May 23 and 24, 1865 in Washington, DC

“I confess, without shame, I am sick and tired of fighting – its glory is all moonshine; even success most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish and lamentations of distant families, appealing to me for sons, husbands and fathers. You, too, have seen these things, and I know you also are tired of war, and are willing to let the civil tribunals resume their place and, so far as I know, all the fighting men of our army want peace; and it is only those who have never heard a shot, never heard the shriek and groans of the wounded and lacerated (friend or foe), that cry aloud for more blood, more vengeance, more desolation. I KNOW the rebels are whipped to death, and I declare to God, as a man and a soldier, I will not strike a foe who stands unarmed and submissive before me, but would rather say – ‘Go, and sin no more.’” From a letter written by General William T. Sherman in May, 1865 as quoted from B. H. Liddell Hart, SHERMAN: SOLDIER, REALIST, AMERICAN [Boston: Dodd Mead, 1929]: 402

When in North Carolina he told a subordinate: “Maintain peace and good order, and let law and harmony grow up naturally.” [same sources and page as above]

THE GRAND REVIEW, WASHINGTON, DC [23rd and 24th of May 1865]: “The Immense, Exultant Victory Parade of the Union’s Main Fighting Forces” Celebrating the End of the Four-Year Violent Rebellion Against the United States of America and the Preservation of the Union established by the Founding Fathers in 1787

“Before sunrise on 23 May 1865, the firemen of the District of Columbia started sweeping Pennsylvania Avenue clean and watering it down. As they worked, the first of the nearly 100,000 Union troops bivouacked in Washington and across the Potomac River in Virginia awoke to the bugler’s call and prepared to march. The day promised to be mild, with just enough breeze to stir the flags and miles of bunting blooming everywhere in the capital. The black crepe for the slain president that had shrouded Washington since April had been taken down and the trial of the conspirators suspended for this, the last and greatest pageant of the war, the grand review of the [Union] armies of the republic.

Even after four years of teeming throngs, Washington staggered under the invasion of visitors intent on watching the spectacle. THE NEW YORK TIMES, on May 24, 1865, reported on the celebration of May 23 as one “. . .with the nation it is the triumphant exhibition of the resources and valor which have saved it from disruption and placed it first upon earth.” Crowds swelled by government employees and school children who had the day off began to line the parade route at dawn. Isaac Bassett, assistant doorkeeper of the Senate, who was watching from the Capitol, claimed that “from one extremity to the other, Pennsylvania Avenue was lined on both sides with a forest of faces.” Every window, porch, balcony, and housetop along the route was occupied with spectators clutching bouquets and waving flags and handkerchiefs. The celebrants from New York left on Monday evening, May 22nd, in “twenty-one overcrowded cars, and only reached Washington at ten o’clock (the next) morning (on May 23rd), an hour after the grand column had begun to move. Still are the crowds pouring in, particularly from the West, with the friends and admirers of SHERMAN’s great armies, which pass in review to-morrow.” NEW YORK TIMES, May 24, 1865. THE TIMES concluded that it was: “a white day in the calendar, from which to gather hope and courage for the future.”

“At four o’clock this morning (on May 23) reveille was sounded in the camps of all the organizations composing this vast army, and by six o’clock breakfast had been eaten, baggage packed and loaded on the wagons, and the troops were ready for duty. The assembly call was sounded in the Ninth Corps at six o’clock precisely, and half an hour afterward the First Division of that corps, Maj.-Gen. WILCOX commanding, formed on a street east of the Capitol, and moved down till the head of the column rested on Third-street east.” NEW YORK TIMES, May 24, 1865.

The official reviewing stands in front of the White House, festooned with flags, flowers, and evergreens and the names of the great battles of the war – Gettysburg, Donelson, Petersburg, Shiloh, South Mountain – filled with cabinet members and dignitaries. [in the photos of the review stand, the children of the dignitaries are clearly visible on it.] THE NEW YORK TIMES described the review stand and the people on the interconnecting stages by saying: “The main stand on the left of the avenue and immediately in front of the President’s house, was that devoted to President JOHNSON, Gen. GRANT, who is reviewing officer, the members of the Cabinet, prominent military and naval officers, heads of departments, the Diplomatic Corps, and the ladies. This platform was neatly roofed and provided with seats for several hundred people. Much of its rough exterior was tastefully concealed by a profuse drapery of national and State colors, while in the folds at intervals flashed out the names of Shiloh, Donelson, Stone River, Vicksburgh, &c.

Both to the right and left of this stand were long-raised platforms, with seats for a thousand or more, provided by private munificence, for sick and wounded soldiers, but to which many officers and some civilians were admitted by ticket.

On the opposite, or north side, of the avenue, the government erected one stand for state officials of high degree, while the enterprise of the friends of the different army corps, and the several military State agencies, occupied the entire remaining space between Fifteen-and-a-Half and Seventeenth streets.” Notably absent was Secretary of State William Henry Seward, who was home with a bandaged head and wired jaw, the victim of John Wilkes Booth’s fellow conspirator, Lewis Paine. At nine o’clock, a signal gun heralded the beginning of the review. First to swing into sight was a solitary horseman, bespectacled General George Meade, at the head of the Army of the Potomac. The crowd took up the cheer of the Pennsylvanians in the stands: “Gettysburg, Gettysburg, Gettysburg!” Meade drew his sword and raised the blade in the sunlight as his troops poured down the avenue behind him. THE NEW YORK TIMES describes an early disconnect by saying: “At 9:15 o’clock Gen. MEADE (Army of the Potomac) reaches the point where Gen. GRANT and the President are expected; but they have not yet reached their stations, and the General, the Staff and escort pass without the honor of a review.

The President arrives in his carriage. Directly after, however, almost at the same moment, Gen. GRANT and Staff walk briskly from their headquarters and assume their designated positions. Gen. MEADE and Staff having passed, they now return dismounted, and soon the sharply-defined head of the Commander of the Army of the Potomac adds another to the group of distinguished persons, on whom the eyes, the opera-glasses, and even the photographers’ lenses are resting. And now begins the review proper, the renowned Cavalry Corps, first mobilized by HOOKER, first successfully fought by PLEASONTON, and which has gained such great renown under SHERIDAN, and now led by MERRITT, begins to pass by in platoons of sixteen horsemen each, with sabres drawn. The drum corps opposite the reviewing-officer peals out a salute, and the march commences.”

The passing of General Custer’s troops is captured by the New York Times reporter with following description: “. . . now come the troopers, each man in this division being decorated with a scarf or tie, known as the Custer Tie, red in color, and made of any material, from the finest silk or merino to the coarsest flannel, thrown back over the shoulders, giving the entire body a peculiar and interesting appearance.

CAPEHART’s brigade of West Virginia Veterans, as trusty a body as ever drew a sabre, are singled out for their fine appearance; and immediately following is young PENNINGTON, with his brigade, looking as much at home with a cavalry sabre as when he pounded over Virginia’s rough roads with his famous battery.

A part only of the Second Cavalry Division, under Gen. DAVIES, is here; one brigade followed by a brigade of cavalry belonging in Washington, under Brig.-Gen. CHAPMAN.

The rear of DAVIES’ division is most gracefully brought up by a lonely contraband (former black slave) on a mule, who, looking the picture of independence, receives the cheers and laughter of the crowd with great self-complacency.”

In mid-morning the TIMES reporter records: “The cavalry corps, with their artillery brigade, have occupied one hour and fifteen minutes in passing this point. The infantry forces proper of the army, the Ninth Corps, Maj.-Gen. PARKE, began moving by the reviewing officer at 11:15 A.M. Enthusiastic friends have showered bouquets and wreaths of laurel upon officers, men and horses. Gens. PARKE and WILSON are bedecked with these sweet gifts, even to the trappings of their saddles. The Ninth Army Corps! Where has it not been? Early in the war I followed its banners to Roanoke (Island, NC). Then it became attached to the Army of the Potomac, and fought at South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburgh. Then away to Kentucky; thence to Mississippi; then back again to East Tennessee, in the glorious defence of Knoxville; then once more to Virginia, to the Wilderness, to the James, to the Appomattox, and, finally, to the great victory. It has been all cut to pieces a score of times, and yet nearly 25,000 men march before our eyes, and among its organization I still find vestiges of two regiments whose first charge I witnessed on Roanoke Island, Feb. 8, 1862 — perfect veterans in every sense.”

He moves on to describe the Union troops following in the line of march: “The first Colonel of one is Brevet Maj.-Gen. HARTRANFT, who saved Fort Steadman, and beat back the enemy with a division of new troops never before under fire. The first Colonel of the other is Brevet Maj.-Gen. FERRERO, commanding a division of colored troops at Richmond. The second Colonel is Brevet Maj.-Gen. POTTER, severely wounded in the late battles before Petersburgh, not yet recovered. Then there is the Seventy-ninth New-York, still a battalion left, the highlanders whose bag-pipe puts forth its strains the same as ever; and the One Hundredth Pennsylvania, the round heads of the early South Carolina campaigns; but Oh; those flags, slowly but appreciatively, the audience begin to mark and applaud the tattered banners, some stained and worn, others torn to threads, barely clinging to the staff, and others still carefully gathered around the staff, the threads all too priceless less to lose a single one. How many volumes those banners speak; how much more eloquent than any words are they?”

About 12:15 P. M. the Fifth Corps passed the review stand and was described by the TIMES reporter with: “The Fifth Corps, numbering about 23,000 men, moved across the Long Bridge at 3 o’clock this morning, and forward on Tenth-street south, with its right resting on Maryland-avenue. It also filed to the right and marched along Maryland-avenue, passing around the capitol in the rear of the Nineteenth Corps, followed by Gen. WAINWRIGHT’s artillery brigade. During the interval between the passage of the corps, the spectators on either side rushed to the front of the stand, where were the President, GRANT, SHERMAN and others, and indulged in an informal review of these gentlemen, who bore their inquisitive glances gracefully, and after repeated calls they severally arose and bowed their acknowledgments.”

For nearly six hours the steady, even lines of men sixty abreast, stretching from curb to curb, passed down Pennsylvania Avenue. The crowds shouted until they were hoarse, but none cheered louder than the Washingtonians among them. This was the Army of the Potomac whose men had built the capital’s fortifications, formed a living barrier across northern Virginia to protect it, and less than a year before, stopped [Confederate] General Jubal Early at the edge of town.

The last troop of cavalry did not clatter by until late afternoon on the first day of the Grand Review. For Marian Hooper, who would later marry Henry Adams, and who had defied her father by coming to Washington with four other young ladies to watch the review, the trip from Boston had been worth it. She wrote home to her cousin that night:

“And so it came, the glorious old army of the Potomac, for six hours marching past, eighteen or twenty miles long, their colors telling their sad history. Some regiments with nothing but a bare pole, a little bit of rag only, hanging a few inches, to show where their flag had been. . .all the rest short away.”

That night, while the Army of the Potomac caroused, nearly 100,00 troops of the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of Georgia marched into town and bedded down in the capital’s streets. The next day, 24 May, “humanity of all ages, sexes and conditions” packed Pennsylvania Avenue again to get a glimpse of these strangers from beyond the Alleghenies. Though they had fought to save the Union, for most of these men this was their first glimpse of their nation’s capital.

As the starting signal boomed, Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and Oliver O. Howard with his empty sleeve rode out onto the Avenue. In Sherman’s honor, the bands played a jubilant new tune “Marching through Georgia.” [“. . .As the procession began a girl stepped out from the crowd and offered (General O. O.) Howard (commander of the Army of Tennessee and riding next to Sherman) a wreath of flowers for his horse. The battle of Fair Oaks had cost him an arm, and he could not manage his horse and the flowers too. He smiled, passed the girl by, and, doing so, reminded the crowd of the grimmer face of the war. . . . The little girl did not have to turn back into the crowd with her flowers after (General) Howard had gone by. (General John “Black Jack”) Logan coming along in the lead of Howard’s men, leaned down from his gray stallion and, with extravagant graciousness, accepted both the wreath and the crowd’s adoration.” From: William S. McFreely, YANKEE STEPFATHER: GENERAL O. O. HOWARD AND THE FREEDMEN (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1970, Yale Univ. Press, 1994) pages 10 through 12]. Sherman was worried that his rough, gangling, ill-clothed westerners might compare unfavorably with the polished eastern troops that had passed by the day before. But as he topped the rise at the Treasury building and turned in his saddle for a backward glance, his fears were put to rest. The crowds declared his men magnificent. They were cheered and pelted with flowers. “Handkerchiefs,” claimed one reporter, “shook like aspen leaves . . .Roses bloomed in the muzzles of guns.”

The armies of the West marched down Pennsylvania Avenue for six hours. After they disbanded, their rowdy celebrating kept the city awake long into the night. In hell raising, as in everything else, Sherman’s men tried to outdo the Army of the Potomac.” [from: Kathryn Allamong Jacob, “The Grand Review,” in David Stephen Heidler, Jeanne T. Heidler, David J. Coles, editors, THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR, [Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/Greenwood, 2000]: 860 – 61

(from: General W. T. Slocum, U.S.V., Commander, the Army of Georgia)
We went into camp in the vicinity of Alexandria, my own headquarters being very near the place I had occupied during the first winter of the war, when McClellan was organizing the Army of the Potomac. [“Sherman’s men took positions on and near Arlington heights, awaiting their turn. In the evening the First Division of the 15th Army Corps marched across the Long Bridge into Washington and camped for the night in vacant lots and streets. (“Though the two armies [Meade’s Eastern troops and Sherman’s Western ones] camped on opposite sides of the river, the troops met up with one another in the taverns and brothels of Washington, D.C., where the customary rivalries led to numerous fistfights.” Source: The Civil War Society’s “Encyclopedia of the Civil War” found online at: http://www.civilwarhome.com/grandreview.htm). [The Second Division stayed on the south bank of the river, but its men had to get up at two o’clock Wednesday morning to eat breakfast and cross the bridge in the dark. As the sun rose, long columns of the 17th, 20th, and 14 Corps wound among the hills of Alexandria and Arlington; a steady flow of more than 55,000 soldiers kept the Long Bridge full”

For several days Sherman’s men had been getting ready. They drew some new uniforms from government stores; they used large amounts of blacking to polish shoes, cartridge boxes, and belts; they cleaned rifles and bayonets to a bright shine. General John W. Geary bought white gloves for all the men of his division and issued them just before the 20th Corps crossed the Potomac. Of Sherman’s 186 infantry regiments all but 30 came from the Western states. Many of these westerners believed that they had done far more than the Army of the Potomac to defeat the rebellion. Yet eastern civilians and soldiers, they thought, looked on them as wild skirmishers and undisciplined raiders, not a real army. The review would give them a chance to show that they were veterans who surpassed the paper-collar soldiers of the east in every way.” [from: Charles Royster, “The Grand Review,” in THE DESTRUCTIVE WAR: WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN, STONEWALL JACKSON, AND THE AMERICANS (New York: Vintage Books, 1993), pages 405 – 406].

[General Slocum continues]: We were soon informed that the final scene of the war to be a grand review of all troops by the President and his Cabinet. All the foreign ministers resident in Washington, the governors of the States, and many other distinguished people had been invited to be present. The Eastern troops [Army of the Potomac under General Meade] were to be reviewed on the 23rd of May, and the Western [Army under General W. T. Sherman including the Army of Tennessee commanded by General O. O. Howard] on the day following. The leading officers of Sherman’s command were invited to the stand to witness the review of the Army of the Potomac, and they gladly accepted the invitation. After the close of the review of that army, several of our officers assembled at Sherman’s headquarters to discuss matters and prepare for the work to be done the next day. In speaking of the review of the Army of the Potomac Sherman said: ‘It was magnificent. In dress, in soldierly appearance, in precision of alignment and marching we cannot beat those fellows.’ All present assented to this statement. Some one then suggested that we should not make the attempt, but should pass in review “as we went marching through Georgia’; that the foragers, familiarly known among us as ‘hammers,’ should form part of the column. This suggestion seemed to strike General Sherman favorably, and instructions were issued to carry it into effect. Early on the following morning the head of our column started up Pennsylvania Avenue and soon passed the reviewing stand which was filled with distinguished people from all parts of the country. Sherman’s men certainly presented a very soldierly appearance. They were proud of their achievements, and had the swing of men who had marched through half a dozen States. The feature of the column of Sherman’s troops which seemed to interest the spectators most was the attachments of foragers in rear of each brigade. “(His army marched down Pennsylvania Avenue with). . . . a bravado that thrilled the crowd. Along with the lean, tattered, and sunburnt troops was the huge entourage that had followed Sherman on his march to the sea: medical workers, laborers, black families who fled from slavery, the famous “bummers” (notice that General Slocum calls them “foragers” and the troops called them “hammers.”) who scavenged for the army’s supplies, and a menagerie of livestock gleaned from the Carolina and Georgia farms. Riding in front of his conquering force, Sherman later called the experience ‘the happiest and most satisfactory moment of my life.’” [from: The Civil War Society’s “Encyclopedia of the Civil War” found online at: http://www.civilwarhome.com/grandreview.htm%5D. At the review the men appeared ‘in their native ugliness’ as they appeared on the march through Georgia and the Carolinas. Their pack mules and horses, with rope bridles or halters, laden with supplies such as they had carried on the march, formed part of the column. It was a new feature in a grand review, but one which those who witnessed it will never forget. [from: H. W. SLOCUM, (Major-General, U.S. V.), “FINAL OPERATIONS OF SHERMAN’S ARMY.” as presented in Robert Underwood Johnson, Clarence Clough Buel and the Editorial Staff of CENTURY MAGAZINE, editors. BATTLES AND LEADERS OF THE CIVIL WAR. Volume 4. [New York: The Century Company, c. 1884, 1887, 1888]: 754-758]

The May, 1865 Grand Review revealed some of the prejudices, even within the Union government and armed forces, that existed towards black Americans. [“From antiquity to Verdi, Negroes were manacled slaves in triumphal entries. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation (became the law of the United States on 1 January 1863) this would have been miscasting, but the black man was not left out entirely. In the line of march (down Pennsylvania Avenue) were detachments of contraband laborers with shovels rather than rifles on their shoulders. [African American] soldiers had been edited from the score. (Simply, no African American servicemen, army or navy, was included in the reunited nation’s most important, triumphal Grand Review, a deficiency that would be corrected, in part, by a Pennsylvania Grand Review held in Harrisburg, PA in November, 1865. [“Noticeably missing, from the celebration, in May, 1865 Grand Review of the Armies in Washington, DC), were the over 180,000 United States Colored Troops who fought along side these troops being honored in the nation’s capital. Not one of the 166 regiments of the United States Colored Troops participated in the Grand Review of late May, 1865. Twelve hours of pomp, circumstance, celebratory marching and cheering, over two days, and not one African American soldier was on Pennsylvania Avenue during that time. A skeptic might ask, was the intent of the 13th amendment about finally awarding freedom to black slaves, or the politics and strategic requirements for the winning the war?

While denied participation in the Washington, DC “Grand Review of the Armies,” black regiments from Pennsylvania and Massachusetts gathered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on November 14, 1865 for their own Grand Review. Thomas Morris Chester, a prominent Harrisburg resident and recruiter of black soldiers served as grand marshal of the Grand Review. The troops marched through the main streets of the Pennsylvania capital to the home of Senator Simon Cameron who delivered a speech honoring the black troops and commending them for their service and sacrifice to the Union. Cameron, an abolitionist and one of the early advocates for using black troops in the war, gratefully acknowledged the soldiers in the speech that was reprinted in the North American and United States Gazette in Philadelphia the following day.

“I cannot let this opportunity pass without thanking the African soldiers for the compliment they have paid me, but more than all to thank them for the great service which they have been to their country in the terrible rebellion. Like all other men, you have your destinies in your own hands, and if you continue to conduct yourselves hereafter as you have in the struggle, you will have all the rights you ask for, all the rights that belong to human beings.”

The report called the celebration a success throughout and estimated that nearly seven thousand blacks attended the Grand Review as well as a sizable white population who came to pay their respects to “those who escaped the perils of a contest in which they risked their lives in defense of the nation honor and support of the constitutional authorities.” One of the prominent black participants was Reverend John Walker Jackson who offered a prayer that served as “a beautiful acknowledgment of the services which the black man rendered in the struggle for American nationality, civilization and freedom. The orator of the event, William Howard Day, discussed the attitude of the colored man and “the prospect which lay before him for improvement, social elevation and the acquirement of political rights.” About 7000 African American men, from 25 states, in the Union armed services marched in Harrisburg on Tuesday, November 14, 1865. The Grand Review concluded with a grand ball where the soldiers and those honoring them convened one last time.” From: http://housedivided.dickinson.edu/grandreview/category/grand-review-1865/ an excellent website to learn more about the Pennsylvania Grand Review] (In the May, 1865 Grand Review in Washington, DC) at the end of one brigade was a half dozen (African American) women who walked along in bandanas and patched dresses with black children astride, hardtack boxes their sides slatted, were piled up behind the children and gamecocks stuck out their heads as did young raccoons. To this baggage was tied the lead of a goat who trotted along beside. A salute to the President was reserved for generals as the troops passed the White House, but one of the African American boys turned and tipped his cap to Andrew Johnson. The crowds roared their delight. They had been treated to a classic American comedy, with hardly a symbol missing.” From: William S. McFreely, YANKEE STEPFATHER: GENERAL O. O. HOWARD AND THE FREEDMEN (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1970, Yale Univ. Press, 1994) pages 13 and 14].

THE NEW YORK TIMES report on the first day of the Grand Review [23 May 1865] concluded:

The reception the troops met with, though it may be equal to anything they could expect in this city, with its cosmopolitan characters, is not such as citizens of a large city — such as New-York or Philadelphia — would anticipate. It is true, there were splendid displays of flags, and above Pennsylvania-avenue and Fifteenth-street the pavements, windows and balconies, and in some instances roofs, were crowded with people of all ages and sexes, who frequently cheered and waved their handkerchiefs or small flags in their hands. At other places along the route of march no proper demonstration was made. It was, therefore, quite refreshing this morning, when the head of the column arrived opposite the north side of the Capitol, to witness the scene that awaited them there. The entire hill side was literally covered with children dressed in holiday attire. The girls were gaily bedecked with ribbons of different colors and the lads were sashes or rosettes of similar hue. A number of mottoes, printed in large and legible letters, were prominently arranged in the rear of the groups, and in appropriate places were banners and flags of various sizes. Before the eye could become interested with the details of this chkrming spectacle, the hundreds of juvenile voices were heard singing, in a highly-artistic style, “The Battle-Cry of Freedom.” We soon learned that the assembly was composed of the scholars, teachers and trustees of the public schools of the city, who had chosen this method of welcoming home the heroes of the war for the Union. The different colored ribbons, sashes and rosettes designated the several districts to the schools of which the wearers belonged — the red representing the first, white the second, blue the third, and green the fourth. Among the most prominent of the inscriptions was one explanatory of the scene: ‘The public schools of Washington welcome the heroes of the republic.’ This hung immediately over the entrance to the east portico of the capitol, and was painted upon a large white banner. Opposite to it, over the entrance to the western portico, was another similar banner bearing the inscription, “The only national debt we can never pay is the debt we owe to the victorious Union soldiers.” Other banners arrayed against different parts of the building between these two bore the mottoes, “Honor to the Brave,” “Union and Freedom Forever,” “Welcome Brave Soldiers,” “Defenders of the Country,” etc. At intervals on the hillside, evergreen bushes, dressed with clusters of flowers enhanced the beauty of the scene, and the interest was increased when several children were observed standing ready to bestow upon the soldiers these, charming boquets. Nearly all the Generals, and many of the field officers, were recipients of these favors, and the fair lasses were not a little elated to see their gifts highly prized and carefully preserved by those upon whom they bestowed them. Besides the song named above, the scholars also sung several others equally appropriate and as only a portion of them sung at once after the first piece the singing was continued most of the time while the column was passing. To aid the effect of this well-planned entertainment the schools were accompanied by the Cliffburne Barracks Band, and the band of the Ninth Veteran Reserve Corps, who filled the intervals between the vocal performances by playing a number of popular airs. The soldiers were not slow to appreciate the compliment intended by this welcome, and several times gave utterance to their approbation by hearty cheers for the public schools of Washington.

After passing this point, the sidewalks became densely crowded with spectators of both sexes, and every available place for overlooking the column, such as windows, balconies, &c., was filled with ladies. Most of these expressed their welcome by waiving handkerchiefs, bowing, smiling, and clapping their hands. This was especially the case when they recognized an acquaintance in the column whose attention they desired to attract, and their demonstrations frequently elicited cheering from the troops.

On arriving opposite the Metropolitan Hotel, several regiments, cheered lustly, Gov. FENTRN, of New-York being upon the balcony. His care and attention has endeared the Governor to the troops from his State and his presence was sufficient to account for the enthusiastic demonstration indulged in.

Again on reaching Willard’s Hotel, there was loud cheering in compliment to Gov. CURTIN, of Pennsylvania, who was a witness of the pageant from the balcony in front of that building. There were also loud demonstations in front of a stand on Fifteenth-street south of the Treasury building, where a large number of friends and relatives of the officers and soldiers were assembled.

During the entire march along Pennsylvania-avenue no unpleasant incident occurred to mar the general harmony. The street was kept entirely clear of pedestrians not belonging to the army, and by this careful management no opportunity for accident or disorderly proceedings occurred. All the liquor establishments were closed by order yesterday, and will remain so until Thursday morning.

The day has been memorable and enjoyable beyond expectation or precedent.”


A Second Review Of The Grand Army


Bret Harte

I read last night of the Grand Review
In Washington’s chiefest avenue,—
Two hundred thousand men in blue,
I think they said was the number,—
Till I seemed to hear their trampling feet,
The bugle blast and the drum’s quick beat,
The clatter of hoofs in the stony street,
The cheers of the people who came to greet,
And the thousand details that to repeat
Would only my verse encumber,—
Till I fell in a revery, sad and sweet,
And then to a fitful slumber.

When, lo! in a vision I seemed to stand
In the lonely Capitol. On each hand
Far stretched the portico, dim and grand
Its columns ranged, like a martial band
Of sheeted spectres whom some command
Had called to a last reviewing.
And the streets of the city were white and bare;
No footfall echoed across the square;
But out of the misty midnight air
I heard in the distance a trumpet blare,
And the wandering night-winds seemed to bear
The sound of a far tatooing.

Then I held my breath with fear and dread;
For into the square, with a brazen tread,
There rode a figure whose stately head
O’erlooked the review that morning.
That never bowed from its firm-set seat
When the living column passed its feet,
Yet now rode steadily up the street
To the phantom bugle’s warning:

Till it reached the Capitol square, and wheeled,
And there in the moonlight stood revealed
A well known form that in State and field
Had led our patriot sires;
Whose face was turned to the sleeping camp,
Afar through the river’s fog and damp,
That showed no flicker, nor warning lamp,
Nor wasted bivouac fires.

And I saw a phantom army come,
With never a sound of fife or drum,
But keeping time to a throbbing hum
Of wailing and lamentation:
The martyred heroes of Malvern Hill,
Of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville,
The men whose wasted figures fill
The patriot graves of the nation.

And there came the nameless dead,—the men
Who perished in fever-swamp and fen,
The slowly-starved of the prison-pen;
And marching beside the others,
Came the dusky martyrs of Pillow’s fight,
With limbs enfranchised and bearing bright;
I thought—perhaps ’twas the pale moonlight—
They looked as white as their brothers!

And so all night marched the Nation’s dead,
With never a banner above them spread,
Nor a badge, nor a motto brandished;
No mark—save the bare uncovered head
Of the silent bronze Reviewer;
With never an arch save the vaulted sky;
With never a flower save those that lie
On the distant graves—for love could buy
No gift that was purer or truer.

So all night long swept the strange array;
So all night long, till the morning gray,
I watch’d for one who had passed away,
With a reverent awe and wonder,—
Till a blue cap waved in the lengthening line,
And I knew that one who was kin of mine
Had come; and I spake—and lo! that sign
Awakened me from my slumber.


On May 23 and 24, 1865, the 150,000 men who had made up Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac, headed, in the parade, by General George Meade, William Tecumseh Sherman’s Army of Georgia, and O.O. Howard’s Army of the Tennessee gathered in Washington, D.C., for a grand review. The troops marched down Pennsylvania Avenue past President Andrew Johnson and their commanding generals and were wildly cheered by crowds of onlookers who lined both sides of the street. Following the lavish spectacle, the armies were disbanded and sent home.

Although those who had fallen in battle were memorialized by banners of black crepe and ambulances that trailed along behind each brigade, the poet evidently felt that the review paled in comparison with the sacrifices of those who had given their lives on the battlefield (or had died from a large variety of communicable diseases and battle wound infections).

The “dusky martyrs of Pillow’s fight” referred to in the sixth verse were the soldiers of the 11th U.S. Colored Troops, who died in the battle for Fort Pillow, Tennessee, on April 12, 1864. Northern and Southern accounts of the battle differ dramatically. The Committee on the Conduct of the War maintained that the Confederates, under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest, murdered most of the garrison following its surrender because of the presence of black troops. Southern accounts claimed that the garrison had not surrendered and that the black soldiers were killed in combat. Most modern scholars have concluded that a massacre did take place; how much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Forrest himself is difficult to assess.

From: http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/38977-Francis-Bret-Harte-A-Second-Review-Of-The-Grand-Army

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