THE FALL OF RICHMOND.THE EVACUATION BY CLEMENT SULIVANE, CAPTAIN, C. S. A.
THE RUINS OF RICHMOND BETWEEN THE CANAL BASIN AND CAPITOL SQUARE.
ABOUT 11.: 30 A. M. on Sunday, April 2d, (1) a, strange agitation was perceptible on the streets of Richmond, and within half an hour it was known on all sides that Lee's lines had been broken below Petersburg ; that he was in full retreat on Danville; that the troops covering the city at Chaffin's and Drewry's Bluffs were on the point of being withdrawn, and that the city was forthwith to be abandoned. A singular security had been felt by the citizens of Richmond, so the news fell like a bomb-shell in a peaceful camp, and dismay reigned supreme.
All that Sabbath day the trains came and went, wagons, vehicles, and horsemen ru to and fro, and, in the evening, ominous groups of ruffians-more or less in liquor-began to make their appearance on the principal thoroughfares of the city. As night came on pillage and rioting and robbing took place. The police and a few soldiers were at hand, and, after the arrest of a few ringleaders and the more riotous of their followers, a fair degree of order was restored.
But Richmond saw few sleeping eyes during the pandemonium of that night.
The division of Major-General G. W. C. Lee, of Ewell's corps, at that time rested in the trenches eight miles below Richmond, with its right on the James River, covering Chaffin's Bluff. I was at the time its assistant adjutant-general, and was in the city on some detached duty connected with the "Local Brigade" belonging to the division,-a force composed of the soldiers of the army, detailed on account of their mechanical skill to work in the arsenals, etc., and of clerks and other employees of the War, Treasury, Quartermaster, and other departments.
Upon receipt of the news from Petersburg I reported to General Ewell (then in Richmond) for instructions, and was ordered to assemble and command the Local Brigade, cause it to be well supplied with ammunition and provisions, and await further orders. All that day and night I was engaged in this duty, but with small result, as the battalions melted away as fast as they were formed, mainly under orders from the heads of departments who needed all their employees in the transportation and guarding of the archives, etc., but partly, no doubt, from desertions. When morning dawned fewer than 200 men remained, under command of Captain Edward Mayo.
Shortly before day General Ewell rode in person to my headquarters and informed me that General G. W. C. Lee was then crossing the pontoon at Drewry's ; that he would destroy it and press on to join the main army ; that all the bridges over the river had been destroyed, except Mayo's, between Richmond and Manchester, and that the wagon bridge over the canal in had already been burned by Union emissaries. My command was to hasten to Mayo's bridge and protect it, and the one remaining foot-bridge over the canal leading to it, until General Gary, of South Carolina , should arrive. I hurried to my command, and fifteen minutes later occupied Mayo's bridge, at the foot of 14th street, and made military dispositions to protect it to the last extremity. This done, I had nothing to do but listen for sounds and gaze on the terrible splendor of the scene.
And such a scene probably the world has seldom witnessed. Either incendiaries, or (more probably) fragments of bombs from the arsenals, had fired various buildings, and the two cities, Richmond and Manchester, were like a blaze of day amid the surrounding darkness. Three high arched bridges were in flames ; beneath them the waters sparkled and dashed and rushed on by the burning city.
Every now and then, as a magazine exploded, a column of white smoke rose up as high as the eye could reach, instantaneously followed by a deafening sound. The earth seemed to rock and tremble as with the shock of an earthquake, and immediately afterward hundreds of shells would explode in air and send their iron spray down far below the bridge. As the immense magazines of
(1) Mr Davis attended morning service at St. Paul's Church, where he received a dispatch, on reading which he left the church to prepare for the departure of the Government.-EDITORS.