- The Appomattox campaign and Lee's surrender.
On Sunday, April 2, 1865, the day following the defeat of Pickett at Five Forks, the day of the breaking of the Petersburg lines and the death of A. P. Hill, General Lee sent the following dispatch to Gen. J. C. Breckinridge, the Confederate secretary of war:
I see no prospect of doing more than holding our position here till night I am not certain that I can do that. If I can I shall withdraw to-night north of the Appomattox, and, if possible, it will be better to withdraw the whole line to-night from James river. The brigades on Hatcher's run are cut off from us; the enemy have broken through our lines and intercepted between us and them, and there is no bridge over which they can cross the Appomattox this side of Goode's or Beaver's, which are not very far from the Danville railroad. Our only chance, then, of concentrating our forces is to do so near the Danville railway, which I shall endeavor to do at once. I advise that all preparation be made for leaving Richmond to-night I will advise you later, according to circumstances.This dispatch was received in Richmond at 10:40 of the morning of Sunday, April 2, 1865, and was at once sent to President Davis, who was at that time attending service at St. Paul's church, not far from the war department. He at once left the church and preparations were begun for the immediate evacuation of Richmond; and late in the day the officials of the Confederate States government took a train for Danville, and those of the State of Virginia started toward Lynchburg. On the afternoon of the 2d, at 4:55, a dispatch from General Lee read:, ‘I think the Danville road will be safe until to-morrow;’ but at 7 p. m. he communicated:
It is absolutely necessary that we should abandon our position to-night or run the risk of being cut off in the morning. I have given all the orders to officers on both sides of the river, and have taken every precaution that I can to make the movement successful. It will be a difficult operation, but I hope not impracticable. Please give all orders that you find necessary in and about Richmond. The troops will be directed to Amelia Court House.On the 5th of April the most of Lee's army reached Amelia Court House, where, he had been officially informed, he would find a food supply for his army. Of this he subsequently wrote: ‘Not finding the supplies  ordered to be placed at Amelia Court House, nearly twenty-four hours were lost in endeavoring to collect in the country subsistence for the men and horses. The delay was fatal and could not be retrieved.’ That day General Grant, accompanied by the Second and Sixth corps, reached the Richmond & Danville road at Jetersville, beyond Amelia Court House, and placed a superior force across Lee's advance. It is more than probable that if Lee could have rationed his army at Amelia Court House, he would have pushed his way through Sheridan's opposition and marched to Danville. The same night the Ninth corps, following along the Southside railroad, reached Nottoway Court House, within a short march of Burkeville Junction of the Richmond & Danville road. It was evident, and doubtless well known by Lee, that the entire Federal army could now be concentrated, in a few hours, to oppose his march toward Danville and a junction with Johnston, Under these circumstances, on the night of the 5th, Lee left Amelia Court House and marched northward and westward, seeking to reach Farmville, on the way to Lynchburg as his objective, hoping to thus place his army west of Grant and in a position to draw supplies from the depot at Lynchburg. On the 6th, Sheridan's cavalry, accompanied by the Sixth corps, interposed between the breaks in Lee's marching columns at the passage of Sailor's creek, not far from where that stream enters the Appomattox. Lee's strong. arm, the artillery, which had always rendered most efficient service whenever called on, was not at hand in this emergency, and the Federal Second corps fell upon the rear guard of the Confederate Second corps under Gordon, and captured nearly 8,000 of Lee's men, together with Generals Ewell, Kershaw, Hunton, Corse, DuBose and G. W. Custis Lee. Many of those captured were the men that Ewell had brought, from the immediate defenses of Richmond, to Lee at Amelia Court House, following the highway along the Richmond & Danville railroad. Reaching Farmville on the 6th, Lee found bread and meat for his men, whose principal subsistence since leaving Petersburg had been parched corn. On the 7th, four miles beyond Farmville, Lee formed line of battle in opposition to Crook's cavalry and the Federal Second corps and repulsed their attack.  From Farmville, Lee had turned northward to the old Richmond and Lynchburg stage road, on the north side of the Appomattox river, and on the 8th he was striving, by that circuitous way, to again get beyond Grant's advance and reach Lynchburg, which was now his objective point. Sheridan's cavalry, accompanied by Gibbon with the Twenty-fourth infantry corps, following the more direct and shorter road, secured possession of the Lynchburg road at Appomattox station in the afternoon of the 8th, and effectually blocked Lee's further progress toward Lynchburg. On the morning of the 7th, from Farmville, Grant, as he says, ‘feeling now that General Lee's chance of escape was utterly hopeless,’ sent the following letter to General Lee:
Early on the morning of the 8th, while still at Farmville, Grant received the following reply, dated the 7th:
To this Grant immediately sent the following reply:
The Federal pursuit was resumed at the same time, Meade following Lee north of the Appomattox, while Sheridan, with the Twenty-fourth and Fifth corps, pushed  forward by the direct road to Appomattox station, where the stage road to Lynchburg, the one Lee was following, reaches and crosses the Southside railroad. Lee turned upon Meade with frequent contention, during 11th 8th, holding him back by his rear guard. Late in the afternoon Sheridan reached Appomattox station, drove away Lee's advance guard and ‘captured twenty-five pieces of artillery, a hospital train, and four trains of cars loaded with supplies for Lee's army,’ writes Grant in his report. About midnight of that day, April 8th, Grant, who accompanied Meade in following after Lee, received the following note from the latter:
On the morning of the 9th of April, when Lee found that Grant's infantry had possession of the road he was following toward Lynchburg, he said, with suppressed emotion: ‘There is nothing left but to go to General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.’ Then, after a thoughtful pause, he added: ‘How easily I could get rid of this and be at rest. I have only to ride along the line and all will be over. But it is our duty to live. What will become of the women and children of the South, if we are not here to protect them?’ At about this time he received, in reply to his of the 8th, the following note, of the 9th, from General Grant:
 On the morning of Sunday, April 9th, just as Lee's advance was making a desperate charge in endeavoring to break through Sheridan's cavalry at Appomattox station, the Fifth and Twenty-fourth corps of Federal infantry advanced and drove back the Confederate charge. At about that time a white flag was sent, from the Confederate lines, ‘requesting a suspension of hostilities, pending negotiations for a surrender.’ Lee at this juncture, accepting the inevitable, addressed the following note to Grant:
After dispatching this reluctantly written note, General Lee exchanged his war-worn uniform for a new one that he had in his baggage, and rode to Appomattox Court House, where arrangements had been made for the solicited interview between General Grant and himself, at the house of a Mr. McLean, who had removed to this remote place from the battlefield of Manassas, in which he was living in July, 1861, only to have in his new house, four years later, the closing scene of the bloody drama of the great civil war. The two great commanders soon met, and after a brief but courteous interview, the terms of surrender were agreed to and formulated in the following correspondence:
The courtesy of General Grant, on this memorable and to Lee soul-trying occasion, could not have been surpassed. On the suggestion of General Lee that most of the horses of the Confederate privates were their personal property, Grant directed that they should be allowed to retain them; and on intimation that Lee's men were without rations, he promptly ordered that they should be abundantly supplied from the captured trains. He showed not the slightest spirit of exultation, in his demeanor, at the grand victory he had achieved, and quickly repressed a disposition, manifested by a portion of his army, to celebrate its triumph with salvos of artillery. On the morning of the day of the surrender, Lee had, according to the reports of his ordnance officers, 7,892 organized infantry with arms, less than 2,100 effective cavalry, and but 63 pieces of artillery; a mere handful in contrast with the mighty host of 107,496 (reported as in Grant's command on the 10th of April) that surrounded him, and a portion of which his half-starved but ever heroic veterans, though few in number, were actually driving before them at the very moment he sent forward a flag of truce. Dr. Henry Alexander White describes the feelings of Lee's veterans who were present at this time (in his Life of R. E. Lee in ‘The Heroes of the Nations’ series), in these words:
Among the Confederate soldiers themselves there had been scarcely thought of surrender. When they saw their beloved leader riding back from the place of negotiations, their grief was well-nigh unspeakable. They halted his horse and gathered in clusters about him. Tears were running down every cheek as the grim, ragged veterans came up to wring his hand. Only sobs were heard, or prayers uttered in broken words, calling down the benedictions of Heaven upon Lee. The tears in his own eyes formed his answer to the agony of his men. He could only say, in a tone that trembled with sorrow. ‘Men, we have fought through the war together. I have done the best I could for you. My heart is too full to say more.’ On the next day, Monday, April 10th, General Lee issued, to the survivors of the famous army of Northern Virginia, the following farewell order:
General Grant, in his official report, dated July 22, 1865, said: ‘General Lee's great influence throughout the whole South caused his example to be followed, and to-day the result is that the armies lately under his leadership are at their homes, desiring peace and quiet, and their arms are in the hands of our ordnance officers.’ After congratulating his soldiers for the success of their efforts, he concluded his report in these noble words: ‘Let them hope for perpetual peace and harmony with that enemy whose manhood, however mistaken the cause, drew forth such herculean deeds of valor.’ Leaving Maj.-Gen. John Gibbon at Appomattox, with the Fifth and Twenty-fourth army corps and McKenzie's cavalry, to complete the paroling of the surrendered army and take charge of public property, General Grant immediately ordered the rest of his army back to the vicinity of Burkeville, the junction of the Southside and the Richmond & Danville railroads. The losses of the Union army under Grant, from March 29th to April 9th, the period of the Appomattox campaign, were 10,780; numbers that attest the character of the last struggle of the army of Northern Virginia. From ‘near Appomattox Court House,’ where he had tarried after the surrender, Gen. R. E. Lee, on the 12th  of April, 1865, made his last report of military operations of the army under his control, to President Davis, in these words:
 Maj.-Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, who commanded the cavalry corps of the army of Northern Virginia during the Appomattox campaign, sent to Gen. R. E. Lee, from Richmond, April 22, 1865, a report of the operations of his command from the 28th of March to the 8th of April. Of the events near the time of the surrender, he wrote:
During the evening of the 8th I received orders to move the cavalry corps to the front and to report in person to the commanding general. Upon arriving at his headquarters I found General Longstreet there, and we were soon after joined by General Gordon. The condition of our situation was explained by the commanding general to us as the commanders of his three corps, and the correspondence between General Grant and himself, as far as it had then progressed, was laid before us. It was decided that 1 should attack the enemy's cavalry at daylight, then reported as obstructing our further march; Gordon was to support me, and in case nothing but cavalry was discovered we were to clear it from our route and open a way for our remaining troops; but in case they were supported by heavy bodies of infantry, the commanding general should at once be notified, in order that a flag of truce should be sent to accede to the only alternative left us. The enemy enabled to take position across our line of march by moving up from Appomattox station, which they reached earlier than our main advance, in consequence of our march being retarded by our wagon trains. At daybreak on the 9th, Gordon's command, numbering about 1,600 muskets, was formed inline of battle a mile west of Appomattox Court House, on the Lynchburg road. The cavalry corps was formed on his right, W. H. F. Lee's division being nearest the infantry; Rosser's in the center, and Munford's on the extreme right, making a mounted force of about 2,400 men. Our attack was made about sunrise, and the enemy's cavalry quickly driven out of the way, with a loss of two guns and a number of prisoners. The arrival at this time of two corps of their infantry necessitated the retiring of our lines, during which, and knowing what would be the result, I withdrew the cavalry, W. H. F. Lee retiring toward our rear, and Rosser and Munford out toward Lynchburg, having cleared that road of the enemy. Upon hearing that the army of Northern Virginia had surrendered, the men were generally dispersed and rode off to their homes, subject to reassembling for a continuation of the struggle. I rode out in person with a portion of W. H. F. Lee's division, the nearest to me at that time, and previous to the negotiations between the commanders of the two armies. It will be recalled that my action was in accordance with the views I had expressed in the council the night before—that if a surrender was compelled the next day, I would try to extricate the cavalry, provided it could be done without compromising the action of the commanding general, but that I would not avail myself of a cessation of hostilities pending the existence of a truce. I had an understanding with General Gordon that he should communicate to you the information of the presence of the enemy's infantry upon the road in our front. Apart from the fond, though forlorn hope that future operations were still in store for the cavalry I was desirous that they should not be included in the capitulation because the ownership of their horses was vested in themselves, and  I deemed it doubtful that terms could be offered allowing such ownership to continue. A few days convinced me of the impracticability of longer entertaining such hopes, and I rode into the Federal lines and accepted for myself the terms offered the officers of the army of Northern Virginia. My cavalry are being paroled at the nearest places for such purposes in their counties. . . . I particularly regret not being able to do justice in this, the only way I can, to the many acts of gallantry performed by officers and men upon the memorable retreat; but such conduct is usually derived from the reports of subordinate officers, the absence of which will explain it. I testify, however, to the general conduct of my officers and men as highly creditable to themselves upon every occasion which called forth its display. They fought every day, from the 29th of March to the 9th of April, both inclusive, with a valor as steady as of yore, and whose brightness was not dimmed by the increasing clouds of adversity. 1 desire to call attention to the marked and excellent behavior of Generals W. H. F. Lee, Rosser, and Munford, commanding divisions. . . . The notice of the commanding general is also directed to Brig.-Gens. Henry A. Wise and Eppa Hunton, commanding infantry brigades, and who were more or less under my command until Amelia Court House was reached. The disheartening surrounding influences had no effect upon them; they kept their duty plainly in view, and they fully performed it. The past services of Gen. Henry A. Wise, his antecedents in civil life, and his age, caused his bearing upon this most trying retreat to shine conspicuously forth. His unconquerable spirit was filled with as much earnestness and zeal in April, 1865, as when he first took up arms four years ago, and the freedom with which he exposed a long life laden with honors proved he was willing to sacrifice it if it would conduce toward attaining the liberty of his country. [After paying well-merited tributes to the officers of his staff, in the conclusion of his report, Gen. Fitz Lee has this to say of a typical young Virginian:] I deeply regret being obliged to mention the dangerous wounding of my aide-de-camp, Lieut. Charles Minnegarode, Jr. One of the last minie balls that whistled on its cruel errand over the field of Appomattox passed entirely through the upper part of his body. He fell at my side, where for three long years he had discharged his duties with an affectionate fidelity never exceeded, a courage never surpassed. Wonderfully passing unharmed through the many battles fought by the two principal armies in this State (for an impetuous spirit often carried him where the fire was hottest), he was left at last, writhing in his great pain, to the mercy of the victors upon the field of our last struggle. . . . Lieutenant Minnegarode combined the qualities of an aide-de-camp to a general officer in a remarkable degree. His personal services to me will forever be prized and remembered, whilst his intelligence, amiability and brightness of disposition rendered him an object of endearment to all.Brevet Brig.-Gen. Charles A. Whittier, of the United States volunteers, in a paper read before the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, makes the following comments:
The army of Northern Virginia will deservedly rank as the best  army which has existed on this continent; suffering privations unknown to its opponents, it fought well from the early Peninsula days to the surrender of that small remnant at Appomattox. It seemed always ready, active, mobile; without doubt it was composed of the best men of the South, rushing to what they considered the defense of their country against a bitter invader; and they took the places assigned them, officer or private, and fought until beaten by superiority of numbers. The North sent no such army to the field, and its patriotism was of an easier kind; there was no rallying-cry which drove all the best—the rich and the educated—to join the fighting armies. All avocations here went on without interruption; the law, the clergy, educational institutions, merchants and traders, suffered nothing from a diminution of their working forces; we had loyal leagues, excellent sanitary and Christian commissions, great ‘war governors’ (Andrew, Curtin and Morton), and secretaries, organizers of victory; we had a people full of loyalty and devotion to the cause, and of hatred for the neighbor who differed as to the way in which the war should be conducted, never realizing that the way was by going, or sending their best and brightest. As a matter of comparison: We have lately read that from William and Mary's college, Virginia, thirty-two out of thirty-five professors and instructors abandoned the college work and joined the army in the field. Harvard college sent one professor from its large corps of professors and instructors! We thought our own Massachusetts a pattern of loyalty and patriotism during the war. Read the ‘Record of Massachusetts Volunteers,’ as published by the State; the bounties paid (thirteen million dollars by the State, and more millions by the cities and towns—a worthless expenditure—to give Massachusetts a nominal credit, but of no service in sending good fighting men to the front); the desertions; the hosts of men who never joined their regiments; and there is so much to be ashamed of! An effort to fill the required quota, without reference to the good service to be rendered! The enlisting officers at one time put out their posters with something like this: ‘Enlist in the heavy artillery regiments. No marching, no fighting, comfortable quarters, etc.!’ General Whittier then furnishes a list of Massachusetts artillery and infantry regiments, containing 20,957 men, of which only 95 were killed in battle.] This does not indicate brilliant or useful service; and yet the material was probably better than that of any regiments of the State. The same class of men in the South was in the thickest of the fight, and their intelligence and patriotism did a great work. And what a power these twenty thousand men I have mentioned would have been, with a little discipline and drill, added to the army of the Potomac—an army corps of twenty thousand young men from Massachusetts alone! If it was so with us, it is reasonable to suppose that other Northern States pursued the same selfish policy.