Surrender.General Lee, dressed in his best uniform, rides to the front to meet General Grant. For several days demands for surrender had been rejected—now surrender was inevitable. And the two commanding officers meet at the McLean House to concert its terms. The first and abiding thought of Lee was the honor of his men, for he had determined to ‘cut his way out at all hazards, if such terms were not granted as he thought his army was entitled to demand.’ ‘General,’ said Lee, addressing Grant, and opening the conversation, ‘I deem it due to proper candor and frankness to say at the beginning of this interview that I am not willing even to discuss any terms of surrender, inconsistent with the honor of my army, which I am determined to maintain to the last.’ Grant gave fitting and magnanimous response, and the honorable terms demanded were agreed to. ‘The officers to retain their side arms, private horses and baggage,’ and ‘each officer and man to be allowed to return to his home,’ and, mark it, ‘not to be disturbed by United States authority as long as they observe their parole, and the laws in force where they reside.’ Thus at last was the liberty of the soldier purchased with his blood. And so the Army of Northern Virginia, never broken in battle, passed from action into History; so it perished by the flashing of the guns, while victory hung charmed to its flag, and threw upon its tomb the immortelles of Honor.
The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills himself in many ways.