Final Farewell
  The Confederate evacuation of Petersburg began about 8 p.m. on the night of the 2nd.  The artillery moved first, after disabling heavy guns that could not be carried along.  There is a story that some cannon were buried and were given head boards to make the spots resemble graves and that blacks later revealed the locations to Union soldiers.  The infantry followed.  Then came the pickets and, last the engineer troops who were to destroy the bridges across the Appomattox. Longstreet's and Hill's corps and the pickets crossed over the Battersea pontoon bridge, headed toward the River Road in Chesterfield County.
Later Gordon's corps and the pickets crossed the Pocahontas and railroad bridges, headed toward Hickory Road.  Lee is believed to have crossed the Battersea bridge.  At the mouth of Hickory Road he paused to watch the passing of the troops.  The greater part of the infantry had crossed over into Chesterfield not long after midnight.  The infantry withdrawn from Petersburg numbered about 12,500, from the Richmond-Petersburg line between 28,000 and 30,000. The last soldier killed in the defense of Petersburg may have been a North Carolinian who went back across Pocahontas bridge to get some baggage and was struck in his side by a fragment of a shell.

   The withdrawl itself was a difficult movement which was made in good order. Some of the residents went out to watch the passing of armies, and even in the hour of evacuation a few soldiers found time to visit homes where they had made friends.  When a private of artillery dropped dead on West Washington Street, his comrades placed his body in the yard of the Second Presbyterian Church, with a note, "Please bury me," pinned on it.

   Beginning their early morning assault, units of the IX Corps advanced across empty works.  Meeting at 4 o'clock as agreed, members of the common council broke up into little squads which proceeded to the principal entrances of the city carrying a paper signed by Mayor W.W. Townes, D'Arcy Paul, and Charles F. Collier, as a committee of the Common Council, offering surrender of the city and requesting protection of persons and property  Some carried white handkerchiefs on walking sticks.  They went out Bollingbrook, Bank, Wythe, South Sycamore, Harding, Halifax, Farmer and Washington Streets.  Papers of surrender are said to have been accepted by other officers, including General Wright of the VI Corps, but the city officially was surrendered at 4:28 on the morning of the 3rd to Colonel Ralph Ely, of the IX Corps.  Assurance of protection was given, and guards were placed on the streets.

   Grant entered the city about 9 a.m. and made temporary headquarters at the residence of Thomas Wallace.  He was eager to be on his way, but he had invited Lincoln to visit him.  Lincoln, wearing a high silk hat and a long-tailed black frock coat, had come part of the way on the military railroad and the remainder on horse.  An aide doubted he had ever had a happier moment in his life.  Observers of the historic scene consisted chiefly of blacks dressed in their Sunday best.  After Lincoln left, Grant moved on to the business at hand.  He spent the night near Sutherland Station on the Southside Railroad.

   Most of the white people in Petersburg---estimated by Union sources at fewer than 5,000...remained behind closed doors and drawn blinds.  Sutlers moved into vacant stores and began doing business; hard money came out of hiding to be invested in such things as cheese and coffee.  Those who had no hard money and were willing to sacrifice pride were given food by the Union commissary, which indeed continued to issue rations through November, 1865.

   There were some ugly episodes, but Union guards established order.  Residents who ventured into the streets found that decorum prevailed.  One who said he had never seen so many people together estimated the total at 50,000.  Union soldiers with whom residents talked said they had been surprised to enter the city without a fight and could hardly believe they were in Petersburg.  One called it the handsomest southern city he had seen, although it suggested a combination of city and village.

   Although cotton and tobacco had been burned the day before, there was still tobacco which could be had without the asking.  Supplies of apple brandy were discovered, and the effects were soon visible.  In vain an undertaker tried to prevent the seizure of 30 rosewood coffins, on the grounds they were private property and not the spoils of war.  Major R.C. Eden and Captain C.H. McCreery occupied the plant of the Petersburg Express and began publishing Grant's Petersburg Progress; the property was returned to its owners in about two weeks.

  A column of black troops singing "John Browns Body," stood in South Market Street before being ordered to turn west on Washington Street.  The Second Brigade, First Division, XI Corps was left behind for provost duty.  Major General George L. Hartsuff was named district commander and established headquarters at Center Hill.

   Most of the Union troops moved westward from the points where they were stationed and did not have an opportunity to gratify any curiosity they may have felt about the city which they had faced so long.  Troops of the IX Corps, cheering and waving banners, passed through Petersburg, but only because it lay across their direct route.
Of a sudden Petersburg had ceased to be militarily important.
Union Army Wagon Train enters Petersburg on Washington Street.
Final Assault
Years afterward, a Confederate who survived the rigors of the campaign for the Cockade City cautioned  future historians:
"The story of Petersburg will never be written; volumes would
be required to contain it, and even those who went through the trying ordeal cannot recall a satisfactory outline of the weird and graphic occurrences of that stormy period."
Salute of Honor

Siege Index
Final Assault
Salute of Honor
Siege Index