The house where the actual
surrender took place has
been reconstructed at
Appomattox Court House.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Appomattox Court House, Virginia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Appomattox Court House, Virginia
|Silent Cannon at Appomattox
The guns of the Army of Northern Virginia fired for
the last time at the town of Appomattox Court House,
where the brave army finally fought its final battle.
Road into the Past
The Appomattox Court House
National Historical Park is
located in the beautiful
Virginia countryside about 24
miles from Lynchburg.
Appomattox Court House
The court house from which
the village took its name can
be seen in the park. The
actual surrender took place in
the nearby McLean House.
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park - Virginia
Where Lee Surrendered to Grant
On April 9, 1865, one of the most storied
armies in American history laid down its
arms in the country village of Appomattox
Court House, Virginia.
From the early days of the Civil War, the force
that would become General Robert E. Lee's
Army of North Virginia had waged one of the
fiercest fights against the greatest odds of
any army in history. During its four year
history, the army that came to be identified
with Lee's military genius had struggled back
and forth with Union armies over the fields,
woods and mountains of Virginia, West,
Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Battles
including the Seven Days, Chancellorville,
Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg and
By early April of 1865, however, the Army of
Northern Virginia had been decimated and
was on the run. As Lee desperately tried to
find a way to link up with General Joseph E.
Johnston's army in North Carolina, he was
pursued by General Ulysses S. Grant's
The retreat had begun at Petersburg, where
Grand finally broke Lee's entrenched lines. It
continued through Richmond and across the
Virginia countryside, but it finally came to an
end at the small town of Appomattox Court
House as Union forces closed in on the
Confederates from all sides. By the afternoon
of April 8, 1865, when Lee halted his army
just outside of the village, he knew he was
The last attack of the Army of Northern
Virginia came the following morning in an
often overlooked event remembered today as
the Battle of Appomattox Court House.
At dawn General John B. Gordon moved his
corps forward in a desperate attack. Although
he achieved initial success, Gordon realized
he would not be able to create an opening
big enough for Lee's army to escape. He
notified his commander at 8:30 a.m. on April
9, 1865, that his men were fought out and
that without reinforcements, there was
nothing more he could do. Lee had no
reinforcements to send. As the Battle of
Appomattox Court House sputtered to an
end, the Army of Northern Virginia's long
battle against overwhelming odds died with
the fighting. The end had come.
Saying that he would rather "die a thousand
deaths," Robert E. Lee prepared to meet with
Grant to seek terms for the surrender of the
Grant was near present-day Hixburg, Virginia,
when he received Lee's letter seeking terms.
Prone to severe headaches, he had been in
pain all day, but he later wrote that his
headache vanished the minute he read the
request from General Lee. The Northern
general replied in kind and at 1 p.m. on April
9, 1865, a Palm Sunday, Lee arrived at the
parlor of the Wilmer McLean house at
Appomattox Court House. Dressed in his
finest uniform, he took a seat in the parlor to
await the arrival of his adversary.
About thirty minutes later, Grant arrived. As is
well known, he was dressed in a simple
uniform that was spattered in mud from his
ride. The two men met in the center of the
McLean parlor and spent 25 minutes or so
discussing mutual memories.
Despite his reputation as a hard-driving
general, Grant did not raise the issue of
surrender. Even though they had fought as
enemies, the future U.S. President had great
respect for Lee and the terms he offered
proved far more generous than almost
anyone expected. When Lee finally brought
up the topic and read over Grant's offer, he
responded that it would have a "happy effect"
on the men of his army.
Although all military equipment was to be
turned over, the soldiers of the Army of
Northern Virginia would be allowed to return
home on parole to resume their lives. The
Confederate officers were allowed to keep
their side arms, which meant there would be
no dramatic surrender of Lee's sword to
Grant. And the Union general also provided
rations to the defeated Confederates and
ordered that any in possession of a horse of
mule be allowed to take it home.
The surrender of the Army of Northern
Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse did not
end the Civil War. Major battles were still to
come at places like Blakeley, Alabama;
Columbus and Fort Tyler, Georgia, and even
as far away as Palmitto Ranch, Texas. The
last man to die in the war would not fall at
Hobdy's Bridge in Alabama for another five
weeks. But Lee's surrender marked the
beginning of the end. More than 640,000
men had died in a war that finally ended in a
quiet Virginia village.
Appomattox Court House National Historical
Park is located in Appomattox, Virginia. The
park is open daily and features both original
and reconstructed buildings of the Civil War
town, including the McLean house itself.
Other key areas include the site of Gordon's
attack, the area where the Confederate army
stacked its arms and a small cemetery
containing the graves of the last of Lee's
soldiers to give their lives for the South.
The park is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5
p.m. The cost of admission is $4 per person
or $10 per vehicle from Memorial Day to
Labor Day and then $3 per person or $5 per
vehicle the rest of the year. Pets are allowed,
but must be on a leash. Please click here to
visit the park's official website for more
Be sure to follow the links below to learn
more about Appomattox Court House. The
park is located on Virginia Route 24, about
two miles from the modern town of
Appomattox, Virginia. Also of interest nearby
is Red Hill, the Patrick Henry National
Memorial, as well as a number of other
historic sites and places well worth seeing.
Where America was United
It seems appropriate that the
grounds of the national park
possess such stunning
|Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.