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1865 June 3: The Grand Review—Full Details of the Great Event

June 5, 2015

We have already heard some about the Grand Review from Edwin Levings, of the 12th Wisconsin Infantry, who participated in the second day of the review (letter of May 29, 1865).  Here is a much more detailed report from the June 3, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal.

C E N T R A L   I N T E L L I G E N C E.


Full Details of the Great Event—Immense Crowds—
80,000 Troops in Line—Flowers for the Brave—
Gen. Custar [sic] on a Raid—The School Children—
Order of March—Honors to the President, Gens. Grant and Sherman.

WASHINGTON, May 23.—A more beautiful day for the purposes of the grand military review could not have been asked than this has been.  The recent heavy rains had cooled and purilled¹ the atmosphere, and cleansed the streets.—The sun shone brilliantly, and throughout the jocund day stood on tiptoe, and all nature was gay and happy.  At daylight the streets were already thronged with pedestrians, seeking favorable positions to observe the military pageant.


By 8 o’clock every available spot along the route was taken up by the anxious spectators.  Windows and housetops were thronged.  Impromptu stands were erected on the sidewalks and intersection of streets.  Guards were placed along the outer line of the pavement to prevent any encroachment upon the streets, which from curb to curb were completely occupied by the military procession.


In the vicinity of the White House, the scene was brilliant and gay in the extreme.  Here were assembled upon and near the stand the elite of the country upon the wide pavement in front of the Executive Mansion, a large stand was erected for the President [Andrew Johnson], Gen. Grant [Ulysses S. Grant], members of the Cabinet, distinguished officers of the Army and Navy and the Diplomatic Corps.  This stand was tastefully draped with flags and handsomely covered with floral devices.  On either side of this stand were two immense stands for the invalid soldiers and distinguished visitors.  Opposite this, on the other side of the street, was a row of stands reaching the entire length of Franklin Square, which were occupied by State delegations.  All these stands were likewise decorated with flags and banners.  About three-fourths of the occupants of all these standards were women, most elegantly attired, presenting gay and lively appearance.


At 25 minutes past 9 o’clock the head of the column, led by General Meade [George G. Meade], passed by the main stand but as yet none of the reviewing officers had appeared, and it was nearly 10 o’clock before the President arrived.—in a few minutes after, General Grant, General Sherman [William T. Sherman], and members of the Cabinet took their positions at the side of, and around the President.  The column of cavalry continued to pass along each regiment being headed by a full band of music, making melodious the air with one continuous and unbroken strain of martial airs ;  and thus it continued until 20 minutes past three o’clock this afternoon.


As the several regiments passed the reviewing officers, the soldiers cheered, and as the various division commanders appeared in front of the stand, the President, Gen. Grant and the members of the Cabinet would rise to their feet.  All along the line of march, cheer upon cheer greeted the soldiers, the ladies waving their handkerchiefs.


Meantime, at an early hour in the morning, the children of the common schools had gathered, to the number of 4,000 or 5,000 on the north side of the capital grounds.  As the procession passed they sung patriotic songs and presented to the officers boquets [sic] and wreaths of flowers and evergreens.


One of the stirring incidents of the day happened just after the President and Gen. Grant had taken their positions upon the stand.  The gallant Gen. Custar [sic: George A. Custer] at this time entered the square, at the head of his division, upon a magnificent blooded stallion.  A lady threw a large wreath to the General, which he caught.  His charger took fright, reared, plunged, and dashed away with his rider at an almost break-neck speed, running nearly the whole length of the square before Gen. Custar [sic] had gained control of him.  As the horse made his first plunge, Gen. Custar’s [sic] hat flew off and he lost his sword, which, at the moment, was lying loosely in his lap and left arm.  He held onto the wreath of flowers with his right-hand and managed his horse with his left.  The The [sic] whole affair was witnessed by thousands of spectators, who were enchained breathlessly by the thrilling event, and, for a time, the perilous position of the brave officer.  As he rode back to the head of the column, round upon round of hearty applause greeted him, the reviewing officers joining it.


The review from the treasury, looking down Pennsylvania avenue to the capital, was among the grandest that age ever looked upon, especially when the infantry had fully occupied the avenue and illuminated it with flashing steel.


During the interval between the departure of the 9th corps from the reviewing stand, and the appearance of the 8th corps, the spectators in the vicinity gathered in a large body in front of the President, and called for him.  He rose, bowed, and sat down.  Then there was a universal call for General Grant, and he, too, rose in acknowledgment of the compliment.  Then Sherman was called for heartily, but it turned out that he had just left the stand, and there was no opportunity afforded to judge fully the kind of greeting he would have received, but there was every indication that it would have been most cordial.


In the front row of the reviewing stand, under a canopy formed of flags and banners, sat the President, with Secretary Stanton [Edwin M. Stanton], General Grant, Attorney General Speed [James Speed] and Secretary Wells [sic: Gideon Welles], Postmaster General Dennison [William Dennison], General Sherman and Barnard [John G. Barnard] on his left.  without occupying several columns, it would be impossible to give full details of the various military corps, divisions and companies.  There appeared in the procession 80,000 troops, comprising what is left here of the Potomac army.


To-morrow Gen. Sherman’s army, estimated at 117,000, will be reviewed.  The city is all alive this evening.  Bands of music are passing through the streets playing patriotic airs, among them “Dixie,”² and one general carnival of pleasure prevails.


The people will have ample opportunity for obtaining pictures of the scenes of to-day, as S. M. Fassett, of Chicago; Brady [Mathew Brady], of New York, and Gardener [Alexander Gardner], of this city, took a number of stereoscopic and photographic views.

Stereograph showing the Grand Review, by Mathew Brady²

A stereoscopic view (stereograph) showing the Grand Review³


The immense column moved in the following order:

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, Gen. Meade commanding.

General staff headquarters—squadron 1st Mass. cavalry, Capt. Flint4 commanding—Maj. Gen. Merritt [Wesley Merritt] commanding.

General staff headquarters—escort 58th [sic: 5th] U. S. cavalry, Lt. Col. Urban5 [sic: just lieutenant] commanding ;  3d cavalry, Maj. Gen. Custar [sic] commanding.

This officer [Custer] was vociferously cheered at various points of the line, and was somewhat encumbered by wreaths and bouquets which had been presented to him.  Other officers were similarly honored with cheers and floral gifts and the waving of handkerchiefs by ladies.

Next the 2d and 1st cavalry divisions, commanded respectively by Gen. Davies [Henry E. Davies] and Gen. Devins [sic: Thomas C. Devin] ;  the horse artillery brigade, the Provost Marshal General’s brigade, and the Engineers brigade.  The troops comprising these bodies were composed in a large part from New York, West Virginia, Vermont, Connecticut, Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Ninth Corps, Gen. Parke [John G. Parke] commanding—The 1st division by Brig. Gen. Griffin [Simon G. Griffin], and the 3d division by Gen. Carlin [William P. Carlin].  These troops were from Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

Next followed a division of the 14th army corps, commanded by Brig. Gen. Dwight [William Dwight], including an artillery brigade, the troops being from Maine, New York, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The 5th corps, General Griffin [Charles Griffin] commanding.  The 1st division was commanded by Gen. Chamberlain [Joshua Chamberlain] ;  the 2d division by Gen. Ayres [Romeyn B. Ayres], and the 3d division by Gen. Crawford [Samuel W. Crawford].  These troops were composed of volunteers from Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Delaware and Wisconsin with U. S. Artillery.

Next came the 2d corps—General Humphrey [sic: Andrew A. Humphreys]—the 1st division commanded by Brig. Gen. Ramsay [George D. Ramsay] ;  the 2d by Gen. Barlow [Francis C. Barlow], and the 3d by General Mott [Gershom Mott].  The troops were principally from New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Delaware, Ohio, Western Virginia , New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine and Indiana.


The troops as as they moved along Pennsylvania avenue presented a grand appearance, all arms of the service being represented.  The occasional insertion of a body of Zouaves served to relieve the sameness and gave a fine effect.


Looking up Pennsylvania avenue there was a continuous moving line as far as the eye could reach of national, State, division, brigade, regimental and other flags.  Some of them were new, the stars of gold glittering in the sun, and these contrasted strongly with the flags borne in the procession, tattered in battle, or mere shreds.  Others were thickly covered with names and dates of battle-fields where victories were won by these proud veterans.  The flag-staffs were decorated with flowers, and very many bonquets [sic] hung from the muzzles of muskets.


These troops did not, as to dress, present a war-worn appearance.  They were all well and cleanly clad, and their fine marching elicited praise from every tongue.


On the south side of the avenue fronting the Executive Mansion, a stand was placed, hung handsomely and festoon with national flags.  At various points were the inscriptions, “Atlanta, Wilderness, Stone River, South Mountain, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Savannah, Richmond, Petersburg, and Cold Harbor.”  This stand was in part occupied by President Johnson, Members of the Cabinet, Generals Grant and Sherman, and other distinguished officers.—On the left were members of the Diplomatic Corps and their families, 200 tickets having been issued to this class of spectators.


On the stands provided for the purpose were Hon. Geo. Bancroft6  and the following Governors of States:7  Crapo, Buckingham, Andrew, Fenton, Fairchilds [sic], Bradford, Curtin, and Smith ;  Senators8 Wade, Sherman, Wilson, Johnson, Chandler, Harris, Hendrickson [sic], Dixon, Foster, Morgan, Conness, Land [sic], of Kansas ;  and Representatives9 Schenck, Hooper, Marston, Lynch, Hays [sic], Porter, Kelly [sic], Jencks [sic], Loan and Ex-Speaker Grows [sic].  There were at least thirty naval officers, bearing the highest rank, and as many officers, including Gens.10 Hancock, Wilcox [sic], Cadwallader [sic], Hitchcock, Newton and Rawlins.  As corps and divisions passed in review before the President and Gen. Grant, their commanders severally left the column and took seats on the platform.  The Judges of the Courts, the chiefs of the Government bureaus, and other public officers, were similarly accommodated.

The crowd in that part of the city was extremely dense, it being the main point of attraction, as the reviewing place, where were assembled the highest dignitaries.


Between the rear of the 9th corps and the advance of the 5th corps, there was an interval of ten or fifteen minutes.  An immense number of persons rushed into the opening, which was in front of the stand occupied by President Johnson, General Grant and the members of the Cabinet, and gave each one repeated cheers.  These gentlemen severally rose and bowed their acknowledgments of the honor.

The troops occupied six hours in the review from nine o’clock in the morning till three in the afternoon.  The “cadence step” was taken from the Capitol to Seventeenth street, from which point the various organizations proceeded on the march to their separate quarters.  The review is spoken on this continent.  It was a grand affair, and suggestive of the trials and victories of the Army of the Potomac.

WASHINGTON, May 24—1 p. m.

The city was much crowded to-day ;  weather delightful.

The armies of Tennessee and Georgia were reviewed by Lieut. Gen. Grant.—The President and members of the cabinet, distinguished army and navy officers, and others, occupied the stand as before.  Gen. Sherman headed the column and was vociferously cheered.  All along the line other officers were similarly complimented.  The military display was grand and imposing.

The tastefully decorated stands near the Executive mansion were again occupied by President Johnson, members of the Cabinet, and Lieut. Gen. Grant, together with distinguished army and navy officers, chiefs of executive bureaus, the diplomatic corps and families, and others.  The vicinity of the reviewing point was densely crowded over a larger area than yesterday.  The Army of the Tennessee moved from the Capitol at 9 a. m., proceeding towards the Executive Mansion.  At the head of the column rode Major General Sherman, who was vociferously cheered.  The greeting of this hero was in the highest degree enthusiastic.  He had been presented with two large wreaths of flowers, on of which has been placed around the horse’s neck; the other hung upon his own shoulder.  Major General Sherman was accompanied by Major Gen. Hoard [sic: should be O. O. Howard].  Next followed Major Gen. Logan [John A. Logan], staff and escort.—He yesterday assumed command of this army.  Maj. Gen. Logan appeared at the head of the command.  This corps is comprised of troops from Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota.

The 17th army corps was preceded by its commander, Maj. Gen. Blair [Francis P. Blair], with his staff, followed by the headquarters escort.  The troops of this corps are from Ohio, Illinois, New York, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan.  The rest in review was the army of Georgia, Major Gen. Slocum [Henry W. Slocum] commanding.

The 20th corps was commanded by Maj. Gen. Mower [Joseph A. Mower], and composed of volunteers from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Ohio, Delaware, Indiana, and Michigan.

This was succeeded by the 14th army corps, Brev. [brevet] Major Gen. J. C. Davis [Jefferson C. Davis], commanding.  It was composed of volunteers from Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Minnesota and Kentucky.

The respective commanders of the armies, divisions and brigades bore upon their persons profusions of flowers, and as they passed along the line, cheers were given and flags waved.

There was also a fair representation of the spade and axe department, the implements being carried on the shoulder of both white and black soldiers.

Much amusement was occasioned by a display of pack horses and mules.  They were all heavily loaded with commissary supplies, including chickens, a coon, a dog and a goat were comfortably fastened to three of the saddles.  These were the pets of soldiers.

Two black soldiers of the largest six riding two small mules, their feet nearly touching the ground, was regarded as a comic scene.  In connection with this part of the display, and which occasioned general laughter, an interesting feature in the parade was the exhibition of flags and banners of various patterns, some of them entirely new, others were carried, torn by bullets and reduced to shreds, while others, entire as to material, were faded by exposure to the weather, or blackened by the smoke of battle.  Several staffs were carried from which the flags had been shot away.

All the spear-heads were ornamented with flowers.  It was remarked as in contrast with the army of the Potomac, that the troops comprising the armies of Georgia and Tennessee wore the wide brim felt hats, regulation pattern.  Their appearances in all respects was equal to that of the Potomac, not withstanding they had performed more marching service.  Their movements were much admired and applauded.

The commander of each army and corps and division, attended by one staff officer, dismounted after passing the General-in-chief and joined him until his army corps or division had passed the reviewing stand, when he joined his command.

Brigade bands, as consolidated field music, turned out and played as their brigades passed.  One band to each division performed during the march from Capitol to the Treasury building.

After the troops passed the respective officers, they were marched to their respective quarters.  Secretary Seward [William H. Seward], not withstanding his severe physical affliction, took a deep interest in the review.  Gen. Augur [Christopher C. Augur] made him comfortable, and furnished him with a good position at the headquarters of the defense of Washington, that he might witness the grand military display.

The armies of Tennessee and Georgia occupied six hours in passing ;  the same length of time required yesterday for the review of the Army of the Potomac.

 1.  A word that is hard to find in a dictionary, but can be found in some 19th century books to mean “cleaned.”
2.  Listen to and read the lyrics of “Dixie” on the Civil War Trust website’s Civil War Music: Dixie page.
3.  “The Grand Review”: Stereograph showing the Grand Review of the Union Army veterans marching on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., May 23-24, 1865, from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (LC-DIG-stereo-1s02879).
4.  Edward A. Flint was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on March 30, 1790, and died in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, on November 25, 1870. He became a well known captain in the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War, serving under Major General George G. Meade. He was captain of Company C,  Massachusetts Cavalry.
5.  Gustavus Urban (1836-1870) was from Prussia. He entered the U.S. Army on July 18, 1855, and by September 16, 1861, had moved from private to corporal to sergeant to quarter master sergeant in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry. From there he was promoted to 2nd lieutenant and then 1st lieutenant (1862) in the 5th U.S. Cavalry. He was brevetted captain in 1863 for gallantry and meritorious service at the Battle of Beverly Ford, and brevetted major in 1864 for gallantry and meritorious service at the Battle of Deep Bottom. Urban was promoted to captain in the regular army on July 28, 1866.
6.  George Bancroft (1800-1891) was the 17th U.S. Secretary of the Navy (1845-46) and established the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. He was the U.S. Minister to the United Kingdom (1846-49). Bancroft was also a well-known scholar and historian.
7.  Governors:

8.  Senators:

9.  Representatives:

  • Robert C. Schenck, Ohio
  • Samuel Hooper, Massachusetts
  • Gilman Marston, New Hampshire
  • John Lynch, Maine
  • Rutherford B. Hayes, Ohio
  • Albert Gallatin Porter, Indiana
  • William D. Kelley, Pennsylvania
  • possibly Michael H. Jenks, Pennsylvania
  • Benjamin F. Loan, Missouri
  • Galusha A. Grow, Pennsylvania.

10.  Generals:

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