Robert E. Lee Surrenders the Confederacy
to Ulysses S. Grant
General Horace Porter described the scene:
"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. 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.
The contrast between the two commanders was striking, and could not fail to
attract marked attention 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
nut-brown, 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 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
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 silver-gray, and quite thick, except that the hair had become a little thin
in the 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. His top-boots were comparatively new, and seemed
to have on them some ornamental stitching
Signing the surrender
From a contemporary sketch.
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.
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.'"
The two generals talked a bit more about Mexico and moved on to a discussion of
the terms of the surrender when Lee asked Grant to commit the terms to paper:
"'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 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.'
Grant handed the document to Lee. After reviewing it, Lee informed Grant that
the Cavalry men and Artillery men in the Confederate Army owned their horses and
asked that they keep them. Grant agreed and Lee wrote a letter formally
accepting the surrender.
"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 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.
signing this form, Robert E. Lee and six of his
staff officers became paroled prisoners of war and pledged not to take up arms
against the United States. The surrender formalities lasted 4 days. On April 9,
1865, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E.
Lee met in the parlor of a house in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, to discuss
the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. The terms were generous: the men
of Lee's army could return home in safety if they pledged to end the fighting
and deliver their arms to the Union Army. On April 12, 1865, in a quiet but
emotional ceremony, the infantry of Lee's army surrendered their arms, folded
their battle flags, and received their parole papers, which guaranteed them safe
passage home." -- Form and Text Courtesy of the
Order No. 9, issued by General Robert E. Lee to Army of Northern Virginia
signed after its surrender on April 10, 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 brave 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 continuance of
the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past
services have endeared them to their countrymen.
By the terms of the agreement, Officers and men can return to their homes and
remain 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 all an affectionate farewell.
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