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First wagon train entering Petersburg, Virginia.
City Point, Virginia, showing Lincoln's private car. as now written, but I will instruct the officers I shall appoint to receive the paroles to let all the men who claim to own a horse or mule take the animals home with them to work their little farms.
“Lee now looked greatly relieved, and though anything but a demonstrative man, he gave every evidence of his appreciation of the concession, and said: 'This will have the best possible effect upon the men. It will be very gratifying, and will do much toward conciliating our
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"He then remarked,” continue Nicolay and Hay, “that his army was in a starving condition, and asked Grant to provide them with subsistence and forage, to which he at once assented, and asked for how many men the rations would be wanted. Lee answered, 'about twenty-five thousand,' and orders were at once given to issue them. The number surrendered turned out to be even larger than this. The paroles signed amounted to 28,231. If we add to this the captures at Five Forks, Petersburg, and Sailor's Creek, the thousands who deserted the failing cause at every byroad leading to their homes, and filled every wood and thicket between Richmond and Lynchburg, we can see how considerable an army Lee commanded when Grant 'started out gunning. Yet every Confederate writer, speaker and singer who refers to the surrender says, and will say forever, that Lee surrendered only seven thousand muskets.
“With these brief and simple formalities one of the most momentous transactions of modern times was concluded.
The news soon transpired, and the Union gunners prepared to fire a National salute, but Grant would not permit it. He forbade any rejoicing over a fallen enemy, who he hoped would hereafter be an enemy no longer. The next day he rode to the Confederate lines to make a visit of farewell to General Lee. Sitting on horseback between the two lines, the two heroes of the war held a friendly conversation. Lee considered the war at an end, slavery dead, the National authority restored; Johnston must now
surrender—the sooner the better. Grant urged him to make a public appeal to hasten the return of peace; but Lee, true to his ideas of subordination to a government which had ceased to exist, said he could not do this without consulting the Confederate president. They parted with courteous good wishes, and Grant, without pausing to look at the city he had taken or the enormous system of works which had so long held him at bay, intent only on reaping the peaceful results of his colossal victory, and putting an end to the waste and burden of war, hurried away to Washington to do what he could for this practical and beneficent purpose. He had done an inestimable service to the Republic: he had won immortal honor for himself; but neither then nor at any subsequent period of his life was there any sign in his words or his bearing of the least touch of vainglory. The day after Appomattox he was as simple, modest, and unassuming a citizen as he was the day before Sumter.”
Military authorities will continue to differ over the abilities of the two commanders, Lee and Grant. “Having spoken freely of the mistakes of Grant in the Virginia campaign of 1864," writes the historian Rhodes, in his summary of the opinions of military critics, as well as of his own, “I must in candor express the opinion that in these final operations he outgeneralled Lee. The conditions were not unequal; 49,000 men opposed 113,000 and the game was escape or surrender. Lee's force was dispersed by defeat, weakened by captures, and the shattered and discouraged remnant of it was forced to capitulate. That Lee was outgeneralled in this Appomattox campaign is a judgment supported by the intimations of some Confederate writers, that if everything had been managed properly the Army of Northern Virginia might have eluded surrender and protracted the war.”
But as the news overspread the North that Lee had surrendered, the people responded with heartfelt rejoicing. Every city, town and village, the farmhouses, the humblest cottage were gay with flags. Cannon were fired, anvils roared, bands of music paraded the streets, and speakers of every degree of eloquence addressed the people. The North was weary of war. At the churches the people assembled in special service: there was the touch of devout relief and the outpouring of praise to God that peace had come. “The news, my dear Charles,” wrote James Russell Lowell to his friend Norton, “is from Heaven. I felt a strange and tender exaltation. I wanted to laugh and I wanted to cry, and ended by holding my peace and feeling devoutly thankful. There is something magnificent in having a country to love."
On the evening of April 11th, a great company of people gathered before the White House to congratulate the president and to rejoice with him, and to them he made an address, the last public address of his life.
“We meet this evening not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace, whose joyous expression cannot be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He from whom all blessings flow must not be forgotten. A call for a national thanksgiving is being prepared, and will be duly promulgated. Nor must those whose harder part gives us the cause of rejoicing be overlooked. Their honors must not be parceled out with others. I myself was near the front, and had the high pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to you; but no part of the honor for plan or execution is mine. To General Grant, his skilful officers and brave men, all belongs. The gallant navy stood ready, but was not in reach to take active part.
"By these recent successes the reinauguration of the National authority—reconstruction—which has had a large share of thought from the first, is pressed much more closely upon our attention. It is fraught with great difficulty. Unlike a case of war between independent nations, there is no authorized organ for us to treat with—no one man has authority to give up the rebellion for any other man. We simply must begin with and mold from disorganized and discordant elements. Nor is it a small additional embarrassment that we, the loyal people, differ among ourselves as to the mode, manner, and measure of reconstruction. As a general rule, I abstain from reading the reports of attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I cannot properly offer answer. In spite of this precaution, however, it comes to my knowledge that I am much censured for some supposed agency in setting up and seeking to sustain the new State government of Louisiana.
“In this I have done just so much as, and no more than, the public knows. In the annual message of December, 1863, and in the accompanying proclamation, I presented a plan of reconstruction, as the phrase goes, which I promised, if adopted by any State, should be acceptable to and sustained by the executive government of the nation. I distinctly stated that this was not the only plan which might possibly be acceptable, and I also distinctly protested that the executive claimed no right to say when or whether members should be admitted to seats in Congress from such States. This plan was in advance submitted to the then Cabinet, and distinctly approved by every member of it. One of them suggested that I should then and in that connection apply the Emancipation Proclamation to the theretofore excepted parts of Virginia and Louisiana; that I should drop the suggestion about apprenticeship for freed people, and that I should omit the protest against my own power in regard to the admission of members of Congress. But even he approved every part and parcel of the plan which has since been employed or touched by the action of Louisiana. The new constitution of Louisiana, declaring emancipation for the whole State, practically applies the proclamation to the part previously excepted."
He then discussed the details of Louisiana affairs and the government of that State.
for the whole tution of Louisianthe action of