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´╗┐Title: Lee's Last Campaign
Author: Gorman, John C.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lee's Last Campaign" ***

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  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by
  in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
  for the District of Pamlico, North Carolina.


CHAPTER I.                                                       PAGE.

The Condition of the Army of Northern Virginia in its Last
    Days--The Lines in Front of Petersburg--The Battles
    Around the City--The Final Struggle--Terrible Fighting--
    The Assaults on Forts Mahone and Gregg--Thrilling
    Scenes--The Main Bodies of Both Armies Stand and Look
    Anxiously On--The Confederate Army Severed--The
    Evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg--The Greetings of
    Petersburg Ladies to the Retreating Columns--The Retreat
    and Pursuit to Appomattox Court House                            5


Official Correspondence Concerning the Surrender--The
    Interview Between Generals Lee and Grant--Appearance of
    General Lee--Scenes Between the Two Armies Under Flag of
    Truce--The Surrender--General Lee's Farewell Address to
    His Army                                                        42



The Condition of the Army of Northern Virginia in its Last Days--The
     Lines in Front of Petersburg--The Battles Around the City--The
     Final Struggle--Terrible Fighting--The Assaults on Forts Mahone
     and Gregg--Thrilling Scenes--The Main Bodies of Both Armies Stand
     and Look Anxiously On--The Confederate Army Severed--The Evacuation
     of Richmond and Petersburg--The Greetings of Petersburg Ladies to
     the Retreating Columns--The Retreat and Pursuit to Appomattox Court

When I returned to my command in the early part of March, after a long
absence as a prisoner, I was greatly depressed at the sad state of feeling
in which I found almost the whole army.--The buoyant, hopeful tone that
animated them during the bloody and heroic struggles in the Wilderness,
and at Spotsylvania, was gone. The men who followed the immortal Jackson
in his historic and eventful campaigns, and endured every fatigue and
hardship without a murmur, in the full hope of eventual victory, were
dejected, crestfallen and despondent. The wear and tear of a continuous
campaign from the Rappahannoc to the James, and the disasters of the
Valley struggle of the previous fall, together with the continuous
marching and counter-marching on their present lines, without rest and
with short rations, were telling upon their hardy natures. Longstreet's
veterans, who had followed their old leader from the ensanguined fields of
Virginia to Chicamauga and East Tennessee, and who had again been
forwarded to their old fields of conflict, were thinned in numbers, and
had lost much of the fierce fire of pluck that characterised them of old.

The lines were long, stretching from below Richmond, on the north side of
the James, to Hatcher's run, away beyond Petersburg, on the south side. A
countless host were just in front of them, watching an opportunity to
strike where the lines were the weakest.--The Confederate army numbered
perhaps 60,000 all told--artillery, cavalry and infantry, and with 40
miles of defence, the battle-line was thin as a skirmish, and the duty
incessant and fatiguing in the greatest degree. On some parts of the line
the crack of the rifle, the booming of artillery, and the bursting of the
mortar shells were incessant.

Desertions were very numerous, both to the enemy and to the rear, and I
early found that the army had at last succumbed, not to the enemy in
front, but to the discontent, the murmurings, despondency and
demoralization among the people at home, who infused their hopeless
dejection, by furloughed men returning to their commands, and by letters.

Longstreet commanded the Confederate left, across the James, and his right
division extended to within a few miles of Petersburg. Gordon came next,
with his three divisions, thinned by arduous and fatiguing marches and
bloody battles in the Shenandoah Valley, to the dimensions of only
respectable brigades. He commanded just in front of Petersburg, from the
Appomattox to a small stream just to the right of the city, which, not
knowing its correct name, I will call Silver run; and it was along this
line, almost its entire length, that a continuous struggle for months had
been kept up, and in some places the opposing forces were scarce a dozen
yards apart. A. P. Hill, with his three divisions, held the right,
extending to Hatcher's run, while the cavalry guarded either flank.

The Confederates had no reserves, and when a brigade was taken to assist
at some threatened point, the position they left was endangered, and
safety was only insured by the unconsciousness of the Federals. There were
dozens of times during the winter, had Grant only known it, when an
assault could have been made with the same result of the last one, which
caused the evacuation.

In the last days of March, the 27th, I think, Gen. Lee made his last
offensive demonstration, which ended in failure, and demonstrated the
condition of his troops. The assault I allude to was on Gordon's line, two
miles south of the Appomattox, and just to the left of the Crater. Robbing
other portions of his line, he massed two divisions, and early in the
morning dashed on the _abattis_ of the Federals. They were surprised, and
the sharpshooters of Grimes' division, composing the advance, succeeded in
driving them from their works, and Lee's troops occupied their breastworks
for a distance of a quarter of a mile, with comparatively no loss, and
with a loss to the Federals of one principal fort (Haskell) and some 500
prisoners.--Had this opportunity been taken advantage of, there is no
telling the result, which would have ensued, but Lee's troops could not be
induced to leave the breastworks, taken from their enemy and advance
beyond. They hugged the works in disorder, until the Federals recovered
from their surprise, and soon the artillery in the forts to the right and
left began their murderous fire on them, and when fresh troops were
brought up by the Federals, their advance was almost unresisted, and an
easy recapture was obtained, the Confederates retiring under a severe fire
into their old works. Many of the men took shelter under the breastworks
they had captured, and surrendered when the Federals advanced, and the
result was a Confederate loss treble that of their foe. This affair
demonstrated to all that the day of offensive movements on the part of the
Confederates was gone. One more such disaster would have been irreparable.

Comparative quiet reigned after, along the whole line, for two or three
days, when again the vindictive fire of picket and mortar was
re-inaugurated, and the spiteful whiz of the minnie kept all cramped
within the narrow limits of the trenches.

Just before the final struggle, it appeared as if the scene of hostilities
had been transferred from Gordon's immediate front. On his front there was
a painful lull in the firing; painful because it denoted that the Federals
intended to operate elsewhere, and we were in suspense. The heavy booming
of guns was heard away on our right, sounding like distant thunder. Again
it would open on our extreme left, and the rattle of musketry and the
lumber of the great guns would persuade us that the ball had opened for a
surety in that direction, but, after a few impulsive volleys, strife would
cease, and a calm would prevail.

The indications assured us all that the day and hour of the beginning of
the spring campaign was near at hand. The increasing signs of activity
inside the enemy's lines filled the air and caused it to vibrate with the
buz and hum of reinforcements, and the great addition to their drum corps
and trumpeters, whose morning reveille shut out even the sound of
fire-arms, gave ample evidence of it. Clouds of dust away in their rear
clearly showed that troops were moving. Each night the Confederates
unfolded their blankets and unloosed their shoe-strings in uncertainty.

A day or two previous to the decisive 2nd, the cannonading on the extreme
right grew fiercer and more continuous, and we all thought that the
strategy of Grant was being uncovered. Every available man from the
Confederate left and centre was hurried to the right. Pickett's entire
division was sent thither to the assistance of Bushrod Johnson, who
occupied A. P. Hill's right, and Longstreet put in command. On the 30th of
March, the left brigade of Hill's corps, (McGowan's,) whose left rested on
Silver run, was moved to the right, leaving only artillerists in the
trenches, and the picket in front. Cox's brigade, of Grimes' division,
held the right of Gordon's corps and extended to the left bank of the
run. On the 1st of March and 1st of April, the battle seemed hotter on the
right, and the heavy water-batteries on the left boomed incessantly. It
appeared as if our corps, (Gordon's,) which had become powder-blackened
and sulphur-fumed with the baptism of battle for the several weeks
previous, were to escape the assaulting might and vengeance of the
Federals, and many an old soldier, while listening to the distant roar,
congratulated himself and his command that they were to escape _this
time_. But they reckoned without their host.

The battle opened on Gordon's front at 3-1/2 o'clock on the morning of the
2d, and the conflict then seemed general along the whole line. The earth
shook under the jar and sound. The air was thick with death-dealing
missiles, and the whole atmosphere lit up luridly from the firing of
cannon, the bursting of shell and the flash of the rifle. In the darkness
it seemed as if the hand of Deity had let loose its hold upon the world,
its attraction was gone, and, amid thunder and lightning and tempest, the
chaotic masses of earth and sky were commingling together in grand

But this was only the interlude foreshadowing the tragedy of the dawn.
Grant did not intend to surprise the Confederates by rushing madly and
headlong at a given point, without warning or notice. He put them on the
alert all along the entire line, but they were unaware where he intended
to strike in deadly earnest. At dawn earnest charges, in double column,
were made at different points on the line, but without success. Still the
continuous roar was kept up from fort and battery, by cannon and mortar,
and one no longer knew how the battle was going, away from one's own
immediate front, except by the assurance given by the answering thunder of
the guns. About noon, it seemed as if the battle raged fiercer if
possible. The god of war was reveling incarnately. Huge masses of
sulphurous smoke hung over the scene of conflict. Every piece of artillery
in the thickly studded forts, batteries and mortar-beds on both sides were
at their best, and their reports savagely, terrifically crashing through
the narrow streets and lanes of Petersburg, echoed upwards, and made it
appear as if invisible fiends of the air were engaged, like us, in bloody

It was at this moment that the Federals made their most determined effort
on Gordon's lines, and by heroic bravery and daring, and amid great
slaughter, succeeded in taking a portion of the breastworks near the
Appomattox. But they could not use the advantage they had struggled so
hard to obtain. The works were so constructed that the men could retreat
only a few yards to another line, while their old line was exposed to the
raking fire from the artillery on the right and left; at this part of the
line, the artillery fire in a manner ceased, and, from the construction of
the works, an almost individual battle was kept up until dark, with no
more advantage gained on the Federal side than the taking of the first
line, which they were unable to hold in a body.

While this fierce battle was raging on the left of the "Crater," other
parts of the line to the right were hotly engaged, but the Confederates
succeeded in repulsing every effort. About 2 p. m., heavy masses of troops
were concentrated by the Federals directly opposite the position which
McGowan's brigade had left the day previous. It took place while a seeming
lull had occurred in the battle. I saw them when they first came in sight,
marching in line of battle, three columns deep, apparently by divisions,
their guns glistening and sparkling in the sun, and their blue uniforms
seemingly black in the distance.--They drove the Confederate skirmishers
before them with impunity, and when they reached point blank range
received the fire of the batteries in the breastworks without staggering.
Had infantry been there, perhaps another tale might have been told, but
without their assistance the Confederate batteries were carried in a
moment, and the long line of breastworks was theirs, and of the few men
that occupied them, some fled to the rear and others to the right and
left. A loud huzza, that drowned the sound of battle on other parts of the
line, greeted our ears and gave assurance to our right that a success had
been gained by the Federals, and disaster had befallen the Confederates.

Just in rear, some two or three hundred yards, on many parts of our line,
heavy forts had been erected to guard against just such results as had
ensued. In rear of the line of works captured by the Federals were
batteries Mahone and Gregg, but neither had guns mounted nor men assigned
them. Mahone was unfinished, and was simply an embrasured battery of three
guns. Gregg was a large fort, with a deep ditch in front, and its
sally-ports protected in rear, and was embrasured for six guns. These two
forts were all that now prevented the enemy from completely cutting the
Confederate lines in two to the Appomattox, and dividing A. P. Hill and
Longstreet's forces, on the right, from the main body of the army.

As soon as the line of works were captured the men from all the brigades
which had been forced to retire were hurried into these works. Three guns,
saved from capture on the entrenchments, were put in battery Mahone, with
a few men, and three also in fort Gregg, with about 300 infantry, mostly
Mississippians. After reforming and getting in order, the Federals moved
on these works--on Mahone first, and they took it with a rush, although
the gunners stood to their guns to the last and fired their last shot
while the Federal troops were on the ramparts.

I was standing where I could view the whole encounter. The Confederate
line to the left of the run was not attacked. The creek divided us, and
the struggle was going on on one hill while we were on the opposite, about
half a mile apart, anxious and breathless witnesses.

As soon as Mahone fell the Federals, in three lines, moved on fort Gregg,
with cheers. In the immediate vicinity all else was silent. How
confidently, and in what beautiful lines they advance! As they near the
fort their line curves into a circle. They are within fifty yards, and not
the flash of a single rifle yet defies them. My God! have the boys
surrendered without a struggle? We look to see if the sign of a white
flag can be seen. At this instant it seems to gleam in the sun-light, and
sends a pang to our hearts. But no; it is the white smoke of their guns,
while cannoneers and infantry simultaneously fire on the confident
assaulters, who stagger, reel under their death-dealing volley, and in a
moment the Federal lines are broken and they retreat in masses under
cover. A loud and wild cheer succeeds the breathless stillness that
prevailed amongst us, and is answered exultingly by the heroic little
garrison in fort Gregg. But reinforcements have come to the help of the
assaulters. I can see their long serpentine lines as they wind their way
through the cleared fields in the distance, and over the captured works. I
turned and looked to our rear, but no reinforcements were seen coming to
the succor of the garrison. Every man is needed at his post, and no
reserves are at hand. The repulsed assailants, animated by the sight of
reinforcements, reform, and, as their comrades come up in battle array,
march forth again in unbroken ranks. As they gain the hill-top, two
hundred yards from the fort, the artillery within the fort belches forth
from the embrasures, and the effect of its canister can be plainly seen in
the heaps of dead and dying that strew the ground. But the check is only
momentary. As the next line advances they move forward in serried ranks,
and soon the fort is canopied in smoke. We can see the artillery as it
fires in rapid succession, and the small arms pop and crack in a ceaseless
rattle. The conflict elsewhere ceases, and both sides are silent and
anxious witnesses of the struggle at the fort. Thus the fight continues
for half hour. The Federals have reached the ditch. They climb up the
sides of the works, and, as the foremost reach the top, we can see them
reel and fall headlong on their comrades below. Once, twice and thrice
have they reached the top, only to be repulsed, and yet they persevere,
and the artillery in the embrasures continue to fire in rapid succession.
But, at last, all is hushed! The artillery once more, and for the last
time, fire a parting shot, and we can see the Federals as with impunity
they mount the works and begin a rapid fire on the defenders within. Their
ammunition is exhausted, and, unwilling to surrender, they are using their
bayonets and clubbing their guns in an unequal struggle. At last one loud
huzza proclaims the fort lost, and with it the Confederate army cut into
two parts. Generals Heth and Wilcox were in the fort, cheered the men to
the last, and, at the minute of its surrender, mounted their steeds,
dashed through the sally-port and retreated to the rear. I have since
learned that 280 of the garrison, of a little over 300, were killed and

As soon as the fort was captured the Federal signal corps were at work,
and the cannonading and sharpshooting was renewed on the other parts of
the line. In a moment heavy bodies of cavalry were seen emerging from the
Federals' former lines, poured rapidly over the captured works and
galloped in squadrons towards the Appomattox, which was some four or five
miles off. Their track could be traced by the heavy columns of black smoke
that rose from the various farmhouses on their route, which had been set
on fire. The infantry which had succeeded in capturing the fort formed
line fronting the Confederates' right flank, and looked as if they
intended marching by the rear into Petersburg. New dispositions were also
made along the Confederate line. Regiments were detached from their
positions along the line (whose place had to be filled by deployment by
those who remained) and sent to the right flank and rear, confronting the
new line of the Federals. Artillery galloped into position, and soon
Fields' division, with the Texans in the lead, joined the right flank and
formed a defensive line to the rear towards the river. A narrow creek only
divided the opposing forces, but the Federals seemed satisfied with their
success now and did not advance. A heavy artillery fire was, however, kept
up from the new lines until dark.

This fire enfiladed the position of our brigade on the right, (as we
occupied the angle of the line,) and annoyed us a great deal, and we all
awaited with eagerness the coming of night, and the setting of the
seemingly dilatory sun.

All now felt that Petersburg was gone, and that to-morrow would find the
Confederates, if permitted, on the north side of the Appomattox.

From the fall of Gregg, huge columns of smoke burst from numberless
depots and warehouses of Petersburg, where Confederate supplies were
stored, and when night closed in the air was luminous with the steady
glare of burning buildings in the city, and to the right; all night long,
at intervals, all along the line, cannonading was kept up, and at 12
o'clock the Confederates began their retreat. By 3 a. m. Gordon's whole
corps, except a few pickets and stragglers, were safely across the river,
and the bridge on fire.

The Confederates passed through Petersburg in silence and dejection. Huge
bolts from the enemy's batteries were crashing through the buildings, but
they marched heedlessly on without hurry or trepidation. No one but
soldiers were in the streets, and but few houses gave evidence of being
inhabited. Sometimes females would approach at the windows of different
houses and ask, in a plaintive and supplicative tone, "Boys, are you
going to leave us?" And you could see signs of sorrow and distress in
their countenances. Some two or three were disposed to be merry, and
changed our sympathies and fears in their behalf into carelessness, as
they would tell us, "Good-bye, boys, we'll drink pure coffee with sugar in
it to-morrow!--'hard times come again no more!'" My command was one of the
last that crossed the Pocahontas bridge, and by the time we had ascended
the bluff, and stood upon high ground, the bridge across the Appomattox
was in flames--rockets were ascending high in the air along the Federal
lines, and loud huzzas from the trenches made the welkin ring.

At that time none knew or could guess at the intentions of Gen. Lee, and
the darkness prevented us from knowing that the balance of our forces were
already on the march, up the Appomattox. We rested a short while by the
roadside in the vicinity of the bridge, and at the signal gun from a
piece of artillery near by, which startled us by its suddenness and
proximity, we were called to attention and followed our comrades who had
preceded us up the river. That signal gun was a notice to others besides
ourselves. By the time we had got under weigh, the heavily charged
magazine of Cummins' battery of siege guns, blew up, first lighting up the
deep darkness of the night with its fierce and vivid glare, and then
shaking the earth under our feet like the shock of an earthquake.--Fort
Clifton's magazine in a moment followed, and then it was taken up all
along the line to Richmond. The scene was the fiercest and most imposing I
ever witnessed. We left the light and pierced the midnight darkness of the
rear. At each step we took some new explosion would occur, seemingly
severer than the one that preceded it; the whole heavens in our rear were
lit up in lurid glare, that added intensity to the blackness before us.
It was as if the gases, chained in the earth, had at last found vent, and
the general conflagration of the world was at hand, while we were
retreating into the blackness of uncertain gloom and chaos. We then knew
that Richmond had been left to the fate of Petersburg, and we were on a
retreat to a new base.

On leaving Petersburg, Gordon's corps took the river road; Mahone, with
his division, and all other troops on this side of the James, the middle
road, and Ewell and Elzey, with the Richmond garrison, and other troops,
the road nearest the James river. During the day following the evacuation
of Petersburg the Confederates made good progress, their route unimpeded
by wagons and artillery. But after the junction of Gordon's corps with
Mahone and Early, with thirty miles of wagons, containing the special
plunder of the Post Doctors, Quartermasters and Post Commissaries of
Richmond, they went at a snail's pace, and it would have been no trouble
for an enterprising enemy to have overtaken them. Until they arrived at
Amelia Courthouse, on the 4th of April, although a body of the enemy had
followed them up, no attack had been made, and it was only after leaving
the Courthouse that the first dash by Sheridan's cavalry was made on their
wagon trains.

At Amelia Courthouse they were joined by the remnants of A. P. Hill's,
Pickett's and Longstreet's commands which, on the right, by disastrous
fighting, demoralization and desertion, had dwindled from thousands to
hundreds. I have never yet seen an account of the operations of this part
of the Confederate army.

On the 5th, the Confederates entered the land of hills, and as they left
the main road, and took the road that led through them, it was thought
that they were safe, as the hills present so many splendid positions of
defence. But how wearily they went along, averaging hardly a half mile an
hour. On the night of the 5th the Confederate army marched all night long,
and it was with intense satisfaction that the army saw the heavily laden
Quartermaster, Doctors' and Commissary wagons begin to cast up their
plunder. The jaded horses and mules refused to pull, and for miles the
roads were strewn with every convenience, comfort and luxury that
"Sunday-soldiering" could devise. There is no doubt, but that for these
wagons, Lee's escape would have been insured, but _they_ had to be
protected, and the army dallied day and night by the roadside. On the
morning of the 6th it became evident that the Federals were near, and as
the head of the Confederate column emerged from a dense piece of woodland,
and struck across an elevated opening, the first gun of the day was opened
on their marching column by a battery of artillery placed on a hill about
a mile off. The fact was, the Federals had caught up in the Confederate
rear, and were pushing them on their flank, and were striving to head them

Here began a scene that no pen can accurately describe. The wagons were
hurried forward, regardless of their contents, which, whether it remained
in or was spilled out, was a matter of perfect indifference to the
demoralised and badly-scared drivers, who, with straining eyes and
perspiring bodies, plied their whips vigorously and put their jaded beasts
to their best. The infantry and some of the batteries of artillery were
halted, and a line of battle formed to the rear and on the left flank, and
hardly was the formation made before the Federals were upon them. Our
lines checked them long enough to enable the wagons to move ahead, and
then began a retreating fight--a mode of battle I morally detest, as it is
"fight and run." It will demoralise the best troops in the world. At
every hill divisions would alternately halt, and form lines of battle and
check the pursuers. As soon as proper disposition had been made on the
next line of hills the rear division would move off and pass the others,
only to form again at the next suitable defensive position. Thus the
Confederates progressed until mid-day, by which time the Federals had come
up in full force and began to attack impetuously in the Confederate rear
and on their left flank. Before nightfall the battle seemed raging on
their flank for miles in the direction they were going, and in the rear
the Federals were steadily pushing them, and, by the time the Confederates
reached a high range of hills in the vicinity of the "High Bridge," over
the Appomattox, it became necessary to abandon over a hundred wagons and
several batteries of artillery. After reaching the summit of the hill, the
pursuit ceased. During the day the fight at times was bloody, and many
were killed and wounded on both sides. The Confederate wounded were left
on the field. Late in the evening Gen. Ewell, with the larger portion of
his command, were cut off and forced to surrender. The Confederates also
took several hundred prisoners.

The Confederate army, except Longstreet's command, crossed the river
during the night, Gordon's troops at the High Bridge going into bivouac on
the opposite side, while Longstreet occupied the hills at the river near
the town of Farmville.

In the vicinity of Farmville, on the morning of the 7th, the haversacks of
many of the men were replenished for the first time since leaving

At early dawn the Federals made an attack on Gordon at the bridge, and on
Longstreet on the hills near Farmville. Setting the bridge on fire, and
leaving one brigade to check the enemy, the balance of Gordon's corps
took the railroad track to Farmville, leaving the brigade skirmishing
sharply. Gordon's route was down the river, and nearly all the time in
sight of the opposite bank, which was crowded with masses of the foe, but
they pursued the even tenor of their way without hurry, and in fact,
devilish slow to my anxious mind. On the high hills on the upper side of
the Appomattox, just beyond Farmville, it looked as if the Confederates
intended to give battle. The artillery was placed in position, and active
skirmishing had begun with the Federal advance, who had crossed on the
heels of the Confederate retreating rear guard. The lines of infantry were
formed in order of battle, but it was only done to cover the movement of
the wagons, on another road than the one that leads along the railroad to
Lynchburg, which latter was in the possession of Grant. That portion of
the Federal army which had crossed dashed on recklessly, and seemed to
think they had only a demoralised mob to contend with. By dash and
recklessness they drove the Confederate wagon guard in and cut the train
in two, on the road the wagons were traversing, but Grimes' division,
happening to be near at hand, advanced at a double-quick, attacked and
charged the assailants, and without serious opposition routed them and
captured two hundred prisoners. This seemed to teach the assailants a
lesson, and that charge assured them that they were mistaken in supposing
the whole army demoralised, for after that whenever their infantry would
approach the Confederate column they did so cautiously. The fact was,
every man in the army was disgusted and sick of the "fire and fall back"
fighting of the day previous, and had rather stopped and risked an old
fashioned battle than continued the retreat. After repulsing the
Federals, Grimes' division followed the balance of the army, as rear
guard, for the day. Just as they entered the road they met Gen. Lee and
his staff. He stopped, took off his hat and saluted them for the lesson
they had just given the pursuers, and he received, in return, a rousing
yell that demonstrated plainly that it mattered not how the balance of the
army felt, there was the same old mettle in that division still.

The Confederate army marched slowly on during all day of the 7th, and
during the entire night, but they were no longer molested in the rear.
Occasionally the Federal cavalry would dash in on a portion of their wagon
train, kill a few horses, frighten drivers and Quartermasters, and then
scamper away, but no serious impediment was offered their march. The whole
army had left the main road and were traversing an out-of-the-way path
through dense thickets of oak and pine, and the natives on our way seemed
wonder-stricken and frightened at our approach.

The Confederates continued to march steadily on during the 8th, and in the
middle of the day struck a better road, and made rapid progress till dark,
when the rear were within four miles of Appomattox Courthouse. The head of
the column had reached Appomattox Courthouse. We had begun to congratulate
ourselves that the pursuit was over, and felt sure that we would make the
trip to Lynchburg, as it was only 24 miles off. Not a gun had been fired
during the day, and we went into camp early in the evening. But this was
necessary, for the continuous marching of the two days and nights previous
had produced much straggling, and some of the brigades were reduced to
skeletons from this cause. One fact--a strange one, too, it appeared to
me--was, that our higher officers did not try to prevent this straggling.
They seemed to shut their eyes on the hourly reduction of their commands,
and rode in advance of their brigades in dogged indifference.

We went into camp without restraint.--No enemy seemed near. The bands of
the divisions enlivened the departing hours of day with martial music, and
were applauded with the usual cheers of the troops. The old spirit seemed
to be returning. Before dark all had partaken of their food, and were
resting after a forty-eight hours march. As for myself, I had emptied my
haversack that night, and wrapped my blanket around me, and was in sound
slumber before darkness set in, intending to have one more good nap sure,
as I did not exactly like the appearance of things. The general officers
were consulting together, and their looks plainly indicated a depressed
state of feeling; besides, before we had completed our meal the rumbling
of distant cannonading sounded warningly in front, and I closed my eyes
and went to sleep to its music. The fact was, the enemy's cavalry, in
heavy force, at Appomattox, had disputed our advance--had cut off a train
of wagons and artillery who were unsuspectingly feeding, and orders had
been given for all the extra artillery to be cut down, and the commands
disbanded.--However, I slept in blissful ignorance of this state of

On the morning of the 9th Gordon's corps were aroused at 2 o'clock and
hurried forward, passing the entire wagon and artillery train of the army.
When they arrived at Appomattox they found the whole cavalry force drawn
up in mass, and the troopers apparently asleep mounted. The fields,
gardens and streets of the village were strewn with troops, bivouacing in
line of battle.--The corps marched through and to the west of the village,
and there formed a line, and the sharpshooters were ordered to advance
and relieve the pickets of Bushrod Johnson's division, who were in front.
The careless positions of things as they approached the front did not seem
alarming, and I was not prepared to believe an enemy was so close, when
the picket informed us that "the Yankees were in that woods," some two
hundred yards in front.

But they were there. When day broke, I began to see the real state of
affairs. The Federals held possession of our only road to Lynchburg, and
disputed our passage. After reconnoitering, they were discovered to be
dismounted cavalry, in heavy forces. Dispositions were made to attack
them, and about 10 o'clock the line was ordered forward. With ease they
were routed and the whole force driven fully two miles, and had they been
all the Confederate line had to contend with, the exit would have been
insured. The Federal cavalry was driven upon its own infantry, who were
hastening forward and had just formed to advance. There the Confederate
advance was stopped, and in return, were forced back again to the
Courthouse. Just as the divisions had formed anew, to resist the advance
of the enemy, while the skirmishers were engaged, and the Richmond
Howitser battery, (which fired the first gun at Bethel,) having already
discharged one volley, was loading for another, the order was given to
cease firing, and the flag of truce which terminated in our surrender was
sent in. Twenty-three thousand men were surrendered by Gen. Lee, of which
number only a fraction over 8,000 were armed infantry.


Official Correspondence Concerning the Surrender--The Interview Between
     Generals Lee and Grant--Appearance of General Lee--Scenes Between
     the Two Armies Under Flag of Truce--The Surrender--General Lee's
     Farewell Address to His Army.

While the pursuit of Lee's army by Grant's overwhelming forces was still
in progress, the following correspondence ensued between the two

APRIL 7th, 1865.

_General R. E. Lee, Commanding Confederate States Army:_

GENERAL: The result 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 southern army known
as the Army of Northern Virginia.

  Very respectfully,
  Your obedient servant,
  U. S. GRANT,

  Lieut. General Commanding Armies of the United States.

       *       *       *       *       *

APRIL 7th, 1865.

GENERAL: I have received your note of this day. Though not entirely of 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 the
useless effusion of blood, and therefore, before considering your
proposition, ask the terms you will offer on conditions of its surrender.

  R. E. LEE, General.

    Commanding Army of the United States.

       *       *       *       *       *

APRIL 8th, 1865.

_To Gen. R. E. Lee, Commanding Confederate States Army:_

GENERAL: Your note of last evening, in reply to mine of 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 first desire, there is but one
condition that I insist upon, viz:

That the men surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms against
the government of the United States until properly exchanged.

I will meet you, or 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.

  Very respectfully,
  Your obedient servant,
  U. S. GRANT,

Lieut. General, Commanding Armies of the United States.

       *       *       *       *       *

APRIL 8th, 1865.

GENERAL: I received, at a late hour, your note of to-day, in answer to
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.

But as the restoration of peace should be the sole object of all, I desire
to know if your proposals tend to that end.

I cannot, therefore, meet you with a view to surrender the Army of
Northern Virginia; but so far as your proposition 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.

  Very respectfully,
  Your obedient servant,
  R. E. LEE,

General Commanding Confederate States Army.

_To Lieut. Gen. U. S. Grant, Commanding United States Armies._

       *       *       *       *       *

APRIL 9th, 1865.

_Gen. R. E. Lee, Commanding Confederate States Army:_

GENERAL: Your note of yesterday is received. As I have no authority to
treat on the subject of peace, the meeting proposed for at 10 a. m. to-day
could lead to no good. I will state, however, General, that I am equally
anxious for peace with yourself; and the whole North entertain the same
feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the
South laying down their arms they will hasten that most desirable event,
save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of property not
yet destroyed.

Sincerely hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss
of another life, I subscribe myself,

  Very respectfully,
  Your obedient servant,
  U. S. GRANT,
  Lieutenant General, United States Army.

       *       *       *       *       *

APRIL 9th, 1865.

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 proposition of yesterday, with reference to the surrender of this

I now request an interview in accordance with the offer contained in your
letter of yesterday for that purpose.

  Very respectfully,
  Your obedient servant,
  R. E. LEE, General.

_To Lieutenant General Grant, Commanding United States Army._

       *       *       *       *       *

APRIL 9th, 1865.

_Gen. R. E. Lee, Commanding Confederate States Army:_

Your note of this date is but this moment, 11.50 a. m., received.

In consequence of having passed from the Richmond and Lynchburg road, I
am, at this writing, about four miles west of Walter'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,
will meet me.

  Very respectfully.
  U. S. GRANT,
  Lieutenant General.

       *       *       *       *       *


APRIL 9, 1865.

_General R. E. Lee, Commanding Confederate States Army:_

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 designated by me, the other to be retained by such
officers as you may designate.

The officers to give their individual parole not to take arms against the
government of the United States until properly exchanged, each company or
regimental commander to sign a 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 their homes,
not to be disturbed by the United States authority, so long as they
observe their parole and the laws in force where they may reside.

  Very respectfully,
  U. S. GRANT,
  Lieutenant General.

       *       *       *       *       *


APRIL 9, 1865.

_Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Commanding United States Army:_

GENERAL: I have 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.

  Very respectfully,
  Your obedient servant,
  R. E. LEE, General.

Gen. Lee and Gen. Grant met at the house of Mr. Wilmer McLean. General Lee
was attended only by Col. Marshal, one of his aids; with Grant there were
several of his staff officers. The two commanders greeted each other with

General Lee immediately alluded to the conditions of the surrender, and
said he would leave the details to General Grant's own discretion. General
Grant stated the terms of the parole; that the arms should be stacked, the
artillery parked, and the supplies and munitions turned over to him, the
officers to retain their side arms, horses, and personal effects. General
Lee promptly assented to the conditions, and the agreement of the
surrender was engrossed and signed by General Lee at half-past three
o'clock in the afternoon.

A northern correspondent thus described the appearance of General Lee in
this memorable interview: "General Lee looked very jaded and worn, but,
nevertheless, presented the same magnificent _phisique_ for which he has
always been noted. He was neatly dressed in grey cloth, without any
embroidery or ensigna of rank, except three stars worn on the turned
portion of his coat collar. His cheeks were very much bronzed by exposure,
but still shone ruddy underneath it all. He is growing quite bald, and
wears one of the side locks of his hair thrown across the upper portion of
his forehead, which is as white and fair as a woman's. He stands fully six
feet one inch in height, and weighs something over two hundred pounds,
without being burdened with a pound of superfluous flesh. During the whole
interview he was retired and dignified to a degree bordering on
taciturnity, but was free from all exhibition of temper or mortification.
His demeanor was that of a thoroughly possessed gentleman, who had a very
disagreeable duty to perform, but was determined to get through it as well
and as soon as he could.

It is to be fairly and cheerfully admitted that General Grant's conduct,
with respect to all the circumstances of the surrender exhibited some
extraordinary traits of magnanimity. He had conducted it with as much
simplicity as possible, avoided sensation, and spared everything that
might wound the feelings or imply the humiliation of a vanquished foe.
Such conduct was noble. Before the surrender, General Grant had expressed
to his own officers his intention not to require the same formalities as
are required in a surrender between the forces of two foreign nations or
beligerant powers, and to exact no conditions for the mere purpose of

While the interview with reference to the surrender was taking place
between the commanders, a strange scene was transpiring between the lines
of the two armies, and occupied the period of the armistice. An informal
conference and mingling of the officers of both armies gave to the streets
of the village of Appomattox Court House a strange appearance. On the
Federal side were Gens. Ord, Sheridan, Crook, Gibbon, Griffin, Merritt,
Ayers, Bartlett, Chamberlain, Forsythe, and Mitchie. On the Confederate
side were Generals Longstreet, Gordon, Heth, Wilcox, and others. The
conference lasted some hour and a half. None but general officers were
allowed to pass through the skirmish line; there were mutual introductions
and shaking of hands, and soon was passed some whiskey, and mutual healths
drank. Gradually the area of the conference widened. The parties filled
the streets and before this singular conference closed, some were seated
on the steps, and others, for better accommodations, chatted cosily,
seated on a contiguous fence.

Between the skirmish lines of the two armies there was a great suspense,
for it was felt that great interest were at stake between them. Skirmish
line confronted skirmish line, lines of battle confronted lines of battle,
cannon confronted cannon. Eager hopes hung on the interview between the
opposing great commanders of the two armies. Peace might follow this
interview. It might end in resumption of hostilities, in fiercest battle,
in terrible carnage. The two armies were plainly visible to one another.
The Confederates skirted a strip of woods in rear of the town. Through the
vistas of the streets might be seen their wagon trains. The minutes passed
but slowly. The approach of every horseman attracted an eager look. Two
o'clock had been appointed by Grant for the resumption of hostilities. It
arrived, and the Federal skirmish line commenced to advance. The
Confederate pickets were in plain sight, and stationary. A moment more and
the crack of the rifle would indicate the resumption of carnage. But a
clatter of hoofs is heard, and a flag of truce appears upon this scene,
with an order from General Grant that hostilities should cease until
further orders.

After the interview at McLean's house General Lee returned to his own
camp, about half a mile distant, where his leading officers were assembled
awaiting his return. He announced the result and the terms. They then
approached him in order of rank, shook hands, expressed satisfaction at
his course and their regret at parting, all shedding tears on the
occasion. The fact of surrender and the forms were then announced to the
troops, and when General Lee appeared among them he was loudly cheered.

At about four o'clock it was announced in Grant's army that the surrender
had been consummated and signed. And now the enthusiasm which had been
restrained by uncertainty broke loose. The various brigade commanders
announced the joyful news to their commands, and cheers of the wildest
description followed. The men leaped, ran, jumped, threw themselves into
each other's arms and seemed mad with joy.

The day after the surrender General Lee bid farewell to his army in the
following simple address, so characteristic of his plain and manly style
of writing:

          NO. 9.}

    APRIL 10th, 1865. }

After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and
fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to
overwhelming numbers and resources.

I need not tell the survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have
remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from
no distrust of them; but, feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish
nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the
continuation of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless
sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their

By the terms of agreement officers and men will be allowed to return to
their homes and remain there until exchanged.

You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the
consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a
merciful God will extend to you His blessing and protection.

With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your
country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous
consideration of myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

R. E. LEE,










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Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

The quote on page 52 is opened with marks but is not closed in the
original text.

On page 13, the phrase "1st of March and 1st of April" is presented as in
the original text. It is most likely this text should read "31st of March
and 1st of April".

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "Canfederates" corrected to "Confederates" (page 29)
  "overwhelmning" corrected to "overwhelming" (page 42)
  "opon" corrected to "upon" (page 45)
  "possesed" corrected to "possessed" (page 53)
  "contigious" corrected to "contiguous" (page 55)
  "thier" corrected to "their" (page 55)
  "ths" corrected to "this" (page 56)
  "consumated" corrected to "consummated" (page 57)

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