April 13, 1865: Grant in Washington

Ulysses S. Grant arrived in Washington, DC on April 13. He intended to start cutting costs: although the war was not over, it was now clearly winding down, and it was time to look toward the future. Lincoln congratulated his general, then begged off seeing the nighttime illuminations, leaving Grant to ride in the presidential carriage with the first lady. It was not a pleasant experience. Mrs. Lincoln’s feelings were ruffled when she realized that the people cheering as the carriage passed by were celebrating the general, not saluting the presidential carriage. Uncomfortable, Grant would have no stomach for a possible repeat performance, something he thought about as he contemplated the president’s invitation to the Grants to accompany the First Couple to the theater the next evening. As the general would attend the cabinet meeting the next day, there would be plenty of time to figure out what to do.

William T. Sherman’s men entered Raleigh, North Carolina. Sherman knew the war was coming to an end in the Tar Heel State. Learning of Lee’s surrender the previous day, he told Grant that the Appomattox terms “are magnanimous and liberal. Should Johnston follow Lee’s example I shall of course grant the same.” However, when he told the people of Raleigh what had happened in Virginia, they did not believe it.

The end was near.

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