Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/253

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
243
Annual Meeting of Southern Historical Society.


patriotism that impelled them to sell houses and farms and invest in Confederate securities, which they plainly foresaw must be utterly worthless in a year or two. Grand magnanimity, to sacrifice so disinterestedly for a cause they knew all the time to be hopeless!

"It is very distressing to me that my outlook was so limited, and that my memory is so unfaithful. The only comfort I can gleam is that, if my memory is so unreliable, it is just possible that some other people may have short memories, too.

"It may bring me down very low in your estimation, and indicate a stupid lack of sense, but in honesty I am compelled to confess that I had no glimmering foresight of the cataclysm. I felt quite confident that the Day of Judgment would come before Richmond would pass into the possession of the enemy, and I felt sure that they would have important business elsewhere about that time. And a day of judgment did come first, too, or a day about as near like it as my imagination can compass.

"That this confidence was not without some warrant in 1865 what I have said about our defences will justify. There had been many bold attempts made to capture Richmond. Generals Scott, McDowell, McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Pope and Grant had all tried it with immense forces at command, and all had failed. Rushing raids, led by Stoneman, Kilpatrick, Dahlgren and Sheridan, had been checked short of the objective point. There seemed to be no getting 'On to Richmond.' General Grant had been 'fighting it out on that line' longer than 'all summer.'

"General Grant, according to Federal official reports, carefully collected and collated and published by your efficient Secretary, had started from the Rapidan in May, 1864, with 141,160 men of all arms, with reserves numbering 137,672 men, most of whom were called to the front during the summer, making a grand total of 278,832 men. To meet this host General Lee had under command less than 50,000 men; and in his whole Department of Northern Virginia, which included the garrisons around Richmond and the troops in the Valley, his field-returns for the last of April, 1864, show 52,626 troops present for duty. Including the little army under General Beauregard's command, watching General Butler's force, and all who joined General Lee's army during the campaign, the official returns prove that the Confederate forces were every day outnumbered in the ratio of four to one. Grant had spent the whole dreary winter, too, in dismal trenches on the outside. We imagined Richmond to be about the safest place in the Confederacy. Had not we the three lines of entrenchments, between us and the enemy, with General Lee and our boys guarding them, and now they were standing well! within shouting distance of each other along the lines for about thirty miles?"

Dr. Burrows then gave a series of most vivid pictures of scenes an the evacuation of Richmond, to which no synopsis can do justice.