This Week in the Civil War - #1061
In the early hours of Sunday, April 2, 1865 Union troops advanced against the entire Petersburg front. Confederate resistance crumpled in front of the much larger Union forces. While rallying his men, Confederate General A.P. Hill was killed, and by noon only two fortifications along the western end of the Petersburg line had not capitulated to the Federals. It was obvious that Lee had to immediately abandon his defenses; a general retreat was ordered in the afternoon. In Richmond a messenger from Lee entered St. Paul’s Church, interrupting services to inform Davis that the capital had to be abandoned. By 11 p.m., the president and most of the Confederate Cabinet departed Richmond for Danville, Virginia. Soon after, inmates from the state prison escaped, looting began and uncontrolled fires devastated the city be immediately abandoned.