The Night Richmond Ate, Drank, and Caught Fire

Robert E. Lee
When the Confederate government moved from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia, the quiet, prosperous Virginia state capital was transformed into a noisy, crowded metropolis that, as Furgurson notes, was capital, military headquarters, transportation hub, industrial heart, prison, and hospital center of the Confederacy. It was also a target for the Union army. In fact, the effort for both the Union and the Confederate armies during much of the Civil War in the east focused on capturing or threatening the enemy's capital city. Since the Union capital--Washington D.C.--and the Confederate capital--Richmond--were located a mere 100 miles apart, much of the fighting raged between these two cities. Washington was never seriously threatened by Southern forces, but Richmond experienced more than its share of alarms and battles.
By early spring 1865 the citizens of Richmond had become used to the threat of capture by the Federal army whose soldiers the Richmond newspapers described with great imagination as the vilest of humanity. Richmond had endured some frighteningly close chances, and its inhabitants had grown accustomed to the sound of artillery fire from just ten miles outside the city. Their faith in Robert E. Lee was so complete that they knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he would never allow Richmond to be taken.
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