Library of Congress

Teachers

The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Washington During the Civil War

[Detail] The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865

The End of the War

Taft reported on December 25, 1864, that General William T. Sherman had taken Savannah without a fight and praised his military abilities, remarking "Sherman stands far above Grant now in the estimation of the Country and the World." As the war entered into its last days, Taft again complimented Sherman for "having marched his Army from Savannah through the heart of South Carolina and sweeping a road about forty miles wide pretty Clean taking Columbia (the Capital) and other important places in South Carolina."

On April 3, 1865, Taft reported that Richmond had fallen. Three days later, he wrote that Lincoln had toured the devastated city. A few days later, he exulted at General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House:

Genl Lee has surrendered to Genl Grant with his whole Army!! Mr Lincoln has returned to Washington as in fine Spirits at the prospect of a speedy peace. It is thought that Johnson and the other rebel Genls will give up now that Lee has surrendered.

From "The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865. Volume 3, April 9, 1865"

Conduct Keyword searches using Sherman, Grant, and the names of other Union generals as your search terms. Examine the entries you find. What was Taft's assessment of the various generals? Do historians agree with Taft's assessment?