Friday, January 9, 2015

The Grand Review Coming Soon

Army coming down Pennsylvania Ave
The African American Civil War Museum is delighted to be a key organizer of a huge event taking place this upcoming spring 2015, marking the 150th anniversary of one of the most important parades in the nation's history.  The Grand Review Parade will assemble 6 to 10,000 marchers and spectators in Washington, DC on Sunday, May 17, 2015.  The event will commemorate the Grand Review of the Armies, which took place on May 23, 2015.  The original event took place in a much smaller Washington, but its sense of healing and unity resonates powerfully in our own time.  At the time the nation was still recovering not just from the Civil War itself, but from President Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theater the previous month.

Lincoln's successor, President Andrew Johnson, made plans for a formal review of the Union troops in part to mark the end of the war and the Union victory, but also to try to lift the spirits of citizens in the capital and across the nation.  On May 18, 1865 the army issued Special Order No. 239, calling for a Grand Review, a two day parade in Washington, DC of the main Union armies.  In all, more than 150,000 soldiers would parade through the nation's capital, filing past the president and his cabinet, as well as Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant positioned on a special reviewing stand in front of the White House.

Army filing past Presidential Review Stand, 1865
At 9:00am on May 23, a signal gun fired a single shot and Major Gen. George Meade, the victor of Gettysburg, led an estimated 80,000 men of the Army of the Potomac down the streets of Washington past thousands in the crowds.  On the following day at 10:00am, General William T. Sherman led the 65,000 men of the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of Georgia past the admiring crowds and celebrities, most of whom had never seen him before.  Within a week of the celebrations, the two armies were disbanded and many of the volunteer regiments and batteries were sent home to be mustered out of the army.

Army filing past crowd 
This parade is the culmination of a weekend of events to commemorate the end of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.  The original Grand Review Parade held in May, 1865, marked the end of the war and the dismissal of many of the troops.  No African American regiments were allowed to march in 1865 but the 2015 march will correct a great wrong in history as the USCT, Volunteer and Regular Union Regiments will march down Pennsylvania Ave together.  We invite you to participate in this Sesquicentennial Commemoration and celebrate our event theme a "New Birth of Freedom and Union," inspired by one of President Abraham Lincoln's most noted speeches The Gettysburg Address.  To learn more about the Grand Review Weekend please visit the event website  Hope to see you there.

How do you plan to commemorate the closing days of the Civil War?

Briana Welch, Eastern Senior High School