Towards Appomattox and Surrender
The Fall of Richmond - Sunday, April 2, 1865

Richmond Virginia 1865

On April 2, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee sent a message to Confederate Secretary of War, General John C. Breckinridge.

St. Paul's Church Richmond Virginia"It is absolutely necessary that we should abandon our position tonight, or run the risk of being cut off in the morning. I have given all the orders to officers on both sides of the river, and have taken every precaution that I can to make the movement successful. It will be a difficult operation, but I hope not impracticable. Please give all orders that you find necessary in and about Richmond. The troops will all be directed to Amelia Court-House." [5]

General Lee also sent the following to President Jefferson Davis.  "I advise that all preparation be made for leaving Richmond tonight." President Davis received the note while worshiping in St. Paul's church in Richmond and moved to evacuate his government. [34]

Captain Robert E. Lee, the General's son, wrote of Confederate Colonel Archer Anderson's description of the Confederate Army at this time. "Of the siege of Petersburg, I have only time to say that in it for nine months the Confederate commander displayed every art by which genius and courage can make good the lack of numbers and resources. But the increasing misfortunes of the Confederate arms on other theatres of the war gradually cut off the supply of men and means.

Example of Confederate rations at war's endThe Army of Northern Virginia ceased to be recruited, it ceased to be adequately fed. It lived for months on less than one-third rations. It was demoralised, not by the enemy in its front, but by the enemy in Georgia and the Carolinas. It dwindled to 35,000 men, holding a front of thirty-five miles; but over the enemy it still cast the shadow of its great name. Again and again, by a bold offensive, it arrested the Federal movement to fasten on its communications. At last, an irresistible concentration of forces broke through its long thin line of battle. Petersburg had to be abandoned. Richmond was evacuated. Trains bearing supplies were intercepted, and a starving army, harassed for seven days by incessant attacks on rear and flank, found itself completely hemmed in by overwhelming masses. [52]