The capture of Richmond had been the goal of the Union Army since the beginning of the Civil War. The Confederate capital lay tantalizingly close to Washington, only 100 miles, but it took four years of hard battle before the city fell to Union troops on April 3, 1865.
On hearing the news of the fall of the Confederate Capital, President Lincoln, accompanied by his son Tad, boarded a boat and sailed to survey the scene himself. Thomas Thatcher Graves served on the staff of General Godfrey Weitzel and described Lincoln’s entrance into the city: “The next day after our entry into the city, on passing out from Clay Street, from Jefferson Davis’s house, I saw a crowd coming, headed by President Lincoln, who was walking with his usual long, careless stride, and looking about with an interested air and taking in everything. Upon my saluting he said: ‘Is it far to President Davis’s house?’ I accompanied him to the house, which was occupied by General Weitzel as headquarters. The President had arrived about 9 o’clock, at the landing called Rocketts, upon Admiral Porter’s flag-ship, the U.S.S. Malvern, and as soon as the boat was made fast, without ceremony, he walked on shore, and started uptown…”
Source: “President Lincoln Enters Richmond, 1865” Eyewitness to History, www.eywitnesstohistory.com (2000).