On the 26th of April, 1865, General Johnston surrendered the last large Confederate army to General Sherman, at Raleigh; and on the 10th of May, President Davis was caught in Georgia. Some say he tried to escape by donning a woman’s waterproof, tying an old shawl over his head, and carrying a pail, as if on the way to draw water from a spring. But the United States soldiers seized him, and sent him to Fortress Monroe. There he was detained for two years, and then he was bailed out by the famous newspaper editor, Horace Greeley. But Davis was never tried before a jury, and when he died in 1889, in New Orleans, he was surrounded by his family and friends.
Those who had taken part in the Civil War were never called to account for their share in it, except that they were not allowed to vote or hold office for some time. The only person executed was the jailer of the Andersonville prison in Georgia. He had treated the Union prisoners with fiendish cruelty; and in punishment for this inhuman conduct he was sentenced to be hanged, because even a jailer should remember that prisoners are his fellow creatures. So many prisoners were crowded into a small space in the Libby and Andersonville prisons, that the me suffered greatly, and many of them died there from hunger, filth, and disease.
The Confederacy being now a “lost cause,” the United States army, numbering more than a million men, was disbanded. Grant’s and Sherman’s troops were reviewed at Washington by President and Congress. They formed a column thirty miles long, and as they marched up Pennsylvania Avenue, people from all parts of the country wildly cheered them. These soldiers deserved all the credit they received, for they had saved the Union. Now they were going home, to take up their daily work again, and handle the plow or pen with the same energy as they had handled picks and guns. The veteran officers of the Revolutionary War had formed the Society of the Cincinnati, and, following their example, the veterans of the Union army soon founded another society, which is known as the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.).
The army was disbanded on the 24th of May, and soon afterwards some Southern ladies started a beautiful custom which has since become national. They visited the, places where soldiers were buried, and, after decking with fragrant flowers the tombs of their own dead, spread blossoms also over those of the Union men.
There are now in our country over eighty national cemeteries, where nearly four hundred thousand dead soldiers have been buried. Every Decoration or Memorial Day these graves, as well as others, are visited and strewn with flowers, and little children eagerly listen to the speeches telling how bravely their grandfathers fought and died.