Welcome to the central information web-site for the Nation’s Closing Sesquicentennial events to be held in the spring of 2015 in Washington DC. These events have been designed to be educational and to honor those who gave their last full measure for what this nation is and could be.
This site has been provided by the African American Museum of the Civil War, located in Washington, DC. If you are interested in participating in the 2nd Lincoln Inaugural, DC Emancipation Day, The Commemoration of the Lincoln Assassination at Ford’s Theater, The Lincoln Funeral Procession and Train, or the Grand Review Parade down Pennsylvania Ave., the requirements of this site apply to all Reenactors (Military and Civilian) and to all USCT Decedents participating in the parade march. You will then be directed to the individual Sponsor’s links for registration, to include; the Lincoln Group of DC, the Fords Theater Society, the Lincoln Train, Inc. and/or the African American Museum of the Civil War.
All military and all parade participants will be under the command of Maj. General Jake Jennette, the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV), acting as Sherman and /or Col. Dave Childs, the 1stRegiment, United States Volunteers.
Washington DC symbolizes the struggle of the Nation during the Civil War. The war started here, in the halls of the Congress; it was from Washington, D.C., that the goals and objectives of the war were outlined and debated, troops were dispatched, generals named, the Constitution itself was amended, and it was here that the Nation arose to the shock of President Lincoln’s assassination. More so than even the military surrender at Appomattox, it is here that the nation began to heal. In demonstrating this healing, our Rebirth of Union and our Rebirth of Freedom, all reenactors, those of the blue and the grey, as well as the invited dependents of the USCT’s, are asked to dawn the blue and join together for these singular and important events. We do this as a unified hobby, demonstrating a stronger, better America and to serve as a fitting end to the series of 150th battlefield events. What a different world it would be if we could not do this together.
After four years of civil war, the war’s direct cost could be seen throughout the nation. Nearly 10,000 battles, over 600,000 soldiers’ dead, 500,000 wounded and $5 billion in war cost. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox and news would soon be heard of Johnston’s surrender to Sherman in North Carolina. The Nation is saved and the people are free - a celebration acknowledging the end of the war and a union victory was in order.
On May 10, 1865 Johnson had declared that the rebellion and armed resistance was virtually at an end, and had made plans with government authorities for a formal review to honor the troops. One of his side goals was to change the mood of the capital, which was still in mourning following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln the month before at Ford's Theater. On May 18, 1865 the army issued Special Order No. 239, calling for a Grand Review, a two day parade in Washington, D.C., of the main Union armies.
On May 23, 1865, the Army of the Potomac would march down Pennsylvania Avenue. Soldiers of the armies of Georgia and the Tennessee would take center stage the next day. In all, more than 150,000 soldiers would parade through the nation’s capital, filing past the President and his cabinet as well as Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant positioned on a special reviewing stand in front of the White House.
At 9:00 a.m. on May 23, a signal gun fired a single shot and Maj. Gen.George Gordon Meade, the victor of Gettysburg, led an estimated 80,000 men of Army of the Potomac down the streets of Washington from the Capitol down Pennsylvania Avenue past crowds that numbered into the thousands. The infantry marched with 12 men across the road, followed by the divisional and corps artillery, then an array of cavalry regiments that stretched for another seven miles. The mood was one of gaiety and celebration, and the crowds and soldiers frequently engaged in singing patriotic songs as the procession of victorious soldiers snaked its way towards the reviewing stand in front of the White House, where President Johnson, general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant, senior military leaders, the Cabinet, and leading government officials awaited. At the head of his troops, Meade dismounted when he arrived at the reviewing stand and joined the dignitaries to salute his men, who passed for over six hours.
On the following day at 10:00 a.m., Sherman led the 65,000 men of the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of Georgia, with an uncharacteristic semblance of military precision, past the admiring celebrities, most of which had never seen him before. For six hours under bright sunshine, the men who had marched through Georgia and those who had defeated John Bell Hood's army in Tennessee now paraded in front of joyous throngs lining the sidewalks. People peered from windows and rooftops for their first glimpse of this western army. Unlike Meade's army, which had more military precision, Sherman's Georgia force was trailed by a vast crowd of people who had accompanied the army up from Savannah—freed blacks, laborers, adventurers, scavengers, etc. At the very end was a vast herd of cattle and other livestock that had been taken from Carolina farms.
Within a week after the celebrations, the two armies were disbanded and many of the volunteer regiments and batteries were sent home to be mustered out of the army.
The disbandment of the Union armies and the return home of fathers, brothers, and sons signaled to the population at large that they could begin their return to a normal life and that the end had come for the American Civil War.
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