In the latter part of February General Sheridan, under direction of the lieutenant-general, moved from Winchester to Staunton, which place he captured on the 2nd of March, taking prisoners, artillery, and military stores. He thence moved on Charlottesville and destroyed the Richmond and Lynchburg Railroad and the bridges across the Rivanna River. Dividing his forces, one column moved to New Market and destroyed the James River Canal; the other column pushed toward Lynchburg, destroying the railroad to Amherst Court-House. These columns, reuniting, moved to the White House, on the Pamunkey, effecting great destruction of the canal on their route, and thence put themselves in communication with the forces around Richmond.
The month of March, 1865, opened the great campaign against Richmond and the army that had so long defended the rebel capital.
Instructions were given by the lieutenant-general on the 24th of March for a general movement of the national forces around Richmond. It commenced on the morning of the 29th of March. Ten days" marching and fighting finished the campaign. Richmond, Petersburg, the Army of Virginia and its commander were captured. Jefferson Davis and his so-called Confederate Government were fugitives or prisoners of war. Davis fled from Richmond on the afternoon of Sunday, the 2nd day of April. The national forces occupied Petersburg and entered Richmond Monday morning. Lee's army was pursued until it reached Appomattox Court-House, where on Sunday, the 9th day of April, it laid down its arms on the terms prescribed by General Grant.
From this period the history of the war is but an enumeration of successive surrenders by rebel commanders. On the 26th day of April General Johnston surrendered his command to Major-General Sherman at Raleigh, N. C. General Howell Cobb, with 1,200 militia and five generals, surrendered to General Wilson at Macon, Ga., on the 20th of April. General Dick Taylor, on the 14th [4th] of May, surrendered all the remaining rebel forces east of the Mississippi to General Canby. On the 11th [10th] of May Jefferson Davis, disguised and in flight, was captured at Irwinville, Ga. On the 26th of May General Kirby Smith surrendered his entire command west of the Mississippi to Major-General Canby. With this surrender the organized rebel force disappeared from the territory of the United States. The flag of the United States was lowered at Fort Sumter on the 14th of April, 1861, by Major Anderson, who, long besieged by overwhelming rebel forces, was compelled, with his small garrison, to evacuate the works. On the anniversary of that day, four years later, the rebel forces having been driven from Charleston, the national banner was planted again upon Fort Sumter, under the orders of the President by the hands of General Anderson, with appropriate military and naval ceremonies, and a commemorative address delivered by the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher.
Their victorious campaigns ended, the Armies of the Tennessee and the Cumberland and the Army of the Potomac marched through Richmond to the Federal capital, where they were reviewed by the President and the distinguished commanders under whom they had so long and so gallantly served in the field. After this national ceremony they and their fellow-soldiers in other commands were paid, and, as rapidly as the condition of affairs would admit, were released from the military service of the country; and, returning to their homes in the several States, they were welcomed with the thanks and rejoicing of a grateful people.