The Civil War, Day by Day

'We Still Love You, General Lee' (detail)

Richmond Surrenders

This landmark event was a devastating blow to the Confederacy - Richmond was their capital as well as home to Tredeger Iron Works, the largest munitions plant in the South. Within hours, this city so vital to the Southern cause was reduced to a flaming mass of rubble.

Observers gave chilling eyewitness accounts of the ensuing chaos. Residents fled from their homes with their personal belongings, making “Herculean efforts to leave nothing for the Yankees.” They then fled Richmond in droves - across bridges which were only moments away from collapse. One eyewitness recalled “the roaring, crackling and hissing of the flames…the bursting of shells at the Confederate arsenal…a black shroud of smoke through which the sun shone with a lurid angry glare like an immense ball of blood that emitted sullen rays of light, as if loth to shine over a scene so appalling.”

Richmond was a prize which had eluded the North since 1862, when the South thwarted General George McClellan's advance within six miles of the city. Therefore, Union troops were jubilant when Richmond surrendered to General Godfrey Weitzel. But defeated Confederate Captain Edward Boykin saw only “a city undergoing pillage at the hands of its own mob, while the standards of an empire were being taken from its capitol.”

Mort Künstler painted this dramatic surrender scene, a detail from We Still Love You, General Lee, which typifies the emotions at the surrender of Richmond.

April's Archived Features:

Thursday April 1, 2021
Friday April 2, 2021
Saturday April 3, 2021
Sunday April 4, 2021
Monday April 5, 2021
Tuesday April 6, 2021
Wednesday April 7, 2021
Thursday April 8, 2021
Friday April 9, 2021
Saturday April 10, 2021
Sunday April 11, 2021
Monday April 12, 2021
Tuesday April 13, 2021
Wednesday April 14, 2021
Thursday April 15, 2021



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.