Letter from 1st Sergeant J. Webster Stebbins of Company I, 9th Vermont Volunteer Infantry, to his mother after his regiment became one of the first to enter Richmond.
April 3rd, 1865
The fated city has fallen and the black clouds of smoke from its burning ruins are rising to the heavens, and the pickets from the 9th Vermont were the first ones into the rebel capital.
We are in the works in the suburbs of the city. The enemy evacuated last night, and I have heard of no fighting at all today this side of the river. The rebels fired the arsenal Co. and the bridge across the James River also. We heard the shell in the arsenal bursting for half an hour.
The country is a fine looking one; some fine residences. So far as I have seen, the citizens are glad to see the Union soldiers coming…
At last dispatch from Grant, we learn that they had captured some 15,000 prisoners and any quantity of guns, etc. It was just five minutes of five this morning when we halted in this fort and planted our colors on the parapet, giving three cheers for the fall of Richmond.
Do not know when I will get this into the mail, but hope it is soon. My regards to all and much love for yourself. Write soon and direct to Richmond, Va.
Your Affectionate Son,
Source: Tapert, Annette (ed.), The Brothers’ War: Civil War Letters to Their Loved Ones from the Blue and Gray (New York: Vintage Books, 1988), p. 231