S. Millet Thompson.

Thirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865: a diary covering three years and a day online

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Online LibraryS. Millet ThompsonThirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865: a diary covering three years and a day → online text (page 68 of 81)
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out or in. Scores of wealthy citizens came to me for jirotection, — ' From
what ? ' I asked them ; but they did not seem to know. But to sift all
down, I found their fears grounded in a dread of the lower orders of their
own population, and perhaps, a very natural one, of the colored troops-

" President Lincoln visited this city yestei'day, April 4th, the next day
after we took possession. He looked very much gratified. The disjjlay
made by the negroes, on seeing ' Marsa Abraham,' was very amusing.
Some of our gunboats got up here yesterday.

"April 6th, morning. All quiet here now. I go alone around all
parts of the city in perfect safety, and unmolested. Gen. Lee's family is
here. We have a guard (a part of the time from the Thirteenth) at his
house, to protect his family from any rudeness or molestation."

Major Stoodley.

" April 3d. Receive orders at 4 a. m. to be in readiness to move at a
moment's notice. March through breast-works at 6.15 a. m.^ March
into Richmond at 8.10 a. m., and immediately post men, and commence
doing Provost duty. The Thirteenth N. H. V. the first Regiment to
enter." Capt. Staniels, in Diary.

The Richmond Whig of Thursday April 6th states that by 7 a. m. on
April 3d nearly the whole of the city south of Main Street, between 8th
and 15th streets and 20th and 23d streets, was one great sea of flame.
Gen. Gary, in command of the Confederate cavahy (rear guard of Gen.
Lee's army), passed up Main Street not five minutes ahead of the Federal
troops."^ The fire was under control — so far as further sjireading was
concerned — by three o'clock in the afternoon.

Major Stoodley and the Thirteenth. Usually this duty passes, from day to day, among'
the fiekl officers, around from reg-iment to reg'inient ; but Lt. Col. Smith and Major
Stoodley were the right men in the right place, and the day demanded strong hands
and level heads. ^ Meaning the Cross-way on the New Market road. '^ By these
the Editor must needs mean Lieut. Prescott's pickets. — S. M. T.


A writer of the time states, possibly of April 3d : " As a large body
of colored cavalry approached the Capitol Square in Richmond, amid the
dense throngs that crowded the streets, they suddenly, as by a common
impulse, rose in their stirrups, their white eyes and teeth gleaming from
their lines of dark visages, waved tlieir flashing sabres in exulting frenzy,
and rent the air with wild huzzas ; a scene of barbaric fury savage enough
to make one's blood chill in his veins."

In the conflicting statements that have been made about the surrender
and first occupation of Richmond, and about the ' hoisting of the first
flag upon the Capitol,' Lieut. Prescott's account must be accepted as the
true one (see page 554 et seq.) ; among other reasons because he was the
first of all to meet the Mayor of Richmond, was the fii-st Union ofiicer
on the ground at any hour near the time of raising the first flag, has no
personal interest whatever in the raising of any flag, and was in the
Capitol grounds before any flag was to be seen on the Capitol.

C. C. Coffin, in his ' Four Years of Fighting,' pages 506-7, states that
a little past four a. m. Maj. A. H. Stevens, 4th Mass. Cavalry, moved
over the entrenchments ^ and toward the city, and a mile and a half out
of the city met a party — the Mayor of Richmond in a barouche, and
five men mounted and bearing a white flag — and these tendered the
surrender of the city.^ He went into the city. He jiroceeded to the
Capitol, ascended the roof, pulled down the State flag which was flying,
and raised the two guidons of ComiDanies E and H, 4th Mass. Cavalry,
upon the building. Mr. Coffin adds, of himself, that he did not enter the
city until the afternoon.

Mr. Coffin was not in the city at the time when the guidons were
raised, and must have given here the report of some other person.
But note particularly here that a ' State flag ' is said to have been pulled
down, and that act done, too, after the surrender had been made at Tree
Hill, and probably after the more formal surrender in the City Hall at
8.15 a. m. Mr. Coffin states that he left Petersburg this forenoon arriving
at City Point at noon, and from there proceeded on horseback via Broad-
way on the Appomattox, and Varina on the James, approaching the city
by the New Market road, overtaking the 25th Corps (colored) on the
outskirts of the city, and reaching the rebel capital at five o'clock in the
afternoon. (Correspondence Boston Journal.)

Gen. Humphreys states, page 372, that the formal surrender of Rich-
mond was made to Gen. Weitzel, at City Hall, at 8.15 a. m ; and that
Lieut. Johnston De Peyster, a young man eighteen years old, had carried
a U. S. flag on the pommel of his saddle for several days, for the pur-
pose of hoisting the same on the Cajjitol in Richmond, when the city
should be captured ; and he with the assistance of Capt. Loomis L. Lang-
don, U. S. Artillery, raised that flag on the Capitol this morning; the
hour is not given.

^ The Union entrenchments are meant, necessarily, for the Mayor on his way from
the city had already passed Lieut. Prescott before meeting Capt. Stevens. — S. M. T.


Gen. Weitzel telegraphed to Secretary of War Stanton : " We entered
Richmond at 8 a. m." In Gen. Grant's Memoirs, Vol. II. page 462, it
is stated that Gen. Weitzel telegraphed to Gen. Grant that he took pos-
session of Richmond *' at about 8.15 o'clock."

The sum of the matter is undoubtedly this : Lieut. Prescott with his
pickets had advanced to Gillie's Creek, and there had halted at the in-
stance of three white cavalrymen. About 6, or 6.30, a. m. the Mayor of
Richmond appears there, and would surrender the city to him, but Lieut.
Prescott refers him to Gen. Weitzel, and the Mayor jiroceeds farther
down the road from Richmond, to near Tree Hill, sets up his white flag
— still flying an hour or two later when the Thirteenth comes up the
road, as Lt. Col. Smith has informed the writer — and there surrenders
the city to the U. S. military authorities. After the surrender the Gen-
eral and his staff, the Mayor, Capt. Stevens of the 4th Mass.- Cavalry,
and it matters not who else, forming, however, but a small party in all,
turn and enter the city. As they enter the city, the General and his
party turn to the right ; while Lieut. Prescott is forced to separate from
them by the heat and smoke and turns to the left, hurrying with all
speed to the Capitol grounds by the more direct route, and arrives there
at 7.20 a. m. A more formal surrender is now consummated at the
City Hall at 8.15 a. m ; and Gen. Weitzel fixes upon the hour of 8 a. m.
as the hour of entering the city.

Lieut. Prescott with his pickets reaches the Capitol grounds at 7.20
a. m., at which time no flag whatever is on the Capitol ; and soon after
Lieut. Prescott's arrival young Forrester hoists his flag there — which
must have been the old State flag, a modification of the United States
flag. Lieut. Prescott is then called away. The cavalry commander now
appears, and seeing Forrester's flag, and supposing it to be the "• State
flag which was flying," as if left flying by the retreating Confederates,
hauls it down, and ties up somehow his two cavalry guidons. Next rides
up Lieut. De Peyster, and taking little note of cavalry guidons, or not
seeing them at all, goes upon the Capitol and hoists his flag, that he had
carried on his saddle.

Each of these in turn appears to have hoisted flags, or what should
pass as such ; each doing his work independently and unknown of all the
rest, and each departing as soon as it was done — in order to give the
next comer a fair chance undisturbed ; while the hoary old Capitol once
more begins to feel good, at home, at peace with aU the world, and smiles
all over in the morning sunshine at the thought of better days a-coming ;
and the colossal statue of Gen. Washington, near by in the grounds, rises
in his stirrups, and sternly points out the course, down through old Ches-
terfield, taken by the Confederates in their hopeless retreat.

The whole thing seems to work like a play managed by a master hand,
and is one of the best arranged affairs on record. Since Capt. Stevens
with his cavalry did not enter the city, or hoist his two guidons on the
Ca])itol, until after he had met the Mayor a mile and a half out of the


city, the few scattered cavalrymen who first entered the city were proba-
bly men out of organization for the time being, adventurous men moving
upon their own account, or else a few scouts or cavalry vedettes, preced-
ing Capt. Stevens by a considerable time.

The facts put the Thirteenth ahead ; and in at this point properly falls
an incident of the occupation, tliat still further honors the old Thirteenth
Regiment in the person of Capt. William J. Ladd, the first Union soldier
to enter Richmond on the morning of April 3, 1865 : " It was the cus-
tom of Gen. Devens to have one of his staff officers on the picket line all
night ; and Capt. Geoi-ge A. Bruce of the Thirteenth was the staff officer
of the picket in front of the 3d Division on the night of Ai)ril 2d. Capt.
Bruce sent for me, at that time at Gen. Devens' Hdqrs., to come out to
the picket line where he was, about 3 a. m. on the morning of April 3d.
I believed that Richmond was already evacuated by the Confederates ;
and soon after going out to the picket line. Major Joseph C. Brooks of the
9th Vt., myself, and a few other mounted officers and men, a party of
about half a dozen in all, started by the most direct route for Richmond,
and arrived there several hours before the Mayor surrendered the city
to the Union military authorities. As Richmond came into view we be-
gan to run our horses to see who would be the first to reach the city.
My horse outran the rest, and I finally entered the city without molesta-
tion or opposition ; and entirely alone rode directly up the streets and
entered the Capitol grounds through the street in rear of the Governor's
house. Near the grounds was a bridge running across the street from an
old hotel, the Ballard, I think. At this bridge was a squad of Confeder-
ate soldiers on the sidewalk. One of them drew an old navy cutlass,
ran out and made a lunge at me as I came up. I drew my sabre, in de-
fense, and charged upon him, when he retreated, and his companions
merely laughed without assisting him or opposing me. I think he was

"I was in the Capitol grounds as early as 5.30 a. m. I saw no flag on
the Capitol at that time. After looking about the grounds and vicinity
for a few minutes, and realizing that I was alone in the city, I rode back
toward Rocketts, and when near there met a white Union cavalryman
— the first Union soldier I had seen in Richmond that morning. We
tied our horses, took a skiff and rowed out to a rebel war ship in the
James, and captured the two Confederate flags then flying ujion her. I
pulled down the larger flag, the cavalryman the smaller one, and we
rolled them up and tied them to our saddles. These were the first and
only flags of any kind — Federal or Confederate — that I saw in Rich-
mond that morning. I still, 1887, have this flag. Soon after we secured
these flags the vessel blew up." Capt. Ladd.

Capt. Ladd was at this time serving as a member of Gen. Devens' staff.

Our last campaign may be regarded as occupying one hour : one half
of that time while the Thirteenth was massed in rear of the Cross-way
curtain on the New Mai'ket road, this morning, and waiting for the Bri-

1865 IN RICHMOND. 579

gade to assemble, all preparing for an assault on the enemy's lines ; the
other half in finding out and realizing that there was no enemy to assault
— and cheers to match the situation.

April 4. Tues. Clear, warm.

" Richmond, Va., April 4, 1865.

Dear Mother, — Richmond is ours without the loss of a man. I had
the honor of commanding the first Company of troops that entered the
city (yestei'day morning) — two hours in advance of any other troo2)S.

(Signed) Royal B. Prescott."

Thirteenth in Richmond, and quartered at the old St. Claire Hotel.
Major Stoodley relieves Lt. Col. Smith as Division officer of the day, by
special order of Maj. Gen. Devens — a very marked compliment — and
has charge of the guards throughout the city. Quiet is now restored.
The citizens say that Richmond has not been so quiet in two years past
as it is to-day. The fires are out or confined. The citizens appear more
pleased than otherwise with Northern occupation, and are for the most
part very friendly.

Lt. Col. Normand Smith is appointed Acting Asst. Provost Marshal
of the First District of Richmond — about the centre of the city — with
his Hdqrs. in Picinis' Building on Broad st. between 8th and 9th streets.

The Hdqrs. of the Thirteenth is in the same building, and the flag of
the Thirteenth — the National Stars and Stripes — floats from a window
out over the street. A few of the rebel army officers, having openly and
contemptuously scorned to pass along the sidewalk under this flag, are
put under guard, and marched backward and forward under the flag,
until they learn to treat the flag of the United States with due respect.
Dangerous now, in Richmond, to turn oflt the sidewalk, with a sneer and
a scowl, just before coming under that little flag ; and besides that, the
act shows a very bad spirit, and small common sense, on the part of such
persons as must needs receive the U. S. army rations or starve.

" Yesterday morning, April 3d, a lady came to me in Capitol Square, in
deep distress because of the insolent behavior of her colored servants.
She inquired the whereabout of Gen. E. O. C. Ord, saying that she was
his relative, and desired him to give her a guard. (Gen. Ord was with
Gen. Grant south of Petersburg.) I could render her no assistance then,
but took her card promising to do what I could to assist her later. When
I met Lt. Col. Smith that evening at supper, I related to him the inci-
dent, and received permission from him to call upon her. Lieut. Taggard
requested to accompany me. We were most heartily welcomed. We
served as a guard for the house, and met with no disturbance. The
family were evidently wealthy and respectable, and resided in a large
brick house on Grace st. The family name was Maben. This morning
on being invited to take breakfast with the family, we were offered the
best the house coidd afford : nothing but plain flour biscuit, crust coffee,
and a little fried pork — no butter, no sugar, no milk, no sauce. The
straits to which this family have been reduced differ but little from what


the best families have suffered in all Richmond, the fearful deprivations
of the poor passing all description." Lieut. Pkescott.

President Lincoln is being cheered in the streets of Richmond ! Such
a whirligig is time. On learning of the fall of Richmond, President
Abraham Lincoln, at City Point, embarks on a gunboat, with Admiral
D. D. Porter, and steams rapidly up the James to Rocketts, a mile below
the city, and is rowed thence in a small boat to the whai-f in the city.
Here he lands, and proceeds on foot to Gen. Weitzel's Hdqrs. — Jeff.
Davis' mansion — in this wise : First, six sailors armed with carbines
precede; next. President Lincoln leading his little son "Tad" by the
hand, and accompanied by Admiral Porter and a few officers ; next C.
C. Coffin, army correspondent, then six more sailors armed with carbines

— twenty persons in all.

Not much triumphal buncombe about that way of a " conqueror's enter-
ing the capital city of a great and conquered people ; " but the route of
this little procession, from one end to the other, literally roars with wel-
coming cheers and shouts, and in that welcome, most thoroughly gen-
uine as it is, lies the grandest of human triumphal honors.

After obtaining a carriage. President Lincoln rode somewhat about
the city. Gi*eat was the desire to see him on the part of the colored peo-
ple. They crowded about the carriage by hundreds at one point where
it stopped, and the little fellows unable to see through the press, climbed
upon the top of the carriage, laid flat down and peered in upon the Presi-
dent. On looking up and seeing the row of woolly heads — little fuzzy
reddish-black knobs, with the usual supply of white from teeth and eyes

— festooning the front of the carriage, the President settled back in the
carriage and laughed almost immoderately in spite of himself.

April 5. Wed. Pleasant, rather cloudy. The Thirteenth enjoys
its visit to Richmond very much indeed. Major Miller, 139th N. Y.,
officer of the day, relieving Major Stoodley. Capt. M. T. Betton, with
his 81st N. Y., has charge of Libby Prison and Castle Thunder ; where
he receives cordially, and with a becoming, quiet, dignified smile of genu-
ine welcome ; and places in their vile and filthy lofts all Confederate
soldiers and officers found in Richmond. They indulge in the experi-
ence of — "Now you know how it is yourself." The tables are turned ;
but are not so outrageously empty as our poor boys have always found
them in this same Libby. These Confederates are now supplied with
full L^. S. army rations well cooked and served.

The defensive works around Richmond consist of a circle of field forts,
seventeen in number, mounting about three hundred heavy guns, and
placed from one to two miles out from the city. No. 1 is down on the
James river, east side, a little below Peyton's Creek, two miles south of
the city ; No. 2 on the Osborne pike ; No. 3 on the Williamsburg road ;
and thence the line of them runs around the city, liy the east, north and
west, to No. 17, near Ward's Race-course, on the west side of the James,
a mile below Manchester, on the Richmond and Petersburg turnpike.

1865 IN RICHMOND. 581

Outside of this circle of forts, in an irregular belt, nearly two miles in
width, run various lines of interlacing defenses, with rifle-trenches and
small redoubts. A very strong system of fortifications. ' Not a knoll
for miles around but mounts a cannon. Every avenue of api:)roach is
strongly fortified, and an immense number of cannon has fallen into our

Jeff. Davis, down at Danville to-day, sets up the Confederate nine
pins, by proclamation — a tremendous foundation, that ! As Gen. Lee's
army is now so near, and yet so far, and the Confederate caj)ilal is in
Union hands ; Jefferson's proclamation, so long, limber and furry, with
now and then a bristle, much — and some may think he, hkewise — much
resembles a tail with the cat cut off.

" Our soldiers are glutted with Confederate money. Thousands of dol-
lars of it were found, and it is as common as dirt. The baggage of the
Thirteenth will be brought up from our Fort Harrison camp this morn-
ing. I saw Libby Prison yesterday, April 4th, and the sufferings of our
men there have not been one whit exaggerated. I saw there the hole
where the rebels planted the mine of many tons of gunpowder to blow all
the prisoners to atoms. Richmond contains about 40,000 inhabitants.
Our soldiers here have behaved like gentlemen, I have not heard a word
of complaint concerning them. The Richmond ladies will not pass un-
der the United States flag, if they can help it, but turn into the middle
of the street." Lieut. Prescott, April 5, 1865.

" Head-Quarters U. S. Forces,

Richmond, Va., April 5, 1865.
" By command of Major General Godfrey Weitzel the following rules,
regulations and orders are established for the government of the city of
Richmond, and the preservation of public peace and order.
Par. IV. — Extract.
District Provost Marshals.
For the First- District,
"Lieut. Col. Normand Smith, commanding Thirteenth New Hamp-
shire VolunteersT

G. F. Shepley,
Brig. Gen. U. S. Vols.,
Military Governor of Richmond."
April 6. Thurs. Very pleasant. Reg. doing provost duty. A
guard from the Reg. protecting the house and family of Gen. Lee ; and
other squads of its men are scattered, as guards and patrols, all over
the city.

A Confederate officer, arrested for wrong enthusiasm, claims immunity
on the ground that he is re-constructed all over ; and that the " Confed-
(hic)-rebcy has done goned to th-(hic)under." And he is sent carefully
to his home in a carriage, the first, or among the first of the re-constructed
in Richmond. His method, however, jilaces him in the minority.


April 7. Fri. Rainy. Reg. in Richmoiul, on provost duty. Presi-
dent Lincoln again visits Richmond, with Mrs. Lincoln, Vice President
Johnson, and a large party.

It is enough to melt a heart of stone to look over this once beautifiU and
delightful city, the home of many of tlie best people the vforld ever knew.
Now battered, burned, blackened, marred, neglected, blown to pieces,
torn up and torn down, rent and plowed ; its good people starved, de-
spoiled, beggared, half murdered, sick, hungry, destitute, discouraged and
humiliated to the last degree ; and now coming, in the flood tide of their
unspeakable misfortunes, to the United States authorities for food, medi-
cine, clothing, care and protection. Thank God, they go not empty away !

Gen. Grant has between twenty and tliirty tliousand rebel prisoners at
City Point — several acres of them.

April 8. Sat. Cool, windy, very warm at noon. Reg. in the city
engaged in provost duty. The destitution here is appalling, and sickness
rapidly follows the half starvation. Medical supplies and Government
rations are distributed free, and almost without limit ; and to all classes
and colors, rich and poor alike. A procession, made up exclusively of
citizens, gathered in honor of deliverance, marches through the principal
streets ; a gay and stirring affair, with music, banners, flags, mottoes, and
cheers, ad libitum — ad infinitum.

Gen. Devens this afternoon reviews the 3d Div. of the 24th Corps
at 2 p. m. — 17 regiments, a corps of sharp-shooters, 5 batteries — in
fi'ont of Jeff. Davis' mansion, now Gen. Weitzel's Hdqrs. The first re-
view of Federal troops here. The 10th, 12th and 13th N. H. Regi-
ments are in the line. About 12,000 troops present. One soldier of the
Thirteenth writes : " All Richmond turned out to see it." Another :
" We marched all over the city of Richmond." Another : " The citi-
zens said they thought we had a 'master heap of cannon in the city.' "

April 9, Sun. Fine, a little rain. Reg. in the city, and inspected
this morning in the Capitol grounds, surrounded by an immense collec-
tion of tlie citizens and people — a curious, motley, staring, gaping crowd.

It is proposed by way of a joke that a goodly number of these knocked-
np Confederate bonds and bank bills, thousands upon thousands of ' dol-
lars ' of which are now being kicked and wind-blown about the streets
of Richmond, like so many scraps of waste paper, be put uj) in packages
and sent up North to notorious copperheads and rebel sympathizers, with
the T-equest that they cash them at sight at their face value, and that the
proceeds be applied to assisting, feeding and educating the ex-slaves ; the
copperheads ought to do something for their fellow countrymen.

After Aug. 28, 1864, there came into the lines of the 13th, and near
by, over five hundred rebel deserters, and probably as many more un-
counted by the person who tried to keep the account of them.

Gen. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Gen. Grant.
The parole includes 28.356 officers and men — the rest are scattered
everywhere. News of the surrender is received to-night. The troops

1865 IN RICHMOND. 583

cheer. The negroes are wild with delioht. Hundreds of the citizens
express their satisfaction at the result, but as a rule the sympathies of
the citizens are with Gen. Lee's army, and most naturally.

April 10. Mon. Rainy. Reg. in the city. Dr. J. C Emory joins
the Thirteenth. A salute of 100 guns is fired in the Capitol grounds this
morning in honor of Gen. Grant's final victory : " The capture of Gen.
Lee's army, and the surrender of all Virginia." The citizens begin to
take the oath of allegiance, and many are very anxious so to do.

A Provost Marshal's office is a mixed-up afEair — the city dumping-
ground. Here is a sample morning job : A party of a dozen or more
citizens come in to take the oath of allegiance ; soldiers want passes to go
into the country for duty as guards ; rows in the street to be quieted ; land-
lord and tenant differences (on account of the change in the currency) to be

Online LibraryS. Millet ThompsonThirteenth regiment of New Hampshire volunteer infantry in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865: a diary covering three years and a day → online text (page 68 of 81)