to set the bridges, armory, and supply warehouses on fire, retreating soldiers caused a fire that destroyed large parts of Richmond. The following day the city’s mayor surrendered Richmond to Union soldiers and requested assistance to put out the fires. Federal troops were removed from Richmond in 1870, after the state was readmitted to the Union. Innovation and Invention Richmond kept its Confederate history alive even after Reconstruction ended, as it embraced the winds of change blowing through the city. Monument Avenue, established in 1877, was erected to honor such important Confederate figures of Richmond as Davis, JEB Stuart, Robert E. Lee, General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and Matthew F. Maury, a prominent oceanographer and nicknamed “Pathfinder of the Seas.” In 1888, the country’s first successful trolley system opened in Richmond. Designed by electric power pioneer Frank J. Sprague, the system soon replaced horse-drawn cars. The street railway system of the late 1800s and beginning of the 1900s brought welcomed growth to Richmond. The tobacco industry aided Richmond in coming out of the economic slump caused by The Great Depression. Thanks to tobacco producer Philip Morris and others, Richmond was back on its feet within five years, and the value of its real estate had increased 250 percent between 1935 and 1936. As Richmond was entering the post-[World War II] lifestyle, it was introduced to new uses for natural gas in 1950. In addition, the highest production of cigarettes in the city’s history occurred in 1952, at a 110 billion in one year. Originally approved for 15 exits, the Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike revolutionized travel when it opened in 1958. The toll road was soon given the designation of Interstate 95 through Richmond but divided into Interstates 85 and 95 South at nearby Petersburg. Modern Richmond When Hurricane Agnes dropped 16 inches of rain over central Virginia in 1972, the James River flooded Richmond. Flood waters in the river reached 6.5 feet higher than the historical 200-year-old record. Thirteen years later, a multi-million dollar floodwall was erected to prevent the rising waters of the river from overflowing again. To validate their place in the civil rights movement, Richmondites elected L. Douglas Wilder as the first African-American governor in America. A grandson of former slaves, Wilder was sworn in as governor of the State of Virginia, in 1990. After years of decline in the economy of the downtown area, the expanded floodwall opened up portions of the riverfront for development. At the beginning of the 21st century, revitalization efforts yielded a 1.25-mile corridor of trendy apartments, restaurants, shops, and hotels. Located along the Canal Walk, the corridor is located where the old James River, Kanawha Canal, and the Haxal Canal once flowed. In an attempt to lure more tourists to the history-rich area, the Richmond Civil War Visitor Center, operated by the National Park Service, opened three floors of exhibits and artifacts in the old Tredegar Iron Works in 2000. Other attractions Aside from the redeveloped riverfront, “River City” has a number of other places of interest for history buffs and travelers. Once deemed the “Black Wall Street” sometime during the 1800s because of its many banks, Jackson Ward continues as one of the most historic areas of the city and encompasses more than 40 neighborhood blocks. Known as the “Harlem of the South,” Jackson Ward was frequented by such famous blacks as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, and James Brown, at such popular venues the historic Hippodrome Theater. Visitors can dine at popular Croaker’s Spot, Richmond's famous soul-food, seafood institution see the monument of “Bojangles,” who donated a stoplight for the safety of neighborhood children or view artifacts at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center located on Clay Street. Richmond is also home to the Museum of the Confederacy and the adjoining White House of the Confederacy, as well as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which contains the largest collection of Faberge objects outside of Russia. For youth-oriented activities, visitors will enjoy the Children’s Museum of Richmond, with its IMAX theater, and the nearby Virginia Museum of Science. The American Civil War Center, with its debut sometime in 2006, will be the first museum of its kind to interweave, in a national context, the historical accounts of how Union, Confederate, and African-American soldiers fought next to and across from each other during the Civil War. Institutes of Higher Learning The diversity of population and culture is represented quite strongly in the higher learning institutions located in the area. Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Arts ranks one of the best art schools in the country. The University of Richmond was founded by Virginia Baptists, in 1830, as a liberal arts university, and currently enrolls 3,000 undergraduate and 1,200 graduate students in law, business, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Historically a black university, Virginia Union University was founded by a former slave trader, in 1865. Sports and live action Although the area does not have any major league professional sports team, Richmond residents are privy to many minor league sports activities, including the Richmond Braves baseball team, the Atlanta Braves’ AAA affiliate, which plays at The Diamond. The Richmond Kickers soccer team plays at the University of Richmond Stadium, and the Richmond Riverdogs, which represent the city in the United Hockey League. Others sporting events include NASCAR racing at the Richmond International Raceway, where two annual Nextel NASCAR races are held, and thoroughbred racing at Colonial Downs, which hosts the prestigious Virginia Derby and other horse races, in nearby New Kent county.

* The Virginia was built using the remains of the scuttled USS Merrimack. She was raised from the bottom of the James River at the shipyards near Portsmouth, rebuilt using the engines and the hull, and outfitted with ironclad siding.


The Fall of Confederate Richmond

On the morning of Sunday April 2, 1865 Confederate lines near Petersburg broke after a nine month seige. The retreat of the army left the Confederate capital of Richmond, 25 miles to the north, defenseless. This video provides a visual overview of some of the most significant events of the dramatic days that followed.

Over the next three days, the Confederate government evacuated, mobs looted countless stores, fire consumed as many as a thousand buildings, the Union army occupied the city, thousands were emancipated from bondage, and President Abraham Lincoln toured the former Confederate Capital. This animated map illustrates how these momentous events unfolded in time and space.

A Note on Sources and Tools

We know when and where many of the events of April 2, 3, and 4 occurred. Given their importance, some participants and observers recorded to the minute exactly when certain events happened. But for others we have ambiguous or even contradictory evidence. For instance, we know that looting was widespread on the night of April 3, but we don't know exactly when and where most individual acts of looting happened. (It probably is wishful thinking to hope that drunken looters would have kept detailed and accurate diaries.) To create this animated map we have considred a substantial number of sources and used our best judgment as to where to exactly to place events in time and space.

Indispensable newspaper accounts of the evacuation, fire, occupation, and Lincoln's visit appeared in the Richmond Whig , New York Herald , and New York Times in April 1865. Many of the key articles have been compiled by Mike Gorman on his Civil War Richmond website. The work of journalist Charles Coffin presents what little we know of slave trader Robert Lumpkin's efforts to evacuate his human property: his "Late Scenes in Richmond" in the June 1865 issue of the Atlantic and his Freedom Triumphant .

The video draws heavily from the research of others. Nelson Lankford's Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital is arguably the best history of the fall of Richmond. For our map, A.A. and Mary Hoehling's The Last Days of the Confederacy and The Day Richmond Died were particularly useful as they provide nearly hour-by-hour accounts of events. For Lincoln's visit we relied on the detailed account provided in Mike Gorman's "A Conquerer or a Peacemaker?: Abraham Lincoln in Richmond" that appeared in volume 123.1 of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography . Leon F. Litwack narrates some of the dramatic events related to the end of slavery in Richmond in Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery .A number of other works were helpful as well: Rembert W. Patrick's The Fall of Richmond , Ernest B. Furgurson's Ashes of Glory: Richmond at War , and James C. Clark's The Last Train South: The Flight of the Confederate Government .

The map was created using the mapping library Leaflet, and many of the animated features use CartoDB's visualization tools.

A Bit More About the Map

This video was created for the April 4, 2015 "Richmond's Journey in Nine Questions" "Pop-up" Museum on Capitol Square.

The map was created by the Digital Scholarship Lab. Robert K. Nelson created and developed the code for the map. Justin Madron created and managed much of the spatial data. Nate Ayers created the framework for the website and assisted with the design of the map. Lily Calaycay georeferenced a number of events.


Enslaved African Americans

The war had a significant impact on Richmond’s slave population. During the antebellum period, the city’s enslaved men and women often had enjoyed freedoms common to urban slaves, including the freedom to live independently and “hire their own time,” or choose their own employers, make their own work arrangements, and pay their masters a set annual fee in exchange for these privileges. Whether they worked in industrial or household settings, many of Richmond’s slaves had gained this autonomy before the war began, and often lived and socialized with free blacks as well as other slaves. But when Virginia seceded, Richmond officials feared that the city’s slaves would take advantage of the chaos of war and their measured autonomy to plan a rebellion. They passed new ordinances prohibiting slaves from living independently of their masters, shut down many of the city’s informal hiring markets, and instituted a stringent pass system to restrict slaves’ movements around the city.

As the war progressed, however, the feared slave rebellion never materialized, and the city’s leaders began to relax some of their limitations on the slave population. In part this was due to necessity, as slave labor was absolutely crucial to the success of the Confederate war effort. Male slaves with industrial skills found their labor in particularly high demand, and could often command relatively high wages. In addition, the Confederate War Department hired thousands of black men to work in the government warehouses, tanning yards, and hospitals that soon filled the city black women also routinely found employment in government hospitals as laundresses and cooks. By the end of 1862, the government hired more of Richmond’s slaves than any other employer unlike those employed by private companies, the slaves working in government jobs had little power to negotiate payments or living conditions. The War Department and the city council also routinely forced male slaves to dig trenches and build fortifications outside the city.

If the war brought some work opportunities to Richmond’s slaves, it also brought increased competition for available jobs, especially among household servants. As refugee families poured into Richmond from the Virginia countryside, the city’s slave population increased dramatically. In addition, prices for housing and basic commodities skyrocketed during the last two years of the war, forcing many Richmond families to make cuts in the number of household servants they hired, or to hire only slaves without children.

In June 1865, Richmond’s black residents held a meeting at the First African Baptist Church and drafted a document demanding that the U.S. government grant former slaves all the rights of citizens, including the right to vote. The church’s membership had swelled dramatically during the war, and thousands of people attended services there each week. The wartime growth of First African Baptist Church, and its political engagement in the early Reconstruction years, demonstrated that, while Richmond’s officials had restricted the mobility and autonomy of the city’s slaves throughout the war, they had ultimately failed to deter the city’s black residents from pursuing their own political, economic, and cultural independence.


Fall of the South: Breakthrough and the Burning of Richmond

The endgame of the Civil War began on April 1, 1865, when Union forces defeated the ragged and outnumbered Confederates at the Battle of Five Forks, then shattered their defensive lines decisively at the Third Battle of Petersburg on April 2. As Robert E. Lee led the battered Army of North Virginia west in a final, desperate retreat into central Virginia, Union forces entered the Confederate capital at Richmond unopposed – only to find it engulfed in flames, a fitting epitaph for the Southern rebellion (top, the ruins of Richmond).

Five Forks

On March 24, Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant ordered a general assault on the rebel lines to begin March 29, a plan unchanged by the desperate breakout attempt on March 25. As Union forces maneuvered to the southwest of Petersburg, threatening to cut off Lee’s line of retreat, on March 31 the Confederate general-in-chief tried to disrupt the unfolding offensive with two attacks of his own, at the Battles of White Oak Road and Dinwiddie Courthouse. Rebel commander George Pickett scored a limited victory over Philip Sheridan’s cavalry at Dinwiddie Courthouse, but withdrew as Sheridan was reinforced. This preliminary encounter set the stage for the Battle of Five Forks.

On the morning of April 1, Sheridan led his combined force of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, 22,000 strong, northwest in search of Pickett’s smaller force of 10,600 men, now dug in facing south at Five Forks, where White Oak Road intersected three other roads (above, Five Forks today). Arriving in front of the Confederate positions around 1pm, Sheridan’s cavalry dismounted and pinned the Confederates down with rifle fire in order to gain time for the Union infantry to catch up.

Around 4:15 Sheridan ordered a general assault, with Gouverneur Warren leading an infantry attack on the Confederate left (eastern) flank, followed by two simultaneous attacks by dismounted cavalry troopers, one led by George Armstrong Custer (of “Custer’s Last Stand” fame) against the Confederate right (western) flank, and a second led by Thomas Devin against the Confederate front. Sheridan hoped the first attack would force Pickett to weaken his center and right to hold off the threat to his left flank, clearing the way for the dismounted cavalry to roll up the Confederate positions from the west.

However confusion reigned on both sides during the Battle of Five Forks. The Union troops believed the Confederate left wing was located much further east than it was, resulting in a delay as they hurried west to engage the enemy. Meanwhile the Confederate commander, Pickett, was enjoying a picnic a little over a mile to the north and didn’t know he was under attack at Five Forks at first because the landscape blocked the noises of battle he belatedly hurried south to take charge when the battle was already well underway.

By this point the Union attack attack was faltering under heavy rifle and cannon fire from the Confederate left wing – but Sheridan himself leapt into the fray and helped rally some of the disorganized troops for a crucial charge, as recounted by his staff officer Horace Porter:

Sheridan rushed into the midst of the broken lines, and cried out: 'Where is my battle-flag?' As the sergeant who carried it rode up, Sheridan seized the crimson-and-white standard, waved it above his head, cheered on the men, and made heroic efforts to close up the ranks. Bullets were now humming like a swarm of bees about our heads, and shells were crashing through the ranks… All this time Sheridan was dashing from one point of the line to another, waving his flag, shaking his fist, encouraging, entreating, threatening, praying, swearing, the true personification of chivalry, the very incarnation of battle.

There was plenty of dramatic heroism to go around that day, as the Confederates withdrew and reestablished their defensive line on the left flank two more times, requiring renewed attacks to dislodge them. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (a college professor-turned-officer from Maine, already famous for his bravery and quick thinking at Gettysburg) described what it was like for Union infantry charging Confederate guns in the face of withering cannon fire near Ford’s Road:

Ploughed through by booming shot torn by ragged bursts of shell riddled by blasts of whistling canister— straight ahead to the guns hidden in their own smoke straight on to the red, scorching flame of the muzzles,— the giant grains of cannon-powder beating, burning, sizzling into the cheek then in upon them!— pistol to rifle-shot saber to bayonet musket-butt to handspike and rammer the brief frenzy of passion the wild 'hurrah' then the sudden, unearthly silence the ghastly scene the shadow of death…

By nightfall Sheridan’s attacking force had routed the Confederates, inflicting over 1,000 casualties and taking at least 2,000 prisoners (below, Confederate soldiers captured at Five Forks), at a cost of only 830 casualties to themselves – an especially favorable result considering Pickett’s force was just half the size and could scarcely afford these losses. On the other hand at least half the Confederate force managed to escape and Sheridan, annoyed and quick to judgment, took out his frustrations on Warren by relieving him of command, triggering a controversy that raged long after the war was over.

But for the moment jubilation reigned, as even ordinary Union soldiers understood victory was now within reach. According to Porter, “The roads in many places were corduroyed with captured muskets ammunition-trains and ambulances were still struggling forward teamsters, prisoners, stragglers, and wounded were choking the roadway… cheers were resounding on all sides, and everybody was riotous over the victory.”

On the other side this anticipation was matched by dread of imminent defeat. One of Lee’s favorite generals, John Brown Gordon, remembered the great captain saying, “It has happened as I told them in Richmond it would happen. The line has been stretched until it is broken.”

Breakthrough

With the Confederate right flank turned, exposing the already overstretched defenders to attack from the rear, Grant knew Lee might now try to withdraw his whole army from Petersburg, abandoning Richmond to the Yankees, then quickly destroy Sheridan’s force and head south, hoping to join forces with Johnston’s army facing Sherman in North Carolina. Of course this would be a gamble for Lee, as it meant leaving strong defensive positions and hoping the enemy didn’t catch on until it was too late.

To prevent him from doing this, after Five Forks Grant immediately ordered a general assault to begin in the early morning of April 2, intending to pin Lee’s forces in their trenches while Sheridan began to roll them up from the west. The Union Army of the James under Edward Ord would hit all along the line, with the Union VI Corps under Horatio Wright and II Corps under Andrew Humphreys attacking the Confederate center southwest of Petersburg, while the IX Corps under John Parke pressed the Confederates east of the city. At the same time Sheridan would continue pushing north to cut off the Confederate line of retreat to the west.

At 4:30 am on April 2 the IX Corps launched its attack to pin down defenders east of Petersburg, and ten minutes later the left wing of Wright’s VI Corps began moving towards Confederate positions southwest of the city, advancing 600 yards over mostly open ground in gloomy darkness. This attack would pit around 14,000 attackers against just 2,800 defenders spread out along a mile of defensive line. As they forced their way through defensive obstacles Confederate artillery and rifle fire inflicted heavy casualties, but were unable to stop the blue wave that now washed over the rebel parapet. This breakthrough cleared the way for Wright’s VI Corps to turn southwest and attack the neighboring force of 1,600 Confederate defenders from the rear. By 7 am this force was also on the run, while further west Humphreys’ II Corps was attacking the next section of Confederate defenses.

As the sun rose the Confederate line had been broken wide open, and another Union army corps, the XXIV, was pouring into the gap to support the advance and defend against counterattacks. With rebel defenses completely collapsing, around 9 am Ord and Wright decided to turn northeast and join the attack on the remaining Confederate forces at Petersburg.

Seeing the situation was now untenable, Lee advised Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Secretary of War John Breckenridge that he would have to withdraw his army from Petersburg before the enemy cut off its only remaining line of retreat to the west. Of course this meant abandoning Richmond, so the Confederate government would have to flee as well. As fighting continued into the afternoon of April 2, hundreds of wagons were hurriedly filled with government property and official documents and dispatched to Lee for protection (seriously impeding his mobility).

At 8 pm on April 2, the Army of Northern Virginia began to withdraw in an orderly fashion along roads northwest of Petersburg a few hours later the Confederate cabinet and treasury left Richmond on a train bound for Danville, Virginia. Richmond itself was left defenseless. On the other side, as soon as he found out the Confederates had abandoned Petersburg Grant ordered a hot pursuit, chasing the enemy west along the Appomattox River. John Brown Gordon later recalled the nightmarish days that followed:

Fighting all day, marching all night, with exhaustion and hunger claiming their victims at every mile of the march, with charges of infantry in rear and of cavalry on the flanks, it seemed the war god had turned loose all his furies to revel in havoc. On and on, hour after hour, from hilltop to hilltop, the lines were alternately forming, fighting, and retreating, making one almost continuous shifting battle.

After 292 days, the Siege of Petersburg was over, and the last campaign of the war had begun.

Richmond In Flames

Unfortunately for the residents of Richmond, the end of the siege didn’t mean an end to their suffering – just the opposite. Many were about to lose their homes in a huge conflagration that began on the evening of April 2 and continue into April 3, gutting the center of the city.

While there’s still controversy about which side was responsible for burning Columbia, in Richmond’s case the Confederates were definitely to blame. Confederate commanders ordered their soldiers to set fire to bridges, warehouses, and weapons caches before retreating in order to deny them to the enemy. Although they probably didn’t mean to torch the whole town, these fires quickly blazed out of control and burned the entire downtown district to the ground (below, a Currier and Ives painting).

As with the burning of Columbia, the sights that greeted occupying Union troops in the early morning hours of April 3, 1865 was both terrible and spectacular. One observer, George A. Bruce, painted a vivid picture of Richmond in flames:

The wind, increasing with the conflagration, was blowing like a hurricane, hurling cinders and pieces of burning wood with long trails of flame over the houses to distant quarters of the city. The heated air, dim with smoke and filled with the innumerable particles that float from the surface of so great a fire, rendered it almost impossible to breathe.

Few in the north probably shed many tears for the capital of the rebellion, but the human cost was very real, as ordinary people, already facing starvation, now lost their homes as well. On entering the town Bruce encountered a pathetic and also rather surreal sight:

The square was a scene of indescribable confusion. The inhabitants fleeing from their burning houses – men, women and children, white and black – had collected there for a place of safety, bringing with them whatever was saved from the flames. Bureaus, sofas, carpets, beds and bedding, in a word, every conceivable article of household furniture, from baby-toys to the most costly mirrors, were scattered promiscuously on the green…

The only rational thing left for the Confederate government to do was surrender and bring an end to the suffering – and yet as so often in history reason was no match for the momentum of war. In North Carolina, where Johnston’s beleaguered army could do nothing to stop Sherman’s much larger force, Confederate Senator W.A. Graham bitterly criticized the irrational indecision and irresponsibility that now paralyzed the Southern elite, preventing it from accepting the inevitable:

… the wisest and best men with whom I had been associated, or had conversed, were anxious for a settlement but were so trammeled by former committals, and a false pride, or other like causes, that they were unable to move themselves… but were anxious that others should… it was now the case of a beleaguered garrison before a superior force, considering the question whether it was best to capitulate on terms, or hold out to be put to the sword on a false point of honor.


Se videoen: Picacho Peak State Park in Arizona (Oktober 2021).