Published the 15th of May in 1863 in the Richmond Whig out of Richmond, VA
Tuesday, the 12th of May, 1863, will long be remembered by the citizens of Richmond. About 9 o’clock, the head of a long column of Yankees – said to be 1,600 strong – appeared on the upper part of Main Street. These Yankees were clad in the uniform of the United States army, and their clothing was worn and soiled by long service. They had no arms. For two years they had been trying, by dint of bayonet and ball, to reach this place; but not until they had laid down their arms and surrendered themselves prisoners of war, were they able to accomplish their object.
The procession, though not unusual, of late, was a arrange one. Sixteen hundred captured, but not humiliated warriors of the North, walking slowly down the principal thoroughfare of a Southern city, guarded by less than one-third their number of Confederate soldiers, is no ordinary spectacle. Here were the men, who, night after night, and day after day, during many months, had gloated over the fancied prized of beauty, of gold, silver, household stuffs, which were to be theirs when they had conquered the city through which they were now passing as captives. Murder, lust, race, theft, arson, all demoniacal motives that can actuate fallen and depraved men, had filled their hearts, had been cherished by them as good men cherish virtues, and had implied them to encounter toils, privations and sufferings inconceivable. All they had endured was nothing compared to the hope of sacking Richmond.
The procession was a very silent one. Thousands of spectators, who had gathered to see it, were equally, silent. File after file, the long column of dusty blue passed slowly down the street. No jeers, no taunts, no reproaches from the men and women whom these captives had doomed to the worst sorrows. Silently the Yankees marched along, watched by the countless throng of lookers on. They stared back at the crowds that gazed from the sidewalks, and showed no shame, no remorse – nothing but impudence, brutish, cold, hard and brazen impudence. So many mean, sensual, cunning, inhuman faces, we never saw before.
An hour or two later, another procession passed up the same street. Artillery, cavalry, infantry and bands of music were in this procession, but the arms of the soldiers were reversed, their banners were draped in mourning. The drums were muffled and the notes of trumpet and horns were funeral. The tolling bell and cannon booming at long intervals, told a mournful story.
The war-worn veterans of Pickett’s division – their mild-eyed, guileless faces contrasting strongly with the brutal features of the previous procession – were there. Ewell, brave, modest and maimed, rode close to the hearse of his great commander. The President of the Confederate States, pale and sorrowful, was there. The good Governor of Virginia, stricken with grief for the loss of his noble townsman, was there. The Heads of Department, the State of Metropolitan Authorities, and many citizens, walked humbly and sadly behind the coffin, decked with Spring flowers and enveloped in the folds of a flag which nations of earth have never be held. A great multitude of all ages, classes and conditions, stood by to see this procession pass. And they were silent as before. All was hushed while the mortal remains of the best and best beloved chieftain in all the land passed onward to the Capital of the State and the Confederacy, which he had so heroically defended and died to save from pollution. The body of Stonewall Jackson was in the hearse, and this great procession was in his honor.
The day was cloudless, brilliant, beautiful exceedingly. If there are eves immortal that see the souls without the body, that take interest in the affairs of men, what hindered that they should behold these pageants in this much afflicted city? And if they behold and care for these things – what then?