May 25, 1865: End of part 1, and a little break

Shiloh - Cloud Field

I started this blog on August 2, 2010. Every day since then I have posted something from a primary source dated 150 years previously, a total of over 1750 posts. I had read a lot about the Civil War previously, but I have to say that watching it day by day is a very different experience. Events that are compressed in the history books drag out to their actual length, and the frustrations of waiting, the uncertainties of the outcome, and the anxious searching for information are much more real to me now. I’m about to take a couple of weeks’ vacation — both in real life and from the blog. When I get back, I plan to resume the blog on a weekly basis, covering the much longer second act of the war: Reconstruction.

I hope people have found this blog enjoyable and interesting so far, and I look forward to the next stage.

-Allen Gathman

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May 24, 1865: The Grand Review, and caring for the troops

Sherman’s Army in Review


The New York Times pays tribute to the soldiers who saved the Union. The Grand Review is over, Sherman’s armies having marched on the second day, and the Times calls for government employment of veterans.

The last great scene of the war has closed. It has been everything that could impress the senses and stir the imagination. Every American who has seen it, or even read of it, has rejoiced in its “pride, and pomp, and circumstance.” His pulse has been quickened by all its heroic associations, and by all its suggestions of the might and majesty of the republic. As a mere military spectacle, its like, in all probability, will never hereafter be seen on this continent. It is not easy to conceive any occasion that will ever again bring together two hundred thousand American soldiers. So soon as order and security are fully reestablished, our armies will again be reduced to a handfull. This rebellion has had such a terrible overthrow, that it seems certain that no other will ever be attempted. It is likely enough that, at some future time, we shall become engaged in war with some Power across the ocean; but such a war would be almost exclusively maritime, and no extensive enlistments of soldiers would be required. We may declare almost positively that this American Republic will never again see such another array of armed men. That in itself would make this parade an occasion of transcendent mark. And yet how tame is the mere circumstance of numbers in this case. Who gives a thought to the bare fact that two hundred thousand soldiers have been reviewed in the National Capital? The thought that fills the mind is not how many soldiers; but what soldiers. Who would not rather see the three hundred of Thermopylae than all the millions of Xerxes? It is not because these two hundred thousand are men in uniform, but because they are heroes, and the savers of the republic, that this gathering of them so thrills! It is the matchless glory and worth of their deeds that makes this spectacle forever memorable.

But while all these jubilations are going up to the skies at the sight of the soldiers who have done the grandest work since time began, let it not be for an instant forgotten that praise is but breath, and that all this show of honor will be no better than a mockery, unless it is followed with a practical concern for the comfort of those whom the hard fortune of war has deprived of their former ability to do stout work for their livelihood. Tens of thousands have come out of the struggle thus disabled. It would be a high crime in the government and the people to lose care for these men. The government is religiously bound to give them the preference in the bestowment of such offices as they could adequately fill. There are thousands of such offices in the gift of the government — postmasters, clerks in the departments, tax-collectors, lighthouse-keepers, many of the custom-house employes, &c., &c. — and, in their great variety, a place can, with a little pains, be found suited to the abilities of every maimed soldier who is not so utterly disabled as to be the fit inmate of a national Invalides. If we had a government that could content itself with simply paying its meagre pension, refusing all other recompense, to the men who have rescued it from destruction, when such recompense would cost it nothing and yet save them from suffering, it would deserve the contempt of the civilized world. European rulers freely bestow their local offices not only upon their wounded soldiers, but upon those who have served faithfully without injury. The traveler over the continent is constantly reminded of the care thus exercised. He hardly sees even a conductor upon a railroad who is not an honorably discharged soldier from the army — all railroad appointments being made by the government. It ought to be a general understanding with all parties that hereafter our political patronage shall be dispensed, so far as possible, for the benefit of those who have suffered for the rescue of the republic. It is the prostitution of this patronage in past times that, more than any other cause, has corrupted and degraded our public life. The only way to get clear of this curse is to make patriotic, instead of party, service the title to preferment. Surely there can be no better beginning than to give to honorably discharged soldiers, particularly those who are maimed, permanent civil situations, suited to their abilities. A similar acknowledgment to patriotic service must also be made by the people in bestowing desirable situations within the scope of their business. Other things being equal, the soldier applicant should always have the preference. By this practical method alone, can the government and the people truly certify the sincerity of all the present plaudits.

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May 23, 1865: First day of the Grand Review

Meade passes the reviewing stand

The New York Times reports on the spectacle of the first day of the Grand Review. The Army of the Potomac marches today.

Dispatch to the Associated Press.

WASHINGTON, Tuesday, May 23.

The weather to-day was everything that could be desired for the unprecedentedly grand review of the Army of the Potomac. The atmosphere was pleasant, the sun shone with unclouded splendor, and the recent rains had laid the dust, putting the streets in good marching condition. Thousands of persons, including many from other cities, who have specially come hither to see the pageant, line the sidewalk from the Capitol to the Executive mansion, a distance of a mile and a half, while windows and balconies, and all eligible positions, including house-tops, were occupied, by deeply interested spectators. All public business was suspended, and there was a general holiday. The Capitol bore the motto, in large letters: “The only national debt we never can pay is the debt we owe to the victorious Union soldiers.” But few citizens were at home; they were nearly all abroad to witness the movement of the Army of the Potomac — the tens of thousands of tried veterans. The national flag flew high from all the public buildings, while from the windows on the line of the procession, the Stars and Stripes were profusely displayed.

The troops began to move from the north of the Capitol at nine o’clock this morning. At the latter place at least two thousand school-girls were assembled, neatly dressed in Summer clothes, and there was much pleasant excitement at among them in pressing forward to present flowers to the soldiers, who gallantly bowed their thanks. These children also sung patriotic songs.

The immense column moved in the following order:

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, Maj.-Gen. MEADE commanding; General Staff Headquarters; Squadron First Massachusetts Cavalry, Capt. HUNT commanding; Cavalry Corps, Maj.-Gen. MERRITT commanding; General Staff Headquarters Escort, Fifth United States Cavalry, Lieut. URBAN commanding; Third Cavalry Division, Maj.-Gen. CUSTER commanding. This officer was vociferously cheered at various points of the line, and was somewhat encumbered by wreaths and bouquets which had been presented to him,and which he appreciatingly carried with his left arm. Other officers were similarly honored by cheers, and floral gifts and the waving of handkerchiefs by ladies. Next follow the Second and First Cavalry Divisions, commanded respectively by Brevet Major Davies and Brevet Maj.-Gen. Devins, the Horse Artillery Brigade, the Provost-Marshal General’s Brigade and the Engineer Brigade. The troops composing these bodies were composed in large part from New-York, West Virginia, Vermont, Connecticut, Ohio, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Michigan. Ninth Corps, Maj.-Gen. Parke commanding. The First Division commanded by Brevet Maj.-Gen. Wilcox; the Second Division by Brig.-Gen. Griflin; and the Third Division by Brevet Brig.-Gen. Curtin. These troops were from Wisconsin, Michigan, New-York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, New-Jersey, Rhode Island, New-Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Next followed a division of the Nineteenth Army Corps, commanded by Brig.-Gen. Dwight, including an artillery brigade, the troops being from Maine, New-York, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachesetts. The Fifth Corps, Brevet Maj.-Gen. Charles Griffin, commanding. The First Division commanded by Brig.-Gen. Chamberlain; the Second Division by Brevet Maj.-Gen. Ayres; and the Third Division by Brevet Maj.-Gen. Crawford. These troops were composed of volunteers from Pennsylvania, New-York, Maine, Massachuseets, Michigan, Maryland, Delaware, Wisconsin, with United States Artillery. Next came the Second Corps, Maj.-Gen. Humphreys, commanding. The First Division was commanded by Brevet Brig.-Gen. Ramsey; the Second by Brevet Brig.-Gen. Barlow, and the Third by Brevet Brig.-Gen. Mott. The troops were principally from New-York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Delaware, Ohio, Western Virginia, New-Jersey, Connecticut, Maine and Indiana.

The troops, as they moved along Pennsylvania-avenue, presented a grand appearance, all arms of the service being represented in full force. The occasional insertion of a body of Zouaves served to relieve the sameness. The dark and light blue uniforms gave a fine effect to the spectacle. Looking up the broad Pennsylvania-avenue, there was a continuous moving line, as far as the eye could reach, of National, State, division, brigade, regiment, and other flags. Some of them were now, the stars of gold leaf glittering in the sun, and these contrasted strongly with flags borne in the procession, tattered in battle, or mere shreds. Other flags were thickly covered with names and dates of battle fields where victories were won by these proud veterans. The flag-staffs were decorated with flowers, and very many baquets hung from the muzzles of muskets. These troops did not, as to dress, present a war-worn appearance; they were all well and cleanly clad, and their fine marching elicited praise from every tongue. On the southside of the avenue, fronting the Executive mansion, a stand was hung handsomely and heavily festooned with national flags; at various points were the inscriptions: “Atlanta,” “Wilderness,” “Stone River,” “South Mountain,” “Shiloh,” “Vicksburg,” “Savannanh,” “Richmond,” “Petersburgh,” and “Coal Harbor.” This stand was in part occupied by President JOHNSON members of the Cabinet, Gens. Grant and Sherman, and other distinguished army officers. On the left were members of the Aiplomatic corps and their familes, two hundred tickets haaving been issued to this class of spectators. On the stands provided for the purpose were George Bancroft, and the following named Governors of States: Crapo, Buckingham, Andrew, Fenton, Fairchilds, Bradford, Curtin and Smith; Senators Wade, Sherman, Wilson, Johnson, Chandler, Harris, Hendrickson, Dixon, Foster, Morgan, Conness, Lane of Kansas; and Representatives Schenck, Hooper, Marston, Lynch, Hayes, Porter, Kelly, Jenckes, Loan, and Ex-Speaker Grow. There were at least thirty naval officers bearing the highest rank, and as many army officers, including Gens. Hancock, Wilcox, Cadwallader, Hitchcock, Newton and Rawlins. As corps and divisions passed in review of the President and Lieut.-Gen. Grant, their commanders severally left the column, and took seats on the platform. The Judges of the courts, the chiefs of the government bureaus, and other public officers, were similarly accommodated. The crowd in that part of the city was extremely dense, it being the main point of attraction, and the reviewing place, where were assembled the highest dignitaries. Gen. Custer rode a powerful horse, restive, and at times ungovernable. When near the Treasury Department, the animal madly dashed forward to the head of the line. The General vainly attempted to check his course, and at the same time endeavoring to retain the weight of flowers which had previously been placed upon him. In the flight, the General lost his hat. He finally conquered his horse, and rejoined his column. Passing the President’s stand he made a low bow, and was applauded by the multitude. Between the rear of the Ninth Corps and the advance of the Fifth Corps, there was an interval of ten or fifteen minutes. An immense number of persons rushed into the opening, which was in front of the stand occupied by President JOHNSON, Gen. GRANT and the members of the Cabinet, and gave each one repeated cheers. These gentlemen severally rose and bowed their acknowledgment of the honor. The troops occupied six hours in the review — from 9 o’clock in the morning until 3 o’clock in the afternoon. In military phrase the “cadence step” was taken from the Capitol to Seventeenth-street, from which point the various organizations proceeded on the march to their separate quarters. The review is spoken of as the greatest which has ever taken place on the continent. It was a grand affair, and suggestive of trials and victories of the Army of the Potomac.


WASHINTON, Tuesday, May 23 — 10 P.M.

The general idea is that the number of troops comprising the Army of the Potomac, reviewed to-day, is about seventy-five thousand. No negro troops were in the procession. From the portico of the Treasury Department to-day, the flag of the Treasury Guard Regiment was displayed, the lower portion tattered and torn, not by battle, but by the spur of BOOTH, the assassin, as he jumped from the box at Ford’s Theatre to the stage, on the night of the assassination. A placard appended stated this fact and it attracted much attention.

Lieut.-Gen. GRANT, accompanied by an orderly only, rode on Pennsylvania-avenue this evening. Crowds of people on the sidewalks cheered him. He lifted his hat in compliment.

Thousands of strangers left the city after the review to-day, but their places have been supplied by at least an equal number, to witness the review of SHERMAN’S army, which is to take place to-morrow. So large is the influx from a distance that many find it impossible to secure lodging accommodations.

We have only time to say of the grand review yesterday at Washington that it was fully equal to public expectation. The day was fair, the crowd more than immense, and as the various divisions and brigades marched through the grand street of the capitol, the memory was busy with their glorious history, and the heart was eloquent beyond the capacity of the tongue with their heroic deeds. Every “battle-field, from the first Bull Run to the surrender of LEE, was gloriously represented; the banners that went through fire to victory were there, and the noble men who survived the leaden storm were proudly marched under them. Now and then, as some gallant officer made a conspicuous part in the procession, the applause became vociferous, and wreaths of laurel and showers of flowers were lavished upon him. So far as our special and general accounts inform us, the first day of the grand review was all that could be expected of national glorification. Nearly 100,000 men honored the country by participating in the grand pageant, and received a mere shadowing of the grateful welcomes that await them at the homes for which they have so bravely and successfully fought.

While the national authorities at Washington were preparing for, and tens of thousands of loyal people were hastening to that city to see the grand parade of our victorious armies, a very different scene was being enacted at Fortress Monroe. There had been cool and roomy cells fitted up in that fort for certain distinguished gentlemen now under the care of the government, and on Monday Mr. JEFFERSON DAVIS, who but a few days ago imagined himself President of a Southern Confederacy, was respectfully invited to occupy a room in that burglar-proof establishment. Mr. ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS, Mr. C.C. CLAY and others of Mr. DAVIS’s friends, were, we presume, similarly accommodated, while Mrs. DAVIS and her children — for whom we are sure no one can fail to express sincere sympathy — were compelled to separrate from the chief prisoner and prepare to go South. The government has thus safely disposed of the heads of the rebellion, and the soil of Virginia is once more the home of the man who made that State almost a desert, and sent thousands of her sons to untimely graves to gratify his unholy ambition.

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May 22, 1865: More on the Grand Review


Washington is full of spectators and troops.

The military display of the present week is the absorbing topic of excitement and anticipation among all classes. The turnout of spectators promises to be immense, greater than on any previous occasion for many months. Gen. MEADE issued an order to-day prescribing the movements of the Army of the Potomac on the day of their parade, and previously, with reference to getting into position. The cavalry corps, under Maj.-Gen. MERRITT, will lead the column, followed by the Ninth Corps, and Gen. DWIGHT’s division of the Nineteenth Corps. The Fifth Corps will follow, and the Second Corps bring up the rear. The artillery will be stationed in their appropriate places, and where practicable will move battery front. The regiments will be formed in column of companies, each company to consist of twenty files, or twenty men abreast. The cadence step will be observed all through the avenue until reaching Seventeenth-street. It is estimated that at this rate eight thousand men per hour can pass the reviewing officer.

It has been decided by the government that after the grand review, every regiment to be discharged will be allowed to go to the State and district in which it was raised, carrying its arms and colors with it, and be there mustered out. This is eminently just, and will be highly gratifying to the great body of our soldiers and to their friends.

The city is as full as it was at the inauguration, while still greater crowds are expected to-morrow and Tuesday morning. People are coming from all parts of the country, and many men of prominence will be here. Among the arrivals from New-York, I notice several prominent bankers, among whom are JOHN D. JONES, GEO. D. COE, J.D. VERMILYE and others.

As an evidence of the result of the order for mustering out all troops whose terms expire prior to Oct. 1, it may be stated that after this is done, the Fifth Army Corps alone will retain fourteen to fifteen thousand men.

Maj.-Gen. SHERMAN visited the city yesterday, the first time in several years, and spent considerable portion of the day at Gen. GRANT’s headquarters, at the War Department, and subsequently had an interview with the President. Gen SHERMAN is said to have expressed himself as much pleased with his reception by the President.

There arrived here yesterday a delegation of North Carolina Union, men, consisting of Hon. W. HOLDEN, the well known conservative leader of that State, and Mr. W.R. RICHARDSON, editor of the Raleigh Progress, Hon. R.P. DICK, of Greensboro; W.S. MASON, J.P. H. RUSS, and JOHN G. WILLIAMS, of Raleigh. They come as representative of the radical union sentiment of the State, and the purpose of their mission is a full and free consultation as to the best and most speedy means of reorganizing the State government of North Carolina.

To this end have have already had one interview with the President, and will have another to-morrow.

These gentlemen assert that the party known during the war as the “Conservative” party in that State, was in reality composed mainly of Union men, who were compelled to assume the guise of opposition to the ultra advocates of secession, and that two years age Gov. VANCE was elected to his position as a professed representative of that party, but that he betrayed those who placed him in power by becoming the tool of JEFF. DAVIS. The first stop taken in North Carolina reconstruction will be the appointment of a Military Governor, under whose call a State Convention shall meet and devise measures for the proper amendment of the State Constitution and the election of State officers and members of Congress.

In addition to the gentlemen above named, Ex-Gov. DAVID L. SWAIN and Messrs. WM. EATON and L.F. MOOSE, of North Carolina, are in the city.

Gen. SHERIDAN’s new command virtually supersedes Gen. CANBY in the command of the Military Division of the Mississippi. Gen. CANDY has been assigned to the command of the Department of the Gulf, which relieves Gen. BANKS, who is ordered to report to the Adjutant-General of the army. The Department of the Gulf is considerably extended and will hereafter include several States heretofore included in other departments. This action, so far as it refers to Gen. BANKS, is of a purely military character, and is not done as the result of the labors of any investigating committee, or because of charges preferred or pressure brought to bear against Gen. BANKS by the politicians now here. These parties have never had an interview with Gen. GRANT, and he knows nothing of their views of wishes. This change in these several commands has been contemplated several weeks.

The departure of Gens. SHERIDAN and GUSTER and MERRITT, with their respective staffs, for a new field of operations west of the Mississippi was made the occasion last night and to-day of quite an ovation by the forces lately under their command, and of many congratulatory leave-takings by brother officers and civilian friends. Late last night a splendid band, stationed under the window of Gen. GRANT’s room at Willard’s Hotel on Fourteenth-street, paid Gen. SHERIDAN the compliment of a fine serenade. At an interval in the music, the General was called upon for a speech, to which he responded very briefly and pithily as follows:

GENTLEMAN: I am very much obliged to you. My only regret is that I have been so long in the service that I can’t make a speech. I am very much obliged to you. Good night.

With this shot the crowd took their departure.

This morning, about 9 o’clock, the cavalry corps moved from their camp, south of the Potomac, across Long Bridge, and marching up Fourteenth-street, passed in review before their old commander, who took a farewell look at his brave troopers, who never yet failed him on the battle-field, and whose services at Five Forks and Appomattox Court-house were of inestimable value to the republic. The troops moved by platoons, and presented, in reality, a veteran appearance. Maj.-Gen. MERRITT commanded the corps, Gen. CROOK being on leave of absence. Maj.Gen. CUSTER led his division in his usual dashing style.

After passing through the avenue they moved out east of the Capitol and went into bivouac, preparatory to the great parade of Tuesday, when they lead the column. As the corps passed through the streets to-day it attracted great attention and admiration from the torn and battle-scarred appearance of its guidons and flags, and the veteran aspect of the gallant men and officers.

At six o’clock this evening Gen. SHERIDAN and staff took their departure for the West via New-York and Cincinnati. The General is accompanied by the following members of his staff: Brevet Brig.-Gen- Forsyth, Chief of Staff; Lieut.-Col. Newall, Assistant Adjutant-General; Maj. Lee, Assistant Adjutant-General; Lieut.-Col. SHERMAN, Inspector-General; Col. FORSYTH, Maj. MOORE, Maj. PARSONS, Maj. KIP and Capt. SHERIDAN, Aids-de-Camp; Maj. GILLESPIE and Capt. ALLEN, Engineers; Capt. MCGONIGAL, Chief Quartermaster; Surgeon GHISELIN, Chief Medical Officer. Gen. SHERIDAN will take command of all the troops west of the Mississippi, headquarters in the field. Gens. CUSTER, and MERRITT will remain here until Wednesday to participate in the review.

Assistant Secretary of War DANA has announced his intention of resigning, to take effect in two months, for the purpose of assuming the editorial conduct of a now Republican daily paper to be started in Chicago.

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May 21, 1865: The Grand Review

Meade passes the reviewing stand

The New York Times anticipates the Grand Review.

On Tuesday next begins the Grand Review at Washington. That this will prove to be beyond all comparisons the grandest military spectacle, over witnessed in America, is quite evident. By as much as the war of 1861 surpassed in magnitude and intensity its predecessors of 1775, 1812, and 1846, by so much will this parade exceed in magnificence all former ones. And what, indeed, are the exploits of the past compared with the luster which has lately here been added to American arms? What, in the North, were Bunker Hill, or Bennington, or Stony Point, or Trenton, or Saratoga? What, in the South, were Cowpens, and Eutaw, King’s Mountain and Yorktown? What in 1812 and 1815 were Chippewa, Lundy’s Lane or New-Orleans? What, finally, in the Mexican war were Taylor’s Palo Alto, and Resaca, Monterey and Buena Vista, or Scott’s Cherubusco and Chepultepec? Formerly, an army of 50,000 men was an astonishing and apparently irresistible force. It is a handful now. The regular army, in camp and garrison, will certainly double that number, and probably treble it. The gallant American dead, now sleeping under the soil so stoutly contested through four years, are to be counted by hundreds of thousands. The living veterans, who have wounds to show or a story of death escaped to tell, are numbered by millions. It is the survivors of an unparalleled war, the flower of the grandest armies ever seen in America, who, 200,000 strong, will pass, on Tuesday and Wednesday, in farewell review.

It is perfectly true, therefore, that, both from the numbers and the astonishing achievements of its participants, the approaching parade will pale the splendors of any previous similar exhibition in America. But that is not all. It will probably prove to be the finest military pageant, in many respects, on this continent, in the nineteenth century to come, as well as in the nineteenth century past. It is a review of 200,000 picked and seasoned troops, the representatives of two millions — of nine or ten full corps, with every arm and branch of the services represented — of three great armies, the Armies of the Potomac, of the Tennessee and of Georgia. Suppose, years hence, our country should be involved in a war with some foreign power — for war intestine need not be feared again, during this century at least. Troops would hardly be enlisted then by the million, as they have been during the rebellion. Such amazing forces would not be required for the invention of Mexico or Canada, and could not [???] across the ocean and be maintained these: nor would such numbers of Federal troops, at least, he needed to defend our harbors, and garrison our courts, against penetration by an enemy. But even should troops pair ones there in tenants to the country’s [???], as in these days of the rebellion, that future war could not be so force or so protracted, its battles could not be so crowded and tremendous. An English journal said that the Wilderness would have decided any ordinary war: but with us, it was one contest of a long and bloody series. In one word, then, even should the numbers of Tuesday’s review be paralleled in some future pageant, our generation, at least, can never expect to feast its eyes again on such veterans of camp and battle. A parade of a million militia, holiday soldiers in gay uniforms and trim beards, would be a puppet-show, compared with this review of grim, bronzed, battle-worn veterans, their garments stained with marsh and bivouac, their limbs scarred with rifle-bullet and shell, heroes of a score of pitched battles, and a hundred skirmishes, to whom danger and death have been familiar companions by day and by night through four eventful years.

When, again, shall we see an army which, like SHERMAN’s, in fifteen months has forced its way through all obstacles, across many a bloody hill and plain, over a zone stretching a thousand miles from north to south, and a thousand miles from east to west? When shall we see again an Army of the Potomac which, Winter and Summer, through defeat and victory, has contested every inch of soil in Virginia, and drenched with blood that Golgotha of America? Swaying back and forth from the Potomac to the Appomattox, from Petersburgh back to Gettysburgh, and from Gettysburgh again to Petersburgh, it was only after fearful experience that this army was at last led by our great Lieutenant-General to complete triumph and to peace. Such are the veterans, covered with laurels, and still fresh from victory, whom we are to see collected for the first and last time before their exit from the stage.

Were the participants less remarkable; were the war of whose triumphant end this procession will be the only formal celebration, loss momentous in history; even then, the magnitude of the preparations in Washington would betoken a noteworthy and historic occasion. Two days will be set apart — and will be fully required, indeed — for the pageant. The broad avenues will be filled with the troops, marching in company front. The houses and sidewalks, and every available standing-place, for many miles, will be crowded with hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators. The Lieutenant-General, the central military figure of the day and the world, will review the troops, and his eminent subordinates will march at the head of their victorious legions. The government, the full Diplomatic Corps, and military men from all parts of the land, will add lustre to the occasion. But the homage which the troops will receive will be deserved. Every cheer which rends the air from the excited spectators will have been honestly earned. The waving of handkerchiefs and flinging of bouquets, and generous hospitality of cellar and board, will not be too profuse for those heroes. When the last company on the second day’s parade shall have passed out of the capital, and the last row of bayonets shall flash in the sun, it will be the close of the proudest parade of the century, and the farewell march of the finest army on the planet.

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May 20, 1865: Planning the Grand Review

Grand Review

The New York Times describes the anticipation of the Grand Review of the troops. Meade’s Army of the Potomac marches on the 23rd, and Sherman’s westerners on the 24th.

New York Times, May 20, 1865:


The city is filling up with great rapidity, preparatory to the military display of next week, and already it is hardly possible to procure a room at any of the leading hotels.

People will be apt to misconceive the character of this display, unless they remember that it is simply a “march” of the troops through the city, and that one regiment or one brigade looks very like another, and it will be the same constant, never-ending stream of blue that the eye will rest upon all day long. It is estimated that it will take fully eight hours for the Army of the Potomac, including SHERIDAN’s cavalry, to pass any given point, marching at company front.

Workmen began to-day the erection in front of the White House, of a platform of seats capable of accommodating about three hundred persons, for the reviewing officers, and the military and civil dignitaries who will be present on the occasion. A very large number of officers, especially of prominent rank, are in the city. Among the arrivals to-day are Major-Gen. SLOCUM, commanding the Army of Georgia, and Major-Gen. JAS. B. STEEDMAN, from Tennessee.

Since the arrival of the Western troops the proportion of tall men is quite remarkable. In the display next week Lieut.-Gen. GRANT will, as the Commander of all armies, review the troops, while MEADE, SHERMAN, SLOCUM and HOWARD will lead their respective column. The several corps that will participate are as follows: Second Army Corps, Major-Gen. G.W. Humphreys; Fifth Army Corps, Brevet Major-Gen. Charles Griffin; Ninth Army Corps, Major-Gen. John G. Parke; Fourteenth Army Corps, Brevet Major-Gen. Jeff. C. Davis; Fifteenth Army Corps, Major-Gen. John A. Logan; Seventeenth Army Corps, Major-Gen. Frank P. Blair, Jr.; Twentieth Army Corps, Major-Gen. T.H. Mower. The Cavalry Corps will probably be commanded by Major-Gen. C.R. Custer, as both Gens. Sheridan and Crook will be absent by that time.

The following order has been issued:


SPECIAL ORDERS No. 239. — [Extract Six.] — A review, with marching salute, of the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the Tennessee, the Army of Georgia, and Gen. SHERIDAN’s cavalry, will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 23d and 24th instant.

On Tuesday, the 23d instant, will be reviewed the Army of the Potomac, Gen. SHERIDAN’s cavalry, and the Ninth Corps, all under the command of Maj.-Gen. GEORGE G. MEADE, commanding the Army of the Potomac.

On Wednesday, the 24th inst. will be reviewed the Army of the Tennessee, Maj.-Gen. O.O. HOWARD commanding, and the Army of Georgia, Maj.-Gen. H.W. SLOCUM commanding; the whole under command of Maj.-Gen. W.T. SHERMAN.


The following will be the order of march: The head of the column will each day rest on Maryland-avenue, at the foot of Capitol Hill, moving at precisely 9 A.M., passing around the Capitol to Pennsylvania-avenue, thence up the avenue to the Aqueduct Bridge, and across to their camp.

The troops will be without knapsacks, marching at company front, closed in mass and at rout step, except between Fifteenth-street, and New-York-avenue, and Seventeenth-street, where the cadence step will be observed. Each brigade will be accompanied by six ambulances, passing three abreast. The reviewing officer will be stationed in front of the President’s house, where provision will be made for members of the Cabinet, heads of military and civil departments, and the Corps Diplomatique.

The Ninth Corps, Major-Gen. PARKE commanding, will report to Major-Gen. MEADE for the review. Major-Gen. C.C. AUGUR, commanding the Department of Washington, will have the necessary guards posted in the streets along the route, keeping the streets clear of all horsemen and carriages, except those of the proper officers, heads of military or civil departments, or Corps Diplomatique, and such other arrangements as are necessary to facilitate the review.

By command of Lieut.-Gen. GRANT.


Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official: R. WILLIAMS, Assistant Adjutant-General.

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May19, 1865: Sherman reaches Washington

Sherman in Atlanta, 1864

Sherman writes to Gen. Rawlins, Grant’s adjutant, to let him know that he’s in the vicinity of Washington and ready for the grand review when ordered.

Official Records:


Camp near Alexandria, May 19, 1865.


Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to report my arrival at camp near the Washington road, three miles north of Alexandria. All my army should be in camp here by to-day. The Fifteenth Corps, the last to leave Richmond, camped last night at the Occoquan. I have seen the order for the review in the papers, but Colonel Sawyer says it is not here in official form. I am old fashioned and prefer to see orders through some other channel, but if that be the new fashion, so be it. I will be all ready by Wednesday, though in the rough. Troops have not been paid for eight or ten months, and clothing may be bad, but a better set of legs and arms cannot be displayed on this continent. Send me all orders and letters you may have for me, and let some one newspaper know that the vandal Sharman is encamped near the canal bridge half way between the Long Bridge and Alexandria to the west of the road, where his friends, if any, can find him. Through in disgrace he is untamed and unconquered.

As ever, your field,



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May 18, 1865: Was the war a victory for democracy?


The New York Times comments on a letter to the London Times, in which the writer argues that “”Sir, the North has succeeded, but not because it is a democracy; the South has failed, but not because it is an aristocracy.” The New York Times disagrees with this estimation. The entire letter is available here — one quote that struck me was “The North may not have fought for emancipation — some of them did, some of them did not; but beyond all question the South, to a man, were fighting for slavery; for even in the last agony of their struggle they refused to pay the price of emancipation as the possible instrument of independence.”

The assassination of Mr. LINCOLN called forth an able letter from “Historicus” to the London Times, which we copy to-day, and in which, as our readers may see, there was no lack of just appreciation and kindly expression. After a paragraph or two about Mr. LINCOLN’s character, however, the writer turns to consider the fact of the collapse of the rebellion, and the effect which it will have in England. He sees, apparently, that it is likely to have a political effect there, and that it may tend to shake the firmness of the political forms with which the British aristocracy has buttressed itself; and he hastens to argue that any effect of that kind will be an illogical one. “In my judgment,” says he, “the war in America had nothing whatever to do with democracy. It arose from an irreconcilable opposition of interests, and from an irrepressible social conflict which might have equally broken out in a monarchical or in an aristocratical State.” Possibly it might, but it would not follow that it would have nothing to do with democracy, even in that case. If it was a conflict which involved the success or the overthrow of democratic principles, it makes no difference what was the form of the government under which it arose. If we are right in our understanding, that the rebellion was in the interest of slavery, its overthrow is certainly for the interest of true democracy. If the principles which set it on foot and sustained it were anti-democratic, how could it have had “nothing whatever to do with democracy?”

This much, however, “Historicus” admits, that “democracy has reaped this advantage — that it has had the opportunity of disproving the charge of weakness which is often laid at its door.” And he goes on to show that the ideas that democracy was incompatible with strength and vigor of executive action; that democracies were fickle and cruel of necessity, and would not support the expenses of war or the burdens of taxation, have all been proved fallacious.

But being, as he says, “no disciple of democracy,” he thinks that those who would seek to make “political capital out of the success or failure of foreign political systems,” are both “unwise and unjust.” Possibly, if the capital could have been made by those who were, like himself, “no disciples of democracy,” it would not have seemed to him either so unwise or so unjust as it does now.

But lest any one should undertake to make this political capital, unwise and unjust though it be to do so, he proceeds; “Sir, the North has succeeded, but not because it is a democracy; the South has failed, but not because it is an aristocracy.” Yet in the next breath he says: “The North have won because they were a free people; the South has lost because they were not a free people.” And he proceeds to show that the South could not call upon all its resources; that its peasantry, the slaves, were passive, and therefore the South succumbed.

To us who are disciples of democracy, there seems not so much difference between a people governed by an aristocracy and a people who are not free. If indeed the whole people freely choose that form of government, they may be so called, but they may be called with just as much truth a democracy; and the whole people of the South had not deliberately chosen their institutions. The slaves had had no voice in the matter at all, and the ruling aristocracy had never allowed any proper deliberation of even all the whites upon that question. Is it not somewhat so with the aristocratic institutions of England? “Historicus” prefers them “both by sentiment and by conviction” to democracy. But, perhaps, their burdens do not press so heavily upon him as upon those who are in other classes of society. Perhaps if all the people of England were to have a voice in the matter, they might think best to modify those institutions in some material points.

We are quite sure that “Historicus” will find that the disciples of democracy will both seek to make political capital out of the result of the rebellion, and will succeed in doing so, notwithstanding his opinion that they will be unwise and unjust to attempt it. Men will trace a connection between slavery and aristocracy, and all other forms of the government of the many by the few. They will trace it not only in the occurrences of the rebellion and all its horrors in our country, but also in the sympathy which the slaveholders met with everywhere from those who upheld those forms — a sympathy which prevailed notoriously among the governing classes of England, even if they never “ventured to call a free, open meeting to support their views.” And if men do properly trace that connection, it cannot be but that the downfall of the slaveholders’ rebellion will shake the foundations of those systems which had affinity with it, and that the prospects of the spread everywhere of governments “of the people, by the people, for the people,” will be made nearer and brighter by its so sudden, and utter and disgraceful overthrow.

Posted in Abraham Lincoln, Causes of the war, Confederacy, Emancipation, England, Slavery | Leave a comment

May 17, 1865: Reconstruction of Virginia

Andrew Johnson

Johnson takes a hard line on Virginia.

The executive order of President JOHNSON respecting Virginia, makes thorough work. It is a complete wiping out of four years of the civil history of the State, as far as rebels had to do with it in any way. It makes null and void every legislative act, every judicial act, every executive act, of whatever character. Of course, thousands of these acts had no bearing whatever upon the rebellion. They were laws and judicial decisions which related solely to the ordinary affairs of society, and which might have been made in any loyal State with the same propriety. Every will or title deed acknowledged before a public notary, commissioned by the Richmond Governor, is made worthless. Every judgment in a civil suit, every sentence in a criminal case, made by a magistrate or court appointed by the Richmond Legislature, or sworn in its name, is of no force. Every public and private bill added to the statute book is only so much waste paper. The loyal Legislature of Virginia, which met first in Wheeling, afterward in Alexandria, never undertook to legislate beyond the actual necessities of the loyal people, and passed very few general laws. The loyal Governor did not attempt to grant civil or judicial commissions within the rebel lines, for the very simple reason that no one, however loyal, would have dared to act under them. Thus, to more than a million of the people of Virginia, there is a complete abrogation of every act done during the last four years, under the supposed sanction of law.

This must certainly work an immense amount of hardship; yet it is unavoidable. It is impossible to discriminate between the good and the bad acts of the rebel State Government. If any are invalid, all are. The invalidity lies primarily in the lack of qualification of those who professed to act officially. State Legislatures, and State Governors, repudiating the Constitution of the United States, cease to have any authority that can be recognized under that constitution. Whatever they do is, in the eye of law, as if it were never done. It will devolve upon subsequent loyal Legislatures to remedy, so far as they can, the hardships that spring from the canceling of the harmless, as well as the traitorous pages, of this spurious legislation of the last four years. They will reenact all the so-called laws required by private justice, or the public good. Yet they cannot give this new valid legislation a retroactive effect. A great deal of the spurious legislation has been carried out into such practical shapes that it cannot be undone. So too of the proceedings of legal tribunals. The decisions of a court not rightly appointed, or rightly sworn, are as invalid as the votes of a Legislature not rightly elected, or rightly sworn. Yet thousands of such decisions in Virginia have taken effect, either wholly or partially. The unsettling of these must, at best, work a vast amount of confusion and damage. But whatever the ill effect, it is one of the natural consequences of a monstrous crime, and is thoroughly deserved. It must be taken as one of the forms of the punishment Virginia receives, and another illustration of the great truth, that “the way of transgressors is hard.”

After all, it is the mildest plan of reconstruction. The first shock will be severe, but it will quickly restore Virginia to her full State powers. Had the scheme of reducing the Southern States to the condition of Territories prevailed, it would have been an incubus upon them, and a humiliation, for an indefinite number of years. They would have been mere dependencies of the National Government, half-paralyzed limbs of the body politic. As it now is, they will quickly be in the possession of every function, and it will be their own fault if they do not soon make themselves as strong and prosperous as ever. Nearly all of the Southern States hold their elections under the old laws, in early August. There is no good reason why they may not prepare themselves, by that time, to exercise the franchise as of old, and to elect Governors, members of Legislature and members of Congress. To accomplish this, they have only to cooperate in good faith with the initiatory movements now made by the national authorities.

This plan of treating as absolutely void the ordinances of secession, and everything done by the legislators and all public functionaries acting under them, is the only logical sequence of the original principle that no State has a right to secede. It is the only plan which saves the supremacy and dignity of the constitution, and which is free from all mischievous precedent. To admit that the Southern States have been out of the Union, is to admit their power to put themselves out. It is to say that an act may be done counter to the constitution, and yet have a legal effect. If this be possible on a large scale, it must be no less possible on a small scale. If States can act with legal effect against the constitution, so can individuals.

The simple fact is that President JOHNSON had no alternative to this mode of rehabilitation. He could not, if he would, treat these States as dissevered from the Union; nor could Congress either. If the constitution does not permit secession, neither does it permit the government to recognize secession. Whatever is done against the constitution is void; and the government has no more power to treat it otherwise than the offender has to make it otherwise. This truth is too palpable to be obscured by any sophistry, senatorial or unsenatorial. President JOHNSON had but one road to take toward reconstruction, and he has taken it. He might, indeed, have stood still. If these States are still determined not to meet him on constitutional grounds, he may still consider them in a rebellious condition, and hold them under military rule. That mode of government may be prolonged just so long as necessity requires it. But when left, it must be in only one direction — precisely that which President JOHNSON has taken. The constitution allows no other. Many impediments may present themselves, but with a little patience, they will be cleared away; and, in the end, a grand success will vindicate the constitution here as gloriously as it has been vindicated on the field of battle.

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May 18, 1865: Jim Crow in Philadelphia

Rosa Parks on bus

A black man attempts to claim his rights in Pennsylvania.

THE RIGHTS OF COLORED CITIZENS.; Curious Affair in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA, Wednesday, May 17 — 2 P.M.

Last evening a colored man got into a Pine-street passenger car, and refused all entreaties to leave the car, where his presence appeared to be not desired.

The conductor of the car, fearful of being fined for ejecting him, as was done by the Judges of one of our courts in a similar case, ran the car off the track, detached the horses, and left the colored man to occupy the car all by himself.

The colored man still firmly maintains his position in the car, having spent the whole of the night there.

The conductor looks upon the part he enacted in the affair as a splendid piece of strategy.

The matter creates quite a sensation in the neighborhood where the car is standing, and crowds of sympathizers flock around the colored man.

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