« PreviousContinue »
get Sherman back from Atlanta. But Sherman telegraphed to Grant asking permission to march through the enemy's country, "smashing things as he went,"-destroying railroads and whatever would be of use to the confederates. He let General Thomas take care of Hood at Nashville; and Thomas with battle and prisoners broke up Hood's army.
The story of "Sherman's grand march to the sea" reads like a wonderful romance. He broke up the telegraph wires and the railroads, and started. Then he must reach the sea, or perish. On his way he captured the city of Macon, and Milledgeville, the capital, and on the twentieth of December with aid of Admiral Dahlgren whom Lincoln had sent by water to co-operate with him, he wrote the President a dispatch: "I present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty guns, plenty of ammunition, and about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton."
Then followed the capture of Wilmington, Columbia, Goldsboro, and Charleston; and a battle with General Johnston who was driven back. And now the Union forces from all parts were gathering about Lee, and the end of the
war was near.
When, at last, Lee tried to escape, there was Grant on one hand, and Sheridan was on the
other, watching, marching, fighting, and always barring his way to safety.
On the twenty-seventh of March the President, and Generals Grant and Sherman met on a steamer in the James River and talked over the situation. Seldom, if ever, have three more wonderful men met together; Sherman famed from his campaign in Tennessee which, as Lincoln said, would live in history, his devotion to Grant, his generous appreciation of the work of all the splendid officers and men that surrounded them; Grant who when chosen for his position modestly said that Sherman ought to have the place; and Lincoln, strong, patient, far-seeing, crowned with success, yet using his success to unite his country and to bless his countrymen, North and South. The generals both agreed that one more bloody battle was likely to be fought before the end of the war. "Must more blood be shed?" questioned Mr. Lincoln. "Cannot this be avoided?" But they thought that Lee would fight.
Even while the three were talking, General Sheridan was marching to cut off Lee's retreat. "Ten days of incessant marching and fighting, with Sheridan in the lead and Grant closely following," says Arnold, "finished the campaign." March twenty-ninth Grant wrote to
Sheridan: "I now feel like ending the matter, if it be possible, before going back.”
And he did end it. For, April second, Longstreet who had been defending Richmond was ordered to join Lee, who made one last desperate attempt to cut his way through the Union armies. That same day Lee sent to Jefferson Davis saying that Richmond and Petersburg could not be held any longer. And, "the bells of Richmond tolled the knell of the Confederacy.'
But Grant, with Sheridan and other generals helping, kept on after Lee who was penned up so that he had no escape and who could not cut his way out.
Therefore, on the ninth of April, 1865, he surrendered. Truly, Grant had "fought it out on that line."
Generous terms of surrender were made with Lee; and officers and men were permitted to return to their homes, "not to be disturbed so long as they observed their parole, and the laws."
LINCOLN'S WALK THROUGH RICHMOND.
Mr. Lincoln had been staying at City Point for several days, getting daily, almost hourly news from General Grant how things were going, and sending word to Washington, to be distributed over the country. The day after the fall of Richmond he went in a gunboat accompanied by Admiral Porter, Hon. Charles Sumner and a few others to within a mile of the city, and from there in a row boat to the wharf. Landing, he walked on, leading his little son Tad by the hand and with the few sailors who had rowed him for a body-guard. If he had had all the escort that came in the gunboat which had been blocked by obstructions in the river, it would have been little more.
Never before did conqueror enter conquered city like this. Troops, martial music, a splendid procession, the chief prisoners captured, kings
and generals, walking behind loaded with chains and reserved for torture and death-these were the triumphs of old days, of Rome, and of later times also. But Lincoln was too great for the display that many conquerors of modern times would have demanded; he was a king of men in himself and did not need to try to impress people with his grandeur. God had made him so grand that he could not have helped doing this, had he tried.
But in addition to Lincoln's hatred of display, he did not come as a conqueror to Richmond and the South; he came as a peace-maker, a protector, a comforter. That day his troops were busy putting out the fires which the confederates had kindled in the beautiful city, just as he himself was laboring to put out the fires of suffering kindled throughout the South by Jefferson Davis and his co-workers; and as he walked that fourth of April through the streets of Richmond, his thoughts were not of pride of victory over the people, but that he was their President, their rightful ruler for the time of his election, one who had the best of all rights to inquire into their condition and bring them what aid he could.
But if the confederates were not ready to understand and welcome him, the colored people