The North continued to roll toward victory during the first months of 1865. Exhausted by the long war, the South's military and civilian population proved powerless to stop the Union forces as they moved across the Confederate countryside. In early April, the South suffered two crushing blows when Federal troops captured both Petersburg and Richmond in Virginia. Rebel general Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) surrendered a few days later, ending the South's bid for independence.
People of the North joined together in tremendous celebrations when they learned of Richmond's capture and Lee's surrender. But their joy at winning the war turned to sorrow on April 14, 1865, when John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865) assassinated President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). Lincoln had successfully guided the Union through the most troubled period in its history. His death plunged the North into an angry and mournful mood.
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