This Week in the Civil War - #1062
After four years and numerous threats against it, the Confederate government finally had to abandon its capital at Richmond, Virginia on April 2, 1865. With the South Side Railroad from Petersburg in enemy hands, all understood that Petersburg’s collapse meant that Union forces within hours would occupy the Confederate capital. A grateful Abraham Lincoln went to the Petersburg front and from a safe distance watched as Federal forces overwhelmed Petersburg’s defenders. At 8:30 p.m. in the evening Lincoln telegraphed Ulysses Grant, noting “Allow me to tender to you, and all with you, the nations [sic] grateful thanks for this additional, and magnificent success.” Despite the possible danger of doing so, the president immediately determined that he would visit Richmond as soon as Federal troops took possession of the city.