Porter, David Dixon Papers (Container 23, Private Journal No. 2), Library of Congress, pp. 46-55
...After the obstructions in the river were removed, I proceeded with Mr. Lincoln in the flag ship the "Malvern" to Richmond on the 4th of April 1865. It was my intention to have made a grand entrance with all the gunboats and I accordingly made my preparations to do so. The river was carefully swept for torpedoes all the way up and the gun boats, torpedo boats, tugs and all, were directed to push on until near the city and await our arrival. We passed vessel after vessel as we proceeded up, all saluting the President with three cheers as the "Malvern" passed. It was a most beautiful sight and one which seemed to impress Mr. Lincoln very pleasantly. I never saw him look happier although he glanced rather askant at the ugly torpedoes that now and then showed their heads along the banks where our boats had hauled them out of the way. When we had proceeded up the river about five miles we found at a place called [Porter left a large space here] the river almost completely obstructed with sunken vessels leaving barely room for a single vessel at a time to get by. Here I took a tug full of marines and proceeded on up with only Mr. Lincoln and myself in the barge in tow. At length we came to a bridge blocked up by an old steamer, and the tug having to cast us off ??? ??? ??? [page break] on up with the barge. We saw few or no signs of our army in the lower part of the city and not knowing where to land we pulled on up until we got ashore among the rocks in the rapids which brought us to a standstill. The President laughed and remarked "Admiral, you will have to send for General Bailey." However, I got along that time without the assistance of the gallant Bailey, for the sailors jumping overboard, soon pushed the boat off. We then put our head down stream again and landed in the only practicable looking landing that we saw, where 20 or 30 negroes were at work throwing up ??? dirt.
These darkies stopped to look at us as we hauled in to the landing and one old fellow who had received some description of the President, immediately threw down his shovel and cried out – "Bress de Lord, dar comes de Messiah. Dar is Massa Abram Linkum sure enuff!" and with that they all dropped work and rushed to the boat to shake hands with their supposed savior. I never knew how it was done but[?] no[?] electric wire could have carried the [page break] news of the Presidents arrival sooner than it was circulated through Richmond. As far as the eye could see the streets were alive with negroes and poor whites rushing in our direction, and the crowd increased so fast that I had to surround the President with the sailors with fixed bayonets to keep them off.
They all wanted to shake hands with Mr. Lincoln or his coat tail or even to kneel down and kiss his boots! The crowd were frantic and in their joy at beholding the President there was danger of our being crushed to death. The sharp bayonets however, kept the people off and I laid about one[?]hostility with the flat of my sword to preserve order. For the first time I realized the danger in which the President was placed. It would have been so easy for an assassin to put a knife in his back. I longed for the time when I could have him safe under a military escort. Strange to say although Richmond was under military [page break] rule there was hardly a soldier to be seen in the lower part of town, nor could I find a cavalry man whom I could send on in advance to announce the arrival of the President of the United States.
The negroes were getting to be extremely troublesome in their manifestation of joy and the scene recalled the story of the bear that killed the fly on is patron's nose.
I could see by Mr. Lincoln's countenance that he felt uneasy, for there were bad featured white men surrounding us and giving us anything but dirty looks. The capture of Richmond had not subdued them and it looked to me as if the only thing that would make them civil would be a few stands of grape and canister fired into their midst. Every window was thrown up in the streets through which we passed, and at every opening was a crowd of eager curious faces. Hatred, contempt, anger, and merriment were depicted on the countenance of the various persons who were looking at the man they had been taught to believe was a monster in human shape, but who in fact carried [page break] the kindest of hearts within him and whose soul was overflowing with the most generous sentiments towards the Southern people.
One little incident, and only one, showed that there was a spark of good feeling towards the President and the Union. It was like the fallen tear from the repentant sinner, with which the Peri[?] flew up to Paradise and with which she was received inside the gates of Heaven. A young and pretty girl rushed through the crowd and seizing the President by the hand kissed it and said "God bless you only friend of the South." Mr. Lincoln must have been a stoic not to have been struck by the conduct of this innocent and pretty girl. He referred to it again when we returned to the ship.
With all the noise and confusion there was no disreputable act committed or one disrespectful word used towards the president or our party. Still forcing our way through the dense crowd we finally came to a squad of cavalry and I requested one of them to go to head quarters and announce the coming of the president. [page break] In ten minutes a company of horsemen with General Shepley or Weitzel at their head, came galloping down the street and we were safe from the crowd. "Save me from my friends!" is the old saying but it was illustrated on the present occasion and heaven forbid that I should ever again be present at such an ovation of darkies as I witnessed on the 4th of April 1865 in the streets of Richmond.
Disagreeable as it was on some accounts, there was a spontaneous manifestation of pleasure among the crowd of negroes, not to be met within the planned receptions extended to our public men at the north which latter are either for political effect or organized by persons who have "axes to grind." I should have preferred to see the President of the United States entering the subjugated stronghold of the rebels with an escort more befitting his high station, yet that would have looked as if he came as a conqueror to exult over a brave but fallen enemy. He came instead as a peacemaker, his hand extended to all who desired to take it. [page break] Kindness beamed upon his face, a face that overlooked every man in the crowd and could not be seen by all. I doubt if there was a person in Richmond who saw the President that day who did not say "This cannot be the man who has been represented to us as a monster, we see no horns or hoofs and there is less of the dirt about him than there is in Jefferson Davis."
I was glad when the President was safely housed at Jeff Davis' head quarters, a rather handsome house fitted up with some pretence of presidential style. There surrounded by the army, I felt that he was secure. In the meantime, the crowd of upturned faces around the house was growing thicker. The blacks and poor whites mingling together were all vociferating for the President who came to the door, bowed to them and was received with three cheers.
I was then presented to the crowd and received the same compliment. General Shepley invited them to disperse and we got rid of them. That was a subordinated crowd for they had lived four years under a government that enforced [page break] its orders with grape and canister and pickled their backs with salt and pepper.
After resting awhile Generals Shepley and Weitzel proposed a promenade around the town and packing the President and myself into a carriage and surrounding us with a guard we visited what was left of Richmond which had been set fire by the retreating rebels. It has not yet been ascertained who gave the barbarous order to burn the town as the rebels fled, but it was given and thousands were left destitute by the inhuman act. At 4 p.m. I got the President safely back on board the "Malvern," determined that he should not go on shore again while I had charge of him. On board the "Malvern" the President was visited by Mr. Campbell, formerly a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court who came, so he said, and succeeded in inducing the President to allow the Virginia legislature to meet in Richmond. For what purpose this request was made I could not imagine, unless it was to get Mr. Lincoln to acknowledge the [page break] existence of a body which really died when Jefferson Davis fled and Lee surrendered to Grant. Still, this affair showed the President's good feeling and that he was disposed to grant the rebels anything they might ask. I did not pretend to be statesman enough to offer an opinion to a man who had for the past four years handled the reins of a government like ours and who had managed with great intelligence some of the nicest[?] diplomatic questions with France and England, but finding that General Weitzel started to execute the order without ever suggesting to the President the propriety of waiting until General Grant was heard from, took upon myself to point out the difficulties that might grow out of allowing a rebel legislature to meet in a city under military rule.
I also spoke of the ill effects of allowing them to meet at all, or recognizing them in any way.