The Other Grand Reviews

It is well known that Union armies held Grand Reviews in Washington, D.C. at the end of the war, but did you know that they did so in Richmond as well?

Richmond had been in Union hands since April 3, 1865 when Federal troops occupied the city. Following the surrenders at Appomattox and Bennet Place over the next few weeks, various U.S. forces marched towards Washington, D.C. by way of Richmond. There were three reviews of the victorious troops in Richmond that May. In order these were the Army of the Potomac (only the 2nd and 5th Corps), the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of Georgia, and the 6th Corps.

The 2nd and 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac came through first on their way towards Washington. The 9th Corps was still in the southside of Virginia and the 6th Corps had moved towards Danville with the intention of joining Union troops in North Carolina to face the Army of Tennessee. Once Johnston surrendered that army, the 6th Corps was free to turn around and march north, following the 2nd and 5th Corps.

On May 6th the 2nd and 5th Corps marched through the former Confederate Capital. It was a warm day, and the march began at 7 am and lasted until 3pm. Generals Meade and Halleck reviewed the troops in front of City Hall. The 5th Corps led the way, followed by the 2nd. One Union officer wrote that “cheers could be heard all along as they passed through the streets.”

S. Millett Thompson of the 13th New Hampshire, standing along the route, noted, “Many of these troops having no arms march with old brooms, and hundreds of little broom-corn clothes brushes are stuck in the muzzles of muskets and borne aloft- the broom the emblem of a clean sweep.”

On May 11, 1865, the Union Army of the Tennessee marched through the capital, followed by the Union Army of Georgia the next day. These were both commanded by Gen. William T. Sherman, and had completed their campaign through the Carolinas. One soldier noted, “On the morning of the 11th we crossed the pontoon-bridge at Richmond, marched through that city, and out on the Hanover Court-House road.”

James River in Richmond
Union troops crossed into Richmond from right to left, using a pontoon bridge that stood in the far distance of this view.

Another wrote, “The arrival of Sherman’s army, which was looked forward to with much interest, took place on the 12th of May… it was two days in passing through Richmond, and at no time was there any lack of interest in viewing it. It presented a less trim and strictly military appearance than the Army of the Potomac, but moved along with a wide step and an easy, swinging gait as if marching was a real pleasure.”

VA state capitol
The Confederate congress met in the Virginia State Capitol building. It was a highlight for visiting Union troops.

Here is the route taken by Sherman’s veterans on May 11 and 12:

From Manchester they crossed a pontoon bridge to 17th Street, turned onto Cary Street, marched to 21st Street, turned onto Main Street, turned onto 13th Street, marched to Capitol Street, turned onto Grace Street, then to Adams Street, and finally onto Brook Road. Along the way they passed landmarks like Libby Prison and Capitol Square. Libby was of immense interest to many, having heard about the infamous prison. On Capitol Square was seen the massive George Washington monument, and the state capitol, which hosted the Confederate Congress. For all the troops, it must have been a profound experience, marching through the city they had labored so long to capture.

The Confederate White House
The former Confederate White House was headquarters for Union occupation troops.

Occupation troops from the 24th Corps who were stationed in the city lined the streets to salute Sherman’s troops as they marched by. General Henry Halleck sat at a reviewing stand near the Washington Monument on Capitol Square. As the troops marched their flags were unfurled and bands played. The armies under Sherman continued north, passing by the battlefields around Fredericksburg. They participated in the Grand Review on Washington on May 24.

Washington monument
Gen. Henry Halleck reviewed the marching troops in the shadow of the Washington Monument on Capitol Square.


map of Richmond showing march routes.
Map of the three victory marches through Richmond.

Map Key: 1865 map of Richmond showing the review routes:

Yellow: Army of the Potomac (2nd and 6th Corps)- May 6

Green: Army of the Tennessee and Army of Georgia- May 11-12

Red: 6th Corps- May 23

Libby Prison was on the far right, and the Capitol Square is just right of center.

6 Responses to The Other Grand Reviews

  1. Do you have sources? I might want to add this to my manuscript on an Illinois regiment in the Army of the Tennessee. Thanks!

    1. Hi Thomas, most of this came from the Official Records, I don’t have it in front of me, but the volume that covers May 1865 in Va.

  2. Halleck may have been a bit uncomfortable in reviewing Sherman’s troops. He and Sherman had just suffered a major falling out in connection with the controversy arising from Sherman’s initial – and wildly generous – terms of surrender that he had offered Joe Johnston, which the Administration had rejected. Halleck had appeared to support Stanton’s public insinuations that Sherman had entered into a treasonous bargain to allow Jefferson Davis to escape with millions in Confederate gold. Sherman not only declined his old friend’s offer to stay with him (Halleck) while in Richmond, but warned Halleck “I beg you to keep slightly perdu” (out of sight) during his troops’ march through the town, because Sherman could not answer for what his angered troops might due if they spied Halleck.

    1. Yes! They despised each other at this point and there was a great deal of tension.

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