The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865
Beginning of the End
How did Grant take Richmond?
The final part was easy, made possible by all the heroic exertions of the previous nine months. By the first of April 1865, the Union siege lines ran thirty-seven miles in a nearly complete circle of Richmond and Petersburg. The Confederates, too, had fought heroically, but the game was clearly up.
Lee did not reveal all his decision making, but he let Jefferson Davis know that the capital could be held no longer. Throughout the first of April, Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia made good their escape, heading due west. What little hope remained was that Lee would effect a meeting with Johnston and that the two combined forces would somehow overcome Sherman’s army. Even the most die-hard Confederate knew this was a forlorn hope, but in desperate times people often cling to what has been and will make all sorts of sacrifices to attempt to maintain it.