Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte and graciously provided by NPS Historian John Hennessy.
THE NINTH VERMONT IN RICHMOND VIRGINIA.
Richmond, Va., April 4 .
Mr. Editor:—Before this reaches you the telegraph will have announced the fact of the fall of Richmond! Anthems of praise will have been sounded far and near, one simultaneous heaven-ascending shout reverberated throughout the length and breadth of the nation, and started on lightning wings to inform foreign nations of the downfall of the rebellion! “Hail happy day!” The great work accomplished! The nation rejoices and heaven itself smiles! John Bull trembles and Louis Napoleon stutters and stammers and shakes in his boots! Rebels and copperheads at home skulk to their hole and within a month spout for Union and cry “God bless Abraham Lincoln!” Another grand thing in the proud programme of April 3, 1865, is the fact that VERMONT was ahead! Indeed such is the fact; for it was a portion of the 9th regiment V[ermon]t. vol[unteer]s. That first had the honor of unfurling its banner in the rebel capital of the defunct would-be confederacy. New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland may claim the honor; Massachusetts may put in her accustomed braggadocio about her troops; but the fact nevertheless remains that the picket line of our brigade—one hundred men selected from the 9th V[ermon]t. as skirmishers—headed by Capt. A. E. Leavenworth of Co. K, and Lt. J. C. Baker of this company and Lt. Burnham Cowdery of Co. G., were first on the spot. The Captain, with coat off and sword in hand, proudly led the one hundred sons of the Green Mountain State in advance.
Sunday night last [April 3, 1865] we were ordered to be in readiness, and early in the morning the order came to move. The regiment started at 7 o’clock, and before 9, had passed the federal-defying works and entered the long sought city itself. Imagine our jubilant feelings at the sight of the stars and stripes floating on the treason-concocting capitol. No enemy was encountered on the march—nothing save indications of a hasty retreat. All the fortifications about the city were left undisturbed—in some instances the very guns left loaded and primed ready to fire as our troops approached; but for reasons too apparent to the beaten rebels, they refrained from discharging them and left in all haste. Previous to its evacuation the city was fired, or that portion of it on the James river, where the destruction of property was immense. Owing to obstructions in the river our gun boats did not reach the city until to-day, when they came proudly puffing along up the James as though it were a common occurrence for the past four years. One of the grandest sights of the war was that when our troops entered the city. Such a shouting, long, loud and deafening, may possibly be imagined, but not described. Never was there, and probably never will be, so happy a day to the 24th and 25th army corps as was the 3d of April, 1865. Four long years have passed since the old flag floated in the city, and indeed it was reason enough for soldiers to be jubilant—The troops were promptly followed by the immense trains of the two corps and several batteries of artillery, which was a sight imposing in the extreme. It was indeed a proud and happy day to be in the city of Richmond—one never to [be] forgotten. We doubt if there was a soldier present who did not rejoice that he was a member of the noble army of the Union.
President Lincoln arrived here to-day, and is thus early enjoying the day of thanksgiving and praise. It is indeed proper that he should share the rejoicing at the very earliest moment, for no man has greater occasion for being happy than he. What say copperheads now? Do “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle” sound to their ears as they did to the secesh of Richmond, which our brigade band played with such gusto in the streets last evening? Methinks it must, for both have been enemies to our country—one fighting with his cowardly tongue, at home, and the other with his sword in the army. But their race is run—their sands of life run out—and victory once more perches upon our banner in every state in the Union. C.1
- “The Ninth Vermont in Richmond Virginia.” Vermont Watchman and State Journal (Montpelier, VT). April 14, 1865, p. ? col. 5 ↩