Skip to comments.Apr 9, 1865 - Civil War ends
Posted on 04/09/2011 4:40:24 AM PDT by EternalVigilance
American Minute, with Bill Federer
The Civil War began on Wilmer McLean's farm in Manassas Junction,
Virginia, with the First Battle of Bull Run.
A Union shell exploded in his kitchen.
Wilmer McLean moved to get away from the conflict, yet almost four
years later his new home, near Appomattox Court House, Virginia, was
the agreed location for General Robert E. Lee to surrender to General
Ulysses S. Grant on APRIL 9, 1865.
Ken Burn's documentary film of the Civil War stated that the war
began in Wilmer McLean's front yard and ended in his front parlor.
The Civil War resulted in approximately 258,000 Confederate deaths
and 360,000 Union deaths.
General Lee took off his sword and handed it to General Grant, and
Grant handed it back.
The next day, General Lee issued his final order:
"After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage
and fortitude...I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of
those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.
By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their
"I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you His blessing
With his army surrounded, his men weak and exhausted, Robert E. Lee realized there was little choice but to consider the surrender of his Army to General Grant. After a series of notes between the two leaders, they agreed to meet on April 9, 1865, at the house of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Courthouse. The meeting lasted approximately two and one-half hours and at its conclusion the bloodliest conflict in the nation's history neared its end.
Prelude to Surrender
On April 3, Richmond fell to Union troops as Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia in retreat to the West pursued by Grant and the Army of the Potomac. A running battle ensued as each Army moved farther to the West in an effort to out flank, or prevent being out flanked by the enemy. Finally, on April 7, General Grant initiated a series of dispatches leading to a meeting between the two commanders.
"General R.E. Lee, Commanding C.S.A.:
5 P.M., April 7th, 1865.
The results of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.
U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General"
The note was carried through the Confederate lines and Lee promptly responded:
"April 7th, 1865.
General: I have received your note of this date. Though not entertaining the opinion you express of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia, I reciprocate your desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and therefore, before considering your proposition, ask the terms you will offer on condition of its surrender.
R.E. Lee, General."
Grant received Lee's message after midnight and replied early in the morning giving his terms for surrender:
The fighting continued and as Lee retreated further to the West he replied to Grant's message:
"April 8th, 1865.
General: I received at a late hour your note of to-day. In mine of yesterday I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender of this army, but, as the restoration of peace should be the sole object of all, I desired to know whether your proposals would lead to that end. I cannot, therefore, meet you with a view to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia; but as far as your proposal may affect the Confederate States forces under my command, and tend to the restoration of peace, I should be pleased to meet you at 10 A.M. to-morrow on the old state road to Richmond, between the picket-lines of the two armies.
R.E. Lee, General."
Exhausted from stress and suffering the pain from a severe headache, Grant replied to Lee around 5 o'clock in the morning of April 9.
"April 9th, 1865.
General: Your note of yesterday is received. I have not authority to treat on the subject of peace. The meeting proposed for 10 A.M. to-day could lead to no good. I will state, however, that I am equally desirous for peace with yourself, and the whole North entertains the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms, they would hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed. Seriously hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of another life, I subscribe myself, etc.,
U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General"
Still suffering his headache, General Grant approached the crossroads of Appomattox Court House where he was over taken by a messenger carrying Lee's reply.
"April 9th, 1865.
General: I received your note of this morning on the picket-line, whither I had come to meet you and ascertain definitely what terms were embraced in your proposal of yesterday with reference to the surrender of this army. I now ask an interview, in accordance with the offer contained in your letter of yesterday, for that purpose.
R.E. Lee, General."
Grant immediately dismounted, sat by the road and wrote the following reply to Lee.
"April 9th, 1865.
General R. E. Lee Commanding C. S. Army:
Your note of this date is but this moment (11:50 A.M.) received, in consequence of my having passed from the Richmond and Lynchburg road to the Farmville and Lynchburg road. I am at this writing about four miles west of Walker's Church, and will push forward to the front for the purpose of meeting you. Notice sent to me on this road where you wish the interview to take place will meet me.
U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General."
"We entered, and found General Grant sitting at a marble-topped table in the center of the room, and Lee sitting beside a small oval table near the front window, in the corner opposite to the door by which we entered, and facing General Grant. We walked in softly and ranged ourselves quietly about the sides of the room, very much as people enter a sick-chamber when they expect to find the patient dangerously ill.
The contrast between the two commanders was striking, and could not fail to attract marked attention they sat ten feet apart facing each other. General Grant, then nearly forty-three years of age, was five feet eight inches in height, with shoulders slightly stooped. His hair and full beard were a nut-brown, without a trace of gray in them. He had on a single-breasted blouse, made of dark-blue flannel, unbuttoned in front, and showing a waistcoat underneath. He wore an ordinary pair of top-boots, with his trousers inside, and was without spurs. The boots and portions of his clothes were spattered with mud. He had no sword, and a pair of shoulder-straps was all there was about him to designate his rank. In fact, aside from these, his uniform was that of a private soldier.
Lee, on the other hand, was fully six feet in height, and quite erect for one of his age, for he was Grant's senior by sixteen years. His hair and full beard were silver-gray, and quite thick, except that the hair had become a little thin in the front. He wore a new uniform of Confederate gray, buttoned up to the throat, and at his side he carried a long sword of exceedingly fine workmanship, the hilt studded with jewels. His top-boots were comparatively new, and seemed to have on them some ornamental stitching
General Grant began the conversation by saying 'I met you once before, General Lee, while we were serving in Mexico, when you came over from General Scott's headquarters to visit Garland's brigade, to which I then belonged. I have always remembered your appearance, and I think I should have recognized you anywhere.'
'Yes,' replied General Lee, 'I know I met you on that occasion, and I have often thought of it and tried to recollect how you looked, but I have never been able to recall a single feature.'"
The two generals talked a bit more about Mexico and moved on to a discussion of the terms of the surrender when Lee asked Grant to commit the terms to paper:
"'Very well,' replied General Grant, 'I will write them out.' And calling for his manifold order-book, he opened it on the table before him and proceeded to write the terms. The leaves had been so prepared that three impressions of the writing were made. He wrote very rapidly, and did not pause until he had finished the sentence ending with 'officers appointed by me to receive them.' Then he looked toward Lee, and his eyes seemed to be resting on the handsome sword that hung at that officer's side. He said afterward that this set him to thinking that it would be an unnecessary humiliation to require officers to surrender their swords, and a great hardship to deprive them of their personal baggage and horses, and after a short pause he wrote the sentence: 'This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage.'
Grant handed the document to Lee. After reviewing it, Lee informed Grant that the Cavalry men and Artillery men in the Confederate Army owned their horses and asked that they keep them. Grant agreed and Lee wrote a letter formally accepting the surrender. Lee then made his exit:
Buel, Clarence, and Robert U. Johnson, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. IV (1888, reprint ed. 1982); Grant, Ulysses S., Memoirs and Selected Letters, Vol. I (1885, reprint ed. 1990); McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1988).
How To Cite This Article:
"Surrender at Appomattox, 1865," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (1997).
Might as well start it early. That was no surrender; that was time-out. Save your Confederate money; not only will the South rie again, but soon it will be worth more than the Yankee dollars.
Wilmer McLean - was it Mark Twain who said it?
“The Civil War started in his kitchen, and ended in his parlor.”
Beautifully written account.
Yeah. Something we don’t see much these day: straight reporting.
Not sure who first said it. But, in any case, it seems to be accurate.
Very eloquent and articulate, both in recounting of events, and documents prepared. Two men accomplished in a few paragraphs what would today take a battalion of lawyers and 2000 pages of legalese.
when the liberals try to secede, they will be stopped.
He was admitted on 11 April, 1865 to the Field (Flying) Hospital, 24th Army Corps (USA), Army of the James, G.S. (gunshot), right thigh. Sent to General Hospital on 14 April, 1865. April 29th, 1865, CSA General Hospital, Farmville, Virginia.
9. Parole: 30 April, 1865: I, Godebert's g-g-grandfather, Lieut. C-26th Regt. SC Vols. do hereby give my solemn parole of honor that I will not hereafter serve in the armies of the Confederate States or in any military capacity whatever, against the United States of America, or render aid to the enemies of the latter, until properly exchanged, in such manner as shall mutually be approved by the respective authorities. Done at Farmville, VA., 30th of April, 1865.
Jan. 2008 Civil War starts back up.
|[Although very late in the war Lee wanted freedom offered to any of the slaves who would agree to fight for the Confederacy, practically no one was stupid enough to fall for that. In any case, Lee was definitely not fighting to end slavery, instead writing that black folks are better off in bondage than they were free in Africa, and regardless, slavery will be around until Providence decides, and who are we to second guess that? And the only reason the masters beat their slaves is because of the abolitionists.]
Robert E. Lee letter -- "...There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. How long their servitude may be necessary is known and ordered by a merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influences of Christianity than from the storm and tempest of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure. The doctrines and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small portion of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist! While we see the course of the final abolition of human slavery is still onward, and give it the aid of our prayers, let us leave the progress as well as the results in the hands of Him who, chooses to work by slow influences, and with whom a thousand years are but as a single day. Although the abolitionist must know this, must know that he has neither the right not the power of operating, except by moral means; that to benefit the slave he must not excite angry feelings in the master..."
|December 27, 1856|
|Platform of the Alabama Democracy -- the first Dixiecrats wanted to be able to expand slavery into the territories. It was precisely the issue of slavery that drove secession -- and talk about "sovereignty" pertained to restrictions on slavery's expansion into the territories.||January 1860|
|Abraham Lincoln nominated by Republican Party||May 18, 1860|
|Abraham Lincoln elected||November 6, 1860|
|Robert Toombs, Speech to the Georgia Legislature -- "...In 1790 we had less than eight hundred thousand slaves. Under our mild and humane administration of the system they have increased above four millions. The country has expanded to meet this growing want, and Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, have received this increasing tide of African labor; before the end of this century, at precisely the same rate of increase, the Africans among us in a subordinate condition will amount to eleven millions of persons. What shall be done with them? We must expand or perish. We are constrained by an inexorable necessity to accept expansion or extermination. Those who tell you that the territorial question is an abstraction, that you can never colonize another territory without the African slavetrade, are both deaf and blind to the history of the last sixty years. All just reasoning, all past history, condemn the fallacy. The North understand it better - they have told us for twenty years that their object was to pen up slavery within its present limits - surround it with a border of free States, and like the scorpion surrounded with fire, they will make it sting itself to death."||November 13, 1860|
|Alexander H. Stephens -- "...The first question that presents itself is, shall the people of Georgia secede from the Union in consequence of the election of Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States? My countrymen, I tell you frankly, candidly, and earnestly, that I do not think that they ought. In my judgment, the election of no man, constitutionally chosen to that high office, is sufficient cause to justify any State to separate from the Union. It ought to stand by and aid still in maintaining the Constitution of the country. To make a point of resistance to the Government, to withdraw from it because any man has been elected, would put us in the wrong. We are pledged to maintain the Constitution."||November 14, 1860|
|South Carolina||December 20, 1860|
|Mississippi||January 9, 1861|
|Florida||January 10, 1861|
|Alabama||January 11, 1861|
|Georgia||January 19, 1861|
|Louisiana||January 26, 1861|
|Texas||February 23, 1861|
|Abraham Lincoln sworn in as
President of the United States
|March 4, 1861|
|Arizona territory||March 16, 1861|
|CSA Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, Cornerstone speech -- "...last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution -- African slavery as it exists amongst us -- the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the 'rock upon which the old Union would split.' He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact."||March 21, 1861|
|Virginia||adopted April 17,1861
ratified by voters May 23, 1861
|Arkansas||May 6, 1861|
|North Carolina||May 20, 1861|
|Tennessee||adopted May 6, 1861
ratified June 8, 1861
|West Virginia declares for the Union||June 19, 1861|
|Missouri||October 31, 1861|
|"Convention of the People of Kentucky"||November 20, 1861|
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Only one problem. The surrender at Appomattox didn’t end the war, it was just the surrender of Lee’s Army. Johnston didn’t surrender for another 2 weeks, other forces even later, up to Texas, which didn’t give up until the end of May.
Having said that, if you ever are anywhere near Appomattox, you have to go there. It’s one of the most moving places I have ever been. I could almost see the lines of US soldiers lining the fences and the Confederates marching past to surrender their rifles.
Only the declared war ended. The fight continued and continues to this day. We lost States rights in the war.
Joe Biden said his great grandfather watched the surrender live on TV.
I think those very words everytime I hear Lincoln praised for "doing what had to be done".
1913 Civil War Reunion at Gettsburg
This is a video to be kept in your computer archives, IMO.
Actually, it didn’t end on April 9th. Joe Johnston didn’t suurender to Sherman for almost another week [had to surrender a second time after the terms were disapproved in D.C-after the assasination]. The Trans-Mississippi didn’t surrender for at least another month.
Lee spent his last days as President of Washington College in Virginia. From the poem, Lee in the Mountains:
It is not the bugle now, or the long roll beating.
The simple stroke of a chapel bell forbids
The hurtling dream, recalls the lonely mind.
Young men, the God of your fathers is a just
And merciful God Who in this blood once shed
On your green altars measures out all days,
And measures out the grace
Whereby alone we live;
And in His might He waits,
Brooding within the certitude of time,
To bring this lost forsaken valor
And the fierce faith undying
And the love quenchless
To flower among the hills to which we cleave,
To fruit upon the mountains whither we flee,
Never forsaking, never denying
His children and His children’s children forever
Unto all generations of the faithful heart.
ohh nooo! Please let them go...like true parasites they would DIE without a host. If they turned Detroit into a prairie in 40 years, they would stand no chance of survival with out US!
Thank you very much. What a wondervul video. Very touching, to say the least. And even an old Confederate soldier can be heard saying “That’s the rebel yell”. Wow!
Thanks for the great video!
Great poem. Thanks.
While you’re technically correct, when Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered, it was over.
“Having said that, if you ever are anywhere near Appomattox, you have to go there. Its one of the most moving places I have ever been.”
Way back in ‘94, I visited Petersburg and then followed the main route of Lee’s army as it fled westward. Stopped at Sayler’s Creek. Not a lot to see there though. Went to Appomattox. Very cool.
You are right. I can only imagine what it must have been like as Lee’s troops found out they were surrendering and later as they stacked their weapons and prepared to head home to an uncertain future.
The account of the ANV’s flight from Petersburg and Richmond has been well-doucumented. I can only imagine the bone-tiredness, hunger and mental confusion as the army fled westward - with the Union army nipping on the heels the whole time.
” I hear Lincoln praised for “doing what had to be done”.”
Lincoln preached that the States had the right to leave the union. He also preached that he didn’t want any free blacks allowed into Illinois and saw them as less than whites.
My take: He was also a major and famous player in the railroad industry and a midwestern lawyer that had both served in the US congress and presented at least one case before the US Supreme Court. He was far from this humble man that lived in a log cabin the elementary public schools want everyone to believe. He had railroad buddies that needed the north and south to stay together. That was his focus: Railroad money.
For what it's worth.
And worth every bit as much as your input..maybe more since mine actually said something.
Col. John Singleton Mosby who ruled Northern Virginia with his band of irregulars, never did surrender. He disbanded his outfit under conditions arranged by Lee and he and his men were paroled. 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry raised a lot of hell and were the most wanted and most hunted rebels of the war. It is a helluva story.
I think the most wanted and hunted rebels of the war were William Clarke Quantrill, George Todd and William “Bloody Bill” Anderson and their associates.
Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson were not officially part of the Confederate military. Mosby and his band were citizen soldiers from Northern Virginia. While both were considered irregulars in the sense of their unit composition, Mosby reported to and took orders directly from Lee. There are some similarities between Quantrill and Bloody Bill. They were Southern sympathizers who traveled the Kansas / Missouri arena. Deserters, cutthroats, criminals. No doubt they were hunted and wanted. Mosby operated right under the noses of the Union in the Shadow of Wash. DC. Quantrill and Bloody Bill are also a great story. Vicious killers. Think of Lawrence Ks.
Most of it factually incorrect but hey, you did say it.
Quantrill had a “Ranger commission” as a Captain of Confederate partisan forces. The winter of 1863-1864 was spent in Texas by the Missouri bushwhackers [that’s after Lawrence], and the Confederate military authorities provisioned them, and gave all appearances of believing the Missourians were under their military authority.
Substantial second line Union troops were stationed in the Missouri thater of operations for the sole purpose of beating the Bushwhackers. General Order No. 11 was promulgated because of them.
Please understand, I am in NO way comparing Mosby to Quantrill or Anderson. But the fact remains, the latter were Confederate guerillas [Todd was killed fighting with Jo Shelby]. And they were more hunted than Mosby. Nor were they accorded the rights accruing to Mosby’s men by Lee’s [or anyone else’s] surrender. Jsse James was almost killed when he rode in to surrender.