|American History A
April 1865: The Month That Saved America
[Excerpt] by Jay Wink, (2001)
Please read the Chapter “A Nation Delayed” (below) from April 1865 by Jay Winik (2001). After completing the reading, please type your responses to the following
(12 Homework / class work points)
1. Explain the line, “Americans had a country even before they had their nation.”
2. According to the view of French philosopher Montesquieu, describe several
trends and events in American that threatened our republic.
3. According to Winik, trace the history of secessionist thought in America, listing
4. With the phenomenal growth of the United States into previously undeveloped (according to European standards) territory, various political and cultural qualities seemed to pool in select sections of the country. The term used for this is
Sectionalism. Describe the sectionalism between the east and west.
5. States that strongly preserved their sovereignty were advocating nullification.
What does nullification mean?
6. Discuss the dissatisfaction and secessionist thinking of New England during the
debates on the Louisiana Purchase and the War of 1812.
7. Explain the terms: a. Regional self-interest
b. Regional self-rights
8. By the mid-19th century, how had the nation expanded?
9. Describe the tensions that were building in the nation.
10. If the conclusion of the Civil War did not somehow repair the nation, what were
the lessons from Europe and Latin America that threatened the United States?
11. How is Thomas Jefferson’s home of Monticello used to conclude the selection reading?
FIND the typos – Bonus two points
More than three and a half centuries earlier, in April 1507, Martin Waldseemuller, professor of cosmography at the University of Saint-Die, produced the first map showing the Western Hemisphere, a novo mondo with a long snaking coastline. He called it “America,” after the discoverer of the new continent, an appellation that belonged as much to Amerigo Vespucci, the Florentine merchant, as it did to Columbus. Like an enormous board game whose pieces were slowly being put into place, the science of geography would eventually give way to the science of government, and by the time the Founders gathered at Philadelphia in 1787, nationhood was beckoning. No words can capture the boldness of all this—America not just as a place on a Spanish map or one more distant outpost of the sprawling British Empire, but an actual self-governing country. A country not to be forged by a thousand years of shared history and shared dreams, but to be conceived in the minds of a handful of men over a handful of months. With pluck, daring, iron will, and imagination, and a brilliance unsurpassed in history, the Founders would in turn beget the national idea, a country unlike any since the beginning of time.
But in the crucible of the occasion, fateful questions would linger: What would knit this country together? Was it to be one country and one nation—or perhaps two, or even several? And was it to last in perpetuity, or to be a brave and daring experiment in democracy that could yet founder?
The fragility of America as a nation from its very first days cannot be exaggerated. Unlike the Old World, America was not born out of ancient custom or claim, its people bound together from the shadows of feudal, marauding bands, emerging as a nation by the time they could primitively write their own history. Where in most countries a sense of nationhood spontaneously arose over tens of centuries, the product of generations of common kinship, common language, common myths and a shared history, and the collective ties of tradition, America was born as an artificial series of states, woven together by negotiated compacts and agreements, charters and covenants. It did not arise naturally, as in Europe, or China, or Persia, but was made, almost abstractly, out of ink and paper, crafted by lawyers and statesmen. Insofar as the early Americans had a nationality, they were for more than a century and a half British. In fact, it remains a curious twist of fate that America was at first Britain’s idea; it was the British who finally persuaded the American settlers to accept some kind of distinct national identity. Significantly, even in 1776, their contract to become Americans—the Declaration
of Independence—did not make them a nation. Indeed, the very word “nation” was explicitly dropped from it, and all references were instead to the separate states. Thus, the very heading of the final version of the Declaration of Independence described the document as “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” and the momentous resolution introduced in the Continental Congress on June 7, 1776, by Richard Henry Lee and seconded by John Adams, declared: “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” As historian Daniel Boorstin has noted, “Independence had not created on nation but thirteen.”
There is more than a measure of truth to this. Like the colonies that preceded them, these new states were as dramatically different from one another as they were from England; each jealously guarded its self-rule, its independence, and its sovereignty. Each meticulously gathered its own army, chartered its own navy, commanded military actions to protect its own interests, and oversaw its own Indian affairs and postal routes. Each had its own legislatures, its own functioning courts, its own taxes, and, in time, its own individual constitutions. And too often is this simple but telling fact: before independence, Americans were both British as well as citizens of Virginia or Massachusetts, New York or Connecticut, or some other home colony. After independence, they were no longer Britons, but neither were they Americans; there was, as yet, no American country to which to attach their loyalties. And so they remained faithful, proud members of their sovereign state, Massachusetts, or Virginia, or Connecticut. To the extent there was an American national identity, it was unexpected, impromptu, an artificial creation of the Revolution—and secondary.
And for all its genius, the U.S. Constitution provided no resolution. Until this point, constitutions were not national codes, but national inheritances; they were not written down, but existed intuitively, the ethereal sum of a whole country’s charters, statutes, declarations, informal understandings, habits, traditions, and attitudes. Yet for the United States, what had started out as an exercise to do little more than revise the existing Articles of Confederation—a loose system designed for the exigencies of the Revolutionary War—instead produced a far more audacious gamble, an entirely new body of laws: the Constitution. Nowhere on the planet had anything like it been devised; there it was, at once a central government with the authority to tax and to maintain an army, and at the same time, a republican government with its powers scrupulously divided among a president, a House of Representatives, a Senate, and a Supreme Court. But when it came to articulating America as one nation, the men at Philadelphia flinched. This was the one nut they couldn’t crack.
The word “nation” or “national” appears nowhere in the Constitution. Unable to reconcile the gnawing tensions between the proponents of the states, the anti-Federalists, and the proponents of the new federal authority that would come into being, the Federalists, the Founders resorted to the more ambiguous phrase “the United States.” When it was all done, an elated George Washington recognized not just the historic import but also the precariousness of the whole enterprise; it was, he maintained, “little short of a miracle” that delegates from “so many different States” should have united to form a national government.
A national government, yes, but did it form a nation? That still fell a little short of anyone’s miracle. Consider Washington’s parting speech. He used the word “nation” in his Farewell Address, but only prescriptively: “The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” This, of course, begged the question, was America a nation? Or was it simply a community of states? What is clear is that in the architecture of Nationhood, the United States had achieved something quite remarkable; as historian John Murrin had succinctly put it, “Americans erected their constitutional roof before they put up national walls.”
The result? With characteristic anachronism, and with the benefit of this ingenious contrivance, Americans had a country even before they had their nation. And, in turn, the Constitution did something quite unique in the annals of human history: it substituted as precisely that, a kind of national identity. “Americans are intellectually autochthonous,” Gary Wills had stated, “having no pedigree except that of the idea.” But in the ensuing years, America would not be able to escape the price for such genius—the price of hate and blood in the making of nations. That would be paid in the Civil War.
The seeds of discord were there long before the guns of Fort Sumter began firing. In the absence of a common national identity, they were always there.
The generation that wrote the Constitution was obsessed by the specter that republican government would not survive across a vast domain. Tradition was against them. They were boldly obliged to repudiate a political axiom that had behind it the domineering authority of the French philosopher Montesquieu. In the mid-eighteenth century, he had pronounced that a republic could function only in a small territory, and the thirteen original states together—even some of the larger states individually—were already considered too large. Geography, too, was against them. As Americans traveled farther south and trekked farther west, the wilderness and the rivers and the mountains rapidly created breathtaking differences: differences in lifestyles, differences in culture, differences in economics, differences in political outlook.
What did not change was the flip side of America’s auspicious birth, the secessionist tradition, a tradition that was older than America, older than the Revolution itself, as old as the earliest colonial settlements. From the very start, the discovery of the New World had made secessions and withdrawals, separations and dissolutions, practicable across a full hemisphere, and, from its initial beginnings, American life compromised not just relentless growth but countless efforts to secede. The pilgrims, of course, were the first self-proclaimed American secessionists, coming to Plymouth only after their failed effort to extrude themselves from England in the Netherlands. This was just the beginning. The colonies themselves expanded and in turn acquired their varied characters by secession: Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, separatist fanatics, were driven from their own Massachusetts bay and founded Rhode Island. Thomas Hooker seceded to his Connecticut. Lord Baltimore enabled a group of Catholics to secede from English life into a community that—for a while at least—remained exclusively their own. William Penn provided Quakers with a refuge. And the American Revolution was itself a monumental act of secession. And on it went.
Nor did this pattern change after independence. Indeed, for some 200 years, the powerful secessionist ethos was characteristically American. By the 1780s, many, if not most, Americans believed the nation would inevitably divide into two countries, and, by 1794, they seemed to be right. As if to prove Montesquieu’s dire predictions right, America suddenly appeared on the brink of splitting apart.
The first spark assaulting national unity pitted not North against South, over slavery, but West against East, over taxes. Frontier farmers, all across the land, revolted against Alexander Hamilton’s dreaded whiskey levy. They lived in towns literally hewn from the wilderness and in constant jeopardy, if not from wild animals then from Indians. But one thins they wouldn‘t countenance was taxation without representation. They did far more than refuse to pay the infernal whiskey tax; they blithely shot at revenue officers who would collect it, they tarred and feathered federal officials who sought to change their minds, and they set fires to the homes of George Washington’s hated representatives. Thus began the Whiskey Rebellion. In the weeks and months that followed, the rebels raised liberty poles bearing inflammatory slogans, passed out petitions of angry resistance, and formed urgent committees of correspondence modeled on their Revolutionary predecessors. Then, after a serious military encounter in July 1794 between frontiersmen and federal representatives, war fever swept the country. By August, the call went out and a clutch of Whiskey Rebels began to gather. Soon, they were 7000 strong, dressed for war, hoisting a six-striped flag, whooping and howling and openly flirting with independence. The indelible rationale of their rebellion was the very same rationale of the Revolution—like the ocean that divided England from America and mandated that there should be two countries, the mountains that carved East from West out not for one, but two nations.
It didn’t happen. To the banging of drums and tramping of the march, President Washington personally reviewed an army of volunteer troops hastily assembled to quell the rebellion. In late October, the expedition, led by no less than the famous soldier-politician Lighthorse Harry Lee of Virginia, converged on Pittsburgh. The imposing show of force worked. The leaders of the rebellion fled down the Ohio River, headed for Spanish Louisiana.
But, if the threat of secession had receded, it did anything but disappear.
Remarkably, the next alarm came not from settlers but from two of the very Founding Fathers themselves; Jefferson and Madison. Their Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798-99, authored only a decade after the adoption of the Constitution, held that states in the federal union could nullify acts of congress. By arguing that nullification was a “rightful remedy” in state and federal disputes, the two men thereby laid the political and conceptual foundations for national dissolution as well. The Resolutions were never tested, but they were a dangerous weapon indeed. If invoked, both could have been fatal to the ten-year-old Constitution and even to the very existence of the U.S., for, if only implicitly, they had been unmistakably affirmed a basis for secession—another remedy that Jefferson had also privately contemplated.
And it would not before the next blush of crisis.
Thirteen years, to be exact.
The ensuing controversy occurred during the War of 1812 against Great Britain, with the advocates of disunion coming from the north, in Federalist New England. Disgusted with the iniquity of “Mr. Madison’s War,” fed up with the folly of Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase as endangering the “world’s last hope of a republic,” fearing their own voice to be under permanent eclipse, New England exclusivists let out a resounding cry for unified protest. To the horror and disgust of Southerners—the Senate debates of the time vividly attest to this—New Englanders talked not just of a separate peace with Great Britain but, more ominously, of outright disunion itself. From the very start of the war, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire had flatly refused to send their militias to fight, and New England even went as far as to collude with the enemy by investing money in London securities and selling supplies to the British forces. As Thomas Pickering of Massachusetts summer up the bitter feelings of defiant New Englanders, there was “no magic in the sound of the Union. If the great objects of Union are utterly abandoned…let the Union be severed.”
By early 1814, that seemed to be a real possibility and a real danger. Massachusetts, with its socially conscious aristocrats and high-shouldered mansions, it fashionable upper-class enclaves and grassy residential squares, was on the verge of rebellion, and some, like the cleric Elijah Parish, were now urging New England to “cut the connection with the southern states.” At this point, the call went out from Massachusetts for a winter convention in Hartford, Connecticut. Ultimately, cooler heads prevailed that December, and the Hartford Convention did not urge secession as feared. It did, however, endorse the next strongest thing: nullification.
Nullification and secession would eventually lead to approbation, then to separation, and, ultimately, to the nightmare of civil war itself. By the end of the 1820s and into the 1930s, after the government had been in operation for more than forty years, the language of nullification and state sovereignty, and the notions of self-governance and regionalism, had become indelibly embedded in the American vocabulary. Thus, much like Jefferson, when many Americans spoke of the Union, however much they had come to love it, they spoke of “our confederacy,” or more simply of “the Republic.” The Constitution, however revered, was a “compact.” The U.S. was just as often “the states United,” or the “united States,” or even “a league of sovereign states,” and was invariably spoken of as a plural noun. The term “sovereign” was associated far more with the individual states themselves than it was with the “general government,” and state legislatures took for granted their right to “instruct” their U.S. senators on how to vote on important legislation. As a consequence the road to Civil War was paved with civic bricks like nullification and secession.
Nor did the studied ambiguities of the Constitution do much to solve this cycle of secessionist threat and counter threat. To be sure, the crucial question was raised: did the Constitution create a Union from which no state, once having joined, could escape except by extra-constitutional acts of revolution? Or did it create a Union of sovereign states, each of which retained the right to secede at its own discretion?
In the face of these incipient signs of sectional tension, Americans increasingly wrestled with this issue, but they quickly realized there was no clause in the Constitution that established the Union’s perpetuity. Where the Articles of Confederation contended that “the Union shall be perpetual,” the Constitution only spoke of “a more perfect Union”—actually, Charles Pinckney’s draft resolution containing the provision “the Union shall be perpetual” was never even brought before the general body for consideration. Where the Constitution was framed in the name of “We the People,” Article VII firmly declared that it would be ratified “between the States.” In the end, to the extent that there was a discussion about the perpetuity of the Union, there was no consensus. No less staunch a Federalist than James Madison wrote, “each state…is considered as a sovereign body independent of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation then the new Constitution will…be a federal and not a national constitution.”
What did Americans make of all this? In truth, in the early nineteenth century the wording of the Constitution gave neither the believers in the right of secession nor the early advocates of a perpetual Union a decisive case. Hoping for the best, the Founding Fathers instead left the question of perpetuity to posterity, and the most common perception of the Union was that of Washington: America was “worth a fair and full experiment.” And where for many the Union was much beloved, for many others, it was an experiment valued less for its own sake than as a means to certain desirable ends, namely the protection of the people’s liberties and the defense of the country from enemies abroad. And there the tension lay.
Between 1830 and 1833, the pendulum of secession swung again, indelibly and seemingly permanently, this time to the South, to South Carolina, which demanded nullification and echoed the principles of regional self-interest and regional self-rights, with its effort to nullify the collection of federal tariff duties. This crisis was averted temporarily by Andrew Jackson’s firm response and a compromise ingeniously proposed by Henry Clay. And, for a brief time, it appeared that Southerners and Northerners might still march together toward forging one nation. But with each passing year, the prize that many of the Founders had sought—Union—again increasingly seemed elusive, as the strains of secession hardened into a fierce debate that would at first consume the country, then divide it, and eventually plunge it into an all out war: over slavery.
From 1820 onward, throughout the next forty years, the country lurched from one tense confrontation to another—the compromises of 1820,1833, 1850, the prelude of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and of the Wilmot Debates, the fireball of Nat Turner’s rebellion and the Dared Scott Decision, the terror of Lawrence and Pottawatomie, the rhetoric of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and, last but not least, the spark of Harper’s Ferry. Each constituted a powerful symbol that would transform the country’s landscape, and exacerbate the unresolved contradictions from America’s founding. Throughout this period, Congress would become, in many ways, little more than a Union-saving body, that and nothing more.
It would not be enough.
By mid-century, nowhere were danger and expectation held in more delicate equilibrium than in America. The country had doubled its population every two decades, leaving it behind only Russia and France. It had extended its continental reach from coast to coast, and boasted a burgeoning merchant fleet worthy of challenging the leading nations of the Old World for global supremacy. It was a magnet for the hopes of countless immigrants—the English, the Irish, the Germans, the Jews, the Catholics, the Chinese—and for the dreams of Americans migrating along the new roads and railroads into the ever-expanding western territories. With an almost religious zeal, Americans felt compelled to press on west, to settle and republicanize, to civilize and democratize. And of course, when the gold rush began, to make money. Studding the landscape with balloon frame homes and hand-hewn log cabins, traveling by oxen and Conestoga wagons, and horse and buggy, Americans were suddenly everywhere over the immensity of its spaces: Chicago and Rochester, Santa Fe and Missouri, Oregon and the Great Salt Lake, California and Texas. The country was developing an incipient national art, an inchoate national literature, a thriving rancorous press, and even a new national idiom. Though it was still a rural land—most Americans, as historian James McPherson points out, had no experience with the federal government other than through the U.S. postal office—major cities were emerging in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and, of course, Richmond. With its textile mills, foundries, and factories, there was even a new economic class, again typically American: “the middling class.” After a brief sixty-plus years of history, then, Americans were filled with an astonishing sense of optimism and a glowing sense of destiny. Increasingly sophisticated and wealthy, America was envied and admired in much of the World.
But between the idea of equality enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the notion of popular sovereignty, between the demands of nationalism and the intimacies of community, between the bumptious sense of manifest destiny of a growing nation and the hard rock of slavery, and above all else, between the dramatic struggle to forge a national identity and the emergence of distinct separate nationalisms across the great American expanse, stood an old and enduring tension in American life that reused to go away.
The convenient version of history forgets the unbroken link of secessionist threats emanating from the country’s earliest days, just as it intimates that it was only Southerners who flirted with disunion in these perilous later years. Northerners did, too. While there is a sense that Daniel Webster did indeed speak for all the North when he thundered, “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable,” this is not so. Senator Walter Lowrie of Pennsylvania echoed the sentiments of many when he warned that if the choice was between the dissolution of the Union and extension of slavery, “I, for one, will choose the former.” Or consider the words of a young John Quincy Adams: “I love the Union as I love my wife. But if my wife should ask for and insist upon a separation, she would have it though it broke my heart.” And then later: “If the Union must be dissolved, slavery is precisely the question upon which it ought to break.” For his part, the prominent intellectual and clergyman Theodore Parker, who had no qualms about separation of the Union, argued that division was far, far better than allowing the poison of slavery to spread to the North.
In these final years, slavery was the primary wedge cracking the underpinnings of national union. But it was by no means the only wedge. Too often overlooked is that during the run-up to the Civil War, New Jersey, for its own parochial reasons, flirted with secession, as did California, which, with Oregon, considered creation of a separate Pacific nation. The Mormons in Utah fought a handful of bloody skirmishes with the federal government, and they, too, sought freedom. And just months before Fort Sumter, New York City—which on and off in its history alternately considered independence and even confederation with the South—again threatened secession. Even on the eve of the Civil War, some Americans, harkening back to the earliest days of the republic, back to the Whiskey Rebellion, back to the War of 1812, still were speculating about the country splitting into three or four “confederacies,” with an Independent Pacific Coast thrown in to boot.
By the time the war came, a tortuous cycle was complete. The delicate balance of America’s paradoxes could no longer prevail. Indeed, in retrospect, it is little wonder that the country didn’t break up earlier. The unsettled and unanswered questions that had gnawed at the country from the very beginning now had to be resolved, by force of arms. And as the Civil War entered April 1865, dire questions remained: Could at long last those national walls be erected to support the constitutional roof? And could a now bloody, exhausted, embittered America survive as one country?
The dismal examples from the rest of the world were not encouraging. To the south, the Latin American wars for independence had produced not one, not two, but some 22 separate nations from a few vice-royalties. With bewildering rapidity, these republics came and went, trapped for decades in a vortex of conflict and military repression. Nor was this simply a Latin American trait. Across the Atlantic loomed the specter of the French Revolution, the Terror, “the contagion,” occurring as it did in the most advanced country of the day. France had been the epicenter of the Enlightenment: its science led the world, its books were read everywhere, it language was the tongue of aristocracies, and it was the most powerful country in all of Europe, if not the world. Yet revolution plunged France, and in time, all of Europe, into an ongoing cycle of terror and violence, the remnants of which plagued the continent for decades, like a recurring nightmare. No country was totally immune, from Denmark to Sicily, from Bohemia to Hungary. And the problems of France and Europe in many ways resembled those of the U.S.: the fundamental questions of nations and nationalities, the task of bringing the people into some kind of rational relationship with their governments, and some form of mutual and moral relationship with their sovereign states. The founders themselves were acutely aware of all this; indeed, they were haunted by it. The horror of France was anticipated even in the very design of the capital city, Washington, itself. Rejecting the plan to lay out the city in elegant rectangular blocks and eye-catching right angles as in Philadelphia, the designers ultimately employed the radical plan, filled with circles. In their conception and execution, these circles were to provide stations for armed soldiers, allowing them to maintain full command of the streets in case of any popular civil uprising or prolonged mob violence. Unlike in France, there should be no barricades in Washington.
But the Civil War threatened to take the U.S. down a very different sort of road. As the European and Latin American examples glumly proved, it was not solely a matter of whether the North or the South won the war. As critical was the delicate matter of how the war would end and how the peace would be made. Would the country emerge united, one nation, Abraham Lincoln’s fervent dream? Or would it remain fragmented, ever ready to disintegrate into petty, squabbling minor or fragmented republics, or become chronically vulnerable to anarchy and low-level violence, as was the dismal fate of many of America’s European friends and Central American Neighbors, and, more generally, of other republics throughout history, and even in our own most recent century.
The Civil War, then, in its final months was more than a struggle for the soul of America, or the survival of the republican experiment: it was a larger fight, once and for all, to construct the nation. It was in April 1865 that the outlines of the answer to this question would finally appear with clarity.
As spring crept north across Virginia in 1865, Monticello, like America itself, now seemed more a monument to folly than a measure of grand design, more a finite experiment than a creation that could endure. Like so much of the country, it sat, rather uneasily, in no-man’s land. It was a house with two competing owners, one Northern—the estate of naval officer Uriah Levy—one Southern—the Confederate entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin; it was a home with two competing souls, John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” and Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence; and it was an estate wit two diametric visages, one of the best in America, the shining idea of equality; one the darkest, the specter of slavery. But in a curious, deeply symbolic way, and, despite all the neglect, it stubbornly remained a provocative reminder of the spirit of the elusive nation, as a shrine, not entirely Southern or really Yankee, a place where visitors still came to pay tribute to Jefferson, and where people could recall the moral imperatives and sense of high purpose that had once seemed so clear and compelling to the Founders. And come they did. Even in the Civil War. Even on the eve of April 1865.
Indeed, as the crisis of the Civil War intensified, Monticello was frequently the tranquil eye of the hurricane. Confederate troops had overrun it in 1862, but they were content to leave it in the hands of the old caretaker, Joseph Wheeler. No significant battles took place near Jefferson’s mountain. When Confederate John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade did pass through, they stood reverently on the front porch, “the sacred portals,” and mused about “the famous statesman” and his “glorious memories.” Over the next two years, on sunny days under the velvety sky, a few picnics were held on Monticello’s lawns. On one bright autumn day in the fall of 1863, some convalescing Confederate soldiers even held a day of “gaiety,” a mock tournament of “knights,” most riding with only one arm, reins held in the teeth, dashing valiantly at the rings, with wooden sticks employed as lances. Periodically, Northerners came, too. Mostly, visitors, wherever they came from, ended up in the great dome room. Almost unused in Jefferson’s day, it now boasted more than a thousand of their names written on its walls.
And while they left their signatures, bold or hesitant, many took away something else. Year by year, they chipped and chiseled away at Jefferson’s tombstone, a five-foot memorial that, upon his wishes, simply enshrined him not as president but as the author of the Declaration of Independence.
In drawers and keepsake boxes and on parlor tables preserved these pieces, as if there was something worth saving of the man and the country he helped create. But as April 1865 approached, what would ultimately be saved, if anything, depended on a handful of men, one of whom was readying to take his place upon an inaugural podium in the Union capital of Washington, D.C. and another of whom was urgently riding into the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.