April 4, 1865: A Visit to Richmond, Trouble at Amelia Court House

On April 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln visited Richmond, Virginia. Greeted by a throng of citizens, including many African Americans enjoying their freedom from slavery, Lincoln made his way to the Confederate White House, where he sat down in a chair he believed must have been used by Jefferson Davis and spoke to people while in Davis’s library.

Much has been made of this visit, which was soon portrayed in various ways, in marked contrast to the paucity of images available that took as their subject the entry of US troops into Richmond the previous day.

Note the date’s wrong in this engraving.

Then there was the engraving …

… that looks a lot like Dennis Carter’s later painting …

Lincoln's Drive

Sometimes the president tipped his hat in returning the greeting.

Sometimes we see Tad Lincoln at his father’s side.

… especially in a recent representation …

The presidential party made its way to the Confederate White House.

The president enters the Confederate White House.

The president leaves the Confederate White House.

This may have been the most dramatic and symbolic event of the day, but it was not the most important. Rather, the most important event was the Confederate commissary’s failure to ensure that supplies promised for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia would meet that army when it arrived at Amelia Court House.

Without those supplies, Lee had to order his men to halt and forage about … which proved a rather costly delay, because this time Ulysses S. Grant was not going to allow Lee to get away.


3 thoughts on “April 4, 1865: A Visit to Richmond, Trouble at Amelia Court House

  1. Bob Nelson April 5, 2015 / 3:08 pm

    When Pete Taylor, Mike Kiernan and I visited Richmond in the fall of 2013, the guides at the “White House of the Confederacy” were adamant that Lincoln visited the house, had lunch on the first floor but did not go up to Davis’ office or sit in his chair. A conundrum.

    • Brooks D. Simpson April 5, 2015 / 3:57 pm

      There’s a difference between a chair in the library and a chair at his desk upstairs (I’ve heard the same claim). I’ve also heard conflicting stories.

      It’s not as if he ate lunch standing up.

  2. Rosemary April 6, 2015 / 8:35 am

    In another life Dr. S, you would have been a kick-ass, crusty grumbly, briiliant journalist,
    Wise to go the way you did these days.. ah, but in past newspapering days you would have been a force to reckon with….

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