‘Sherman's bummers,’ and some of their work.
‘the historic apple tree at Appomattox’ has been so often shown to be a myth that we have been both surprised and amused at seeing the story recently revived in one of our Southern papers, whose editor gives the following version of it:
We yesterday had a conversation with a gentleman who was present at the time the negotiations for the surrender were going on, in which he asserted most positively that these negotiations were carried on under a large apple tree in a farm-yard, and that, according to his  recollection, there were no pine trees near the spot, as it is stated by Dr. Paris. He says that when General Lee met the commissioners appointed by General Grant, the curiosity of every one was aroused, and every excuse was made to get near the spot where the parties were discussing the terms of the surrender. To keep these off and prevent interruption, the First Regiment of Engineers, under Colonel Talcott, of which our informant was a member, was formed in a hollow square around the assembled officers. They occupied camp stools, and had a table on which the writing was done, and they were seated under the shade of a large apple tree. Colonel Talcott's reigiment formed around them, prevented any interruption until the preliminary papers were signed, and the Federal officers left for Grant's headquarters. This was, we think our informant stated, on Sunday. On the Tuesday following he had occasion to pass the spot, and not a vestige of the apple tree was left. Even the roots of the tree were dug up and carried away as mementoes of the great occasion. It may have been that the surrender was consummated at some other place, but the negotiations certainly took place under the “apple tree at Appomattox,” and there is no “myth” about this celebrated tree.Now, the gentleman referred to was simply mistaken in his facts. The truth is that no ‘negotiations’ ever occurred under an ‘apple tree’—that the ‘negotiations’ were not through ‘commissioners,’ but between Generals Lee and Grant themselves—and that they first met, not ‘under an apple tree,’ but in the ‘McLean house’ at Appomattox Courthouse, and that the only possible interest which could attach to an apple tree was that while General Lee was waiting for his messenger to come back from General Grant and designate the place of their interview, the old hero rested under the shade in an orchard. We had these facts not only from members of his staff, but from General Lee himself, who once gave a party of us in Lexington a detailed account of the surrender. It is perfectly true that Federal soldiers cut to pieces the so-called ‘historic apple tree,’ dug up its roots, and even cut up and carried off all of the other apple trees in the orchard. It is also true that ‘hungry Rebs.’ in Richmond sold to Northern ‘relic-hunters’ tons of ‘Appomattox apple tree.’ But this does not redeem the story, or make the surrender, or any negotiations concerning it, to have occurred ‘under an apple tree.’