This compilation has been printed from the originals of the duplicate paroles of the Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, April 9, 1865, which were retained by its commander, General Robert Edward Lee, Confederate States Army; the other duplicate being delivered to Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant, commanding the Armies of the United States. The present documents passed from General Lee into the charge of the late Hon. Robert Ould, Confederate States Commissioner of Exchange of Prisoners of War, by whom they were deposited in the archives of the Southern Historical Society.

The orthography of the originals has been carefully followed in printing, although it is apprehended that there were many clerical misconceptions as to the correct rendering of proper names. Owing to the rearrangement of his command by General Lee on the morning preceding the day of surrender; the incidental disintegration of the forces; the desultory mode of parole, and the subsequent disarrangement of the documents themselves before they came into the possession of the editor, his task has been both perplexing and laborious. He has availed himself of every reference for information within his immediate attainment, and has endeavored fidelity in the entire performance of his official trust.

The achievements of the Army of the Confederate States of America have met undiminishable acknowledgment in the military history of the world. Its fortitude could not be surpassed. The causes of its surrender were manifestly insurmountable. They have been fully discussed by candid and able writers. Circumstances impel brevity here. Only a presentation of authentic details may be attempted. Colonel Walter H. Taylor, the devoted and efficient Adjutant-General1 of the Army of Northern Virginia, gives the following account of the disastrous last days of the Army of Northern Virginia:

On the first day of April, General Grant directed a heavy movement against the Confederate right near Five Forks; this necessitated the concentration of every available man at that point to resist the Federal advance, and a consequent stretching out of our line, already so sadly attenuated that at some places it consisted of but one man to every seven yards—nothing more than a skirmish line. It was without serious resistance, therefore, on the 2d of April the Federals obtained possession of a portion of the lines between Hatcher's Run and the city. Indeed, we had so few men to contest the matter with them that they were within our lines before it was reported to General Lee or General Hill. From the point occupied by these officers, detached squads of men were observed advancing towards us in the plateau beyond; it was impossible to say whether they were our men or the enemy; and it was for the purpose of solving this doubt, and ascertaining the actual condition of affairs in that locality, that General A. P. Hill rode towards these detachments, by the fire from one of which he was shot dead from his horse.

Under cover of a heavy fire of artillery the Federal army now made a general advance. It was apparent that our position could no longer be maintained. General Lee communicated to the authorities at Richmond his intention of evacuating his lines that night, for which emergency they should have been prepared. This letter occasioned the evacuation of Richmond on the following morning.

During the whole day he was engaged in issuing orders and sending dispatches by couriers and by telegraph, in preparation for this event. Early in the forenoon, while the telegraph operator was working his instrument at headquarters, under the supervision of the staff-officer charged with the duty of transmitting these orders, a shell came crashing through the house and the operator declared himself unable longer to work his instrument. He was ordered to detach it, and as the staff-officer and the operator emerged from the house they with difficulty escaped capture at the hands of the Federal infantry which just advanced upon and drove away the battery of artillery which had been placed in position around the house to assist in delaying the advance of the enemy. The comfortable dwelling of Mr. Turnbull, occupied by General Lee as his headquarters, and thus hastily evacuated by the rear guard of his military family, was soon enveloped in flames. It is to be hoped that the fire was accidental; by General Lee it was then thought and feared to have been by design. One of the many arguments always advanced by him why he should not occupy a house was that, in event of its falling into the hands of the enemy, the very fact of its having been occupied by him might possibly cause its destruction; and * * * * it was only during the last year of the war, when his health was somewhat impaired, that one of his staff had the temerity, on the occasion of one of the General's visits to Richmond, to turn in his tent to the quartermaster's department and move his effects into a house which he was thus almost compelled to occupy.

The letter2 of General Lee, previously referred to, is as follows:

Petersburg, Va., 3 P. M., April 2, 1865.
His Excellency, Jefferson Davis, Richmond, Va.:
Mr. President,—Your letter of the 1st is just received. I have been willing to detach officers to recruit negro troops, and sent in the names of many who are desirous of recruiting companies, battalions, or regiments, to the War Department. After receiving the general orders on that subject establishing recruiting depots in the several States, I supposed that this mode of raising the troops was preferred. I will continue to submit the names of those who offer for this service, and whom I deem competent, to the War Department; but among the numerous applications which are presented, it is difficult for me to decide who are suitable for the duty. I am glad your Excellency has made an appeal to the Governors of the States, and hope it will have a good effect. I have had a great desire to confer with you upon our condition, and would have been to Richmond before this, but anticipating movements of the enemy which have occurred, I felt unwilling to be absent. I have considered our condition very critical, but have hoped that the enemy might expose himself in some way that we might take advantage of and cripple him. Knowing, when Sheridan moved on our right, that our cavalry would be unable to resist successfully his advance upon our communications, I detached Pickett's division to support it. At first Pickett succeeded in driving the enemy, who fought stubbornly, and, after being reinforced by the Fifth corps (U. S. A), obliged Pickett to recede to the Five Forks, on the Dinwiddie Courthouse and Ford's road, where, unfortunately, he was yesterday defeated. To relieve him I had to again draw out three brigades under General Anderson, which so weakened our front line that the enemy last night and this morning succeeded in penetrating it near the Cox road, separating our troops around the town from those on Hatcher's Run. This has enabled him to extend to the Appomattox, thus inclosing and obliging us to contract our lines to the city. I have directed the troops from the lines on Hatcher's Run, thus severed from us, to fall back toward Amelia Courthouse, and I do not see how I can possibly help withdrawing from the city to the north side of the Appomattox to-night. There is no bridge over the Appomattox above this point nearer than Goode's and Bevil's, over which the troops above mentioned could cross to the north side and be made available to us; otherwise I might hold this position for a day or two longer, but would have to evacuate it eventually, and I think it better for us to abandon the whole line on James river to-night if practicable. I have sent preparatory orders to all the officers, and will be able to tell by night whether or not we can remain here another day; but I think every hour now adds to our difficulties. I regret to be obliged to write such a hurried letter to your Excellency, but I am in the presence of the enemy, endeavoring to resist his advance:

I am, most respectfully and truly yours,


R. E. Lee, General.

Colonel Taylor continues:

After a gallant resistance, our troops were retired to the second or inner line of defence around the city of Petersburg, and there maintained their line till nightfall. By the dawn of day next morning the lines had been evacuated and the gallant, but sadly reduced Army of Northern Virginia had made good its way in its retreat westwardly toward Amelia Courthouse. The intention was to take the direction of Danville, and turn to our advantage the good line for resistance offered by the Dan and Staunton rivers. The activity of the Federal cavalry and the want of supplies compelled a different course, and the retreat was continued up the Southside railroad toward Lynchburg.

In this trying retreat, the skeleton mules and horses were scarce able to drag the scantily loaded wagons and the artillery through the miry roads. Every article that burdened them that could be dispensed with was abandoned, and food for horse and man was finally the same—unshelled corn—three ears of which was distributed as a soldier's ration.

Being convinced of the hopelessness of further resistance, the corps commanders of the army held a conference on Thursday night, April 6th, the result of which was that they commissioned General W. N. Pendleton (Chief of Artillery) to inform General Lee that in their judgment the time had come when negotiations should be opened with General Grant.

General Pendleton thus describes the interview: “General Lee was lying on the ground. No other heard the conversation between him and myself. He received my communication with the reply: ” Oh, no, I trust it has not come to that; “ and added, ” General, we have yet too many bold men to think of laying down our arms. The enemy do not fight with spirit, while our boys still do. Besides, if I were to say a word to the Federal commander he would regard it as such a confession of weakness as to make it the occasion of demanding unconditional surrender—a proposal to which I will never listen. I have resolved to die first; and that, if it comes to that, we shall force through or fall all in our places. * * * General, this is no new question with me I have never believed we could, against the gigantic combination for our subjugation, make good, in the long run, our independence, unless foreign powers should, directly or indirectly, assist us. This, I was sure, it was their interest to do, and I hoped they would so regard it. But such considerations really made with me no difference. We had, I was satisfied, sacred principles to maintain and rights to defend, for which we were in duty bound to do our best, even if we perished in the endeavor. “ These were, as nearly as I can recall them, the exact words of General Lee on that most critical occasion. You see in them the soul of the man. What his conscience dictated and his judgment decided, there his heart was.”


General Lee did not think proper to comply at once with the suggestion of his corps commanders, but on the night of the next day (the 7th) he received from General Grant the following communication:

April 7TH.
General R. E. Lee, Commander C. S. A.:
Sir,—The result of the last week must convince you of the utter hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States Army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S Grant, Lieutenant-General, Commanding the Armies of the United States.

General Lee replied as follows:

April 7TH.
General,—I have received your note of this date. Though not entirely of the opinion you express of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia, I reciprocate your desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and, therefore, before considering your proposition, ask the terms you will offer on condition of its surrender.

R. E. Lee, General. To Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Commanding Armies of the United States.

General Grant rejoined:

April 8TH.
General R. E. Lee, Commanding Confederate States Army:
General,—Your note of last, in reply to mine of same date, asking the condition on which I will accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, is just received. In reply I would say that, peace being my first desire, there is but one condition that I will insist upon, viz.:

That the men surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged. I will meet you, or designate officers to meet any officers you may name for the same purpose, at any point agreeable to you, for the purpose of arranging definitely the terms upon which the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia will be received.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General, Commanding Armies of the United States.

In the meantime, General Lee was pressing on toward Lynchburg, and, on the evening of the 8th, his vanguard reached Appomattox Station, where rations for the army had been ordered to be sent from Lynchburg. Four loaded trains were in sight, and the famished army about to be supplied, when the head of Sheridan's column dashed on the scene, captured the provisions, and drove the vanguard back to Appomattox Courthouse, four miles off. Sheridan's impetuous troopers met a sudden and bloody check in the streets of the village, the colonel commanding the advance being killed. That morning General Lee had divided the remnant of his army into two wings, under Gordon and Longstreet—Gordon having the advance and Longstreet the rear. Upon the repulse of the cavalry, Gordon's corps advanced through the village and spent another night of sleepless vigilance and anxiety; while Longstreet, four miles in the rear, had to entrench against the Army of the Potomac under Meade. That night General Lee held a council of war with Longstreet, Gordon, and Fitz. Lee,4 at which it was determined that Gordon should advance early the next morning to ‘feel’ the enemy in his front; that, if there was nothing but cavalry, he should press on, followed by Longstreet; but that, if Grant's infantry had got up in too large force to be driven, he should halt and notify General Lee, that a flag of truce might be raised and the useless sacrifice of life stopped.

Accordingly, on the morning of the memorable 9th of April, Gordon and Fitz. Lee attacked Sheridan's splendid cavalry, outnumbering them more than four to one, and flushed with the full confidence of victory and the assurance that, if they needed support, the Army of the James was close at hand. Yet, despite these odds and the exhaustion of these famishing men, they went into that fight with the heroic courage which ever characterized that old corps, and proved themselves not unworthy of Stonewall Jackson, Ewell, Early, Gordon, Rodes, Ramseur, Pegram, J. A. Walker, C. A. Evans and other noble leaders, whom they had been wont to follow to victory. Utterly unable to withstand the onset, Sheridan hastened in person to hurry up the ‘Army of the James,’ while Gordon drove his ‘invincible troopers’ more than a mile, and captured and brought off two pieces of artillery and a large number of prisoners. Had only Sheridan barred the way the surrender had not occurred at Appomattox Courthouse; but Gordon only drove back the cavalry to find himself confronted by the Army of the James and the road blocked by ten times his numbers.

Jones's Reminiscences, pages 299, 300.

At this crisis, which, states Colonel Charles S. Venable, of the staff of General Lee, was at 3 o'clock A. M., ‘General Lee rode forward, still hoping that we might break through the countless hordes of the enemy which hemmed us in. Halting a short distance in rear of our vanguard he sent me on to General Gordon to ask him if he could break. through the enemy. I found General Gordon and General Fitz. Lee on their front line, in the dim light of the morning, arranging an attack. Gordon's reply to the message (I give the expressive phrase of the gallant Georgian) was this: “Tell General Lee I have fought my corps to a frazzle, and I fear I can do nothing unless I am heavily supported by Longstreet's corps.” When I bore this message back to General Lee, he said: “Then there is nothing left me but to go and see General Grant,5 and I would rather die a thousand deaths.” Convulsed with passionate grief, many were the wild words which we spoke as we stood around him. Said one, “Oh! General, what will history say of the surrender of the army in the field?” He replied, “Yes, I know they will say hard things of us; they will not understand how we were overwhelmed by numbers; but that is not the question, Colonel. The question is, is it right to surrender this army? If it is right, then I will take all the responsibility.” ’6

The following letter, written the previous day, was now sent to General Grant:

April 8TH.
General,—I received at a late hour your note of to-day, in answer to mine of yesterday. I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender. But as the restoration of peace should be the sole object of all, I desire to know whether your proposals would tend to that end.

I cannot, therefore, meet you with a view to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but so far as your proposition may affect the Confederate States forces under my command and lead to the restoration of peace. I should be pleased to meet you at 10 A. M. to-morrow on the old Stage road to Richmond between the picket lines of the two armies.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General, Confederate States Armies. To Lieutenant-General Grant, Commanding Armies of the United States.

General Grant replied:

April 9TH.
General R. E. Lee, Commanding C. S. A.:
General,—Your note of yesterday is received. As I have no authority to treat on the subject of peace, the meeting proposed for 10 A. M. to-day could lead to no good. I will state, however, General, that I am equally anxious for peace with yourself, and the whole North entertain the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms they will hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed.

Sincerely hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of another life, I subscribe myself,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General U. S. A.

The exigency had come. To the noble mind of Lee, to protract the futile struggle was inhuman. He had at once had the white flag raised, and sent the following note to General Grant:

April 9, 1865.
General,—I received your note this morning on the picket line, whither I had come to meet you and ascertain definitely what terms were embraced in your proposition of yesterday with reference to the surrender of the army. I now ask an interview in accordance with the offer contained in your letter of yesterday for that purpose.

Colonel Taylor, (before cited,) states, that, reporting to General Lee about this time as to the parking of the army trains, about which he had been engaged, that General Lee said to him: ‘Well, Colonel, what are we to do?’

In reply, a fear was expressed that it would be necessary to abandon the trains which had already occasioned us such great embarrassment, and the hope was indulged that, relieved of this burden, the army could make good its escape. ‘Yes,’ said the General, ‘perhaps we could, but I have had a conference with these gentlemen around me, and they agree that the time has come for capitulation.’ ‘Well, sir,’ I said, ‘I can only speak for myself; to me any other fate is preferable—.’ ‘Such is my individual way of thinking,’ interrupted the General. ‘But,’ I immediately added, ‘of course, General, it is different with you. You have to think of these brave men, and decide not only for yourself, but for them.’ ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘it would be useless and therefore cruel to provoke the further effusion of blood, and I have arranged to meet General Grant with a view to surrender, and wish you to accompany me.’

Shortly after this, the General, accompanied by Colonel Marshall and myself, started back in the direction from which we had come to meet General Grant as had been arranged.

We continued some distance without meeting any one after passing our lines, but finally came upon a staff officer sent by General Grant's order to say to General Lee that he had been prevented from meeting him at that point, and to request that he would meet him upon the other road. General Lee then retraced his steps, and proceeding toward our front in the direction of Appomattox Courthouse, dismounted at a convenient place to await General Grant's communication. Very soon a Federal officer, accompanied by one of General Gordon's staff, rode up to where General Lee was seated in a small orchard7 on the roadside. This proved to be General Forsythe, of General Sheridan's staff, who was sent by General Sheridan to say that, as he had doubt as to his authority to recognize the informal truce which had been agreed on between General Gordon and himself, he desired to communicate with General Meade on the subject, and wished permission to pass through our lines as the shortest route. I was assigned to the duty of escorting General Forsythe through our lines and back. This was scarcely accomplished when General Babcock rode up and announced to General Lee that General Grant was prepared to meet him at the front.

I shrank from this interview, and while I could not then and cannot now justify my conduct, I availed myself of the excuse of having taken the two rides through the extent of our lines, and to those of the enemy already mentioned, and did not accompany my chief in this trying ordeal.

Four Years with General Lee, pages 151-3.

To the communication of General Lee, asking an interview, General Grant replied as follows:

April 9TH, 1865.
General R. E. Lee, Commanding C. S Army:
Your note of this date is but this moment (11:50 A. M.) received, in consequence of my having passed from the Richmond and Lynchburg roads to the Farmville and Lynchburg road. I am at this writing about four miles west of Walker's church, and will push forward to the front for the purpose of meeting you. Notice sent to me on this road, where you wish the interview to take place, will meet me.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

General Horace Porter, of Grant's staff, writes:

About one o'clock the little village of Appomattox Courthouse, 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 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.

Generals Sheridan and Ord, with a group of officers around them, were seen on the road, and as our party came up, General Grant said: ‘How are you, Sheridan?’ ‘First rate, thank you; how are you?’ cried Sheridan, with a voice and look that seemed to indicate that on his part he was having things all his own way. ‘Is Lee over there?’ asked General Grant, pointing up the street, having heard that he was in that vicinity. ‘Yes, he is in that brick house,’ answered Sheridan. ‘Well, then, we'll go over,’ said Grant.

The General--in Chief now rode on, accompanied by Sheridan, Ord 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 was.

The house [that of Wilbur McLean] 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 leading 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 the 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.

General Grant 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's arrival. The General passed in, while the members of the staff, Generals Sheridan and Ord, 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 towards 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 centre 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 side. 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 a few chairs, which constituted the furniture, but most of the party stood.

The contrast between the two commanders was very striking, and could not fail to attract marked attention, as they sat ten feet apart facing each other.

General Grant, 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 on a pair of thread gloves, of a dark-yellow color, which he had taken off in entering the room. His felt ‘sugarloaf’ 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.

Lee, on the other hand, was fully six feet in height, and was 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 which 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 afterwards how it was that both he and his chief wore such fine toggery, and looked so much as if they had just turned out to go to church, while with us our outward garb scarcely rose to the dignity of 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 gods of destruction by a sacrifice of his second best.

General Grant 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. I asked to see you, to ascertain upon what terms you would receive the surrender of my army?’

General Grant 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.’

Lee nodded an assent, and said: ‘Those are about the conditions which I expected would be proposed.’

General Grant 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.’

Lee 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. Lee 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 imnot pause until he had finished the sentence ending with ‘officers appointed by me to receive them.’ Then he looked towards Lee, and his eyes seemed to be resting on the handsome sword which hung at that officer's side. He said afterwards 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 (afterwards General) 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:

Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, April 9th, 1865.
General R. E. Lee, Commanding C. S. A..
General,—In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th instant, I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on the following terms, to-wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate—one copy to be given to an officer to be designated by me; the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly [exchanged], and each company or regimental commander to sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery, and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officers appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by the United States authorities so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.

Very respectfully,

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

Lee 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, and took up the draft of the letter and proceeded to read it attentively. It consisted of two pages. When he had 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 replied.

Lee 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. When Lee 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 towards 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.’ General Grant 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 take their private property?’ ‘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.’

Lee 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 to take the animals home with them to work their little farms.’

Lee 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 on the men. It will be very gratifying and will do much towards conciliating our people.’ He handed the draft of the terms back to General Grant, who called Colonel Bowers of the staff to him to make a copy. Bowers was a little nervous, and he turned the matter over to Colonel (afterwards General) Parker, whose handwriting presented a better appearance than that of any one else on the staff. Parker sat down to write at the table which stood against the rear side of the room.

Lee, in the meantime, had directed Colonel Marshall to draw up for his signature a letter of acceptance of the terms of surrender. Colonel Marshall 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 afterwards 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:

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, April 9th, 1865.
General,—I received your letter of this date containing the terms of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, as proposed by you. As they are substantially the same as those expressed in your letter of the 8th instant, they are accepted. I will proceed to designate the proper officers to carry the stipulations into effect.

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 them 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. When General Lee saw his swarthy features, he looked at him with an evident stare of 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.

Lee 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 a jocose 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. General Lee now took the initiative again in leading the conversation back into business channels. He said: ‘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 past 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 towards 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.’

‘Suppose I send over 25,000 rations, do you think that will be a sufficient supply?’ asked Grant.

‘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.’

General Grant now turned to his chief commissary, Colonel (afterwards General) Morgan, who was present, and directed him to arrange for issuing the rations.

General Grant'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.’

General Sheridan 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 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. Lee 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. Lee, 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 four 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 into the porch. Lee signalled 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 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 which overwhelmed him, and he had the personal sympathy of everyone 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. General Grant now stepped down from the porch, and moving towards him, saluted him by raising his hat. He was followed in this act of courtesy by all of our officers present. Lee raised his hat respectfully in acknowledgment, and rode off to break the sad news to the brave fellows whom he had so long commanded.

Before General Grant had proceeded far towards camp, he was reminded that he had not yet announced the important event to the government. He dismounted by the road-side, sat down on a large stone, and called for pencil and paper. Colonel (afterwards 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 is dated at 4.30 P. M.

Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Washington:
General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia this afternoon on terms proposed by myself. The accompanying additional correspondence will show the conditions fully.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

There were present at McLean's house besides Sheridan, Ord, Merritt, Custer and the officers of General Grant's staff, a number of other officers, and one or two citizens who entered the room at different times during the interview.

Grant's last campaign, in the Century Magazine, November, 1887.

The scene witnessed upon the return of General Lee was one certain to impress itself indelibly upon the memory; it can be vividly recalled, after the lapse of many years, but no description can do it justice. The men crowded around him eager to shake him by the hand; eyes that had so often illumined with the fire of patriotism and true courage; that had so often glared with defiance in the heat and fury of battle, and so often kindled with enthusiasm and pride in the hour of success, moistened now; cheeks bronzed by exposure in many campaigns, and withal begrimed with powder and dust, now blanched from deep emotion and suffered the silent tear; tongues that had so often carried dismay to the hearts of the enemy in that indescribable cheer which accompanied ‘the charge,’ or that had so often made the air resound with the paen of victory, refused utterance now; brave hearts failed that had never quailed in the presence of the enemy, but the firm and silent pressure of the hand told most eloquently of souls filled with admiration, love and tender sympathy for their beloved chief. He essayed to thank them, but too full a heart paralyzed his speech; he soon sought a short respite from these trying scenes and retired to his private quarters that he might, in solitude and quiet, commune with his own brave heart and be still.

Colonel Taylor, Four Years with General Lee, page 153.

About 9 o'clock on the morning of the 10th General Grant with his staff rode out towards 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 been so long inculcated in Lee's army of keeping Grant out of its 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 which 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 semi-circle, but withdrew out of ear-shot. General Grant repeated to us that evening the substance of the conversation, which was as follows:

Grant 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. Lee said he could not take such a course without consulting President Davis first. Grant then proposed to Lee that he should do so, and urge the hastening of a result which was admitted to be inevitable. Lee, 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 asked Lee to go and 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 death-bed, and his recollection was distinct that he 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 good-bye. Lee 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.

General Porter, Century, November, 1887.

Colonel Marshall gives the following account of the preparation of the memorable farewell address of General Lee to his army:

‘On our return from the interview with General Grant at Mc-Lean's house on April 9th, 1865, after some conversation with the staff on the incidents of the morning, General Lee directed me to prepare a general order to the army appropriate to the occasion. During the rest of the day I was so constantly occupied with details that I had no time to write the order; so that next morning, when the General called for it, it was not prepared. He then directed me to get into his ambulance, standing before his tent, and get to work at it at once, and placed an orderly on guard to prevent my being interrupted. As soon as I had made a draft in lead-pencil I submitted it to the General, who struck out a whole paragraph and made some verbal alterations, when I had the rough draft, thus corrected, signed by General Lee. This was copied and signed by him for corps commanders and staff officers, and many copies were made and his autograph procured as souvenirs by couriers and persons about headquarters.’

The order as corrected by General Lee, and as it was issued to the army, is as follows:

General Orders, no. 9.

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, Appomattox C. H., April 10, 1865.
After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources. I need not tell the survivors of so many hard-fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them, but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that would compensate for the loss that must have attended a continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen. By the terms of agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you His blessing and protection.

With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

The soldiers were profoundly moved at the reading to them of this noble farewell address, and crowded around the loved chieftain to shake his hand. Responsive to their emotion, he touchingly said: ‘Men, we have fought through the war together; I have done my best for you; my heart is too full to say more.’ And grandly, indeed, had the simple utterance been attested. It was a magnificent pageant from the Chickahominy to the final act at Appomattox Courthouse; sublime in its realization of valor, endurance, and patriotism. Freedom records no sacrifices surpassing it in magnitude. And the grand hero, Lee, reillumining the lustrous diadem of his mother, Virginia, is jointly enshrined in the reverential hearts of her sons with her Washington.

Crushingly overwhelmed, the starving Army of Northern Virginia laid down its arms, but its pitiful fate invested with mournful incense only, its heroism and sacrifices. Its achievements will increasingly command the admiration of the world during all time.

The following communication is a material addition to this narrative:8

near Appomattox Courthouse, April 12th, 1865.
His Excellency, Jefferson Davis:
Mr. President,—It is with pain that I announce to your Excellency the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. The operations which preceded this result will be reported in full. I will, therefore, only now state, that, upon arriving at Amelia Courthouse on the morning of the 4th, with the advance of the army, on the retreat from the lines in front of Richmond and Petersburg, and not finding the supplies ordered to be placed there, nearly twenty-four hours were lost in endeavoring to collect in the country subsistence for men and horses. This delay was fatal, and could not be retrieved. The troops, wearied by constant fighting and marching for several days and nights, obtained neither rest nor refreshment, and on moving on the 5th, on the Richmond and Danville railroad, I found at Jetersville the enemy's cavalry, and learned the approach of his infantry and the general advance of his army toward Burkeville. This deprived us of the use of the railroad, and rendered it impracticable to procure from Danville the supplies ordered to meet us at points of our march. Nothing could be obtained from the adjacent country. Our route to the Roanoke was therefore changed, and the march directed upon Farmville, where supplies were ordered from Lynchburg. The change of route threw the troops over the roads pursued by artillery and wagon-trains west of the railroad, which impeded our advance and embarrassed our movements. On the morning of the 6th, General Longstreet's corps reached Rice's station on the Lynchburg railroad. It was followed by the commands of Generals R. H. Anderson, Ewell and Gordon, with orders to close upon it as fast as the progress of the trains would permit, or as they could be directed on roads further west. General Anderson, commanding Pickett's and B. R. Johnson's divisions, became disconnected with Mahone's division, forming the rear of Longstreet. The enemy's cavalry penetrated the line of march through the interval thus left, and attacked the wagon-train moving toward Farmville. This caused serious delay in the march of the centre and rear of the column, and enabled the enemy to mass upon their flank.

After successive attacks, Anderson's and Ewell's corps were captured or driven from their position. The latter General, with both of his division commanders, Kershaw and Custis Lee, and his brigadiers, were taken prisoners. Gordon who, all the morning, aided by General W. H. F. Lee's cavalry, had checked the advance of the enemy on the road from Amelia Springs, and protected the trains, became exposed to his combined assaults, which he bravely resisted and twice repulsed; but the cavalry having been withdrawn to another part of the line of march, and the enemy massing heavily on his front and both flanks, renewed the attack about 6 P. M., and drove him from the field in much confusion. The army continued its march during the night, and every effort was made to reorganize the divisions which had been shattered by the day's operations, but the men being depressed by fatigue and hunger, many threw away their arms, while others followed the wagon-trains and embarrassed their progress. On the morning of the 7th rations were issued to the troops as they passed Farmville, but the safety of the trains requiring their removal upon the approach of the enemy, all could not be supplied. The army reduced to two corps, under Longstreet and Gordon, moved steadily on the road to Appomattox Courthouse, thence its march was ordered by Campbell Courthouse, through Pittsylvania toward Danville. The roads were wretched, and the progress slow. By great efforts the head of the column reached Appomattox Courthouse on the evening of the 8th, and the troops were halted for rest. The march was ordered to be resumed at one (i) A. M. on the 9th Fitz. Lee with the cavalry, supported by Gordon, was ordered to drive the enemy from his front, wheel to the left, and cover the passage of the trains, while Longstreet, who, from Rice's station, had formed the rear-guard, should close up and hold the position. Two battalions of artillery and the ammunition wagons were directed to accompany the army; the rest of the artillery and wagons to move toward Lynchburg. In the early part of the night the enemy attacked Walker's artillery train, near Appomattox station, on the Lynchburg railroad, and were repelled. Shortly afterwards their cavalry dashed towards the Courthouse, till halted by our line. During the night there were indications of a large force massing on our left and front. Fitz. Lee was directed to ascertain its strength, and to suspend his advance till daylight if necessary. About five (5) A. M. on the 9th, with Gordon on his left, he moved forward and opened the way. A heavy force of the enemy was discovered opposite Gordon's right, which, moving in the direction of Appomattox Courthouse, drove back the left of the cavalry, and threatened to cut off Gordon from Longstreet, his cavalry at the same time threatening to envelop his left flank. Gordon withdrew across the Appomattox river, and the cavalry advanced on the Lynchburg road and became separated from the army. Learning the condition of affairs on the lines where I had gone, under the expectation of meeting General Grant, to learn definitely the terms he proposed in a communication received from him on the 8th in the event of the surrender of the army, I requested a suspension of hostilities until these terms could be arranged. In the interview which occurred with General Grant, in compliance with my request, terms having been agreed on, I surrendered that portion of the Army of Northern Virginia which was on the field, with its arms, artillery and wagon trains, the officers and men to be paroled, retaining their side-arms and private effects. I deemed this course the best under all the circumstances by which we were surrounded. On the morning of the 9th, according to the reports of the ordnance officers, there were seven thousand eight hundred and ninety-two (7,892) organized infantry with arms, with an average of seventy-five (75) rounds of ammunition per man. The artillery, though reduced to sixty-three (63) pieces, with ninety-three (93) rounds of ammunition, was sufficient. These comprised all the supplies of ordnance that could be relied on in the State of Virginia. I have no accurate report of the cavalry, but believe it did not exceed twenty-one hundred (2,100) effective men. The enemy was more than five times our numbers. If we could have forced our way one day longer, it would have been at a great sacrifice of life, and at its end I did not see how a surrender could have been avoided. We had no subsistence for man or horse, and it could not be gathered in the country. The supplies ordered to Pamplin's station from Lynchburg could not reach us, and the men, deprived of food and sleep for many days, were worn out and exhausted.

With great respect, your obedient servant,


R. E. Lee, General.

On his way to Richmond, which he reached on the 12th of April, General Lee stopped for the night near the residence of his brother, Charles Carter Lee, of Powhatan county, and, although importuned by his brother to pass the night under his roof, the General persisted in pitching his tent by the side of the road9 and going into camp as usual. This continued self-denial may be only explained upon the hypothesis that he desired to have his men know that he shared their privations to the very last.10

1 Four Years with General Lee. New York: 1877. Page 149, et seq.

2 Personal Reminiscences of General Lee. J. Wm. Jones, D. D. Pages 309-11.

3 Jones's Reminiscences, page 297.

4 General Mahone was not present at this conference, as has been alleged, nor at any of approximate date.

5 Field's and Mahone's divisions of Longstreet's corps, staunch in the midst of all our disasters, were holding Meade back in our rear, and could not be spared for the attack.

6 Remarks at the Lee Memorial Meeting, held in Richmond, Virginia, November 3, 1870.—Army of Northern Virginia Memorial Volume, pages 19-20.

7 This circumstance furnished the only ground for the widespread report that the surrender occurred under an apple tree.

8 Jones's Reminiscences of Lee, pages 311-14.

9 This was not immediately in front of the residence of his brother, but of that of Mr. John Gilliam (whose farm adjoined that of Mr. Lee), a more elevated and desirable site.

10 Taylor's Four Years with General Lee, page 154.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: