Nelson Lankford draws upon Civil War-era diaries, letters, memoirs, and newspaper reports to vividly recapture the experiences of the men and women, both black and white, who witnessed the tumultuous fall of Richmond. In April 1865 General Robert E. Lee realized that his army must retreat from the Confederate capital and that Jefferson Davis's government must flee. As the Southern soldiers moved out they set the city on fire, leaving a blazing ruin to greet the entering Union troops. The city's fall ushered in the birth of the modern United States. Lankford's exploration of this pivotal event is at once an authoritative work of history and a stunning piece of dramatic prose.