The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

Beginning of the End

How did Lincoln get to Richmond?

This was something of a saga. The president’s party began that morning with the steamer River Queen and with Admiral Porter’s flagship, the USS Malvern. The closer they came to Richmond, the more hazards presented themselves, however, and eventually Admiral Porter found he could take the two large vessels no farther. At that point, Lincoln insisted that they travel in the admiral’s barge, which, under normal circumstances, was rowed by twelve sailors. Climbing into the barge were Lincoln, his son Tad, Admiral Porter, and one journalist. That was all.

As they passed the turn at Drewry’s Bluff, a turn that had baffled and bedeviled the federal navy for three years, the people aboard the barge could see the smoke above Richmond, and they gained some sense of how desperate the condition of the fallen capital was. Not until they came closer, however, did Lincoln and the group see the sheer devastation. Just to complete the sequence of nautical mishaps, the admiral’s barge ran aground, and Lincoln and the group had to be helped up to the wharf. But then they were there: in Confederate Richmond.


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