Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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THIS DAY IN VIRGINIA HISTORY

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April 03, 1865

Broadside 1865 .V64 BOX, Special Collections, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Broadside 1865 .V64 BOX, Special Collections, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Richmond Fell to Union Forces

Before Confederate forces retreated across the James River and south of the city, they set fire to storehouses of tobacco and supplies on the riverfront. Spread by winds and aided by disorderly residents and soldiers, the fires went unchecked, burning a large part of the city's warehouse and business districts, and narrowly avoiding the destruction of the Capitol building. When Union troops entered the capital of the Confederacy, their first task was to battle the flames and save the city from complete ruin. The Civil War was effectively over six days later when General Robert E. Lee (1807–1870) surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) at Appomattox Court House.