This Day in History: 04/09/1865 - Robert E. Lee Surrenders

This Day in History: 04/09/1865 - Robert E. Lee Surrenders


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At Appomattox, Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. Forced to abandon the Confederate capital of Richmond, blocked from joining the surviving Confederate force in North Carolina, and harassed constantly by Union cavalry, Lee had no other option. In retreating from the Union army's Appomattox Campaign, the Army of Northern Virginia had stumbled through the Virginia countryside stripped of food and supplies. At one point, Union cavalry forces under General Philip Sheridan had actually outrun Lee's army, blocking their retreat and taking 6,000 prisoners at Sayler's Creek. Desertions were mounting daily, and by April 8 the Confederates were surrounded with no possibility of escape. On April 9, Lee sent a message to Grant announcing his willingness to surrender. The two generals met in the parlor of the Wilmer McLean home at one o'clock in the afternoon. Lee and Grant, both holding the highest rank in their respective armies, had known each other slightly during the Mexican War and exchanged awkward personal inquiries. Characteristically, Grant arrived in his muddy field uniform while Lee had turned out in full dress attire, complete with sash and sword. Lee asked for the terms, and Grant hurriedly wrote them out. All officers and men were to be pardoned, and they would be sent home with their private property--most important, the horses, which could be used for a late spring planting. Officers would keep their side arms, and Lee's starving men would be given Union rations. Shushing a band that had begun to play in celebration, General Grant told his officers, "The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again." Although scattered resistance continued for several weeks, for all practical purposes the Civil War had come to an end.


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As new events are discovered, the old entries will be updated. And, at least for right now, the blog will continue to be updated on a daily basis, even though it has now been in publication for over one year, and there is an entry for every single day of the year. I hope that visitors who find things interesting will note that in the comments, and that those who find errors and omissions, and there will undoubtedly be errors and omissions, will note that also. This site is interactive, and so it can only improve by participation from interested visitors.

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The Terms of the Surrender.

APPOMATOX [sic] C. H. April 9, 1865.

To Gen. R. E. Lee, Commanding C. S. A.:

In accordance with the substance of my letter to you, of the 8th inst., I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, on the following terms to wit:

Rolls to all the officers and men, to be made in duplicate, one copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual parole not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander to sign a like parole for the men of their commands

The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked and turned over to officers appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side arms of the officers nor their private horses or baggage.

This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes not to be molested by United States authority so long as they observe their parole and the laws in force where they may reside.

Very Respectfully,
. . U. S. GRANT,
. . Lt. General.


Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the Civil War.

Following the 10-month siege of Petersburg and defeat at Five Forks, Southern General Robert E. Lee hoped to meet up with the Army of Tennessee and go on the offensive near the Roanoke River bordering Virginia and North Carolina. He planned to reform his forces, made up of two small infantry corps and a cavalry corps, at Amelia Courthouse where he anticipated supplies would be waiting.

When Lee arrived, he was disappointed to find no provisions had made it there. The commander sent his supply wagons to forage in the surrounding areas, but local farmers had little food to spare. Having lost a day of marching, the Confederates set off that evening for Appomattox Station to meet their supply train.

During the march, Philip Sheridan’s cavalry and two infantry corps cut off almost one fourth of the Confederate army at Sailor’s Creek (also spelled Sayler’s Creek). To add to Lee’s difficulties, Sheridan reached Appomattox station before the dwindling Rebel forces and captured the supplies.

U.S. #823 – Grant stamp from the “Prexie” series.

The next day, April 7, Grant sent a message to Lee requesting him to surrender. Lee refused, but asked for the conditions anyway. The following day brought more disappointment for the Confederates. Three supply trains were burned at Appomattox Station as the Union’s Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James were both closing in on the Southerners. Lee’s last hope for supplies lay in Lynchburg, but Union cavalry was positioned between his army and their goal. He hoped to break through before Grant sent reinforcements to Sheridan’s units at Appomattox Court House.

At dawn on April 9, the Confederates’ Second Corps began their attack on Sheridan’s cavalry unit guarding the stage road. After initial success, they were overwhelmed. General Gordon, commander of the corps, reported to Lee his men had “been fought to a frazzle” and asked for reinforcements. There were none available. Realizing the hopelessness of the situation, Lee told his aides, “There is nothing left for me to do but to go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.” Lee sent a message to Grant requesting to meet him.

The Union commander was heading toward the front when he received the note from Lee shortly before noon. In his reply, Grant told Lee to choose a spot where the two could meet. Lee sent some of his aides to the small village of Appomattox Court House to search for a suitable location. The men asked local resident Wilmer McLean for advice. He recommended an empty building, but there was no furniture inside. He then offered his own home. The aides accepted and returned to Lee with news of the location.

U.S. #1049 – Lee stamp from the Liberty Series.

Lee arrived at the McLean house in a clean dress uniform at 1:00 p.m. Grant came a half-hour later in his well-worn field uniform and mud-splattered boots. The two had met many years before during the Mexican-American War. They discussed their previous meeting for a while, before Lee brought the discussion back to the present. Lee asked for the terms of surrender and Grant replied they would remain as stated in a letter he had sent to the Confederate commander only days earlier.

The Confederate troops were allowed to return home, but could never take up arms against the United States again. All arms and artillery were turned over to the Union, except officers’ sidearms. Lee asked if his men could keep their horses or mules, because they would be needed for farming. Grant agreed to the request. When the Southern general mentioned his men had not eaten in days, Grant arranged for 25,000 rations to be sent to the defeated army.

The arrangements were completed by about 4:00 p.m. As Lee rode away, some of the Federal troops began to cheer. Grant silenced them saying, “The Confederates were now our countrymen, and we did not want to exult over their downfall.” Later that day, Lee and Grant sat on McLean’s porch and met with generals from both sides. The respect both men showed toward each other led the surrender to be called “The Gentlemen’s Agreement.”

U.S. #4981 pictures an 1895 painting by Thomas Nast titled Peace in Union.

Though Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, there were still about 175,000 Confederates on other battlefields. But their strongest commander had fallen, and the men were low on food and other supplies. It was just a matter of time before the rest of the Southern army surrendered.

On April 26, General Johnston’s troops laid down their arms in North Carolina. The Trans-Mississippi Department gave up their fight for New Orleans the following month. “The Wizard of the Saddle,” Nathan Forrest, read his farewell address to his troops in Alabama on May 9. The Confederate flag was lowered for the last time onboard the CSS Shenandoah on November 6, 1865. Captain James Waddell had sailed to Liverpool, England, to avoid being tried in the U.S. as a pirate.

The Civil War was now over. It would take years to repair the damage the conflict inflicted. The respect Generals Grant and Lee showed each other at Appomattox Court House set a fine example for soldiers from both sides to follow.

Click here to read the text of the surrender document and Lee’s farewell address.


TODAY IN HISTORY

Today is Friday, April 9, the 99th day of 2021. There are 266 days left in the year.

Today&rsquos highlight

April 9, 1939: Marian Anderson performed a concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., after the Black singer was denied the use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

On this date

1682: French explorer Robert de La Salle claimed the Mississippi River Basin for France.

1865: Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

1940: During World War II, Germany invaded Denmark and Norway.

1942: During World War II, some 75,000 Philippine and American defenders on Bataan surrendered to Japanese troops, who forced the prisoners into what became known as the Bataan Death March thousands died or were killed en route.

1959: NASA presented its first seven astronauts: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, 91, died in Phoenix, Arizona.

1963: British statesman Winston Churchill was proclaimed an honorary U.S. citizen by President John F. Kennedy. (Churchill, unable to attend, watched the proceedings live on television in his London home.)

1967: The first test flight of Boeing&rsquos new 737 took place as the jetliner took off from Boeing Field in Seattle on a 2½-hour trip to Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

1968: Funeral services, private and public, were held for Martin Luther King Jr. at the Ebenezer Baptist Church and Morehouse College in Atlanta, five days after the civil rights leader was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

1979: Officials declared an end to the crisis involving the Three Mile Island Unit 2 nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania, 12 days after a partial core meltdown.

2003: Jubilant Iraqis celebrated the collapse of Saddam Hussein&rsquos regime, beheading a toppled statue of their longtime ruler in downtown Baghdad and embracing American troops as liberators.

2005: Britain&rsquos Prince Charles married longtime love Camilla Parker Bowles, who took the title Duchess of Cornwall.

2010: Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement. (His vacancy was filled by Elena Kagan.)

Ten years ago: A man armed with several weapons opened fire in a crowded shopping mall in the Netherlands, killing six people before taking his own life. Sidney Lumet, the award-winning director of such American film classics as &ldquoNetwork,&rdquo &ldquoSerpico,&rdquo &ldquoDog Day Afternoon&rdquo and &ldquo12 Angry Men,&rdquo died in New York at age 86.

Five years ago: After weeks of frantic searching, Belgian authorities announced they had identified recently detained Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini as the &ldquoman with the hat&rdquo who was spotted alongside two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at Brussels Airport the previous month.

One year ago: The government reported that 6.6 million people had sought unemployment benefits in the preceding week, bringing the total to 16.8 million in the three weeks since the coronavirus outbreak took hold. New York recorded another 799 deaths from the virus it was the third straight day in which the daily total reached a new high. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved out of intensive care at the London hospital where he was being treated for the virus. The Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones, telling him to stop pitching bogus remedies for the coronavirus.

Today&rsquos birthdays: Satirical songwriter and mathematician Tom Lehrer is 93. Actor Jean-Paul Belmondo is 88. Actor Michael Learned is 82. Country singer Margo Smith is 79. Actor Dennis Quaid is 67. Comedian Jimmy Tingle is 66. Country musician Dave Innis (Restless Heart) is 62. Talk show host Joe Scarborough is 58. Actor-sports reporter Lisa Guerrero is 57. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is 57. Actor Mark Pellegrino is 56. Actor-model Paulina Porizkova is 56. Actor Cynthia Nixon is 55. Rock singer Kevin Martin (Candlebox) is 52. TV personality Sunny Anderson is 46. Rock singer Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) is 44. Actor Keshia Knight Pulliam is 42. Rock musician Albert Hammond Jr. (The Strokes) is 41. Actor Charlie Hunnam is 41. Actor Ryan Northcott is 41. Actor Arlen Escarpeta is 40. Actor Jay Baruchel is 39. Actor Annie Funke is 36. Actor Jordan Masterson is 35. Actor Leighton Meester is 35. Actor-singer Jesse McCartney is 34. R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan is 34. Actor Kristen Stewart is 31. Actor Elle Fanning is 23. Rapper Lil Nas X is 22. Actor Isaac Hempstead Wright is 22. Classical crossover singer Jackie Evancho is 21.


"The Charbor Chronicles"

Once again, it should be reiterated, that this does not pretend to be a very extensive history of what happened on this day (nor is it the most original - the links can be found down below). If you know something that I am missing, by all means, shoot me an email or leave a comment, and let me know!


Apr 9, 1865: Robert E. Lee surrenders

At Appomattox, Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders his 28,000 troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. Forced to abandon the Confederate capital of Richmond, blocked from joining the surviving Confederate force in North Carolina, and harassed constantly by Union cavalry, Lee had no other option.

In retreating from the Union army's Appomattox Campaign, the Army of Northern Virginia had stumbled through the Virginia countryside stripped of food and supplies. At one point, Union cavalry forces under General Philip Sheridan had actually outrun Lee's army, blocking their retreat and taking 6,000 prisoners at Sayler's Creek. Desertions were mounting daily, and by April 8 the Confederates were surrounded with no possibility of escape. On April 9, Lee sent a message to Grant announcing his willingness to surrender. The two generals met in the parlor of the Wilmer McLean home at one o'clock in the afternoon.

Lee and Grant, both holding the highest rank in their respective armies, had known each other slightly during the Mexican War and exchanged awkward personal inquiries. Characteristically, Grant arrived in his muddy field uniform while Lee had turned out in full dress attire, complete with sash and sword. Lee asked for the terms, and Grant hurriedly wrote them out. All officers and men were to be pardoned, and they would be sent home with their private property--most important, the horses, which could be used for a late spring planting. Officers would keep their side arms, and Lee's starving men would be given Union rations. Shushing a band that had begun to play in celebration, General Grant told his officers, "The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again." Although scattered resistance continued for several weeks, for all practical purposes the Civil War had come to an end.













Apr 9, 1959: First astronauts introduced

On April 9, 1959, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduces America's first astronauts to the press: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Walter Schirra Jr., Alan Shepard Jr., and Donald Slayton. The seven men, all military test pilots, were carefully selected from a group of 32 candidates to take part in Project Mercury, America's first manned space program. NASA planned to begin manned orbital flights in 1961.

On October 4, 1957, the USSR scored the first victory of the "space race" when it successfully launched the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into Earth's orbit. In response, the United States consolidated its various military and civilian space efforts into NASA, which dedicated itself to beating the Soviets to manned space flight. In January 1959, NASA began the astronaut selection procedure, screening the records of 508 military test pilots and choosing 110 candidates. This number was arbitrarily divided into three groups, and the first two groups reported to Washington. Because of the high rate of volunteering, the third group was eliminated. Of the 62 pilots who volunteered, six were found to have grown too tall since their last medical examination. An initial battery of written tests, interviews, and medical history reviews further reduced the number of candidates to 36. After learning of the extreme physical and mental tests planned for them, four of these men dropped out.

The final 32 candidates traveled to the Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where they underwent exhaustive medical and psychological examinations. The men proved so healthy, however, that only one candidate was eliminated. The remaining 31 candidates then traveled to the Wright Aeromedical Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, where they underwent the most grueling part of the selection process. For six days and three nights, the men were subjected to various tortures that tested their tolerance of physical and psychological stress. Among other tests, the candidates were forced to spend an hour in a pressure chamber that simulated an altitude of 65,000 feet, and two hours in a chamber that was heated to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. At the end of one week, 18 candidates remained. From among these men, the selection committee was to choose six based on interviews, but seven candidates were so strong they ended up settling on that number.

After they were announced, the "Mercury Seven" became overnight celebrities. The Mercury Project suffered some early setbacks, however, and on April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth in the world's first manned space flight. Less than one month later, on May 5, astronaut Alan Shepard was successfully launched into space on a suborbital flight. On February 20, 1962, in a major step for the U.S. space program, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth. NASA continued to trail the Soviets in space achievements until the late 1960s, when NASA's Apollo program put the first men on the moon and safely returned them to Earth.

In 1998, 36 years after his first space flight, John Glenn traveled into space again. Glenn, then 77 years old, was part of the Space Shuttle Discovery crew, whose 9-day research mission launched on October 29, 1998. Among the crew's investigations was a study of space flight and the aging process.















Apr 9, 1940: Germany invades Norway and Denmark

On this day in 1940, German warships enter major Norwegian ports, from Narvik to Oslo, deploying thousands of German troops and occupying Norway. At the same time, German forces occupy Copenhagen, among other Danish cities.

German forces were able to slip through the mines Britain had laid around Norwegian ports because local garrisons were ordered to allow the Germans to land unopposed. The order came from a Norwegian commander loyal to Norway's pro-fascist former foreign minister Vidkun Quisling. Hours after the invasion, the German minister in Oslo demanded Norway's surrender. The Norwegian government refused, and the Germans responded with a parachute invasion and the establishment of a puppet regime led by Quisling (whose name would become a synonym for "traitor"). Norwegian forces refused to accept German rule in the guise of a Quisling government and continued to fight alongside British troops. But an accelerating German offensive in France led Britain to transfer thousand of soldiers from Norway to France, resulting ultimately in a German victory.

In Denmark, King Christian X, convinced his army could not fight off a German invasion, surrendered almost immediately. Hitler now added a second and third conquered nation to his quarry, which began with Poland.













Apr 9, 1942: U.S. surrenders in Bataan

On this day in 1942, Major General Edward P. King Jr. surrenders at Bataan, Philippines--against General Douglas MacArthur's orders--and 78,000 troops (66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans), the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers ever to surrender, are taken captive by the Japanese.

The prisoners were at once led 55 miles from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan peninsula, to San Fernando, on what became known as the "Bataan Death March." At least 600 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos died because of the extreme brutality of their captors, who starved, beat, and kicked them on the way those who became too weak to walk were bayoneted. Those who survived were taken by rail from San Fernando to POW camps, where another 16,000 Filipinos and at least 1,000 Americans died from disease, mistreatment, and starvation.

After the war, the International Military Tribunal, established by MacArthur, tried Lieutenant General Homma Masaharu, commander of the Japanese invasion forces in the Philippines. He was held responsible for the death march, a war crime, and was executed by firing squad on April 3, 1946.


Here's a more detailed look at events that transpired on this date throughout history:


Lee Surrenders

“It would be useless and therefore cruel,” Robert E. Lee remarked on the morning of April 9, 1865, “to provoke the further effusion of blood, and I have arranged to meet with General Grant with a view to surrender.” 1

The two generals met shortly after noon on April 9, 1865, at the home of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all United States forces, hastened the conclusion of the Civil War.

Appomattox Court House, Va. McLean House. Timothy H. O’Sullivan, photographer, April 1865. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Prints & Photographs Division

In the weeks following, other Confederate forces surrendered, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured. On April 14, 1865, just over four years after the bombardment of Fort Sumter that triggered the fighting, President Abraham Lincoln became one of the more than 1 million Civil War casualties (including more than 600,000 dead), and the bloody fighting that began in the corn fields of Manassas, Virginia in July 1861 finally came to a close.

Portrait of Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, officer of the Federal Army. Brady National Photographic Portrait Galleries, [between 1860 and 1865]. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Prints & Photographs Division Portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee, officer of the Confederate Army. Julian Vannerson, photographer, March 1864. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Prints & Photographs Division

After the surrender, former soldiers slowly returned home. One young Southerner despaired of seeing her husband again, when he turned up in Richmond ragged, but recognizable. Remembering the difficult years during and after the war she summed up her experience:

We had nothing on which to begin life over again, but we were young and strong, and began it cheerily enough. We are prosperous now, …little grandchildren cluster about us and listen with interest to grandpapa’s and grandmamma’s tales of the days when they “fought and bled and died together.” They can’t understand how such nice people as the Yankees and ourselves ever could have fought each other. “It doesn’t seem reasonable,” says Nellie…who is engaged to a gentleman from Boston, where we sent her to cultivate her musical talents, but where she applied herself to other matters, ‘it doesn’t seem reasonable, grandmamma, when you could just as easily have settled it all comfortably without any fighting. How glad I am I wasn’t living then! How thankful I am that ‘Old Glory’ floats alike over North and South, now!’

And so am I, my darling, so am I!

A Virginia Girl in the Civil War, 1861-1865. External Myrta Lockett Avary, ed. (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1903). Electronic Edition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1997. First-Person Narratives of the American South, 1860-1920 External


Guns Go Silent at Appomattox: Lee Surrenders to Grant 150 Years Ago

399

On this day, 150 years ago, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox, Virginia Courthouse. This event essentially ended the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict in American history, which claimed the lives of over 600,000 soldiers.

Though the surrender at Appomattox did not officially end the fighting, the collapse of the Army of Northern Virginia signaled that victory for the Confederate cause would be impossible. Led by General Lee for most of its existence, the Army of Northern Virginia had bottled up the Union Army of the Potomac for four years, winning a series of stunning battles that have become legendary: Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and numerous others.

However, after the incredible 1863 Union victory in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Lee’s army had mostly been on the defensive, slowly succumbing to the better-armed and supplied Union forces. Once Ulysses Grant was given command in March of 1864, the primary Union army of the eastern theater had a general that could take it to ultimate victory.

In the waning days of 1865, Confederate arms were nearly spent. The once proud and dynamic Army of Northern Virginia had been reduced from about 100,000 men in 1862 to fewer than half of their initial ranks. Confederate soldiers were starving and under-supplied, missing many of their best commanders after losing them in battle, and without hope for reinforcements.

Lee’s Army was badly beaten at the Battle of the Five Forks in early April, which forced him to abandon his fortification at Petersburg, Virginia and leave a path open to the Confederate capitol city of Richmond.

In the last, desperate retreat through Virginia, the Confederate Army was in disarray and on the verge of collapse. After witnessing his army being badly thrashed at Sailor’s Creek, Lee cried out, “My God! Has the army been dissolved?”

In the final confrontation between the Army of the Potomac and Army of Northern Virginia near Appomattox Courthouse, it was clear that the Rebel army was indeed on the verge of being dissolved. Historian Bruce Catton wrote in The Army of the Potomac: Stillness at Appomattox about this last fight:

The blue lines grew longer and longer, and rank upon rank came into view, as if there was no end to them. A Federal officer remembered afterward that when he looked across the Rebel lines it almost seemed as if there were more battle flags than soldiers.So small were the Southern regiments that the flags were all clustered together, and he got the strange feeling that the ground where the Army of Northern Virginia had been brought to bay had somehow blossomed out with a great row of poppies and roses.

After receiving word of how badly his forces had been beaten by the Union army, Lee wrote a message to General James Longstreet, “There is nothing left for me to do but to go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.”

After receiving news that Lee had surrendered, President Abraham Lincoln prepared and delivered what would be his final speech on April 11. He exclaimed from the White House balcony, “We meet this evening, not in sorrow, but in gladness of heart. The evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and the surrender of the principal insurgent army, give hope of a righteous and speedy peace whose joyous expression can not be restrained. In the midst of this, however, He from whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten.”

Lincoln then called for a “national thanksgiving,” but said that the ultimate credit for victory belonged to the Union soldiers above anyone else. He said, “Their honors must not be parceled out with others. I myself was near the front, and had the high pleasure of transmitting much of the good news to you but no part of the honor, for plan or execution, is mine. To Gen. Grant, his skillful officers, and brave men, all belongs.”

The final parade and surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia took place on April 12. General Joshua Chamberlain, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg, would receive the formal surrender on behalf of General Grant. Chamberlain recorded what he saw in his memoir an account that historian Emory M. Thomas called the “best” description of the Confederate Army’s final act:

Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond…

Instruction had been given and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from left to right, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldiers salutation, from the “order arms” to the old “carry”—the marching salute. General [General John B.] at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual,—honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet, nor a roll of drum not a cheer nor word, nor whisper of vainglorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, a breathholding, as if it were the passing of the dead!

Though some Confederate leaders wanted to continue the war through guerrilla style fighting, Lee completely rejected this tactic. The war was over, the fighting hopeless, and the long road to recovery and rebuilding the country had to begin.

As Emory Thomas wrote in The Confederate Nation: 1861-1865, “Having sacrificed or been willing to sacrifice most of the ideological tenets they went to war to defend, ultimately Confederate Southerners were willing to lose their national life in order to save life itself.”

That the Union remains intact 150 years later, and that the United States ascended to almost incomparable power and prosperity in the 20th century is largely due to the efforts of Americans of the late 19th century, both Northern and Southern, who wished to see the country one and indivisible yet again.


General Robert E. Lee Surrenders To Ulysses Grant

Today on April 9, 1865, the American Civil War inched closer to its inevitable conclusion with Robert E. Lee's surrender at the Battle of Appomattox Court House.

The Battle of Appomattox Court House began on the morning of April 9 in the Appomattox County of Virginia. The conflict would end being one of the last major battles of the American Civil War. By the spring of 1865, General Robert E. Lee and his hastily assembled army were in the midst of a full-scale retreat South. They had recently abandoned the Confederate capital city of Richmond, Virginia. Lee's plan hinged on regrouping with the remaining southern forces stationed in North Carolina. He believed they would then be strong enough to mount a counteroffensive against the advancing Union army.

Meanwhile, the Northern army under the command of Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant took up a defensive position near the small town of Appomattox Court House. Grant was determined to prevent Lee's retreat at all costs. The Union forces were confident, and with good reason — they outnumbered the Confederate army by more three-to-one. The once-mighty Army of Northern Virginia had been reduced to a mere 26,000 soldiers.

Grant opened the Battle of Appomattox Court House by ordering his superior cavalrymen to start harassing the enemy. Within a few days, his cavalry divisions managed to outflank Lee's troops completely. By the morning of April 8, they had expertly cut off the Confederate army from marching further South. Desertions were now rampant across Lee's ranks — the beloved hero of the South had run entirely out of options. Any chance of breaking through enemy lines was lost.

"It would be useless and therefore cruel to provoke the further effusion of blood, and I have arranged to meet General Grant with a view to surrender." — Robert E. Lee

The next morning, Lee sent a message to Grant announcing his willingness to surrender. The two generals met at the home of Wilmer McLean shortly after lunchtime on April 9. Lee characteristically arrived in his full ceremonial uniform while Grant was still wearing his muddied field attire. Both men held the highest rank of their respective armies and began negotiating terms of surrender. With less than a thousand combined casualties, the Battle of Appomattox Court House was now over. The Civil War Trust has since acquired and preserved more than 500 acres of land around Appomattox Court House.

Ulysses Grant hastily wrote down the terms of the agreement and signed the document. The two sides held a formal ceremony later that afternoon, marking the official disbandment of the Army of Northern Virginia and the parole of its officers and men. All of the soldiers received full pardons and were allowed to return home with their horses and swords. Lee never forgot Grant's generosity and respect during the surrender, and for the rest of his life wouldn't tolerate a rude word about Grant in his presence. The Union victory at Appomattox Court House effectively ended the war in Virginia and triggered a series of capitulations across the South.


On This Day: Robert E. Lee surrenders – HISTORY

In Appomattox Court House, Virginia, Robert E. Lee surrenders his 28,000 Confederate troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. Forced to abandon the Confederate capital of Richmond, blocked from joining the surviving Confederate force in North Carolina, and harassed constantly by Union cavalry, Lee had no other option.

In retreating from the Union army’s Appomattox Campaign, the Army of Northern Virginia had stumbled through the Virginia countryside stripped of food and supplies. At one point, Union cavalry forces under General Philip Sheridan had actually outrun Lee’s army, blocking their retreat and taking 6,000 prisoners at Sayler’s Creek. Desertions were mounting daily, and by April 8 the Confederates were surrounded with no possibility of escape. On April 9, Lee sent a message to Grant announcing his willingness to surrender. The two generals met in the parlor of the Wilmer McLean home at one o’clock in the afternoon.

Lee and Grant, both holding the highest rank in their respective armies, had known each other slightly during the Mexican War and exchanged awkward personal inquiries. Characteristically, Grant arrived in his muddy field uniform while Lee had turned out in full dress attire, complete with sash and sword. Lee asked for the terms, and Grant hurriedly wrote them out. All officers and men were to be pardoned, and they would be sent home with their private property–most important, the horses, which could be used for a late spring planting. Officers would keep their side arms, and Lee’s starving men would be given Union rations.

Shushing a band that had begun to play in celebration, General Grant told his officers, “The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again.” Although scattered resistance continued for several weeks, for all practical purposes the Civil War had come to an end.


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