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508 Series III Volume V- Serial 126 - Union Letters, Orders, Reports

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Page 508 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

One other event may properly be noticed in this report as a part of the military history of the rebellion. While our armies, by their gallantry and courage and the skill of their commanders, were overcoming all resistance in the field to the national authority, a swift and sudden blow was aimed at the national existence and at the life of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, which, for atrocity in its circumstances, the cruel art that designed it, and the peril to which it exposed the Government, is unsurpassed in the history of nations. Shortly before the Richmond campaign opened President Lincoln went to the headquarters of Lieutenant-General Grant at City Point, where he remained until the capture of Petersburg and Richmond. After their occupation by our forces he visited those cities, and returned to Washington on the evening of Sunday, the 9th day of April. The dispatch of the lieutenant-general announcing General lee's surrender was communicated to him about 11 o"clock Sunday night. From that time until he was assassinated his attention was earnestly directed to the restoration of peace and the reorganization of civil government in the insurgent States. In a public address to an assemblage that met at the Executive Mansion on the evening of Wednesday, the 12th of April, to congratulate him on the success of our arms, his views and some of his measures were explained. On the night of the following Friday and President was shot by an assassin, and expired at about 7 o"clock on the morning of Saturday, the 15th of April. This assassination appeared to be part of a deliberate, comprehensive conspiracy to assassinate the President, Vice-President, Secretary of State, lieutenant-general, and other officers of the Government, with a view to its disorganization. About the same hour of the President's murder an effort was made to assassinate the Secretary of State, who was then confined to his bed by serious injuries accidentally received a few days before. He and other members of his family were dangerously wounded. Some of the parties engaged in this conspiracy were tried, convicted, and executed; others are still under sentence of imprisonment for life. The details are given in the report of the Judge-Advocate-General.* The designs upon the Vice-President and the lieutenant- general failed; and upon the death of the President the Vice- President was sworn into office and assumed the duties of President of the United States. These events were promptly communicated to the armies by general orders, and from thenceforth until the present time the Government has been administered by Andrew Johnson as Chief Executive and Commander- in-Chief of the Army and Navy.

The destruction of the rebel military power opened the way to re- establish civil government in the insurgent States. From that period the functions of the military department became simply co- operative with other branches of the Federal Government.

Nashville, Tenn., was the first capital of an insurgent State in which the Federal authority was re-established. The rebel army was driven out on the 23rd day of February, 1862, and that city occupied by the Union forces. On the 3rd Day of March, 1862, Andrew Johnson, then Senator in Congress from the State of Tennessee-the only Senator from and insurgent State who retained his seat in Congress-was appointed Military Governor of the State of Tennessee. He accepted the appointment, and promptly entered upon his duties, and continued to exercise them until his resignation on the 3rd day of March, 1865. In all the vicissitudes of the war his administration, was

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*See p. 490.

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Page 508 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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