Sunday, April 9, 2017

Written Thoughts on April 9, 1865 from Elisha Hunt Rhodes, Lt. Col., 2nd Rhode Island

Elisha Hunt Rhodes entered the Civil War as a corporal with the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, and ended the conflict leading the regiment as a twenty three year old. He experienced some terrible combat during his service to the United States fighting at such engagements as First Manassas, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Petersburg, but 152 years ago today, he was quite happy. He had survived.

"Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth, good will to men! Thank God Lee has surrendered, and the war will soon end. How can I record the events of this day? This morning we started at an early hour still following the sound of an occasional cannon shot. I found a Rebel Capatain from North Carolina by the roadside, and finding him to be a Mason I has him go with my Provost Guard. About 11 A.M. we halted in a field facing the woods and stacked arms. Rumors of intended surrender were heard, but we did not feel sure. I took the Rebel Captain over to Gen. [Oliver] Edward's Headquarters, and we lunched with him. The Captain insisted that Lee would surrender and begged that we would not send him to the rear. Some time in the afternoon we heard loud cheering at the front, and soon Major General Meade commanding the Army of the Potomac rode like mad down the road with hat off shouting: "The war is over, and we are going home!" Such a scene only happens once in centuries. The Batteries began to fire blank cartridges, while the Infantry fired their muskets in the air. The men threw their knapsacks and canteens into the air and howled like mad.

General [Frank] Wheaton and a party of officers rode out to our Regiment and actually gave three cheers for the 2nd R.I. which were returned with a will. I cried and laughed by turns. I never was so happy in my life.

The Rebels half starved, and our men have divided their rations with them. The 2nd R.I. had three days' rations and after dividing their rations with the Rebels will have to make a day and a half's rations last for three days. But we did it cheerfully. Well I have seen the end of the Rebellion. I was in the first battle fought by the dear old Army of the Potomac, and I was in the last. I thank God for all his blessings to me and that my life has been spared to see this glorious day. Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!"

Image in the public domain.

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