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The homes of Wilmer McLean: where the battles began and ended By an extraordinary coincidence the two historic houses on this and the facing page belonged to the same man. In 1861, Wilmer McLean lived near Manassas Station, and his house was chosen by General Beauregard as headquarters. In the engagement of July 18th, preceding the great battle, a Federal cannonball landed in the fireplace and spoiled the general's dinner. During the famous battle of the following Sunday the household was subject to the constant alarms of a long-fought field. To avoid the scene of active military operations McLean removed to the village of Appomattox and spent nearly four years tranquilly enough. But he found himself once more the center of warlike activity. Only half a mile west of the town Grant's messenger had found Lee resting under an apple-tree. After reading Grant's letter, he started with his military secretary for Appomattox Court House. In the village they met Wilmer McLean, who, after stopping for a moment at the first house they came to, conducted the party to his own home. It was Sunday, three years and nine months since that Sunday of Bull Run. At half-past 1, April 9th, the negotiations took place to the left of the central doorway; during them General Lee sat by a small oval table near the window, half hidden by the pillar at the top of the step. For the table General Sheridan paid Mr. McLean twenty dollars in gold. The rest of the furniture used on that historic occasion was largely seized by others of those present. The house itself remained no longer in obscurity, but became one of the most famous landmarks in American history.

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