At approximately 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 2, 1865, Ulysses S. Grant’s army attacked Confederate lines at Petersburg, Virginia. By mid-afternoon, Confederate troops had begun to evacuate the town. The Union victory ensured the fall of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, located just twenty-five miles north of Petersburg.
President Jefferson Davis received word of the events in Petersburg while attending services at St. Paul’s Church in Richmond. He abandoned the capital late that night on a train bound for Danville, Virginia.
I think it is absolutely necessary that we should abandon our position tonight…
Telegram from Robert E. Lee, in Petersburg, to Jefferson Davis, in Richmond, April 2, 1865. 1