67: Chapter LXVII.
<< 66: Chapter LXVI. || 68: Chapter LXVIII. >>
On the 8th I had followed the Army of the Potomac in rear of
Lee. I was suffering very severely with a sick headache, and
stopped at a farmhouse on the road some distance in rear of the
main body of the army. I spent the night in bathing my feet in
hot water and mustard, and putting mustard plasters on my wrists
and the back part of my neck, hoping to be cured by morning.
During the night I received Lee's answer to my letter of the
8th, inviting an interview between the lines on the following
morning. 43 But it was for a different purpose from that of
surrendering his army, and I answered him as follows:
Headquarters Armies of the U. S.,
April 9, 1865.
General R. E. Lee,
Commanding C. S. A.
Your note of yesterday is received. As I have no authority to
treat on the subject of peace, the meeting proposed for ten 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 entertains 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,
U. S. Grant,
I proceeded at an early hour in the morning, still suffering
with the headache, to get to the head of the column. I was not
more than two or three miles from Appomattox Court House at the
time, but to go direct I would have to pass through Lee's army,
or a portion of it. I had therefore to move south in order to
get upon a road coming up from another direction.
When the white flag was put out by Lee, as already described, I
was in this way moving towards Appomattox Court House, and
consequently could not be communicated with immediately, and be
informed of what Lee had done. Lee, therefore, sent a flag to
the rear to advise Meade and one to the front to Sheridan,
saying that he had sent a message to me for the purpose of
having a meeting to consult about the surrender of his army, and
asked for a suspension of hostilities until I could be
communicated with. As they had heard nothing of this until the
fighting had got to be severe and all going against Lee, both of
these commanders hesitated very considerably about suspending
hostilities at all. They were afraid it was not in good faith,
and we had the Army of Northern Virginia where it could not
escape except by some deception. They, however, finally
consented to a suspension of hostilities for two hours to give
an opportunity of communicating with me in that time, if
possible. It was found that, from the route I had taken, they
would probably not be able to communicate with me and get an
answer back within the time fixed unless the messenger should
pass through the rebel lines.
Lee, therefore, sent an escort with the officer bearing this
message through his lines to me.
April 9, 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 proposal of
yesterday with reference to the surrender of this army. I now
request an interview in accordance with the offer contained in
your letter of yesterday for that purpose.
R. E. Lee, General.
Lieutenant-General U. S. Grant
Commanding U. S. Armies.
When the officer reached me I was still suffering with the sick
headache, but the instant I saw the contents of the note I was
cured. I wrote the following note in reply and hastened on:
April 9, 1865.
General R. E. Lee,
Commanding C. S. Armies.
Your note of this date is but this moment (11.50 A.M.) received,
in consequence of my having passed from the Richmond and
Lynchburg road to the Farmville 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 will meet me.
U. S. Grant,
I was conducted at once to where Sheridan was located with his
troops drawn up in line of battle facing the Confederate army
near by. They were very much excited, and expressed their view
that this was all a ruse employed to enable the Confederates to
get away. They said they believed that Johnston was marching up
from North Carolina now, and Lee was moving to join him; and they
would whip the rebels where they now were in five minutes if I
would only let them go in. But I had no doubt about the good
faith of Lee, and pretty soon was conducted to where he was. I
found him at the house of a Mr. McLean, at Appomattox Court
House, with Colonel Marshall, one of his staff officers,
awaiting my arrival. The head of his column was occupying a
hill, on a portion of which was an apple orchard, beyond a
little valley which separated it from that on the crest of which
Sheridan's forces were drawn up in line of battle to the south.
Before stating what took place between General Lee and myself, I
will give all there is of the story of the famous apple tree.
Wars produce many stories of fiction, some of which are told
until they are believed to be true. The war of the rebellion
was no exception to this rule, and the story of the apple tree
is one of those fictions based on a slight foundation of fact.
As I have said, there was an apple orchard on the side of the
hill occupied by the Confederate forces. Running diagonally up
the hill was a wagon road, which, at one point, ran very near
one of the trees, so that the wheels of vehicles had, on that
side, cut off the roots of this tree, leaving a little
embankment. General Babcock, of my staff, reported to me that
when he first met General Lee he was sitting upon this
embankment with his feet in the road below and his back resting
against the tree. The story had no other foundation than
that. Like many other stories, it would be very good if it was
I had known General Lee in the old army, and had served with him
in the Mexican War; but did not suppose, owing to the difference
in our age and rank, that he would remember me, while I would
more naturally remember him distinctly, because he was the chief
of staff of General Scott in the Mexican War.
When I had left camp that morning I had not expected so soon the
result that was then taking place, and consequently was in rough
garb. I was without a sword, as I usually was when on horseback
on the field, and wore a soldier's blouse for a coat, with the
shoulder straps of my rank to indicate to the army who I was.
When I went into the house I found General Lee. We greeted each
other, and after shaking hands took our seats. I had my staff
with me, a good portion of whom were in the room during the
whole of the interview.
What General Lee's feelings were I do not know. As he was a man
of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to
say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come,
or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it.
Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my
observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant
on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt
like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who
had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a
cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for
which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the
least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the
great mass of those who were opposed to us.
General Lee was dressed in a full uniform which was entirely
new, and was wearing a sword of considerable value, very likely
the sword which had been presented by the State of Virginia; at
all events, it was an entirely different sword from the one that
would ordinarily be worn in the field. In my rough traveling
suit, the uniform of a private with the straps of a
lieutenant-general, I must have contrasted very strangely with a
man so handsomely dressed, six feet high and of faultless form.
But this was not a matter that I thought of until afterwards.
We soon fell into a conversation about old army times. He
remarked that he remembered me very well in the old army; and I
told him that as a matter of course I remembered him perfectly,
but from the difference in our rank and years (there being about
sixteen years' difference in our ages), I had thought it very
likely that I had not attracted his attention sufficiently to be
remembered by him after such a long interval. Our conversation
grew so pleasant that I almost forgot the object of our
meeting. After the conversation had run on in this style for
some time, General Lee called my attention to the object of our
meeting, and said that he had asked for this interview for the
purpose of getting from me the terms I proposed to give his
army. I said that I meant merely that his army should lay down
their arms, not to take them up again during the continuance of
the war unless duly and properly exchanged. He said that he had
so understood my letter.
Then we gradually fell off again into conversation about matters
foreign to the subject which had brought us together. This
continued for some little time, when General Lee again
interrupted the course of the conversation by suggesting that
the terms I proposed to give his army ought to be written out. I
called to General Parker, secretary on my staff, for writing
materials, and commenced writing out the following terms:
Appomattox C. H., VA.,
Ap 19th, 1865.
Gen. R. E. Lee,
Comd'g C. S. A.
Gen: 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, 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 United States
authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in
force where they may reside.
U. S. Grant,
When I put my pen to the paper I did not know the first word
that I should make use of in writing the terms. I only knew
what was in my mind, and I wished to express it clearly, so that
there could be no mistaking it. As I wrote on, the thought
occurred to me that the officers had their own private horses
and effects, which were important to them, but of no value to
us; also that it would be an unnecessary humiliation to call
upon them to deliver their side arms.
No conversation, not one word, passed between General Lee and
myself, either about private property, side arms, or kindred
subjects. He appeared to have no objections to the terms first
proposed; or if he had a point to make against them he wished to
wait until they were in writing to make it. When he read over
that part of the terms about side arms, horses and private
property of the officers, he remarked, with some feeling, I
thought, that this would have a happy effect upon his army.
Then, after a little further conversation, General Lee remarked
to me again that their army was organized a little differently
from the army of the United States (still maintaining by
implication that we were two countries); that in their army the
cavalrymen and artillerists owned their own horses; and he asked
if he was to understand that the men who so owned their horses
were to be permitted to retain them. I told him that as the
terms were written they would not; that only the officers were
permitted to take their private property. He then, after
reading over the terms a second time, remarked that that was
I then said to him that I thought this would be about the last
battle of the war—I sincerely hoped so; and I said further I
took it that most of the men in the ranks were small farmers.
The whole country had been so raided by the two armies that it
was doubtful whether they would be able to put in a crop to
carry themselves and their families through the next winter
without the aid of the horses they were then riding. The United
States did not want them and I would, therefore, instruct the
officers I left behind to receive the paroles of his troops to
let every man of the Confederate army who claimed to own a horse
or mule take the animal to his home. Lee remarked again that
this would have a happy effect.
He then sat down and wrote out the following letter:
Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,
April 9, 1865.
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.
Lieut.-General U. S. Grant.
While duplicates of the two letters were being made, the Union
generals present were severally presented to General Lee.
The much talked of surrendering of Lee's sword and my handing it
back, this and much more that has been said about it is the
purest romance. The word sword or side arms was not mentioned
by either of us until I wrote it in the terms. There was no
premeditation, and it did not occur to me until the moment I
wrote it down. If I had happened to omit it, and General Lee
had called my attention to it, I should have put it in the terms
precisely as I acceded to the provision about the soldiers
retaining their horses.
General Lee, after all was completed and before taking his
leave, remarked that his army was in a very bad condition for
want of food, and that they were without forage; that his men
had been living for some days on parched corn exclusively, and
that he would have to ask me for rations and forage. I told him
"certainly," and asked for how many men he wanted rations. His
answer was "about twenty-five thousand;" and I authorized him to
send his own commissary and quartermaster to Appomattox Station,
two or three miles away, where he could have, out of the trains
we had stopped, all the provisions wanted. As for forage, we
had ourselves depended almost entirely upon the country for that.
Generals Gibbon, Griffin and Merritt were designated by me to
carry into effect the paroling of Lee's troops before they
should start for their homes—General Lee leaving Generals
Longstreet, Gordon and Pendleton for them to confer with in
order to facilitate this work. Lee and I then separated as
cordially as we had met, he returning to his own lines, and all
went into bivouac for the night at Appomattox.
Soon after Lee's departure I telegraphed to Washington as
Headquarters Appomattox C. H., VA.,
April 9th, 1865, 4.30 P.M.
Hon. E. M. Stanton , Secretary of War,
General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia this
afternoon on terms proposed by myself. The accompanying
additional correspondence will show the conditions fully.
U. S. Grant,
When news of the surrender first reached our lines our men
commenced firing a salute of a hundred guns in honor of the
victory. I at once sent word, however, to have it stopped. The
Confederates were now our prisoners, and we did not want to exult
over their downfall.
I determined to return to Washington at once, with a view to
putting a stop to the purchase of supplies, and what I now
deemed other useless outlay of money. Before leaving, however,
I thought I 44 would like to see General Lee again; so next
morning I rode out beyond our lines towards his headquarters,
preceded by a bugler and a staff-officer carrying a white flag.
Lee soon mounted his horse, seeing who it was, and met me. We
had there between the lines, sitting on horseback, a very
pleasant conversation of over half an hour, in the course of
which Lee said to me that the South was a big country and that
we might have to march over it three or four times before the
war entirely ended, but that we would now be able to do it as
they could no longer resist us. He expressed it as his earnest
hope, however, that we would not be called upon to cause more
loss and sacrifice of life; but he could not foretell the
result. I then suggested to General Lee that there was not a
man in the Confederacy whose influence with the soldiery and the
whole people was as great as his, and that if he would now advise
the surrender of all the armies I had no doubt his advice would
be followed with alacrity. But Lee said, that he could not do
that without consulting the President first. I knew there was
no use to urge him to do anything against his ideas of what was
I was accompanied by my staff and other officers, some of whom
seemed to have a great desire to go inside the Confederate
lines. They finally asked permission of Lee to do so for the
purpose of seeing some of their old army friends, and the
permission was granted. They went over, had a very pleasant
time with their old friends, and brought some of them back with
them when they returned.
When Lee and I separated he went back to his lines and I
returned to the house of Mr. McLean. Here the officers of both
armies came in great numbers, and seemed to enjoy the meeting as
much as though they had been friends separated for a long time
while fighting battles under the same flag. For the time being
it looked very much as if all thought of the war had escaped
their minds. After an hour pleasantly passed in this way I set
out on horseback, accompanied by my staff and a small escort,
for Burkesville Junction, up to which point the railroad had by
this time been repaired.
43 See Appendix.
44 Note.—The facsimile of the terms of Lee's surrender wasat this place.
Three pages of paper were prepared in General Grant's manifold
order book on which he wrote the terms, and the interlineations
and erasures were added by General Parker at the suggestion of
General Grant. After such alteration it was handed to General
Lee, who put on his glasses, read it, and handed it back to
General Grant. The original was then transcribed by General
Parker upon official headed paper and a copy furnished General
There is a popular error to the effect that Generals Grant and
Lee each signed the articles of surrender. The document in the
form of a letter was signed only by General Grant, in the parlor
of McLean's house while General Lee was sitting in the room, and
General Lee immediately wrote a letter accepting the terms and
handed it to General Grant.
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