Here's a report from the Youth's Companion from April 20, 1865. It certainly makes no pretense to be objective or provide both sides of the story, but this was a common reporting style of the time period, as papers often supported one political party or position through thick and thin. The Companion clearly supported the Union cause and the words it uses to describe Union soldiers and efforts clearly show that support.Perhaps even "propaganda" might
The End of the Rebellion
Our young readers have seen the joyful faces and heard the happy voices of thousands of people, within the last few days. We all now know what it is for. We have learned that Richmond has fallen, no more to lift up her head, and that the rebel Gen. Lee and all his army have finally been compelled to surrender. Th so-called Southern Confederacy is trampled in the dust, and its leaders, who tried to destroy our fair Union, will soon be like Cain of old, wanderers and outcasts upon the face of the earth. We may well lift up our heads and feel proud of what our brave soldiers have done. We have passed through a fiery trial that would, without doubt, have destroyed any other government, and have come out unscathed. Henceforth we can respect ourselves, and other nations will respect and fear us. For this we can devoutly thank that kind Providence, who has give us strength to suffer and be strong.
"O God, Thy arm was here,
And not to us, but to Thy arm alone
Ascribe we will"
At eight o'clock in the morning of April 3d Richmond was taken, and the long and courageous labors of Gen. Grant were crowned with success. The first of our troops to enter were those under command of Gen.Weitzel. These are colored troops, and this fact added tenfold to the ignominy of its surrender. For several days before this there had been terrible fighting all along our lines. Our men fought manfully, and as one fell wounded or dying,, his comrade stepped forward unflinchingly to fill his place. Sunday, April 2d, was a fearful day. The rebels fought with the fury of desperation. It was a beautiful spring morning, the grass was green and the birds far away were singing blithely, as Gen. Grant ordered a grand charge in four columns. For three hours previous there had been a furious cannonade extending along the front for nearly five miles. At daybreak came the grand onset, and our men bore down upon the enemy with a fury that was impossible for them to resist. The rebel lines were broken here and there throughout their whole length. In vain their officers rushed forward to encourage their men, who at length threw down their arms and fled in terror.
Meanwhile the gallant Sheridan with his cavalry had been fiercely making his way against the rebel right wing. He had flanked it, and was pressing resistlessly on. Nothing could stand before his men, and Gen. Lee now saw that is was all over with him and his army. The heaviest fighting took place near Petersburg, and here Gen. Lee commanded in person. As the afternoon of Sunday drew nigh, he withdrew his shattered and dispirited forces from the fortifications around the city and prepared to leave it. He sent an orderly to Jeff. Davis informing him that Petersburg must be evacuated and also that Richmond could no longer be held. The arch-rebel was attending church. The officer walked up the broad aisle amidst the wonder of the congregation, and handed the dispatch to Jeff. Davis. The latter turned pale, and left the house. Preparations were at once made to leave the city, and as the people passed on their way home the saw soldier burning the papers of the rebel government in front of the Capitol. The rebels determined to destroy all they could not carry away with them, and leave the city a heap of smoking ruins. They said it should be a l Moscow to the invading and victorious army. They fired the public buildings, and from them the ruin spread far and wide. When our soldiers entered they found over five hundred buildings on fire. Lee and Davis and all their rebel rout had fled, and in their rags had left havoc and desolation behind them.
The horrors of war are fearful, but they are not so much to be dreaded as the miseries of slavery. Lee had fled, and Grant was soon on his track. The retreating rebels had left everything scattered along their path.Guns, ammunition, muskets, coats, blankets, had all been thrown away in the hurry of their fearful and demoralized panic. Soon the rebel leader found Sheridan, the Murst of our army, pressing closely upon him. Warren's corp was with him, and Grant was not far off. Soon his left wing was surrounded, and obliged to surrender, with ten rebel generals and all their equipage. On the ninth of April Lee saw that all was over, and sent a despatch (sic) to Gen. Grant stating that he was ready to give himself up with all his army. Thus was the rebel finally crushed, and the death-blow given to the most cruel, unnecessary an gigantic rebellion that the world ever saw.
It is an old maxim that "to the victors belong the spoils." In our case they certainly deserve it. What reward can be too great for Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and the host of brave men that have fought and bled for their country? Their blood has not been shed in vain. Their constant patriotism, their heroic endurance, their long-suffering will now receive the reward they merit. We will not forget them in the day of our rejoicing, nor refuse them the love and admiration that are always due to brave deeds. Nor will we forget those who have fallen in our long contest, and who have not lived to see the glory of our renewed youth. Let our young readers ever think of those who thus sacrificed themselves for their country. When we see any of their weeping, sorrowing relatives, mothers, widows, brothers, sisters of these martyrs of liberty, let us try to comfort their sadness, assuage their hearts, that they may feel that their dearly loved ones have not died in vain. Our country must now become happy and prosperous. Our course will be on and on to renewed vigor and power. Let us all devoutly thank that kind Providence which has brought us successfully through our great struggle, and resolve anew to do all that we can in future for His glory. So shall our country feel that we are worthy of her; so shall we contribute each one his mite to her undying prosperity.
I left my role as a board member and volunteer at the James A.Ramage Civil War Museum at the end of 2020 as I had been there since 2006 (...
On this anniversary of perhaps the most famous and most often memorized speech in American history, I was thinking about the Gettysburg Addr...
Cincinnati in the Civil War: The Union’s Queen City David L. Mowery Copyright 2021 The History Pres s I admit my reading of books has been t...