Today we toured the National Historical Park at Appomattox.
It is a fitting place to visit after Gettysburg as it was here at Appomattox
that US Grant defeated the Confederate Army under Robert E. Lee
and the final surrender took place.
Since April 1st, after losing Richmond, the capital of the C.S.A., the Confederate Army
had been on a westward retreat. Hoping to pick up supplies for
his starving Army and then head south into NC to join up with other forces.
At each point where supplies awaited however, the Union Army outflanked and
captured or destroyed the supplies before the rebels could be resupplied.
US Grant sent several letters to Lee requesting that he surrender to avoid further
death and destruction. Lee refused but requested to know what the terms might be if he did.
Continuing his westbound retreat along the Richmond Lynchburg Stage road
Lee turned his sights on the railroad station at Appomattox Station where
3 trains filled with supplies awaited his starving army.
The Richmond Lynchburg Stage Road.
However, prior to arriving, the trains were
captured and burned by General George Armstrong Custer.
The situation was dire for the Confederates. Lee tried one last time
to break thru the union lines but was pushed back and surrounded. He finally sent a
letter to Grant that he would like to meet to discuss the surrender terms.
That meeting, and the singing of the surrender took place in this room
on April 9, 1865.
Lee sat at the marble desk on the left and Grant at the wooden table on the right.
Here is a painting of the surrender.
Custer is on the back left.
This is a view of the outside of the house.
US Grant was wise and magnanimous in his surrender terms.
He allowed the Confederates to keep their supplies, the officers their sidearms,
and the men any of the horses that they owned so that they could return home
and plow their fields. The only requirement was that they lay down their arms
and not wage war against the US any longer.
In what today might be called "Political Correctness" Grant issued another
wise order to his troops: He instructed the US Army to not taunt the Rebels
or hold boisterous celebrations.
He said this was a time for kindness, compassion, and reunification.
As a result US troops shared their food with the starving rebels and participated
in many other acts of compassion rather than rubbing their noses in their defeat.
News of this good treatment spread south and helped with the healing of the
wounds caused by 4 long years of Civil War.
All of the defeated soldiers were given "Paroles" or passes that said they were
surrendered soldiers and should be allowed free and safe passage home.
The tavern below was set up as a temporary print shop that ran day and night
and printed almost 40,000 passes in two days.
There were several other Confederate Armies scattered about the south and
as soon as the news of Lees' surrender and the generous terms that were
offered in doing for doing so, each of them followed Lees lead.
And just like that the war was over.