Biographies & Memoirs


FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 1865 



Lincoln is desperate for news from the front. The time away from Washington was meant to be a working vacation, and it has clearly revived the president. The “incredible sadness” he has carried for so long is gone, replaced by “serene joy.” Mary Lincoln has joined her husband at City Point, bringing with her a small complement of guests from Washington. The mood in the nation’s capital has turned festive since the fall of Richmond. Mary and her guests plan to visit Richmond in the morning, as if the burned-out husk of a city has become a tourist attraction. Lincoln will stay behind on the riverboat and tend to the war. Still, he is glad for the company. He tells jokes and makes small talk, all the while wondering when the next telegram from General Grant will arrive.

Early on the morning of April 7, just hours after Sayler’s Creek, Lincoln receives the news for which he’s been waiting. Grant’s telegram states that Sheridan has ridden over the battlefield, counting Confederate dead and captured, particularly the many top Confederate generals now in Union custody. “If the thing is pressed,” Grant quotes Sheridan as saying, “I think Lee will surrender.”

Lincoln telegraphs his heartfelt reply: “Let the thing be pressed.”

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