Washington Along Pennsylvania Ave. Parade To Help Boost The Nation’s Morale - May 23 and 24, 1865, Sherman Later Called The Experience “the happiest and most satisfactory moment of my life.”
President Johnson’s grand review of the Union Army at the end of the Civil War was one of the greatest parades in the Nation’s history. During a 2-day period (May 23-24, 1865), approximately 200,000 troops. led by Gen. George G. Meade on the first day and Gen. William T. Sherman on the second, marched down Pennsylvania Avenue.(Library of Congress, Mathew B. Brady.)
May 23 was a clear, brilliantly sunny day. Starting from Capitol Hill, the Army of the Potomac marched down Pennsylvania Avenue before virtually the entire population of Washington, a throng of thousands cheering and singing favorite Union marching songs. At the reviewing stand in front of the White House were President Johnson, General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant, and top government officials. Leading the day’s march, General Meade dismounted in front of the stand and joined the dignitaries to watch the parade. His army made an awesome sight: a force of 80,000 infantrymen marching 12 across with impeccable precision, along with hundreds of pieces of artillery and a seven-mile line of cavalrymen that alone took an hour to pass. One already famous cavalry officer, George Armstrong Custer, gained the most attention that day-either by design or because his horse was spooked when he temporarily lost control of his mount, causing much excitement as he rode by the reviewing stand twice.
Source: The Civil War Society’s “Encyclopedia of the Civil War”