Appreciating all that makes America special

History: Appomattox

Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses Grant. Uploaded by galleryone.com.

Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses Grant. Uploaded by galleryone.com.

I’m reminded of the Leonard Cohen lyrics: “Everybody knows the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost.” Okay, the South wasn’t the “good guys”, except in the romantic fog of chauvinism. The War Between the States, the War for Southern Independence, the War of Northern Aggression, the War of the Rebellion, the Lost Cause. The Civil War. Whatever you call it, it came to an end in Appomattox.

It was a sleepy little Virginia town on April 9, 1865 when Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses Grant. It’s still a sleepy little town, with a McDonald’s and an indelible place in American history.

Lee had hoped to reach the railroad in Lynchburg and get supplies for his beleaguered troops, but Union troops pinned his army at Appomattox, leaving the general no alternative but to surrender. “There is nothing left for me to do but to go and see General Grant,” Lee said, “and I would rather die a thousand deaths.”

Appomattox Court House. Uploaded to Flickr by jimbowen0306.

Appomattox Court House. Uploaded to Flickr by jimbowen0306.

Of course, there were other Confederate armies still fighting, but when word reached them of Lee’s surrender, they realized the dream was over. The last sizable Southern force gave up the fight over two months after Appomattox.

Grant was magnanimous to the vanquished enemy, allowing them to keep their horses and mules along with their personal sidearms. Lee appreciated Grant’s spirit, and never allowed a bad word to be said about the Union general in his presence.

Thousands of Civil War buffs visit the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park each year, making a pilgrimage to the McLean House, where the surrender was signed.

It's easy to share with friends.

5 Comments

  1. Sir, you obviously are very ignorant in regards to your knowledge of this war or you have an exceptionally biased view of it.

    • Well, Brad, it’s a couple of hundred words about a Great American Thing, which is the end of a bloody war that divided the country. It wasn’t meant to be a history text, and it does have a bit of an attitude. But I appreciate your visiting the site, and appreciate your comment.

      • Well said, Robin. You’re a true Southern Gentleman.

  2. As someone who has a great deal of knowledge on this subject I find it to be neither ignorant nor biased. Keep up the great work!!

  3. My family visited Appomatox when I was a teen. We’re from Missouri and a gentleman there giving the tour stayed in character, asking us if we were for the right side or “those invaders”. It was awesome.