The surrender at Appomattox Court House.
by Horace Porter, Brevet Brigadier-General, U. S. A.
A little before noon on the 7th of April, 1865, General Grant
, with his staff, rode into the little village of Farmville
[see map, p. 569], on the south side of the Appomattox River
, a town that will be memorable in history as the place where he opened the correspondence with Lee
which led to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
He drew up in front of the village hotel, dismounted, and established headquarters on its broad piazza.
News came in that Crook
was fighting large odds with his cavalry on the north side of the river, and I was directed to go to his front and see what was necessary to be done to assist him. I found that he was being driven back, the enemy (Munford
's and Rosser
's cavalry divisions under under Fitzhugh
) having made a bold stand north of the river.
was also on the north side, isolated from the rest of our infantry, confronted by a large portion of Lee
's army, and having some very heavy fighting.
On my return to general headquarters that evening Wright
's corps was ordered to cross the river and move rapidly to the support of our troops there.
Not-withstanding their long march that day, the men sprang to their feet with a spirit that made every one marvel at their pluck, and came swinging through the main street of the village with a step that seemed as elastic as on the first day of their toilsome tramp.
It was now dark, but they spied the general-in-chief watching them with evident pride from the piazza of the hotel.
Then was witnessed one of the most inspiring scenes of the campaign.
Bonfires were lighted on the sides of the street, the men seized straw and pine knots, and improvised torches; cheers arose from throats already hoarse with shouts of victory, bands played, banners waved, arms were tossed high
in air and caught again.
The night march had become a grand review, with Grant
as the reviewing officer.
had visited the general at the hotel, and he had spoken with them as well as with Wright
about sending some communication to Lee
that might pave the way to the stopping of further bloodshed.
, formerly of the regular army, a native of Virginia
and a relative of General Ewell
, now one of our prisoners, had told General Grant
the night before that Ewell
had said in conversation that their cause was lost when they crossed the James River
, and he considered that it was the duty of the authorities to negotiate for peace then, while they still had a right to claim concessions, adding that now they were not in condition to claim anything.
He said that for every man killed after this somebody would be responsible, and it would be little better than murder.
He could not tell what General Lee
would do, but he hoped he would at once surrender his army.
This statement, together with the news that had been received from Sheridan
saying that he had heard that General Lee
's trains of provisions which had come by rail were at Appomattox
, and that he expected to capture them before Lee
could reach them, induced the general to write the following communication:
This he intrusted to General Seth Williams
, with directions to take it to Humphreys
's front, as his corps was close up to the enemy's rear-guard, and have it sent into Lee
The general decided to remain all night at Farmville
and await the reply from Lee
, and he was shown to a room in the hotel in which, he was told, Lee
had slept the night before.
wrote the following reply within an hour after he received General Grant
's letter, but it was brought in by rather a circuitous route and did not reach its destination till after midnight:
The next morning before leaving Farmville
the following reply was given to General Williams
, who again went to Humphreys
's front to have it transmitted to Lee
There turned up at this time a rather hungry-looking gentleman in gray, in the uniform of a colonel, who proclaimed himself the proprietor of the hotel.
He said his regiment had crumbled to pieces, he was the only man left in it, and he thought he might as well “stop off” at home.
His story was significant as indicating the disintegrating process that was going on in the ranks of the enemy.
had been marching most of the way with the columns that were pushing along south of Lee
's line of retreat; but expecting that a reply would be sent to his last letter and wanting to keep within easy communication with Lee
, he decided to march this day with the portion of the Army of the Potomac that was pressing Lee
After issuing some further instructions to Ord
, he started from Farmville
, crossed to the north side of the Appomattox
, conferred in person with Meade
, and rode with his columns.
Encouraging reports came in all day, and that night Headquarters were established at Curdsville
in a large white farm-house, a few hundred yards from Meade
The general and several of the staff had cut loose from the headquarters trains the night he started to meet Sheridan
, and had neither baggage nor camp-equipage.
The general did not even have his sword with him. This was the most advanced effort yet made at moving in “light marching order,” and we billeted ourselves at night in farm-houses, or bivouacked on porches, and picked up meals at any camp that seemed to have something to spare in the way of rations.
This night we sampled the fare of Meade
's hospitable mess and once more lay down with full stomachs.
had been suffering all the afternoon from a severe headache, the result of fatigue, anxiety, scant fare, and loss of sleep, and by night it was much worse.
The village of Appomattox Court House.
The McLean House on the right.
From a War-time sketch. |
had been induced to bathe his feet in hot water and mustard, and apply mustard plasters to his wrists and the back of his neck, but these remedies afforded little relief.
The dwelling we occupied was a double house.
The general threw himself upon a sofa in the sitting-room on the left side of the hall, while the staff-officers bunked on the floor of the room opposite to
catch what sleep they could.
About midnight we were aroused by Colonel Charles A. Whittier
's staff, who brought another letter from Lee
. Rawlins at once took it in to General Grant
It was as follows:
had been able to get but very little sleep.
He now sat up and read the letter, and after making a few comments upon it to General Rawlins
lay down again on the sofa.
About 4 o'clock on the morning of the 9th I rose and crossed the hall to ascertain how the general was feeling.
I found his room empty, and upon going out of the front door saw him pacing up and down in the yard holding both hands to his head.
Upon inquiring how he felt, he replied that he had had very little sleep, and was still suffering the most excruciating pain.
I said: “Well, there is one consolation in all this, General: I never knew you to be ill that you did not receive some good news.
I have become a little superstitious regarding these coincidences, and I should not be surprised if some good fortune overtook you before night.”
He smiled and said: “The best thing that can happen to me to-day is to get rid of the pain I am suffering.”
We were soon joined by some others of the staff, and the general was induced to go over to Meade
's headquarters with us and get some coffee, in the hope that it would do him good.
He seemed to feel a little better now, and after writing the following letter to Lee
and dispatching it he prepared to move forward.
The letter was as follows:
It was proposed to him to ride during the day in a covered ambulance which was at hand, instead of on horseback, so as to avoid the intense heat of the sun, but this he declined to do, and soon after mounted “Cincinnati
” and struck off toward New Store
From that point he went by way of a
cross-road to the south side of the Appomattox
with the intention of moving around to Sheridan
While riding along the wagon road that runs from Farmville
to Appomattox Court House, at a point eight or nine miles east of the latter place, Lieutenant Charles E. Pease
's staff overtook him with a dispatch.
It was found to be a reply from Lee
, which had been sent in to our lines on Humphreys
It read as follows:
also brought a note from Meade
, saying that at Lee
's request he had read the communication addressed to General Grant
and in consequence of it had granted a short truce.
The general, as soon as he had read these letters, dismounted, sat down on the grassy bank by the roadside, and wrote the following reply to Lee
He handed this to Colonel Babcock
of the staff, with directions to take it to General Lee
by the most direct route.
Mounting his horse again the general rode on at a trot toward Appomattox Court House.
When five or six miles from the town, Colonel Newhall
's adjutant-general, came riding up from the direction of Appomattox
and handed the general a communication.
This proved to be a duplicate of the letter from Lee
that Lieutenant Pease
had brought in from Meade
was so closely pressed that he was anxious to communicate with Grant
by the most direct means, and as he could not tell with which column Grant
was moving he sent in one copy of his letter on Meade
's front and one on Sheridan
's. Colonel Newhall
joined our party, and after a few minutes' halt to read the letter we continued our ride toward Appomattox
On the march I had asked the general several times how he felt.
To the same question now he said, “The pain in my head seemed to leave me the moment I got Lee
The road was filled with men, animals, and wagons, and to avoid these and shorten the distance we turned slightly to the right and began to “cut across lots” ; but before going far we spied men conspicuous in gray, and it was seen that we were moving toward the enemy's left flank, and that a short ride farther would take us into his lines.
It looked for a moment as if a very awkward condition of things might possibly arise, and Grant
become a prisoner in Lee
's lines instead of Lee
in his. Such a circumstance would have given rise to an important
cross-entry in the system of campaign bookkeeping.
There was only one remedy — to retrace our steps and strike the right road, which was done without serious discussion.
About 1 o'clock the little village of Appomattox Court House, with its half-dozen houses, came in sight, and soon we were entering its single street.
It is situated on some rising ground, and beyond the country slopes
McLean's House, Appomattox Court House.
From a photograph. |
down into a broad valley.
The enemy was seen with his columns and wagon trains covering the low ground.
Our cavalry, the Fifth Corps, and part of Ord
's command were occupying the high ground to the south and west of the enemy, heading him off completely.
, with a group of officers around them, were seen in the road, and as our party came up General Grant
said: “How are you, Sheridan
“First-rate, thank you; how are you?”
, with a voice and look that seemed to indicate that on his part he was having things all his own way. “Is Lee
asked General Grant
, pointing up the street, having heard a rumor that Lee
was in that vicinity.
“Yes, he is in that brick house,” answered Sheridan
“Well, then, we'll go over,” said Grant
now rode on, accompanied by Sheridan
, and some others, and soon Colonel Babcock
's orderly was seen sitting on his horse in the street in front of a two-story brick house, better in appearance than the rest of the houses.
He said General Lee
and Colonel Babcock
had gone into this house a short time before, and he was ordered to post himself in the street and keep a lookout for General Grant
, so as to let him know where General Lee
told me afterward that in carrying General Grant
's last letter he passed through the enemy's lines and found General Lee
a little more than half a mile beyond Appomattox Court House.
He was lying down by the roadside on a blanket which had been spread over a few fence rails on the ground under an apple-tree, which was part of an orchard.
This circumstance furnished the only ground for the widespread report that the surrender occurred under an apple-tree.
dismounted upon coming near, and as he approached on foot, Lee
sat up, with his feet hanging over the roadside embankment.
The wheels of the wagons in passing along the road had cut away the earth of this embankment and left the roots of the tree projecting.
's feet were partly resting on these roots.
of his staff-officers came forward, took the dispatch which Babcock
handed him and gave it to General Lee
After reading it, the general rose and said he would ride forward on the road on which Babcock
had come, but was apprehensive that hostilities might begin in the meantime, upon the termination of the temporary truce, and asked Babcock
to write a line to Meade
informing him of the situation.
wrote accordingly, requesting Meade
to maintain the truce until positive orders from General Grant
could be received.
To save time it was arranged that a Union officer, accompanied by one of Lee
's officers, should carry this letter through the enemy's lines.
This route made the distance to Meade
nearly ten miles shorter than by the roundabout way of the Union
now mounted his horse and directed Colonel Charles Marshall
, his military secretary, to accompany him. They started for Appomattox Court House in company with Babcock
and followed by a mounted orderly.
When the party reached the village they met one of its residents, named Wilmer McLean
, who was told that General Lee
wanted to occupy a convenient room in some house in the town.
ushered them into the sitting-room of one of the first houses he came to, but upon looking about and finding it quite small and meagerly furnished, Lee
proposed finding something more commodious and better fitted for the occasion.
then conducted the party to his own house, about the best one in the town, where they awaited General Grant
The house had a comfortable wooden porch with seven steps leading up to it. A hall ran through the middle from front to back, and on each side was a room having two windows, one in front and one in rear.
Each room had two doors opening into the hall.
The building stood a little distance back from the street, with a yard in front, and to the left was a gate for carriages and a roadway running to a stable in rear.
We entered the grounds by this gate and dismounted.
In the yard were seen a fine large gray horse, which proved to be General, Lee
's, and a good-looking mare belonging to Colonel Marshall
An orderly in gray was in charge of them, and had taken off their bridles to let them nibble the grass.
mounted the steps and entered the house.
As he stepped into the hall Colonel Babcock
, who had seen his approach from the window, opened the door of the room on the left, in which he had been sitting with General Lee
and Colonel Marshall
awaiting General Grant
The general passed in, while the members of the staff, Generals Sheridan
, and some general officers who had gathered in the front yard, remained outside, feeling that he would probably want his first interview with General Lee
to be, in a measure, private.
In a few minutes Colonel Babcock
came to the front door and, making a motion with his hat toward the sitting-room, said: “The general says, come in.”
It was then about half-past 1 of Sunday, the 9th of April.
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
. Colonel Marshall
, his military secretary, was standing at his left.
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. Some found seats on the sofa and the few chairs which constituted the furniture, but most of the party stood.
the contrast between the two commanders was striking, and could not fail to attract marked attention as they sat ten feet apart facing each other.
, 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 had on a pair of thread gloves, of a dark-yellow color, which he had taken off on entering the room.
His felt “sugar-loaf” stiff-brimmed hat was thrown on the table beside him. 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.
, 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 a silver-gray, and quite thick, except that the hair had become a little thin in 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.
It was said to be the sword that had been presented to him by the State of Virginia
His top-boots were comparatively new, and seemed to have on them some ornamental stitching of red silk.
Like his uniform, they were singularly clean, and but little travel-stained.
On the boots were handsome spurs, with large rowels.
A felt hat, which in color matched pretty closely that of his uniform, and a pair of long buckskin gauntlets lay beside him on the table.
We asked Colonel Marshall
afterward how it was that both he and his chief wore such fine toggery, and looked so much as if they had turned out to go to church, while with us our outward garb scarcely rose to the dignity even of the “shabby-genteel.”
he enlightened us regarding the contrast, by explaining that when their headquarters wagons had been pressed so closely by our cavalry a few days before, and it was found they would have to destroy all their baggage, except the clothes they carried on their backs, each one, naturally, selected the newest suit he had, and sought to propitiate the god of destruction by a sacrifice of his second-best.
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.”
after some further mention of Mexico
, General Lee
said: “I suppose, General Grant
, that the object of our present meeting is fully understood.
to see you to ascertain upon what terms you would receive the surrender of my Army.”
replied: “the terms I propose are those stated substantially in my letter of yesterday,--that is, the officers and men surrendered to be paroled and disqualified from taking up arms again until properly exchanged, and all arms, ammunition, and supplies to be delivered up as captured property.”
nodded an assent, and said: “those are about the conditions which I expected would be proposed.”
then continued: “Yes, I think our correspondence indicated pretty clearly the action that would be taken at our meeting; and I hope it may lead to a General suspension of hostilities and be the means of preventing any further loss of life.”
inclined his head as indicating his accord with this wish, and General Grant
then went on to talk at some length in a very pleasant vein about the prospects of peace.
was evidently anxious to proceed to the formal work of the surrender, and he brought the subject up again by saying:
I presume, General Grant, we have both carefully considered the proper steps to be taken, and I would suggest that you commit to writing the terms you have proposed, so that they may be formally acted upon.
“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 the 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.”
when he had finished the letter he called Colonel
(afterward General) Ely S. Parker
, one of the military secretaries
on the staff, to his side and looked it over with him and directed him as they went along to interline six or seven words and to strike out the word “their,” which had been repeated.
When this had been done, he handed the book to General Lee
and asked him to read over the letter.
It, was as follows:
took it and laid it on the table beside him, while he drew from his pocket a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles and wiped the glasses carefully with his handkerchief.
Then he crossed his legs, adjusted the spectacles very slowly and deliberately, took up the draft of the letter, and proceeded to read it attentively.
It consisted of two pages.
When he reached the top line of the second page, he looked up, and said to General Grant
: “after the words ‘until properly,’ the word ‘exchanged’ seems to be omitted.
You doubtless intended to use that word.”
“why, yes,” said Grant
; “I thought I had put in the word ‘exchanged.’
“I presumed it had been omitted inadvertently,” continued Lee
, “and with your permission I will mark where it should be inserted.”
“ certainly,” Grant
felt in his pocket as if searching for a pencil, but did not seem to be able to find one.
Seeing this and happening to be standing close to him, I handed him my pencil.
He took it, and laying the paper on the table noted the interlineation.
During the rest of the interview he kept twirling this pencil in his fingers and occasionally tapping the top of the table with it. When he handed it back it was carefully treasured by me as a memento of the occasion.
came to the sentence about the officers' side-arms, private horses, and baggage, he showed for the first time during the reading of the letter a slight change of countenance, and was evidently touched by this act of generosity.
It was doubtless the condition mentioned to which he particularly alluded when he looked toward General Grant
as he finished reading and said with some degree of warmth in his manner: “this will have a very happy effect upon my Army.”
then said: “unless you have some suggestions to make in regard to the form in which I have stated the terms, I will have a copy of the letter made in ink and sign it.”
“ there is one thing I would like to mention,” Lee
replied after a short pause.
“the cavalrymen and artillerists own their own horses in our Army.
Its organization in this respect differs from that of the United States
this expression attracted the notice of our officers present, as showing how firmly the conviction was grounded in his mind that we were two distinct countries.
He continued: “I would like to understand whether these men will be permitted to retain their horses?”
“ you will find that the terms as written do not allow this,” General Grant
replied; “only the officers are permitted to take their private property.”
read over the second page of the letter again, and then said:
no, I see the terms do not allow it; that is clear.
his face showed plainly that he was quite anxious to have this concession made, and Grant
said very promptly and without giving Lee
time to make a direct request:
well, the subject is quite new to me. Of course I did not know that any private soldiers owned their animals, but I think this will be the last battle of the war — I sincerely hope so — and that the surrender of this Army will be followed soon by that of all the others, and I take it that most of the men in the ranks are small farmers, and as the country has been so raided by the two armies, it is doubtful whether they will be able to put in a crop to carry themselves and their families through the next winter without the aid of the horses they are now riding, and I will arrange it in this way: I will not change the terms as now written, but I will instruct the officers I shall appoint to receive the paroles to let all the men who claim to own a horse or mule take the animals home with them to work their little farms.
(this expression has been quoted in various forms and has been the subject of some dispute.
I give the exact words used.)
now looked greatly relieved, and though anything but a demonstrative man, he gave every evidence of his appreciation of this concession, and said, “this will have the best possible effect upon the men. It will be very gratifying and will do much toward conciliating our people.”
he handed the draft of the terms back to General Grant
, who called Colonel T. S. Bowers
of the staff to him and directed him to make a copy in ink. Bowers
was a little nervous, and he turned the matter over to Colonel
(afterward General) Parker
, whose handwriting presented a better appearance than that of any one else on the staff.
sat down to write at the table which stood against the rear side of the room.
's domestic resources in the way of ink now became the subject of a searching investigation, but it was found that the contents of the conical-shaped stoneware inkstand which he produced appeared to be participating in the General
breaking up and had disappeared.
now came to the rescue, and pulled out of his pocket a small box-wood inkstand, which was put at Parker
's service, so that, after all, we had to fall back upon the resources of the enemy in furnishing the stage “properties” for the final scene in the memorable military drama.
in the meantime had directed Colonel Marshall
to draw up for his signature a letter of acceptance of the terms of surrender.
wrote out a draft of such a letter, making it quite formal, beginning with “I have the honor to reply to your communication,” etc. General Lee
took it, and, after reading it over very carefully, directed that these formal expressions be stricken out and that the letter be otherwise shortened.
He afterward went over it again and seemed to change some words, and then told the Colonel
to make a final copy in ink. When it came to providing the paper, it was found we had the only supply of that important ingredient in the recipe for surrendering an Army, so we gave a few pages to the Colonel
The letter when completed read as follows:
while the letters were being copied, General Grant
introduced the General
officers who had entered, and each member of the staff, to General Lee
The General shook hands with General Seth Williams
, who had been his adjutant when Lee
was superintendent at West Point
, some years before the war, and gave his hand to some of the other officers who had extended theirs, but to most of those who were introduced he merely bowed in a dignified and formal manner.
He did not exhibit the slightest change of features during this ceremony until Colonel Parker
of our staff was presented to him. Parker
was a full-blooded Indian, and the reigning chief of the six Nations.
saw his swarthy features he looked at him with evident surprise, and his eyes rested on him for several seconds.
What was passing in his mind probably no one ever knew, but the natural surmise was that he at first mistook Parker
for a negro, and was struck with astonishment to find that the commander of the Union
armies had one of that race on his personal staff.
did not utter a word while the introductions were going on, except to Seth Williams
, with whom he talked quite cordially.
Williams at one time referred in rather jocose a manner to a circumstance which occurred during their former service together, as if he wanted to say something in a good-natured way to break up the frigidity of the conversation, but Lee
was in no mood for pleasantries, and he did not unbend, or even relax the fixed sternness of his features.. his only response to the allusion was a slight inclination of the head.
now took the initiative again in leading the conversation back into business channels.
I have a thousand or more of your men as prisoners, General Grant, a number of them officers whom we have required to march along with us for several days.
I shall be glad to send them into your lines as soon as it can be arranged, for I have no provisions for them.
I have, indeed, nothing for my own men. They have been living for the last few days principally upon parched corn, and we are badly in need of both rations and forage.
I telegraphed to Lynchburg, directing several train-loads of rations to be sent on by rail from there, and when they arrive I should be glad to have the present wants of my men supplied from them.
at this remark all eyes turned toward Sheridan
, for he had captured these trains with his cavalry the night before, near Appomattox Station. General Grant
replied: “I should like to have our men sent within our lines as soon as possible.
I will take steps at once to have your Army supplied with rations, but I am sorry we have no forage for the animals.
We have had to depend upon the country for our supply of forage.
Of about how many men does your present force consist?”
“indeed, I am not able to say,” Lee
answered after a slight pause.
“my losses in killed and wounded have been exceedingly heavy, and, besides, there have been many stragglers and some deserters.
All my reports and public papers, and, indeed, my own private letters, had to be destroyed on the march, to prevent them from falling into the hands of your people.
Many companies are entirely without officers, and I have not seen any returns for several days; so that I have no means of ascertaining our present strength.”
had taken great pains to have a daily estimate made of the enemy's forces from all the data that could be obtained, and, judging it to be about 25,000 at this time, he said: “suppose I send over 25,000 rations, do you think that will be a sufficient supply?”
“I think it will be ample,” remarked Lee
, and added with considerable earnestness of manner, “and it will be a great relief, I assure you.”
now turned to his chief commissary, Colonel
(now General) M. R. Morgan
, who was present, and directed him to arrange for issuing the rations.
The number of officers and men surrendered was over 28,000.
as to General Grant
's supplies, he had ordered the Army on starting out to carry twelve days rations.
This was the twelfth and last day of the campaign.
's eye now fell upon Lee
's sword again, and it seemed to remind him of the absence of his own, and by way of explanation he said to Lee
I started out from my camp several days ago without my sword, and as I have not seen my headquarters baggage since, I have been riding about without any side-arms.
I have generally worn a sword, however, as little as possible, only during the actual operations of a campaign.
“I am in the habit of wearing mine most of the time,” remarked Lee
; “I wear it invariably when I am among my troops, moving about through the Army.”
now stepped up to General Lee
and said that when he discovered some of the Confederate
troops in motion during the morning, which seemed to be a violation of the truce, he had sent him (Lee
) a couple of notes protesting against this act, and as he had not had time to copy them he would like to have them long enough to make copies.
took the notes out of the breast-pocket of his coat and handed them to Sheridan
with a few words expressive of regret that the circumstance had occurred, and intimating that it must have been the result of some misunderstanding.
after a little General conversation had been indulged in by those present, the two letters were signed and delivered, and the parties prepared to separate.
before parting asked Grant
to notify Meade
of the surrender, fearing that fighting might break out on that front and lives be uselessly lost.
This request was complied with, and two Union officers were sent through the enemy's lines as the shortest route to Meade
,--some of Lee
's officers accompanying them to prevent their being interfered with.
At a little before 4 o'clock General Lee
shook hands with General Grant
, bowed to the other officers, and with Colonel Marshall
left the room.
One after another we followed, and passed out to the porch.
signaled to his orderly to bring up his horse, and while the animal was being bridled the General
stood on the lowest step and gazed sadly in the direction of the valley beyond where his
Army lay — now an Army of prisoners.
He smote his hands together a number of times in an absent sort of a way; seemed not to see the group of Union officers in the yard who rose respectfully at his approach, and appeared unconscious of everything about him. All appreciated the sadness that overwhelmed him, and he had the personal sympathy of every one who beheld him at this supreme moment of trial.
The approach of his horse seemed to recall him from his reverie, and he at once mounted.
now stepped down from the porch, and, moving toward him, saluted him by raising his hat. He was followed in this act of courtesy by all our officers present; Lee
raised his hat respectfully, and rode off to break the sad news to the brave fellows whom he had so long commanded.
and his staff then mounted and started for the headquarters camp, which, in the meantime, had been pitched near by. The news of the surrender had reached the Union
lines, and the firing of salutes began at several
points, but the General
sent orders at once to have them stopped, and used these words in referring to the occurrence: “the War
is over, the rebels are our countrymen again, and the best sign of rejoicing after the victory will be to abstain from all demonstrations in the fields.”
had been charging about in a manner which indicated that the excitement was shaking his system to its nervous center, but his real trials did not begin until the departure of the chief actors in the surrender.
Then the relic-hunters charged down upon the manor-house and made various attempts to jump Mr. McLean
's claims to his own furniture.2 Sheridan
set a good example, however, by paying the proprietor twenty dollars in gold for the table at which Lee
sat, for the purpose of presenting it to Mrs. Custer
and handed it over to her dashing husband, who started off for camp bearing it upon his shoulder.
paid forty dollars for the table at which Grant
sat, and afterward presented it to Mrs. Grant
, who modestly declined it, and insisted that Mrs. Ord
should become its possessor.
Bargains were at once struck for all the articles in the room, and it is even said that some mementos were carried off for which no coin of the realm was ever exchanged.
before General Grant
had proceeded far toward camp he was reminded that he had not yet announced the important event to the Government
He dismounted by the roadside, sat down on a large stone, and called for pencil and paper.
(afterward General) Badeau
handed his order-book to the General
, who wrote on one of the leaves the following message, a copy of which was sent to the nearest telegraph station.
It was dated 4:30 P. M.:
upon reaching camp he seated himself in front of his tent, and we all gathered around him, curious to hear what his first comments would be upon the crowning event of his life.
But our expectations were doomed to disappointment, for he appeared to have already dismissed the whole subject from his mind, and turning to General Rufus Ingalls
, his first words were: “Ingalls
, do you remember that old white mule that so-and-so used to ride when we were in the city of Mexico
“why, perfectly,” said Ingalls
, who was just then in a mood to remember the exact number of hairs in the mule's tail if it would have helped to make matters agreeable.
And then the General-in-chief
went on to recall the antics played by that animal during an excursion to Popocatapetl.
It was not until after supper that he said much about the surrender, when he talked freely of his entire belief that the rest of the rebel commanders would follow Lee
's example, and that we would have but little more fighting, even of a partisan nature.
He then surprised us by announcing his intention of starting to Washington
early the next morning.
We were disappointed at this, for we wanted to see something of the opposing Army, now that it had become civil enough for the first time in its existence to let us get near it, and meet some of the officers who had been acquaintances in former years.
The General, however, had no desire to look at the conquered, and but little curiosity in his nature, and he was anxious above all things to begin the reduction of the military establishment and diminish the enormous expense attending it, which at this time amounted to about four millions of dollars a day. When he considered, however, that the railroad was being rapidly put in condition and that he would lose no time by waiting till noon of the next day, he made up his mind to delay his departure.
that evening I made full notes of the occurrences which took place during the surrender, and from these the above account has been written.
there were present at McLean's House, besides Sheridan
, and the officers of Grant
's staff, a number of other officers and one or two citizens who entered the room at different times during the interview.
Union soldiers sharing their rations with the Confederates.
From a sketch made at the time. |
about 9 o'clock on the morning of the 10th General Grant
with his staff rode out toward the enemy's lines, but it was found upon attempting to pass through that the force of habit is hard to overcome, and that the practice which had so long been inculcated in Lee
's Army of keeping Grant
out of his lines was not to be overturned in a day, and he was politely requested at the picket-lines to wait till a message could be sent to headquarters asking for instructions.
As soon as Lee
heard that his distinguished opponent was approaching, he was prompt to correct the misunderstanding at the picket-line, and rode out at a gallop to receive him. They met on a knoll that overlooked the lines of the two armies, and saluted respectfully, by each raising his hat. The officers present gave a similar salute, and then grouped themselves around the two chieftains in a semicircle, but withdrew out of ear-shot.
repeated to us that evening the substance of the conversation, which was as follows:
began by expressing a hope that the War
would soon be over, and Lee
replied by stating that he had for some time been anxious to stop the further effusion of blood, and he trusted that everything would now be done to restore harmony and conciliate the people of the South
He said the emancipation of the negroes would be no hindrance to the restoring of relations between the two sections of the country, as it would probably not be the desire of the majority of the Southern
people to restore slavery then, even if the question were left open to them.
He could not tell what the other armies would do or what course Mr. Davis
would now take, but he believed it would be best for their other armies to follow his example, as nothing could be gained by further resistance in the field.
Finding that he entertained
these sentiments, General Grant
told him that no one's influence in the South
was so great as his, and suggested to him that he should advise the surrender of the remaining armies and thus exert his influence in favor of immediate peace.
said he could not take such a course without consulting President Davis
then proposed to Lee
that he should do so, and urge the hastening of a result which was admitted to be inevitable.
, however, was averse to stepping beyond his duties as a soldier, and said the authorities would doubtless soon arrive at the same conclusion without his interference.
There was a statement put forth that Grant
to see Mr. Lincoln
and talk with him as to the terms of reconstruction, but this was erroneous.
I asked General Grant
about it when he was on his deathbed, and his recollection was distinct that he had made no such suggestion.
I am of opinion that the mistake arose from hearing that Lee
had been requested to go and see the “President
” regarding peace, and thinking that this expression referred to Mr. Lincoln
, whereas it referred to Mr. Davis
After the conversation had lasted a little more than half an hour and Lee
had requested that such instructions be given to the officers left in charge to carry out the details of the surrender, that there might be no misunderstanding as to the form of paroles, the manner of turning over the property, etc., the conference ended.
The two commanders lifted their hats and said goodbye.
rode back to his camp to take a final farewell of his Army, and Grant
returned to McLean's house, where he seated himself on the porch until it was time to take his final departure.
During the conference Ingalls
, and Williams
had asked permission to visit the enemy's lines and renew their acquaintance with some old friends, classmates, and former comrades in arms who were serving in Lee
They now returned, bringing with them Cadmus M. Wilcox
, who had been General Grant
's groomsman when he was married; Longstreet
, who had also been at his wedding; Heth
, who had been a subaltern with him in Mexico
, besides Gordon
, and a number of others.
They all stepped up to pay their respects to General Grant
, who received them very cordially and talked with them until it was time to leave.
The hour of noon had now arrived, and General Grant
, after shaking hands with all present who were not to accompany him, mounted his horse, and started with his staff for Washington
without having entered the enemy's lines.
set out for Richmond
, and it was felt by all that peace had at last dawned upon the land.
The charges were now withdrawn from the guns, the camp-fires were left to smolder in their ashes, the flags were tenderly furled,--those historic banners, battle-stained, bullet-riddled, many of them but remnants of their former selves, with scarcely enough left of them on which to imprint the names of the battles they had seen,--and the Army of the Union
and the Army of Northern Virginia turned their backs upon each other for the first time in four long, bloody years.
General Lee's return to his lines after the surrender.
From a War-time sketch.
In his “Memoirs of Robert E. Lee” (J. M. Stoddart & Co.), General A. L. Long says of this scene: “When; after his interview with Grant, General Lee again appeared, a shout of welcome instinctively ran through the army.
But instantly recollecting the sad occasion that brought him before them, their shouts sank into silence, every hat was raised, and the bronzed faces of the thousands of grim warriors were bathed with tears.
As he rode slowly along the lines hundreds of his devoted veterans pressed around the noble chief, trying to take his hand, touch his person, or even lay a hand upon his horse, thus exhibiting for him their great affection.
The general then, with head bare and tears flowing freely down his manly cheeks, bade adieu to the army.
In a few words he told the brave men who had been so true in arms to return to their homes and become worthy citizens.” |
General Lee's farewell address to his Army.3
's order to the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House was written the day after the meeting at McLean's house, at which the terms of the surrender were agreed upon.
That night the general sat with several of us at a fire in front of his tent, and after some conversation about the army, and the events of the day, in which his feelings toward his men were strongly expressed, he told me to prepare an order to the troops.
The next day it was raining, and many persons were coming and going, so that I was unable to write without interruption until about 10 o'clock, when General Lee
, finding that the order had not been prepared, directed me to get into his ambulance, which stood near his tent, and placed an orderly to prevent any one from approaching me.
I sat in the ambulance until I had written the order, the first draft of which (in pencil) contained an entire paragraph that was omitted by General Lee
He made one or two verbal changes, and I then made a copy of the order as corrected, and gave it to one of the clerks in the adjutant-general
's office to write in ink. I took the copy, when made by the clerk, to the general, who signed it, and other copies were then made for transmission to the corps commanders and the staff of the army.
All these copies were signed by the general, and a good many persons sent other copies which they had made or procured, and obtained his signature.
In this way many copies of the order had the general's name signed as if they were originals, some of which I have seen.
The text of the order as issued was as follows: