The American Civil War, The End: Appomattox

Edited by: Robert Guisepi

2002

 

"At the sound of that machine-like snap of arms, General Gordon started, caught in a moment its significance, and instantly assumed the finest attitude of a soldier. He wheeled his horse, facing me, touching him gently with the spur, so that the animal slightly reared, and, as he wheeled, horse and rider made one motion, the horse's head swung down with a graceful bow, and General Gordon dropped his sword-point to his toe in salutation."

J. L. Chamberlain

 

The final campaign of the Army of Northern Virginia began March 25,1865, when Gen. Robert E. Lee sought to break Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's ever-tightening stranglehold at Petersburg, Va., by attacking the Federal position at Fort Stedman. The assault failed, and when Grant counterattacked a week later at Five Forks, 1-2 April, the thin Confederate line snapped, and Lees skeleton forces abandoned Richmond and Petersburg. The Confederate retreat began southwestward as Lee sought to use the still-operational Richmond & Danville Railroad. At its western terminus at Danville he would unite with Gen. Joseph F. Johnston's army, which was retiring up through North Carolina. Taking maximum advantage of Danvilles hilly terrain, the 2 Southern forces would make a determined stand against the converging armies of Grant and Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman. But Grant moved too fast for the plan to materialize, and Lee waited 24 hours in vain at Amelia Court House for trains to arrive with badly needed supplies. Federal cavalry, meanwhile, sped forward and cut the Richmond & Danville at Jetersville. Lee had to abandon the railroad, and his army stumbled across rolling country in an effort to reach Lynchburg, another supply base that could be defended. Union horsemen seized the vital rail junction at Burkeville as Federal infantry continued to dog the Confederates.
        On 6 Apr. almost one-fourth of Lees army was trapped and captured at Sayler's Creek. Lee, at Farmville when he received news of the disaster, led his remaining 30,000 men in a north-by-west arc across the Appomattox River and toward Lynchburg. In the meantime, Grant, with 4 times as many men, sent Maj. Gen. Phillip H. Sheridan's cavalry and most of 2 infantry corps on a hard, due-west march from Farmville to Appomattox Station. Reaching the railroad first the Federals blocked Lees only line of advance.
On the morning of 9 Apr. Confederate probes tested the Union lines and found them to be too strong. Lees options were now gone. That afternoon "Palm Sunday" Lee met Grant in the front parlor of Wilmer McLean's home to discuss peace terms.
        The actual surrender of the Confederate Army occurred 12 Apr., an overcast Wednesday. As Southern troops marched past silent lines of Federals, a Union general noted "an awed stillness, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead."


Source: "Historical Times Encyclopedia of the Civil War"]

 

The End at Appomattox

A little before noon on the 7th of April, 1865, General Grant, with his staff, rode into the little village of Farmville, on the south side of the Appomattox River, a town that will be memorable in history as the place where he opened the correspondence with Lee which led to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. He drew up in front of the village hotel, dismounted, and established headquarters on its broad piazza' News came in that Crook was fighting large odds with his cavalry on the north side of the river, and I was directed to go to his front and see what was necessary to be done to assist him. I found that he was being driven back, the enemy (Munford's and Rosser's cavalry divisions under Fitzhugh Lee) having made a bold stand north of the river. Humphreys was also on the north side, isolated from the rest of our infantry, confronted by a large portion of Lee's army, and having some very heavy fighting. On my return to general headquarters that evening Wright's corps was ordered to cross the river and move rapidly to the support of our troops there. Notwithstanding their long march that day, the men sprang to their feet with a spirit that made every one marvel at their pluck, and came swinging through the main street of the village with a step that seemed as elastic as on the first day of their toilsome tramp. It was now dark, but they spied the general-in-chief watching them with evident pride from the piazza of the hotel.
       Then was witnessed one of the most inspiring scenes of the campaign. Bonfires were lighted on the sides of the street, the men seized straw and pine knots, and improvised torches; cheers arose from throats already hoarse with shouts of victory, bands played, banners waved, arms were tossed high in air and caught again. The night march had become a grand review, with Grant as the reviewing officer.
       Ord and Gibbon had visited the general at the hotel, and he had spoken with them as well as with Wright about sending some communication to Lee that might pave the way to the stopping of further bloodshed. Dr. Smith, formerly of the regular army, a native of Virginia and a relative of General Ewell, now one of our prisoners, had told General Grant the night before that Ewell had said in conversation that their cause was lost when they crossed the James River, and he considered that it was the duty of the authorities to negotiate for peace then, while they still had a right to claim concessions, adding that now they were not in condition to claim anything. He said that for every man killed after this somebody would be responsible, and it would be little better than murder. He could not tell what General Lee would do, but he hoped he would at once surrender his army. This statement, together with the news that had been received from Sheridan saying that he had heard that General Lee's trains of provisions which had come by rail were at Appomattox, and that he expected to capture them before Lee could reach them, induced the general to write the following communication:
 

 

HEADQUARTERS, ARMIES OF THE U. S.
5 P. m., April 7th, 1865

GENERAL R. E. LEE, Commanding C. S. A.:

       The results of the last week must convince you of the 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.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General

 

       This he entrusted to General Seth Williams, adjutant-general, with directions to take it to Humphreys's front, as his corps was close up to the enemy's rear-guard, and have it sent into Lee's lines. The general decided to re all night at Farmville and await the reply from Lee, and he was shown to a room in the hotel in which, he was told, Lee had slept the night before. Lee wrote the following reply within an hour after he received General Grant's letter, but it was brought in by rather a circuitous route and did not reach its destination till after midnight:
 

 

April 7th, 1865

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT,
Commanding Armies of the U. S.

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 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

 

       The next morning before leaving Farmville the following reply was given to General Williams, who again went to Humphreys's front to have it transmitted to Lee:
 

 

April 8th, 1865

GENERAL R. E. LEE,
Commanding C. S. A.:

       Your note of last evening in reply to mine of the same date, asking the conditions 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 against the Government 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,
Lieutenant-General

 

       There turned up at this time a rather hungry-looking gentleman in gray, in the uniform of a colonel, who proclaimed himself the proprietor of the hotel. He said his regiment had crumbled to pieces, he was the only man left in it, and he thought he might as well "stop off " at home. His story was significant as indicating the disintegrating process that was going on in the ranks of the enemy.
       General Grant had been marching most of the way with the columns that were pushing along south of Lee's line of retreat; but expecting that a reply would be sent to his last letter and wanting to keep within easy communication with Lee, he decided to march this day with the portion of the Army of the Potomac that was pressing Lee's rear-guard. After issuing some further instructions to Ord and Sheridan, he started from Farmville, crossed to the north side of the Appomattox, conferred in person with Meade, and rode with his columns. Encouraging reports came in all day, and that night headquarters were established at Curdsville in a large white farm-house, a few hundred yards from Meade's camp. The general and several of the staff had cut loose from the headquarters trains the night he started to meet Sheridan at JetersviUe, and had neither baggage nor camp-equipage. The general did not even have his sword with him. This was the most advanced effort yet made at moving in "light marching order," and we billeted ourselves at night in farm-houses, or bivouacked on porches, and picked up meals at any camp that seemed to have something to spare in the way of rations. This night we sampled the fare of Meade's hospitable mess and once more lay down with full stomachs.
       General Grant had been suffering all the afternoon from a severe headache, the result of fatigue, anxiety, scant fare, and loss of sleep, and by night it was much worse. He had been induced to bathe his feet in hot water and mustard, and apply mustard plasters to his wrists and the back of his neck, but these remedies afforded little relief. The dwelling we occupied was a double house. The general threw himself upon a sofa in the sitting-room on the left side of the hall, while the staff-officers bunked on the floor of the room opposite to catch what sleep they could. About midnight we were aroused by Colonel Charles A. Whittier of Humphreys's staff, who brought another letter from Lee. Rawlins at once took it in to General Grant's room. It was as follows:
 

 

April 8th, 1865

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT
 

       GENERAL: I received at a late hour your note of to-day. 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 the emergency 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 proposal may affect the Confederate States forces under my command, and tend 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.

R. E. LEE,
General

 

       General Grant had been able to get but very little sleep. He now sat up and read the letter, and after making a few comments upon it to General Rawlins lay down again on the sofa.
       About 4 o'clock on the morning of the 9th I rose and crossed the hall to ascertain how the general was feeling. I found his room empty, and upon going out of the front door saw him pacing up and down in the yard holding both hands to his head. Upon inquiring how he felt, he replied that he had had very little sleep, and was still suffering the most excruciating pain. I said: "Well, there is one consolation in all this, General: I never knew you to be ill that you did not receive some good news. I have become a little superstitious regarding these coincidences, and I should not be surprised if some good fortune overtook you before night." He smiled and said: "The best thing that can happen to me to-day is to get rid of the pain I am suffering." We were soon joined by some others of the staff, and the general was induced to go over to Meade's headquarters with us and get some coffee, in the hope that it would do him good. He seemed to feel a little better now, and after writing the following letter to Lee and dispatching it he prepared to move forward. The letter was as follows:
 

 

April 9th, 1865

GENERAL R. E. LEE

       GENERAL: Your note of yesterday is received. 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, that I am equally desirous for peace with yourself, and the whole North entertains the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms, they would hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed. Seriously hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of another life, I subscribe myself, etc.

U. S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General

 

       It was proposed to him to ride during the day in a covered ambulance which was at hand, instead of on horseback, so as to avoid the intense heat of the sun, but this he declined to do, and soon after mounted "Cincinnati" and struck off toward New Store. From that point he went by way of a crossroad to the south side of the Appomattox with the intention of moving around to Sheridan's front. While riding along the wagon road that runs from Farmville to Appomattox Court House, at a point eight or nine miles east of the latter place, Lieutenant Charles E. Pease of Meade's staff overtook him with a dispatch. It was found to be a reply from Lee, which had been sent in to our fines on Humphreys's front. It read as follows:
 

 

April 9th, 1865

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL 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

 

       Pease also brought a note from Meade, saying that at Lee's request he had read the communication addressed to General Grant and in consequence of it had granted a short truce.
       The general, as soon as he had read these letters, dismounted, sat down on the grassy bank by the roadside, and wrote the following reply to Lee:
 

 

April 9th, 1865

GENERAL R. E. LEE,
Commanding C. S. Army:

       Your note of this date is but this moment (I 1:50 A. m.) received, in consequence of my having passed from the Richmond and Lynchburg road to the Farmvine 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 win meet me.

U.S. GRANT,
Lieutenant-General

 

       He handed this to Colonel Babcock of the staff, with directions to take it to General Lee by the most direct route. Mounting his horse again the general rode on at a trot toward Appomattox Court House. When five or six miles from the town, Colonel Newhall, Sheridan's adjutant-general, came riding up from the direction of Appomattox and handed the general a communication. This proved to be a duplicate of the letter from Lee that Lieutenant Pease had brought in from Meade's lines. Lee was so closely pressed that he was anxious to communicate with Grant by the most direct means, and as he could not tell with which column Grant was moving he sent in one copy of his letter on Meade's front and one on Sheridan's. Colonel Newhall joined our party, and after a few minutes' halt to read the letter we continued our ride toward Appomattox. On the march I had asked the general several times how he felt. To the same question now he said, "The pain in my head seemed to leave me the moment I got Lee's letter." The road was filled with men, animals, and wagons, and to avoid these and shorten the distance we turned slightly to the right and began to "cut across lots"; but before going far we spied men conspicuous in gray, and it was seen that we were moving toward the enemy's left flank, and that a short ride farther would take us into his lines. It looked for a moment as if a very awkward condition of things might possibly arise, and Grant become a prisoner in Lee's lines instead of Lee in his. Such a circumstance would have given rise to an important crossentry in the system of campaign book-keeping. There was only one remedy -to retrace our steps and strike the right road, which was done without serious discussion. About 1 O'clock the little village of Appomattox Court House, 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 in 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 a rumor that Lee 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. Babcock told me afterward that in carrying General Grant's last letter he passed through the enemy's lines and found General Lee a little more than half a mile beyond Appomattox Court House. He was lying down by the roadside on a blanket which had been spread over a few fence rails on the ground under an apple-tree, which was part of an orchard. This circumstance furnished the only ground for the widespread report that the surrender occurred under an apple-tree. Babcock dismounted upon coming near, and as he approached on foot, Lee sat up, with his feet hanging over the roadside embankment. The wheels of the wagons in passing along the road had cut away the earth of this embankment and left the roots of the tree projecting. Lee's feet were partly resting on these roots. One of his staff-officers came forward, took the dispatch which Babcock handed him and gave it to General Lee. After reading it, the general rose and said he would ride forward on the road on which Babcock had come, but was apprehensive that hostilities might begin in the meantime, upon the termination of the temporary truce, and asked Babcock to write a line to Meade informing him of the situation. Babcock wrote accordingly, requesting Meade to maintain the truce until positive orders from General Grant could be received. To save time it was arranged that a Union officer, accompanied by one of Lee's officers, should carry this letter through the enemy's lines. This route made the distance to Meade nearly ten miles shorter than by the roundabout way of the Union lines. Lee now mounted his horse and directed Colonel Charles Marshall, his military secretary, to accompany him. They started for Appomattox Court House in company with Babcock and followed by a mounted orderly. When the party reached the village they met one of its residents, named Wilmer McLean, who was told that General Lee wanted to occupy a convenient room in some house in the town. McLean ushered them into the sitting-room of one of the first houses he came to, but upon looking about and finding it quite small and meagerly furnished, Lee proposed finding something more commodious and better fitted for the occasion. McLean then conducted the party to his own house, about the best one in the town, where they awaited General Grant's arrival.
       The house 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 opening 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 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 toward the sitting-room, said: "The general says, come in." It was then about half-past one of Sunday, the 9th of April. We entered, and found General Grant sitting at a marble topped table in the center 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. 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 the few chairs which constituted the furniture, but most of the party stood.
       The contrast between the two commanders was 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 nutbrown, 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 had on a pair of thread gloves, of a dark-yellow color, which he had taken off on entering the room. His felt "sugar-loaf " 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 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 that 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 afterward how it was that both he and his chief wore such fine toggery, and looked so much as if they had turned out to go to church, while with us our outward garb scarcely rose to the dignity 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 god 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 impressions of the writing were made. He wrote very rapidly, and did not pause until he had finished the sentence ending with "officers appointed by me to receive them." Then he looked toward Lee, and his eyes seemed to be resting on the handsome sword that hung at that officer's side. He said afterward 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 (afterward General) Ely S. 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 CT. H., VA.,
April 9,1865

GENERAL R. E. LEE,
Commanding C. S. A.

       GENERAL: In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst., 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, took up the draft of the letter, and proceeded to read it attentively. It consisted of two pages. When he 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 toward 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 retain their horses?"
       "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 take the animals home with them to work their little farms." (This expression has been quoted in various forms and has been the subject of some dispute. I give the exact words used.)
       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 upon the men. It will be very gratifying and will do much toward conciliating our people." He handed the draft of the terms back to General Grant, who called Colonel T. S. Bowers of the staff to him and directed him to make a copy in ink. Bowers was a little nervous, and he turned the matter over to Colonel (afterward 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. Wilmer McLean's domestic resources in the way of ink now became the subject of a searching investigation, but it was found that the contents of the conical-shaped stoneware inkstand which he produced appeared to be participating in the general breaking up and had disappeared. Colonel Marshall now came to the rescue, and pulled out of his pocket a small boxwood inkstand, which was put at Parker's service, so that, after all, we had to fall back upon the resources of the enemy in furnishing the stage "properties" for the final scene in the memorable military drama.
       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 afterward 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

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT

       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 inst., they are accepted. I will proceed to designate the proper officers to carry the stipulations into effect.

R. E. LEE,
General

 

 

       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 those 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 Lee saw his swarthy features he looked at him with evident 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 jocose a 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 last 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 shall be glad to have the present wants of my men supplied from them."
       At this remark all eyes turned toward 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."
       General Grant had taken great pains to have a daily estimate made of the enemy's forces from all the data that could be obtained, and, judging it to be about 25,000 at this time, he said: "Suppose I send over 25,000 rations, do you think that will be a sufficient supply?" "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 (now General) M. R. Morgan, who was present, and directed him to arrange for issuing the rations. The number of officers and men surrendered was over 28,000. As to General Grant's supplies, he had ordered the army on starting out to carry twelve days' rations. This was the twelfth and last day of the campaign.
       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 had 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 4 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 to the porch. Lee signaled 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 a 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 that overwhelmed him, and he had the personal sympathy of every one 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 toward him, saluted him by raising his hat. He was followed in this act of courtesy by all our officers present; Lee raised his hat respectfully, and rode off to break the sad news to the brave fellows whom he had so long commanded.
       General Grant and his staff then mounted and started for the headquarters camp, which, in the meantime, had been pitched near by. The news of the surrender had reached the Union lines, and the firing of salutes began at several points, but the general sent orders at once to have them stopped, and used these words in referring to the occurrence: "The war is over, the rebels are our countrymen again, and the best sign of rejoicing after the victory will be to abstain from all demonstrations in the field." . . .
       About 9 o'clock on the morning of the 10th General Grant with his staff rode out toward 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 so long been inculcated in Lee's army of keeping Grant out of his 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 picketline, and rode out at a gallop to receive him. They met on a knoll that 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 semicircle, but withdrew out of earshot. 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 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 deathbed, and his recollection was distinct that he had 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. During the conference Ingalls, Sheridan, and Williams had asked permission to visit the enemy's lines and renew their acquaintance with some old friends, classmates, and former comrades in arms who were serving in Lee's army. They now returned, bringing with them Cadmus M. Wilcox, who had been General Grant's groomsman when he was married; Longstreet, who had also been at his wedding; Heth, who had been a subaltern with him in Mexico, besides Gordon, Pickett, and a number of others. They all stepped up to pay their respects to General Grant, who received them very cordially and talked with them until it was time to leave. The hour of noon had now arrived, and General Grant, after shaking hands with all present who were not to accompany him, mounted his horse, and started with his staff for Washington without having entered the enemy's lines. Lee set out for Richmond, and it was felt by all that peace had at last dawned upon the land. The charges were now withdrawn from the guns, the camp-fires were left to smolder in their ashes, the flags were tenderly furled-those historic banners, battle-stained, bullet-riddled, many of them but remnants of their former selves, with scarcely enough left of them on which to imprint the names of the battles they had seen-and the Army of the Union and the Army of Northern Virginia turned their backs upon each other for the first time in four long, bloody years.

 

 

General Gordon remembers Appomattox

GENERAL LONGSTREET'S forces and mine at Appomattox, numbered, together, less than 8000 men; but every man able to bear arms was still resolute and ready for battle. There were present three times that many enrolled Confederates; but two thirds of them were so enfeebled by hunger, so wasted by sickness, and so foot-sore from constant marching that it was difficult for them to keep up with the army. They were wholly unfit for duty. It is important to note this fact as explaining the great difference in the number of those who fought and those who were to be fed. At the final meeting between General Lee and General Grant rations were ordered by General Grant for 25,000 Confederates.
       Marked consideration and courtesy were exhibited at Appomattox by the victorious Federals, from the commanding generals to the privates in the ranks. General Meade, who had known General Lee in the old army, paid, after the surrender, an unofficial visit to the Confederate chieftain. After cordial salutations, General Lee said playfully to his former comrade in arms that years were telling upon him. General Meade, who had fought Lee at Gettysburg and in many subsequent battles, made the strikingly gracious and magnanimous answer: "Not years, but General Lee himself has made me gray."
       Some of the scenes on the field, immediately after the cessation of hostilities and prior to the formal surrender, illustrate the same magnanimous spirit, and were peculiarly impressive and thrilling. As my command, in worn-out shoes and ragged uniforms, but with proud mien, moved to the designated point to stack their arms and surrender their cherished battle-flags, they challenged the admiration of the brave victors. One of the knight-liest soldiers of the Federal army, General Joshua L. Chamberlain of Maine, who afterward served with distinction as governor of his State, called his troops into line, and as my men marched in front of them, the veterans in blue gave a soldierly salute to those vanquished heroes -- a token of respect from Americans to Americans, a final and fitting tribute from Northern to Southern chivalry.
       General Chamberlain describes this incident in the following words:

       "At the sound of that machine-like snap of arms, General Gordon started, caught in a moment its significance, and instantly assumed the finest attitude of a soldier. He wheeled his horse, facing me, touching him gently with the spur, so that the animal slightly reared, and, as he wheeled, horse and rider made one motion, the horse's head swung down with a graceful bow, and General Gordon dropped his sword-point to his toe in salutation.
       By word of mouth the general sent back orders to the rear that his own troops take the same position of the manual in the march past as did our line. That was done, and a truly imposing sight was the mutual salutation and farewell.
       Bayonets were affixed to muskets, arms stacked, and cartridge-boxes unslung and hung upon the stacks. Then, slowly and with a reluctance that was appealingly pathetic, the torn and tattered battle-flags were either leaned against the stacks or laid upon the ground. The emotion of the conquered soldiery was really sad to witness. Some of the men who had carried and followed those ragged standards through the four long years of strife rushed, regardless of all discipline, from the ranks, bent about their old flags, and pressed them to their lips.
       And it can well be imagined, too, that there was no lack of emotion on our side, but the Union men were held steady in their lines, without the least show of demonstration by word or by motion. There was, though, a twitching of the muscles of their faces, and, be it said, their battle-bronzed cheeks were not altogether dry. Our men felt the import of the occasion, and realized fully how they would have been affected if defeat and surrender had been their lot after such a fearful struggle."

       When the proud and sensitive sons of Dixie came to a full realization of the truth that the Confederacy was overthrown and their leader had been compelled to surrender his once invincible army, they could no longer control their emotions, and tears ran like water down their shrunken faces. The flags which they still carried were objects of undisguised affection. These Southern banners had gone down before overwhelming numbers; and torn by shells, riddled by bullets, and laden with the powder and smoke of battle, they aroused intense emotion in the men who had so often followed them to victory. Yielding to overpowering sentiment, these high-mettled men began to tear the flags from the staffs and hide them in their bosoms, as they wet them with burning tears.
       The Confederate officers faithfully endeavored to check this exhibition of loyalty and love for the old flags. A great majority of them were duly surrendered; but many were secretly carried by devoted veterans to their homes, and will be cherished forever as honored heirlooms.
       There was nothing unnatural or censurable in all this. The Confederates who clung to those pieces of battered bunting knew they would never again wave as martial ensigns above embattled hosts; but they wanted to keep them, just as they wanted to keep the old canteen with a bullet-hole through it, or the rusty gray jacket that had been torn by canister. They loved those flags, and will love them forever, as mementoes of the unparalleled struggle. They cherish them because they represent the consecration and courage not only of Lee's army but of all the Southern armies, because they symbolize the bloodshed and the glory of nearly a thousand battles.
       Some narrow but very good and patriotic people object to this expression of Southern sentiment. It was not so, however, with William McKinley, that typical American, who, while living and while dying, exhibited in their fulness and strength the virtues of a true and lofty manhood. That chivalric Union soldier, far-seeing statesman, and truly great President saw in this Southern fidelity to past memories the surest pledge of loyalty to future duties. William McKinley fought as bravely as the bravest on the Union side; but he was broad enough to recognize in his Southern countrymen a loyal adherence to the great fundamental truths to which both sides were devoted. He was too wise and too just to doubt the South's fealty to the Constitution or to the doctrines of the Declaration of Independence; for Madison was father of the one and Jefferson of the other. He was great enough to trust implicitly the South's renewed allegiance to the Union and its flag; for hers was the most liberal hand in studding its field with stars. He did not hesitate to trust Southern pluck and patriotism to uphold the honor of the country and give liberty to Cuba; for he remembered Washington and his rebels in the Revolution, Jackson and his Southern volunteers at New Orleans; Zachary Taylor and his Louisianians, Clay and his Kentuckians, Butler and his South Carolinians, and Davis and his Mississippians in Mexico.
       The heartstrings of the mother, woven around the grave of her lost child, will never be severed while she lives; but does that hinder the continued flow of maternal devotion to those who are left her? The South's affections are bound, with links that cannot be broken, around the graves of her sons who fell in her defence, and to the mementoes and memories of the great struggle; but does that fact lessen her loyalty to the proud emblem of a reunited country? Does her unparalleled defence of the now dead Confederacy argue less readiness to battle for this ever-living Republic, in the making and the administering of which she bore so conspicuous a part ?
       If those unhappy patriots who find a scarecrow in every faded, riddled Confederate flag would delve deeper into the philosophy of human nature, or rise higher,--say to the plane on which McKinley stood,--they would be better satisfied with their Southern countrymen, with Southern sentiment, with the breadth and strength of the unobtrusive but sincere Southern patriotism. They would see that man is so constituted--the immutable laws of our being are such--that to stifle the sentiment and extinguish the hallowed memories of a people is to destroy their manhood.
       During these last scenes at Appomattox some of the Confederates were so depressed in spirit, so filled with apprehensions as to the policy to be adopted by the civil authorities at Washington, that the future seemed to them shrouded in gloom. They knew that burnt homes and fenceless farms, poverty and ashes, would greet them on their return from the war. Even if the administration at Washington should be friendly, they did not believe that the Southern States could recover in half a century from the chaotic condition in which the war had left them. The situation was enough to daunt the most hopeful and appall the stoutest hearts. "What are we to do? How are we to begin life again?" they asked. "Every dollar of our circulating medium has been rendered worthless. Our banks and rich men have no money. The commodities and personal property which formerly gave us credit have been destroyed. The Northern banks and money-lenders will not take as security our lands, denuded of houses and without animals and implements for their cultivation. The railroads are torn up or the tracks are worn out. The negroes are freed and may refuse to work. Besides, what assurance can we have of law and order and the safety of our families with four million slaves suddenly emancipated in the midst of us and the restraints to which they have been accustomed entirely removed?"
       To many intelligent soldiers and some of the officers the conditions were so discouraging, the gloom so impenetrable, that they seriously discussed the advisability of leaving the country and beginning life anew in some other land.
       While recognizing the dire extremity which confronted us, I was inclined to take a more hopeful view of the future. I therefore spoke to the Southern soldiers on the field at Appomattox, in order to check as best I could their disposition to leave the country, and to counteract, if possible, the paralyzing effect of the overwhelming discouragements which met them on every side.
       As we reached the designated point, the arms were stacked and the battle-flags were folded. Those sad and suffering men, many of them weeping as they saw the old banners laid upon the stacked guns like trappings on the coffin of their dead hopes, at once gathered in compact mass around me. Sitting on my horse in the midst of them, I spoke to them for the last time as their commander. In all my past life I had never undertaken to speak where my own emotions were so literally overwhelming. I counselled such course of action as I believed most conducive to the welfare of the South and of the whole country. I told them of my own grief, which almost stifled utterance, and that I realized most keenly the sorrow that was breaking their hearts, and appreciated fully the countless and stupendous barriers across the paths they were to tread.
       Reminding them of the benign Southern climate, of the fertility of their lands, of the vastly increased demand for the South's great staple and the high prices paid for it, I offered these facts as legitimate bases of hope and encouragement. I said to them that through the rifts in the clouds then above us I could see the hand of Almighty God stretched out to help us in the impending battle with adversity; that He would guide us in the gloom, and bless every manly effort to bring back to desolated homes the sunshine and comforts of former years. I told them the principles for which they had so, grandly fought and uncomplainingly suffered were not lost,--could not be lost,--for they were the principles on which the Fathers had built the Republic, and that the very throne of Jehovah was pledged that truth should triumph and liberty live. As to the thought of their leaving the country, that must be abandoned. It was their duty as patriots to remain and work for the recuperation of our stricken section with the same courage, energy, and devotion with which they had fought for her in war. I urged them to enter cheerfully and hopefully upon the tasks imposed by the fortunes of war, obeying the laws, and giving, as I knew they would, the same loyal support to the general Government which they had yielded to the Confederacy. I closed with a prophecy that passion would speedily die, and that the brave and' magnanimous soldiers of the Union army, when disbanded and scattered among the people, would become promoters of sectional peace and fraternity.
       That prophecy would have been speedily fulfilled but for the calamitous fate that befell the country in the death of President Lincoln; and even in spite of that great misfortune, we should have much sooner reached the era of good-will and sectional concord if the spirit of the soldiers who did the fighting had animated the civilians who did the talking.
       As I began to speak from my horse, large numbers of Union soldiers came near to hear what I had to say, giving me a rather queerly mixed audience. The Hon. Elihu Washburne, afterward United States Minister to France, the close friend of both President Lincoln and General Grant, was present at the surrender, as the guest of the Union commander. He either heard this parting speech or else its substance was reported to him. As soon as the formalities were ended, he made himself known to me, and in a most gracious manner expressed his pleasure at the general trend of my remarks. He assured me that the South would receive generous treatment at the hands of the general Government. My special object in referring to Mr. Washburne in this connection is to leave on record an emphatic statement made by him which greatly encouraged me. I can never forget his laconic answer to my inquiry: "Why do you think, Mr. Washburne, that the South will be generously dealt with by the Government?"
       "Because Abraham Lincoln is at its head," was his reply.
       I knew something of Mr. Lincoln's past history, of his lifelong hostility to slavery, of his Emancipation Proclamation and vigorous prosecution of the war; but I had no knowledge whatever of any kindly sentiment entertained by him toward the Southern people. The emphatic words of Mr. Washburne, his intimate friend and counsellor, greatly interested me. I was with Mr. Washburne for several succeeding days--we rode on horseback together from Appomattox back toward Petersburg; and his description of Mr. Lincoln's character, of his genial and philanthropic nature, accompanied with illustrative anecdotes, was not only extremely entertaining, but was to me a revelation. He supported his declaration as to Mr. Lincoln's kindly sentiments by giving an elaborate and detailed account of his meeting with our commissioners at Hampton Roads. He expressed the opinion that the President went to that meeting with the fixed purpose of ending the war by granting the most liberal terms, provided the Southern commissioners acquiesced in the sine qua non--the restoration of the Union.
       We parted at Petersburg, and among the last things he enjoined was faith in the kindly purposes of Abraham Lincoln in reference to the Southern people. Mr. Wash-burne said that the President would recommend to Congress such legislation as in his opinion would promote the prosperity of the South. He was emphatic in his declaration that Mr. Lincoln desired only the restoration of the Union--that even the abolition of slavery was secondary to this prime object. He stated that the President had declared that if he could restore the Union without abolition, he would gladly do it; if he could save the Union by partial abolition of slavery, he would do it that way; but that if it became necessary to abolish slavery entirely in order to save the Union, then slavery would be abolished: that as his great object had been achieved by the surrender of Lee's army, it would speedily be known to the Southern people that the President was deeply concerned for their welfare, that there would be no prosecutions and no discriminations, but that the State governments would be promptly recognized, and every effort made to help the Southern people. These impressive assurances were adding strength to my hopes when the whole country was shocked by the assassination of the President.
       General Gibbon, General Griffin, and General Merritt were appointed by General Grant to meet Generals Pendleton, Longstreet, and myself, appointed by General Lee. The special duty which devolved on these six officers was the discussion and drafting of all details to carry out the formal surrender, according to the general terms agreed upon by the commanders-in-chief. In all our intercourse with those three Union officers I can recall no expression or word that could possibly wound the sensibility of a Confederate. Rejoiced as they naturally were at the termination of the long and costly struggle, and at the ultimate triumph of the Union cause, they scrupulously avoided allusions to battles in which the Federal armies had been victors, and endeavored rather to direct conversation to engagements in which the Union forces had been vanquished. Indeed, Confederate officers generally observed and commented upon this spirit, which at that time seemed to actuate the privates as well as the officers of the victorious army.
       As the Confederates were taking leave of Appomattox, and about to begin their long and dreary tramp homeward, many of the Union men bade them cordial farewell. One of Grant's men said good-naturedly to one of Lee's veterans:
       "Well, Johnny, I guess you fellows will go home now to stay."
       The tired and tried Confederate, who did not clearly understand the spirit in which these playful words were spoken, and who was not at the moment in the best mood for badinage, replied:
       "Look here, Yank; you guess, do you, that we fellows are going home to stay? Maybe we are. But don't be giving us any of your impudence. If you do, we'll come back and lick you again."
       Probably in no military organization that ever existed were there such cordial relations between officers and private soldiers as in the Confederate army. This was due, doubtless, to the fact that in our ranks there were lawyers, teachers, bankers, merchants, planters, college professors, and students who afterward became chief justices, governors, and occupants of the highest public stations. Since the war some of these privates have told with great relish of the old farmer near Appomattox who decided to give employment, after the surrender, to any of Lee's veterans who might wish to work a few days for food and small wages. He divided the Confederate employés into squads according to the respective ranks held by them in the army. He was uneducated, but entirely loyal to the Southern cause.
       A neighbor inquired of him as to the different squads:
       "Who are those men working over there ?"
       "Them is privates, sir, of Lee's army."
       "Well, how do they work?"
       "Very fine, sir; first-rate workers."
       "Who are those in the second group ?"
       "Them is lieutenants and captains, and they works fairly well, but not as good workers as the privates."
       "I see you have a third squad: who are they ?"
       "Them is colonels."
       "Well, what about the colonels? How do they work ?"
       "Now, neighbor, you'll never hear me say one word ag'in' any man who fit in the Southern army; but I ain't a-gwine to hire no generals."
       The paroles issued to the Confederates were carefully examined by the possessors, and elicited a great variety of comment. Each man's parole bore his name and the name of his company and regiment, and recorded his pledge to fight no more until he was regularly exchanged. A few hoped for an early exchange and release from this pledge, that they might continue the struggle with some organized force, operating in a different section of the Confederacy. They were looking hopefully to the Trans-Mississippi, where, even after the surrender of Lee and Joe Johnston and Richard Taylor east of the Mississippi, Generals Kirby Smith, Magruder, and Forney, with Simon Bolivar Buckner as chief of staff, were still appealing to Confederates to "stand to their colors." That gallant little army of the Trans-Mississippi had fought many desperate battles under such leaders as McCulloch, Mcintosh, Ross, Green, Maxey, Waul, Price, Van Dorn, Pike, Walker, Shelby, and W. L. Cabell, of whom General Marmaduke wrote: "The élan and chivalrous bearing of Cabell inspired all who looked upon him "; and these few unyielding spirits at Appomattox were still panting for continued combat in the ranks of those unsurrendered forces beyond the great Father of Waters. The more thoughtful, however, knew that the war was over. They carefully preserved their paroles, and were as proud of them as a young graduate is of his diploma, because these strips of paper furnished official proof of the fact that they were in the fight to the last. This fact they transmit as a priceless legacy to their children.
       When I returned to Petersburg from Appomattox, I found Mrs. Gordon rapidly recovering, and as soon as she was able to travel, in company with Captain James M. Pace of my staff and his little family, who had joined him, we began our arduous trip homeward, over broken railroads and in such dilapidated conveyances as had been left in the track of the armies. In Petersburg it was impossible to secure among the recently emancipated negroes any one willing to accompany us as nurse for our child. This fact imposed upon me the necessity of continuing for a time my command of infantry in arms -- a situation more trying to me in some respects than the one from which I had just been relieved by General Grant at Appomattox.
       The generous terms of surrender given to Lee by Grant were exceeded in liberality by those which W. T. Sherman offered to Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina. In the memorandum of agreement between Generals Sherman and Johnston (April 18, 1865) occur the following items:
       "The Confederate armies now in existence to be disbanded and conducted to their State capitals, there to deposit their arms and public property in the State arsenals," etc. The President of the United States was to recognize the "several State governments on their officers and legislatures taking the oaths prescribed by the Constitution of the United States." The Federal courts were to be reëstablished in the Southern States, the people of the South were to be guaranteed their political rights, and rights of person and property, with a general amnesty. Briefly analyzed, these liberal terms meant that, with the exception of slavery (nothing was said on that subject), the Southern States and people were instantly to resume the relations to the general Government which they had occupied before the war began, and, instead of surrendering their arms, were to deposit them in State arsenals for ready use in suppressing riots, enforcing law, and protecting homes and property.
       These terms of surrender proposed by General Sherman reveal a spirit in extreme contrast to that which he showed toward the Southern people in his unobstructed march to the sea. In his agreement with General Johnston his magnanimity is scarcely paralleled by that of any victorious commander whereas in his long general orders for the conduct of his troops on their travel from demolished Atlanta to his goal by the sea, fully one half of his words are directions for systematic "foraging," destruction of "mills, houses, cotton-gins," etc., and for spreading "a devastation more or less relentless" according to the hostility shown by different localities on the line of his march. It is due to General Sherman to say that he had his peculiar ideas of waging war and making it "hell," but when it was over he declared, "It is our solemn duty to protect and not to plunder."
       The terms proposed by him to General Johnston were so liberal that they were promptly rejected by the civil authorities at Washington. Mr. Lincoln was dead and Andrew Johnson was President; Mr. Stanton was Secretary of War, and General Halleck ranked General Sherman in the field. This vindictive trio--Johnson, Stanton, and Halleck--rejected General Sherman's agreement with General Johnston; and Stanton and Halleck sought to humiliate Sherman and, as he declared, to insult him. In his "Memoirs" General Sherman writes: "To say that I was angry at the tone and substance of these bulletins of the War Department would hardly express my feelings. I was outraged beyond measure, and was resolved to resent the insult, cost what it might "; and he did resent it in the most emphatic manner. In regard to the absurd report that Mr. Davis had carried out of Richmond vast sums of money, General Sherman writes: "The thirteen millions of treasure with which Jeff Davis was to corrupt our armies and buy his escape dwindled down to the contents of a hand-valise."
       A great Frenchman pronounced the French Revolution an "about-face of the universe." The meeting of Lee and Grant at Appomattox was the momentous epoch of the century. It marked greater changes, uprooted a grander and nobler civilization, and, in the emancipation of one race and the impoverishment of another, it involved vaster consequences than had ever followed the fall of a dynasty or the wreck of an empire. It will stand in history as the Brook Kedron over which the Southern people passed to their Gethsemane; where every landscape was marred by ruins; where every breath of air was a lament and every home a house of mourning.
       The magnanimity exhibited at Appomattox justifies me in recording here my conviction that, had it been possible for General Grant and his soldiers to foresee the bloody sweat which through ten successive years was wrung from Southern brows, the whole Union army would then and there have resolved to combat all unfriendly legislation. Or, later, if Booth's bullet had not terminated the life filled with "charity to all and malice toward none," President Lincoln's benign purposes, seconded by the great-hearted among our Northern countrymen, would have saved the South from those caricatures of government which cursed and crushed her.
       In looking back now over that valley of death--the period of reconstruction,-- its waste and its woe, it is hard to realize that the worn and impoverished Confederates were able to go through it. The risen South of to-day is a memorial of the same patience, endurance, and valor which immortalized the four years' struggle for Southern independence.
       All accounts agree that when the two great commanders met in the little brick house at Appomattox, they presented a contrast that was unique and strikingly picturesque. A stranger, unacquainted with the situation, would have selected Lee for the conqueror and Grant for the vanquished hero. Prompted by a sincere respect for the illustrious Federal chieftain, General Lee was dressed in his best uniform, and appeared at the place of conference in faultless military attire. General Grant, on the other hand, had received, while on his lines among his soldiers, General Lee's reply to his last note. Without returning to headquarters for his dress uniform, the Union commander rode at once to the point of meeting, wearing his fatigue suit, his cavalry boots begrimed with Virginia mud, and his plain blue overcoat concealing all insignia of rank. I never heard General Grant say so, but his characteristic modesty and magnanimity, with which I became familiar in after years, lead me to believe that consideration for General Lee prompted this absence of ostentation.
       Probably nothing I can say of these illustrious soldiers will add to the fame of either. I am conscious of my inability to give a clear conception of their distinguishing and dissimilar but altogether admirable characteristics. Nevertheless, as the follower and friend of Lee and the sincere admirer of Grant, I desire to place on record in this concluding chapter my estimate of both these representative Americans.
       Unless it be Washington, there is no military chieftain of the past to whom Lee can be justly likened, either in attributes of character or in the impress for good made upon the age in which he lived. Those who knew him best and studied him most have agreed that he was unlike any of the great captains of history. In his entire public career there was a singular absence of self-seeking. Otherwise he would have listened to the woo-ings of ambition when debating the course he should take at the beginning of our sectional conflict. He knew that he could hold any position he might wish in the armies of the Union. Not only by General Scott, the commander-in-chief, but by his brother officers and the civil authorities, Lee was recognized as the foremost soldier in the United States army. He knew, for he so declared, that the South's chances for success, except through foreign intervention, were far from encouraging. What would Caesar or Frederick or Napoleon have done? Deaf to every suggestion of a duty whose only promised reward was an approving conscience in ultimate defeat, allured by the prospect of leading armies with overwhelming numbers and backed by limitless resources, any one of these great captains would have eagerly grasped the tendered power. It was not so with Lee. Trained soldier that he was, he stood on the mountain-top of temptation, while before his imagination there passed the splendid pageant of conquering armies swayed by his word of command; and he was unmoved by it. Graduated at West Point, where he subsequently served as perhaps its most honored superintendent; proud of his profession, near the head of which he stood; devoted to the Union and its emblematic flag, which he long had followed; revered by the army, to the command of which he would have been invited--he calmly abandoned them all to lead the forlorn hope of his people, impelled by his conviction that their cause was just. Turning his back upon ambition, putting selfish considerations behind him, like George Washington in the old Revolution, he threw himself and all his interests into an unequal struggle for separate government. When John Adams of Massachusetts declared that, sink or swim, survive or perish, he gave his heart and hand to the Declaration of Independence, he stood on precisely the same moral plane on which Robert E. Lee stood from the beginning to the end of the war. As the north star to the sailor, so was duty to this self-denying soldier. Having decided that in the impending and to him unwelcome conflict his place was with his people, he did not stop to consider the cost. He resolved to do his best; and in estimating now the relative resources and numbers, it cannot be denied that he did more than any leader has ever accomplished under similar conditions. And when the end came and he realized that Appomattox was the grave of his people's hopes, he regretted that Providence had not willed that his own life should end there also. He not only said in substance, to Colonel Venable of his staff and to others, that he would rather die than surrender the cause, but he said to me on that fatal morning that he was sorry he had not fallen in one of the last battles. Yet no man who saw him at Appomattox could detect the slightest wavering in his marvellous self-poise or any lowering of his lofty bearing. Only for a fleeting moment did he lose complete self-control. As he rode back from the McLean house to his bivouac, his weeping men crowded around him; and as they assured him in broken voices of their confidence and love, his emotions momentarily overmastered him, and his wet cheeks told of the sorrow which his words could not express. Throughout that crucial test at Appomattox he was the impersonation of every manly virtue, of all that is great and true and brave--the fittest representative of his own sublimely beautiful adage that human virtue should always equal human calamity.
       The ancient Romans and Greeks deified after death their heroes who possessed any one of the great virtues, all of which were harmoniously blended in this great Southerner. It required, however, neither his removal by death nor the hallowing influences of distance or time to consign him to the Pantheon of Immortals. It was more literally true of him than of any man I ever knew, among those whom the world honors, that distance was not needed to enhance his greatness.
       A distinguished Georgian, the Hon. Benjamin H. Hill, truthfully declared that Lee was Caesar without his crimes, Bonaparte without his ambition, and George Washington without his crown of success; and it is my firm conviction that when his campaigns and his character are both understood, such will be the verdict of Christendom.
       General Grant's bearing at Appomattox, his acts and his words, did much to alleviate the anguish inseparable from such an ordeal. The tenor of his formal notes, the terms granted at the appointed meeting, the prompt and cordial manner in which he acquiesced in each and every suggestion made by the Southern commander, left upon the minds of Confederates an ineffaceable impression. In looking back now over the intervening years, I am glad that I have never been tempted, in the heat of political contests, even while the South was enduring the agony of the carpet-baggers' rule, to utter one word of bitterness against that great and magnanimous Union soldier. Before the meeting at Appomattox the Confederates were decidedly prejudiced against General Grant, chiefly because of his refusal to exchange prisoners and thus relieve from unspeakable suffering the thousands of incarcerated men of both armies. On this account Southern men expected from him cold austerity rather than soldierly sympathy. Their previous conceptions of him, however, were totally changed when they learned that our officers were to retain their side-arms; that both officers and privates were to keep their horses; that their paroles protected them from molestation on their homeward trip and in their peaceful pursuits, so long as they obeyed the laws; and that in the prolonged official interview there was no trace of exultation at his triumph, but that he was in word and act the embodiment of manly modesty and soldierly magnanimity, and that from first to last he was evidently intent upon mitigating the bitterness of defeat and soothing to the utmost of his ability the lacerated sensibilities of his great antagonist.
       General Grant's own declaration, made many years after the war, that he felt "sad and depressed" as he rode to meet General Lee in the little village of Appomattox, is entirely consistent with every account given of his bearing at the surrender.
       It was reported at the time, and has since been confirmed by Union officers who were present, that he positively refused to permit Union artillery to fire a salute in celebration of the victory over his own countrymen. The exhibitions of General Grant's magnanimity which I observed during my personal intercourse with him immediately after the war, later while he was President, and when he became a private citizen, are all consistent with the spirit manifested by him at the surrender of Lee's army. In his "Memoirs" he has given a quietus to that widely circulated romance that he returned to Lee his proffered sword. I do not doubt that he would have done so; but there was no occasion for Lee's offering it, because in the terms agreed upon it was stipulated that the Confederate officers should retain their side-arms.
       During the imprisonment and vicarious punishment of the inflexible and stainless ex-President of the Confederacy, both General Richard Taylor of Louisiana and I had repeated conferences with the general-in-chief of the United States army, in the hope of securing the release of the distinguished prisoner. After one of the visits of the gallant Louisianian to General Grant, Taylor told me of a conversation in reference to the probability of General Grant's becoming President. Taylor said that General Grant assured him, with evident sincerity, that he had no desire to be President, -- that his tastes and training were those of a soldier, and that he was better fitted for the station he then held than for any civil office,- but that Taylor could rest assured, if the office of President ever came to him, he would endeavor to know no difference between the people of the different sections. The Southern people felt that they had cause to complain of President Grant for a lack of sympathy during those years when imported rulers misled credulous negroes and piled taxes to the point of confiscation in order to raise revenues which failed to find their way into State treasuries; but it must be remembered that General Grant was not a politician, and as the first civil office that came to him was the Presidency, he was naturally influenced by those whom he regarded as statesmen and whose long training in civil affairs seemed peculiarly to fit them for counsellors.
       General Grant was not endowed by nature with the impressive personality and soldierly bearing of Winfield Scott Hancock, nor with the peculiarly winning and magnetic presence of William McKinley--few men are; but under a less attractive exterior he combined the strong qualities of both. There can be no doubt that Andrew Johnson, the infatuated zealot who came to the Presidency on the ill-fated martyrdom of Abraham Lincoln, would have followed his threat to "make treason odious" by an order for the arrest and imprisonment of Lee and other Confederate leaders but for the stern mandate of Grant that, in spite of Johnson's vindictive purposes, the Southern soldier who held a parole should be protected to the last extremity.
      The strong and salutary characteristics of both Lee and Grant should live in history as an inspiration to coming generations. Posterity will find nobler and more wholesome incentives in their high attributes as men than in their brilliant careers as warriors. The lustre of a stainless life is more lasting than the fame of any soldier; and if General Lee's self-abnegation, his unblemished purity, his triumph over alluring temptations, and his unwavering consecration to all life's duties do not lift him to the morally sublime and make him a fit ideal for young men to follow, then no human conduct can achieve such position.
       And the repeated manifestations of General Grant's truly great qualities--his innate modesty, his freedom from every trace of vain-glory or ostentation, his magnanimity in victory, his genuine sympathy for his brave and sensitive foemen, and his inflexible resolve to protect paroled Confederates against any assault, and vindicate, at whatever cost, the sanctity of his pledge to the van-quished-will give him a place in history no less renowned and more to be envied than that secured by his triumphs as a soldier or his honors as a civilian. The Christian invocation which came from his dying lips, on Mount McGregor, summoning the spirit of peace and unity and equality for all of his countrymen, made a fitting close to the life of this illustrious American. Scarcely less prominent in American annals than the record of these two lives, should stand a catalogue of the thrilling incidents which illustrate the nobler phase of soldier life so inadequately described in these reminiscences. The unseemly things which occurred in the great conflict between the States should be forgotten, or at least forgiven, and no longer permitted to disturb complete harmony between North and South. American youth in all sections should be taught to hold in perpetual remembrance all that was great and good on both sides; to comprehend the inherited convictions for which saintly women suffered and patriotic men died; to recognize the unparalleled carnage as proof of unrivalled courage; to appreciate the singular absence of personal animosity and the frequent manifestation between those brave antagonists of a good-fellowship such as had never before been witnessed between hostile armies. It will be a glorious day for our country when all the children within its borders shall learn that the four years of fratricidal war between the North and the South was waged by neither with criminal or unworthy intent, but by both to protect what they conceived to be threatened rights and imperilled liberty; that the issues which divided the sections were born when the Republic was born, and were forever buried in an ocean of fraternal blood. We shall then see that, under God's providence, every sheet of flame from the blazing rifles of the contending armies, every whizzing shell that tore through the forests at Shiloh and Chancellorsville, every cannon-shot that shook Chickamauga's hills or thundered around the heights of Gettysburg, and all the blood and the tears that were shed are yet to become contributions for the upbuilding of American manhood and for the future defence of American freedom. The Christian Church received its baptism of pentecostal power as it emerged from the shadows of Calvary, and went forth to its world-wide work with greater unity and a diviner purpose. So the Republic, rising from its baptism of blood with a national life more robust, a national union more complete, and a national influence ever widening, shall go forever forward in its benign mission to humanity.

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