Thursday, October 16, 2014

Where Our Nation Was Reborn

Appomattox, VA  High 62 Low 46  Rain

The colors are starting to change here in Virginia. Our road to Appomattox was a beautiful drive.



We arrived in Appomattox on Friday afternoon and just spent the rest of the day relaxing. Saturday we plan to explore Appomattox.

The town is celebrating their Railroad Festival this week-end to commemorate Norfolk & Western Railroad’s donation of the Appomattox Depot to the town in 1973. However, the weather is not cooperating. We woke up Saturday morning to fog, rain, humidity, dampness, mist, and more rain. Still we figured we’d head downtown to check out the parade and whatever else was going on. No place to park anywhere. We turned around and decided it was history time.

In October of 2009, we visited Fort Sumter where the Civil War began. October of 2014 we are where the Civil War ended.

Lee’s Headquarters


On the morning of April 9, 1865, when General Robert E . Lee realized that the retreat of his beleaguered army had finally been halted, Ulysses S. Grant was riding toward Appomattox Court House. Lee sent a letter to Grant requesting a meeting to discuss his army's surrender. Grant responded to Lee, writing that he would push to the front to meet him.

The location of the meeting was left up to Lee. After reading Grant's letter, Lee rode toward Appomattox Court House. The Union soldier who took the letter from Grant to Lee rode ahead to find a meeting location. Wilmer McLean offered his own home for the meeting.


Lee arrived at the McLean house about one o'clock and took a seat in the parlor. A half hour later, General Grant arrived. Entering the house, Grant greeted Lee in the center of the room. The generals presented a contrasting appearance; Lee in a new uniform and Grant in his mud-spattered field uniform. The two conversed in a very cordial manner for approximately 25 minutes.

This desk is where Lee sat to sign the surrender document.


The subject had not yet gotten around to surrender until finally, Lee, feeling the anguish of defeat, brought Grant's attention to it. Grant, who later confessed to being embarrassed at having to ask for the surrender from Lee, said simply that the terms would be just. The terms would parole officers and enlisted men but required that all Confederate military equipment be relinquished.

Grant’s desk


When Grant finished writing out the terms of surrender, he handed the terms to Lee who, first donned spectacles used for reading, then quietly looked them over. When he finished reading, Lee looked up at Grant and remarked "This will have a very happy effect on my army." Lee asked if the terms allowed his men to keep their horses, for in the Confederate army men owned their mounts. Lee explained that his men would need these animals to farm once they returned to civilian life. Grant responded that he  would order his officers to allow any Confederate claiming a horse or a mule to keep it. General Lee agreed that this concession would go a long way toward promoting healing.


Grant's generosity extended further. When Lee mentioned that his men had been without rations for several days, the Union commander arranged for 25,000 rations to be sent to the hungry Confederates.

After formal copies of the surrender terms, and Lee's acceptance, had been drafted and exchanged, the meeting ended.

The village of Appomattox Court House


Three days later the men of the Army of Northern Virginia marched before the Union Army, laid down their flags, stacked their weapons, and then began the journey back to their homes. For them it was an ending, but for the nation it was a new beginning.

In a war that was marked by such bitter fighting, it is remarkable that it ended so simply. Grant's compassion and generosity did much to allay the emotions of the Confederate troops. As for Robert E. Lee, he realized that the best course was for his men to return home and resume their lives as American citizens.

The character of both Lee and Grant was of such a high order that the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia has been called "The Gentlemen's Agreement."


“In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst., I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of N. Va. 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 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 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 officer appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, not their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as thy observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.”


  1. Oh darn. You must be disappointed and not seeing the RR Festival since you both love the railroad.

    We had a wonderful visit at Fort Sumter also. Can't you just feel the atmosphere in that house when both Lee and Grant were there. Wow..

  2. outstanding! Sandie ~ I had forgotten a lot of this... incredible time for our nation....

  3. Interesting history.

    Carolyn makes it sound like she was there...I don't think so lol.

  4. well hello Cranky ol man! I wish I had paid more attention to history when I was in school.... We had southern history in school and don't start with your yankeeness ... we had your history too ... I just clicked on your blog ... hadn't heard from you in eons ... great rant ! get a Mac and just be disgusted with updates ...

  5. Ok, now I have another location to put on my Pinterest board! You two sure are having a great time. Happy for you.

  6. pretty country, and the history is everywhere

  7. Thanks for sharing your tour. Nice to learn some American history.

  8. We stayed near there with Lee and Loralie, but they had a problem and couldn't go to the courthouse. I remember the man in period clothing, and you really felt like you were there during that time period.

  9. Have you seen the movie Gettysburg? We have it and will loan it to you.

  10. Very well done! I loved every bit of it. We got the chance to visit there earlier this summer and thought about what you wrote on: the surrender and terms of surrender. Very sobering and done honorably.

  11. We, too, have been to that area. The desk in the Appmtx courthouse is a replica. Many years ago my son worked for an antique dealer in Richmond. That dealer found & sold the original to a wealthy collector. My son got to carry & deliver that desk! He was so excited that he touched something that had been touched by Lee. Yes, very few did get to return home, but the majority of the Confederate troops were then marched to D.C. for the formal surrender and release. Lee was just such an honorable man and lived many many years after the war afraid they would come and arrest him for his part in the war.

  12. Another history lesson!! You've been doing that alot here lately... And I will definitely be beating you back to the valley....

  13. You are definitely in a great area for doing a lot sightseeing and history lessons. What fun!!

  14. Great pictures and more interesting history, love it!


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.