Research End of Civil War Question

Zack

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The men of the Army of the Potomac, Army of the Tennessee, and Army of Georgia all marched north following the conclusion of the war to participate in the Grand Review of the Armies. The men of the Army of the Potomac paraded through Washington DC on May 23. While some soldiers were excited to participate, others were annoyed at the delay in returning home. Within a week after the conclusion of the review, the armies were disbanded and sent home. Most regiments appear to have mustered out over the following few months (the 6th Wisconsin for example mustered out on July 2, 1865; the 5th New Hampshire July 28; the 64th New York July 14). This tradition of quickly mustering out volunteer soldiers at the conclusion of a war continued through WW2.

Here's a good general resource:

And I also recommend this book:
MARCHING HOME: UNION VETERANS AND THEIR UNENDING CIVIL WAR
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0871407817/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
 

Zack

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An excerpt from the text:

During the months of May and June, brigades of men began lumbering north, traveling by iron horse, paddle-wheel steamer, or, in some rare cases, on foot. "The brave heroes of our Army are being sent home by thousands every day," one Massachusetts captain reported. Desiring a swift demobilization, the ever-resourceful Quartermaster General Montgomery Cunningham Meigs devised detailed itineraries for returning soldiers - charting routes, contacting rail lines, and scheduling river transportation. "Everything," Meigs maintained, "should be done to enable those soldiers who have survived the dangers of four years of warfare to reach their homes with the least inconvenience, fatigue, suffering, and danger." With a squall of circulars, he issued the men of the Union armies their final marching orders. Troops headed to New England were advised to march to Baltimore, board a Philadelphia-bound locomotive, and from there mount another train for New Haven, Hartford, or Springfield. Men bound for Iowa would rail through Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago before reaching Dubuque, Fulton, Burlington, or Keokuk; troops returning to central Pennsylvania or upstate New York would ride the North Central Railway to Harrisburg or Elmira. Those headed to the far west would use the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad as far as the Ohio River, and then board a steamer in either Parkersburg or Cincinnati. Meigs advised railroad companies to make frequent stops, ensuring that the soldiers could "attend to the calls of nature." As a result, most northern cities received almost daily shipments of returning veterans, which served only to reinforce the idea of Union victory in the minds of civilians.

Despite Meigs's best efforts, rail transportation grew so congested in June and July that many regiments - hoping to circumvent the inevitable delays - agreed to make taxing marches to less congested depots. Upon learning that Chicago-bound trains from Louisville were hopelessly behind schedule, the men of the 96th Illinois marched across the Ohio River to New Albany, Indiana, where, they were informed, there were "no delays." Upon their arrival at the depot, however, the veterans discovered that there were no passenger trains available to convey them farther north. Reluctantly, and with no little "outrage," the soldiers piled into frigid freight cars reeking of "cattle offal" and "wet sawdust."
...
At first glance, demobilization was a stunning success, accomplished at breakneck speed. But the striking fact that over 800,000 men were released from military service in the space of six months should not mislead us - the demobilization of the Union armies was a protracted process, punctuated with delay, discomfort, and even disaster.
 

C. Roemer

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The men of the Army of the Potomac, Army of the Tennessee, and Army of Georgia all marched north following the conclusion of the war to participate in the Grand Review of the Armies. The men of the Army of the Potomac paraded through Washington DC on May 23. While some soldiers were excited to participate, others were annoyed at the delay in returning home. Within a week after the conclusion of the review, the armies were disbanded and sent home. Most regiments appear to have mustered out over the following few months (the 6th Wisconsin for example mustered out on July 2, 1865; the 5th New Hampshire July 28; the 64th New York July 14). This tradition of quickly mustering out volunteer soldiers at the conclusion of a war continued through WW2.

Here's a good general resource:

And I also recommend this book:
MARCHING HOME: UNION VETERANS AND THEIR UNENDING CIVIL WAR
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0871407817/?tag=civilwartalkc-20
Very helpful. Thank you! One more question. Would it have been out of the question for an officer to ask for a short leave following Lee's surrender? In the novel I'm writing, I need my hero to go on a short leave days after the surrender until Lincoln's assassination. Would that be out of the question? He's a captain. Thanks!
 

Zack

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It's not particularly likely. General Joseph Johnston's Army of Tennessee was still active in the field, and Grant recalled in his memoirs (page 643) "When I left Appomattox I ordered General Meade to proceed leisurely to Burkesville Station with the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James, and to go into camp there until further orders from me. General Johnston, as has been stated before, was in North Carolina confronting General Sherman. It could not be known positively, of course, whether Johnston would surrender on the news of Lee's surrender, though I supposed he would; and if he did not, Burkesville Station was the natural point from which to move to attack him. The army which I could have sent against was superior to his, and that with which Sherman confronted him was also superior; and between the two he would necessarily be crushed, or driven away."

As Grant predicted, Sherman was able to finish Johnston off on his own, leading to the surrender of Johnston's Army of Tennessee between April 17 and April 26, 1865 at Bennett Place, North Carolina.

April 26, incidentally enough, was the same day Booth died in Virginia after the twelve day manhunt.

Following the surrender of Joseph Johnston, the Army of the Potomac made its way to Washington DC from roughly May 2-12 or thereabouts.

My understanding is that an officer would not be granted leave during active campaigning season. Soldiers usually went home in the winter when the armies were in their winter quarters. Many soldiers never received leave or furlough at any point during the war. There are a number of threads on furloughs:

In his classic study THE LIFE OF BILLY YANK, Bell Wiley writes (page 292) that "policies governing leave [were] haphazard throughout the conflict." Many soldiers who re-enlisted in the winter of 1863-1864 were, however, allowed to go home for 30 days on furlough. In fact, this offer of furlough was used to try to encourage more soldiers to re-enlist. Outside of these instances, however, it was very hard for an enlisted man to get permission to visit home.

This article discusses leave/furlough as well:

That being said - if an officer was very sick or seriously wounded they may be allowed to go home and recover - convalesce is the particular term. William Francis Bartlett, for example, was wounded and had his leg amputated in 1862 and was allowed to go to Baltimore and then home to Boston to recover. He was wounded again in 1863 and went home where he raised a new regiment. And he was wounded yet again in 1864 and went home to recover.

This website - https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/the-wounded.html - includes the following information:
"Each side eventually had many of these general hospitals. Their purpose was long-term care for wounded and sick soldiers with an expected lengthy recovery time—weeks or months, or in some cases even years. The preferred outcome was the return of the rehabilitated soldier to his regiment. However, in cases of disabling amputation and wounds, the hospital attempted to get the soldier to a level of convalescence permitting him to be discharged from the army and sent home. In some cases, soldiers wounded in the extremities, who suffered arterial bleeding or severe infections such as gangrene, underwent an initial or a corrective amputation at the general hospital (although most amputations were done in the field hospitals)."

Someone else is probably more knowledgeable about how this process played out, but I can imagine a hypothetical scenario where a very sick or grievously wounded officer would be sent home following the surrender to try to recover. Perhaps his home is Washington DC or he happens to be passing through DC at the time of the assassination. Even then, however, it's a very tight window from April 9 to April 14 for a soldier to be granted permission to leave, find a means to go north, and arrive in DC.

Of course, there is always deserting if you need your officer to get from point A to point B quickly.....
 

Lubliner

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@C. Roemer in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series III, Volume V has all the official orders for the commands on mustering out, places of rendezvous, etc. For instance, just opening to page 20 to 21, May 15, 1865, General Orders No. 94 states;

"The following regulations are announced, and will be observed in discharging from service such volunteers as are hereafter are to be mustered out with their regimental or company organizations:
1: Army corps, or at least the divisions thereof, will be kept intact, and immediately upon receipt of an order directing any portion of the forces to be mustered out commanding generals of armies and departments will order the said troops (if not already thereat) to one of the following rendezvous, viz:
Middle Military Division, and troops of other armies and departments arriving therein: Defenses of Washington, D. C : Harper's Ferry, Va., and Cumberland, Md.
2. Military Division of the James: Richmond and Old Point Comfort, Va.
3. Department of North Carolina: New Berne and Wilmington.
4. Department of the South: Charleston, S. C., and Savannah, Ga.
etc. [all the Departments.]

Further on the same page 21;
" A. As soon as the rolls of a regiment are completed, the said company with its arms, colors, and necessary equipage will be placed en route to its State, and to the rendezvous therein at or nearest to the place it was mustered in. (ƣ) En route, and after arrival in the State, the following will be observed:...."

There is much more information within this volume you can locate on the Cornell website. Mine is a disk and may be numbered differently than what they provide.
Lubliner.
 

C. Roemer

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It's not particularly likely. General Joseph Johnston's Army of Tennessee was still active in the field, and Grant recalled in his memoirs (page 643) "When I left Appomattox I ordered General Meade to proceed leisurely to Burkesville Station with the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James, and to go into camp there until further orders from me. General Johnston, as has been stated before, was in North Carolina confronting General Sherman. It could not be known positively, of course, whether Johnston would surrender on the news of Lee's surrender, though I supposed he would; and if he did not, Burkesville Station was the natural point from which to move to attack him. The army which I could have sent against was superior to his, and that with which Sherman confronted him was also superior; and between the two he would necessarily be crushed, or driven away."

As Grant predicted, Sherman was able to finish Johnston off on his own, leading to the surrender of Johnston's Army of Tennessee between April 17 and April 26, 1865 at Bennett Place, North Carolina.

April 26, incidentally enough, was the same day Booth died in Virginia after the twelve day manhunt.

Following the surrender of Joseph Johnston, the Army of the Potomac made its way to Washington DC from roughly May 2-12 or thereabouts.

My understanding is that an officer would not be granted leave during active campaigning season. Soldiers usually went home in the winter when the armies were in their winter quarters. Many soldiers never received leave or furlough at any point during the war. There are a number of threads on furloughs:

In his classic study THE LIFE OF BILLY YANK, Bell Wiley writes (page 292) that "policies governing leave [were] haphazard throughout the conflict." Many soldiers who re-enlisted in the winter of 1863-1864 were, however, allowed to go home for 30 days on furlough. In fact, this offer of furlough was used to try to encourage more soldiers to re-enlist. Outside of these instances, however, it was very hard for an enlisted man to get permission to visit home.

This article discusses leave/furlough as well:

That being said - if an officer was very sick or seriously wounded they may be allowed to go home and recover - convalesce is the particular term. William Francis Bartlett, for example, was wounded and had his leg amputated in 1862 and was allowed to go to Baltimore and then home to Boston to recover. He was wounded again in 1863 and went home where he raised a new regiment. And he was wounded yet again in 1864 and went home to recover.

This website - https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/the-wounded.html - includes the following information:
"Each side eventually had many of these general hospitals. Their purpose was long-term care for wounded and sick soldiers with an expected lengthy recovery time—weeks or months, or in some cases even years. The preferred outcome was the return of the rehabilitated soldier to his regiment. However, in cases of disabling amputation and wounds, the hospital attempted to get the soldier to a level of convalescence permitting him to be discharged from the army and sent home. In some cases, soldiers wounded in the extremities, who suffered arterial bleeding or severe infections such as gangrene, underwent an initial or a corrective amputation at the general hospital (although most amputations were done in the field hospitals)."

Someone else is probably more knowledgeable about how this process played out, but I can imagine a hypothetical scenario where a very sick or grievously wounded officer would be sent home following the surrender to try to recover. Perhaps his home is Washington DC or he happens to be passing through DC at the time of the assassination. Even then, however, it's a very tight window from April 9 to April 14 for a soldier to be granted permission to leave, find a means to go north, and arrive in DC.

Of course, there is always deserting if you need your officer to get from point A to point B quickly.....
This is very helpful information. My hero was at Richmond just after the evacuation helping douse fires during the takeover (April 3, 1865). His home is in New York, but I need him to have a short leave (around April 11-13) to go in search of the heroine that lives near Monocacy Junction, MD. I then have him return to Washington (April 14) to discover Pres. Lincoln has been shot. I don't know if all that is plausible. I'm sure it's a stretch, but then, it is a work of fiction. =)
 

A. Roy

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I need him to have a short leave (around April 11-13) to go in search of the heroine that lives near Monocacy Junction, MD. I then have him return to Washington (April 14) to discover Pres. Lincoln has been shot. I don't know if all that is plausible. I'm sure it's a stretch, but then, it is a work of fiction. =)

It's important for him to be able to reach that heroine, so I would say extraordinary efforts are justified! 😁

Roy B.
 

James N.

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Very helpful. Thank you! One more question. Would it have been out of the question for an officer to ask for a short leave following Lee's surrender? In the novel I'm writing, I need my hero to go on a short leave days after the surrender until Lincoln's assassination. Would that be out of the question? He's a captain. Thanks!
Another angle might be for him to have requested the leave BEFORE the April 1-2 assault at Petersburg, but to not actually receive approval until afterwards. Or, perhaps having received permission, wait until right after Appomattox to actually begin the leave. Only Grant himself actually "knew" there would be a general assault leading to the campaign that ended the war. For example, President Lincoln was visiting Grant at his City Point headquarters in the last days of March and was preparing to return to Washington when Grant gently "suggested" that he *might* want to stick around a few days longer!
 

Zack

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As with any hero racing to the airport to catch his love before she flies off, I'm sure your hero can find a way to skirt the rules of military law. Perhaps the colonel offers to look the other way? Perhaps he "accidentally" gets marked down as discharged or wounded and sent north?

In 1862, a number of soldiers of the 6th Wisconsin complained to their colonel that they were short on rations. Bell Wiley records what happened next: "The colonel pointed to a clump of farmhouses on a hill and said: 'I'm going to take a short nap. Don't let me see or hear your foraging on this march. I think I see a smokehouse near that white residence.'"

In other words, they were all human, and friends were more than willing to look the other way if it was for a good reason. Is it plausible an officer would be allowed to go home so soon after Appomattox? No. But is it possible? Of course!

Bear in mind also that Civil War regiments were not the epitome of discipline we imagine in the modern army. Volunteers with a "strong independent-minded American spirit" were notoriously hard to control. Many companies and regiments were raised locally, meaning officers may be giving orders to pre-war friends who were less than willing to oblige. As John Billings writes in HARDTACK AND COFFEE (page 153): "There were regiments each of which, when off duty, seemed to contain at least two or three hundred colonels and captains, so much social freedom obtained between officers and rank and file, yet at the proper time there was just one commander of such a regiment to whom the men looked ready to do his bidding, even to follow him into the jaws of death. These officers were not always devout men; at an earlier period in their lives some of them may have learned to be profane; some drank commissary whiskey occasionally, it may be; but in all their dealings with subordinates, while they made rigid exactions of them as soldiers, they never forgot that they were men."

The colonel and your hero could have been close friends before the war; hell, the colonel may even know the heroine!

"I've received an urgent letter from heroine that she is in imminent danger!"
"Interesting...well it's a shame that our pickets were so lax this evening, what with the end of the war upon us. Such a shame you were grievously wounded too and sent home to recover!"

Y'know - that old cliche.
 

C. Roemer

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As with any hero racing to the airport to catch his love before she flies off, I'm sure your hero can find a way to skirt the rules of military law. Perhaps the colonel offers to look the other way? Perhaps he "accidentally" gets marked down as discharged or wounded and sent north?

In 1862, a number of soldiers of the 6th Wisconsin complained to their colonel that they were short on rations. Bell Wiley records what happened next: "The colonel pointed to a clump of farmhouses on a hill and said: 'I'm going to take a short nap. Don't let me see or hear your foraging on this march. I think I see a smokehouse near that white residence.'"

In other words, they were all human, and friends were more than willing to look the other way if it was for a good reason. Is it plausible an officer would be allowed to go home so soon after Appomattox? No. But is it possible? Of course!

Bear in mind also that Civil War regiments were not the epitome of discipline we imagine in the modern army. Volunteers with a "strong independent-minded American spirit" were notoriously hard to control. Many companies and regiments were raised locally, meaning officers may be giving orders to pre-war friends who were less than willing to oblige. As John Billings writes in HARDTACK AND COFFEE (page 153): "There were regiments each of which, when off duty, seemed to contain at least two or three hundred colonels and captains, so much social freedom obtained between officers and rank and file, yet at the proper time there was just one commander of such a regiment to whom the men looked ready to do his bidding, even to follow him into the jaws of death. These officers were not always devout men; at an earlier period in their lives some of them may have learned to be profane; some drank commissary whiskey occasionally, it may be; but in all their dealings with subordinates, while they made rigid exactions of them as soldiers, they never forgot that they were men."

The colonel and your hero could have been close friends before the war; hell, the colonel may even know the heroine!

"I've received an urgent letter from heroine that she is in imminent danger!"
"Interesting...well it's a shame that our pickets were so lax this evening, what with the end of the war upon us. Such a shame you were grievously wounded too and sent home to recover!"

Y'know - that old cliche.
I like your ideas. Will give it some thought. I'll get him off to her somehow. =) Thanks!
 

C. Roemer

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Another angle might be for him to have requested the leave BEFORE the April 1-2 assault at Petersburg, but to not actually receive approval until afterwards. Or, perhaps having received permission, wait until right after Appomattox to actually begin the leave. Only Grant himself actually "knew" there would be a general assault leading to the campaign that ended the war. For example, President Lincoln was visiting Grant at his City Point headquarters in the last days of March and was preparing to return to Washington when Grant gently "suggested" that he *might* want to stick around a few days longer!
Yes. A good idea too. Thanks.
 

C. Roemer

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@C. Roemer in the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series III, Volume V has all the official orders for the commands on mustering out, places of rendezvous, etc. For instance, just opening to page 20 to 21, May 15, 1865, General Orders No. 94 states;

"The following regulations are announced, and will be observed in discharging from service such volunteers as are hereafter are to be mustered out with their regimental or company organizations:
1: Army corps, or at least the divisions thereof, will be kept intact, and immediately upon receipt of an order directing any portion of the forces to be mustered out commanding generals of armies and departments will order the said troops (if not already thereat) to one of the following rendezvous, viz:
Middle Military Division, and troops of other armies and departments arriving therein: Defenses of Washington, D. C : Harper's Ferry, Va., and Cumberland, Md.
2. Military Division of the James: Richmond and Old Point Comfort, Va.
3. Department of North Carolina: New Berne and Wilmington.
4. Department of the South: Charleston, S. C., and Savannah, Ga.
etc. [all the Departments.]

Further on the same page 21;
" A. As soon as the rolls of a regiment are completed, the said company with its arms, colors, and necessary equipage will be placed en route to its State, and to the rendezvous therein at or nearest to the place it was mustered in. (ƣ) En route, and after arrival in the State, the following will be observed:...."

There is much more information within this volume you can locate on the Cornell website. Mine is a disk and may be numbered differently than what they provide.
Lubliner.
Thanks for this info. I appreciate it.
 

NH Civil War Gal

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Here's another thing about furloughs, sometimes a group were given just so many and they had to draw for them. I'm currently reading a diary "What The Private Saw." I'm downstairs right now and don't have the book in front of me - but the private is in the Union and in his particular group the Captain gives X amount of furloughs to the men and they have to draw for them. This seems to be a pretty regular feature he writes about (I'm recalling his group is from Pennsylvania) and to be honest, I've read A LOT of diaries and other CW books and have never heard of drawing for furloughs until this one.
 

C. Roemer

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Here's another thing about furloughs, sometimes a group were given just so many and they had to draw for them. I'm currently reading a diary "What The Private Saw." I'm downstairs right now and don't have the book in front of me - but the private is in the Union and in his particular group the Captain gives X amount of furloughs to the men and they have to draw for them. This seems to be a pretty regular feature he writes about (I'm recalling his group is from Pennsylvania) and to be honest, I've read A LOT of diaries and other CW books and have never heard of drawing for furloughs until this one.
Interesting. I'll keep that in mind. Thanks!
 

Zack

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Location
Los Angeles, California
This is very helpful information. My hero was at Richmond just after the evacuation helping douse fires during the takeover (April 3, 1865). His home is in New York, but I need him to have a short leave (around April 11-13) to go in search of the heroine that lives near Monocacy Junction, MD. I then have him return to Washington (April 14) to discover Pres. Lincoln has been shot. I don't know if all that is plausible. I'm sure it's a stretch, but then, it is a work of fiction. =)

One interesting thing I just discovered is that the first unit to occupy Richmond and help extinguish the evacuation fires - Brevet Major General August V. Kautz's First Division of Major General Godfrey Weitzel's XXV Corps - was composed almost entirely of African-American soldiers. They were then redeployed to Texas in May of 1865 to confront the French army of Napoleon III occupying Mexico.

From a blog (https://acwm.org/blog/then-yankees-came-federal-commanders-occupied-richmond-1865-70/):

"On April 3, 1865, Federal troops prepared to march into Richmond. A cavalry detachment under Majors Stevens and Graves [note - 4th Massachusetts Cavalry, Companies E & H: Maj Atherton H. Stevens, Jr.] moved up the Osborne Turnpike, east of Richmond. Here they met Richmond Mayor Joseph Mayo and a small party moving toward them in a carriage flying a white flag. The Mayor passed a note to Stevens advising him that Confederate forces had withdrawn from Richmond and asking that Federal troops occupy the city, some parts of which were on fire.

Stevens forwarded Mayo’s note to his commander, Major General (MG) Godfrey Weitzel. At 8:15 A.M. at Richmond’s city hall, Weitzel formally accepted the terms of surrender. The Union forces assisted in extinguishing the fires, started before dawn by Confederate soldiers trying to destroy military supplies. By midafternoon order had begun to be restored to the city.

Before sundown, African-American troops of the XXV Corps were in the city, and MG Weitzel had sent word to General Ulysses Grant and President Lincoln at City Point, Virginia and also to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in Washington, D.C. that Richmond had fallen.

The word spread like wildfire on telegraph lines throughout the North. The fall of Richmond, the Rebel Capital, was an extremely significant event in the minds of Americans in the North, even more so than the surrender of Lee’s army a week later at Appomattox."

It's also worth noting that Lincoln himself visited Richmond April 4-5, 1865 (http://www.mrlincolnandfreedom.org/civil-war/black-soldiers/entering-richmond/)

It appears the first brigade and elements of the second brigade of the first division of the XXV Corps were the ones who first marched into Richmond on April 3. The first unit to enter the city was the 29th Connecticut (Colored) with companies C and G out in front as skirmishers.

1st Brigade
- 22nd USCT
- 36th USCT
- 38th USCT
- 118th USCT

2nd Brigade
- 29th Connecticut (colored)
- 115th USCT
- 9th USCT
- The 117th USCT did not go to Richmond

The 22nd USCT was detached in April to travel to Washington DC to participate in Lincoln's funeral service before participating in the hunt for Lincoln's assassins. They returned to their corps in May prior to the move to Texas in late May.

All that being said, RICHMOND BURNING: THE LAST DAYS OF THE CONFEDERATE CAPITAL notes:
“The report that black troops of the USCTs were first to enter Richmond was especially welcome to many in the North. In Washington, Gen. Benjamin Butler, former commander of the Army of the James, told a crowd it was divine retribution that black soldiers were the first to liberate Richmond. Despite the sense of poetic justice that the story represented to many northerners, it probably was an exaggeration. The point at which the 36th​ USCT stopped and cheered the passing white regiments of [General Charles] Devens’s division was certainly in the outskirts of Richmond. But it was at the point where the Osborne Turnpike and the New Market Road converge just below the city, not within the city limits. For days in the columns of newspapers – and for decades to come in Union soldiers’ memoirs – the issue of whose regiment got to Richmond first remained a hot one."

Charles Devens's was the Third Division of the XXIV Corps, composed of white regiments.

The author, Nelson Lankford, discusses the events of the fall of Richmond here (jump to 24 minutes):
 

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