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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 sth of April the most of Lee's army reached
Amelia Court House, where, he had been officially in-
formed, 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 Jeters-
ville, 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 junc-
tion 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 ren-
dered 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 immedi-
ate defenses of Richmond, to Lee at Amelia Court House,
following the highway along the Richmond & Danville

Reaching Farmville on the 6th, Lee found bread and
meat for his men, whose principal subsistence since leav-
ing Petersburg had been parched com. 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

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:

Gen. R. E. Lee:

General: The result of the last week must convince you of the
hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the aimy of North-
ern 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 effu-
sion of blood, by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the
Confederate States army known as the army of Northern Virginia.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.

Early on the morning of the 8th, while still at Farm-
ville, Grant received the following reply, dated the 7th:

Lieut. -Gen. U. S. Grant:

General: I have received your note of this date. Though not
entertaining the opinion you express of the hopelessness of further
resistance on the part of the army of Northern Virginia, I recipro-
cate your desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and therefore,
before considering your proposition, ask the terms you will oflEer on
condition of its surrender. R. E. Lee, General.

To this Grant immediately sent the following reply:

Gen. R. E. Lee:

General: Your note of last evening, 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 great desire, there is but one condition I
would insist upon, namely, that the men and officers surrendered
shall be disqualified for taking up arms again against the govern-
ment of the United States until properly exchanged. I will meet you,
or will 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. U. S. Grant.

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 the 8th,
holding him back by his rear guard. Late in the after-
noon 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 accom-
panied Meade in following after Lee, received the follow-
ing note from the latter :

Lieut.-Gen. U. S. Grant:

General : I received at a late hour your note of today. In 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 that the emergencjr has arisen to call for
the surrender of this army, but as the restoration of peace should be
the sole object of all, I desired to know whether your proposals
would lead to that end. I cannot, therefore, meet you with a view
to surrender the army of Northern Virginia, but as far as your pro-
posal may afBect the Confederate States forces under my command,
and tend to the restoration of peace, I should be pleased to meet you
at lo a. m. to-morrow, on the old stage road to Richmond, between
the picket lines of the two armies. R. E. Lee, General.

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 fol-
lowing note, of the 9th, from General Grant :
Gen. R. E. Lee:

General: Your note of yesterday is received. As I have no author-
ity 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 difl&culties may be settled without the
loss of another life, I subscribe myself,

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.


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 sta-
tion, the Fifth and Twenty-fourth corps of Federal infan-
try advanced and drove back the Confederate charge. At
about that time a white flag was sent, from the Confed-
erate lines, "requesting a suspension of hostilities, pend-
ing negotiations for a surrender." Lee at this juncture,
accepting the inevitable, addressed the following note
to Grant:

Lieut. -Gen. U. S. Grant:

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

R. E. Lee, General.

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 him-
self, 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 :

Appomattox Court House, Va., April g, 1865.
Gen. R. E. Lee:

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 offi-
cers 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 ofBcer
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 sign a like parole for the men of their com-
mands. 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 United States
authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force
where they may reside. U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.


Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, April 9, 1865.
Lieut.-Gen. U, S. Grant:

General : I have received your letter of this date containing the
terms of 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 desig-
nate the proper officers to carry the stipulations into effect.

H. E. Lee, General.

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 artil-

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 loth 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


On the next day, Monday, April loth, General Lee
issued, to the survivors of the famous army of Northern
Virginia, the following farewell order :


Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, April lo, 1865.
After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed cour-
age and fortitude, the army of Northern Virginia has been com-
pelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.

1 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 could compensate for the loss that
would have attended the continuation of the contest, I have deter-
mined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services
have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to
their homes and remain there until exchanged.

You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the con-
sciousness 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 gener-
ous consideration of myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

R. E. Lee, General.
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 lead-
ership 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 imme-
diately ordered the rest of his army back to the vicinity
of Burkeville, the junction of the Southside and the Rich-
mond & 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; num-
bers 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 1 2th


of April, 1865, made his last report of military operations

of the army under his control, to President Davis, in

these words:

Mr. President: It is with pain that I announce to Your Excellency
the surrender of the army of Northern Virginia. The operations
â– which preceded this result will be reported in full. I will therefore
only now state that, upon arriving at Amelia Court House on the
morning of the 4th with the advance of the army, on the retreat from
the line in front of Richmond and Petersburg, and not finding sup-
plies 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 continual fighting and marching for several days
and nights, obtained neither rest nor refreshment : and on moving,
on the 5th, on the Richmond & Danville railroad, I found at Joters-
ville the enemy's cavalry, and learned of the approach of his infan-
try 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 coun-
try. 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 the 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 Anderson, Ewell, and Gordon, with orders
to close it as fast as the progress of the trains would permit, or as
they could be directed on roads farther west. General Anderson,
commanding Pickett's and B. R. Johnson's divisions, became dis-
connected with Mahone's division, forming the rear of Longstreet.
The enemy's cavalry penetrated the line of march through the inter-
val thus left and attacked the wagon train moving toward Farmville.
This caused serious delay in the march of the center 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
Gen. 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 ap-


proach 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 Court House ; thence its march was ordered by
Campbell Court House, through Pittsylvania, toward Danville. The
roads were wretched and the progress slow. By g^eat efforts the
head of the column reached Appomattox Court House on the even-
ing of the 8th, and the troops were halted for rest. The march was
ordered to be resumed at i a. m. of the gth. 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 Lyiich-
burg railroad, and were repelled. Shortly afterward their cavalry
dashed toward the Court House, 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 5 a. m. on
the gth, 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 Court House,
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 sepa-
rated 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 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 gth, according to the reports of the ord-
nance officers, there were 7,8g2 organized infantry with arms, with
an average of seventy-five rounds of ammunition per man. The
artillery, though reduced to sixty-three pieces, with ninety-three
rounds of ammunition, was sufficient. These comprised all the sup-
plies 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
2,100 effective men. The enemy were 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 sup-
plies ordered from Lynchburg could not reach us, and the men, de-
prived of food and sleep for many days, were worn out and
exhausted. With great respect, your obedient servant,

His Excellency Jeferson Davis. R. E. Lee, General.


Maj.-Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, who commanded the cavalry
corps of the army of Northern Virginia during the Appo-
mattox campaign, sent to Gen. R. E. Lee, from Rich-
mond, 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 cav-
alry corps to the front and to report in person to the commanding gen-
-eral. 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 progjressed,
was laid before us. It was decided that 1 should attack the enemy's
cavalry at daylight, then reported as obstructing our further march ;

Online LibraryClement Anselm EvansConfederate military history; a library of Confederate States history → online text (page 54 of 153)