Tag Archives: Grand Review

Grand Review of the Armies

When the Grand Review of the Armies took place in Washington, D.C. — a mammoth procession and celebration held 23-24 May 1865 at the close of the U.S. Civil War — my ancestor Union Pvt. Arthur Bull was still on duty in Virginia with the 6th New York Heavy Artillery and en route to a new location.

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpb.02949/
U.S. Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops at the Grand Review of the Armies, Washington, D.C. (24 May 1865). Shown is the 20th Army Corps., Army of the Georgia, passing in review as seen from the the Treasury Bldgs. looking up Pennsylvania Ave. My ancestor Union Pvt. Arthur Bull was still on duty in Virginia during the Grand Review and en route to a new assignment. Photo: Library of Congress

As members of the Union Armies of the Potomac, Shenandoah, Georgia and Tennessee marched down Pennsylvania Avenue 150 years ago this week — before cheering crowds and past the presidential reviewing stand — Sgt. William Thistleton chronicled the 6th NYHA’s movements near Petersburg, Va., where my ancestor had been stationed since 2 May 1865.

May 23rd at 7 we left our quarters for a little march to the canal basin about 1 ½ miles the other side of the city [of Petersburg] camped all night in the freight house.

May 24th took the cars at the South Side Railroad went to Burkeville station arrived at 1 P.M. rested until 4 P.M. then we marched about 5 miles halted for the night.

May 25th at 5 a.m. on the march again marched 16 ½ miles to Lunenburg Court House arrived at 1 P.M. weather very warm.

My great, great grandfather entered the service in January 1864, and he was scheduled to serve for three years. Now that the Civil War was officially over, Arthur and others in his regiment likely hoped for an early release to return home.

So they may have been surprised by this new assignment, as reflected in 6th NYHA Pvt. Orson L. Reynolds’ letters to his wife.

Petersburg, Va., May 7th, 1865: Another week has rolled around and we still remain at Petersburg…We will probably stay here until the State government gets into operation and no longer…I have a much easier time here than I probably should were I at home. Yet I long to be with my wife and children.

Lunenburg Court House, Va., May 27, 1865: I am some seventy miles south west from Petersburgh (sic) & of course so much farther from home. Our Regiment took the cars last Wednesday for Burksville Junction and were marched from thence to this place arriving Thursday noon…I am told our prospects remain good for our remaining here for the remainder of our term of service.

Arthur’s 6th NYHA regiment was now attached to the Union Army of the James in Sub-District of Roanoke, District of the Nottoway in the Dept. of Virgnia.

More on his regiment’s new duties in the next post.

© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Postwar Petersburg

When my Union Army ancestor Pvt. Arthur Bull returned to active service with his 6th N.Y. Heavy Artillery regiment on 2 May 1865, he reported to Blandford, Virginia, near Petersburg — a new location which brought new postwar duties.

By: Internet Archive Book Images
Civil War map of Petersburg, Va. My ancestor Arthur Bull was stationed in Blandford, Va., (upper right) in early May 1865 when Union Armies passed through en route to the post-war Grand Review of the Armies in Washington, D,C. Image: Internet Archive Book Images

On 3 May 1865  — the day after my ancestor’s return — Pvt. Orson Reynolds of the 6th NYHA sent an assessment of the situation to his wife.

The people of Virginia have had enough of war. I am told that there are some 12,000 poor white people who are daily fed by our government. The City has been very quiet and orderly since we came here and the inhabitants are getting quite sociable and friendly…The prospects now are that we shall stay here as long as troops are needed. In military matters all is uncertain.

Union troops that remained in the south after the Civil War’s end were tasked with restoring order, assisting the civilian population and holding the areas where they were stationed — duties my great, great grandfather would now perform.

Bur first Arthur would be on hand to witness the northward march of victorious Union Army units headed to Washington, D.C. for the final Grand Review of the Armies on 23-24 May. Again from Pvt. Orson Reynolds in Petersburg, Va.:

May 3rd, 1865: Sheridan’s Cavalry are now passing through the City on their way to Alexandria [Va.]. Three army corps have also passed for the same place and we will soon be the only remaining troops.

May 7th, 1865: I understand General Sherman’s army is but a short distance from the city and will probably pass through tomorrow on their way to Washington to be mustered out of the service.

My ancestor did not take part in the Grand Review — he remained on duty in Virginia until mustering out in August 1865. But I imagine he was amazed and proud to see the vast army of Union soldiers — including his fellow combatants from the Armies of the Potomac and Shenandoah — trekking north toward the U.S. capital, where they would be cheered by civilian crowds.

Of particular note would have been U.S. Gen. William Tecumsah Sherman’s 65,000-strong Armies of the Tennessee and Georgia — rough and ready Union soldiers accompanied by masses of newly-free African Americans. This diverse contingent personified the heart and soul of the successful struggle to end the brutal slave system — and would march for six hours during the Grand Review.

No doubt Arthur and his comrades gave them a hearty reception as they passed by the 6th NYHA camp en route to their final, glorious postwar march into history.

More in the next post.

© 2015 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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