BY GENERAL FITZHUGH LEE
A white flag went out from the Southern ranks, the firing ceased; the war in Virginia was over. Colonel Babcock, the bearer of General Grant's last note, found General Lee near Appomattox Court House, lying under an apple tree upon a blanket spread on some rails, from which circumstance the widespread report originated that the surrender took place under an apple tree.
General Lee, Colonel Marshall of his staff, Colonel Babcock of General Grant's, and a mounted orderly rode to the village, and found Mr. Wilmer McLean, a resident, who, upon being told that General Lee wanted the use of a room in some house, conducted the party to his dwelling, a comfortable two-story brick, with a porch in front running the length of the house. General Lee was ushered into the room on the left of the hall as you enter, and about one o'clock was joined by General Grant, his staff, and Generals Sheridan and Ord. Grant sat at a marble-topped table in the center of the room, Lee at a small oval table near the front window. "The contrast between the commanders," said one who was present, "was striking."
Grant, not yet forty-three years old, five feet eight inches tall, shoulders slightly stooped, hair and heard nut-brown, wearing a dark-hue flannel blouse unbuttoned, showing vest beneath; ordinary top boots, trousers inside; dark-yellow thread gloves; without spurs or sword, and no marks of rank except a general's shoulder-straps. Lee, fifty-eight years old, six feet tall, hair and beard silver gray; a handsome uniform of Confederate gray buttoned to the throat, with three stars on each side of the turned-down collar, fine top-boots with handsome spurs, elegant gauntlets, and at his side a splendid sword.' With a magnificent physique, not a pound of superfluous flesh, ruddy cheeks bronzed by exposure, grave and dignified, he was the focus for all eyes. "His demeanor was that of a thoroughly possest gentleman who had a disagreeable duty to perform, but was determined to get through it as well and as soon as he could" without the exhibition of temper or mortification.
Generals Lee and Grant had met once, eighteen years before, when both were fighting for the same cause in Mexico one an engineer officer and on
the staff of Scott, the commanding general, the other a subaltern of infantry in Garland's brigade. After a pleasant reference to that event, Lee promptly drew attention to the business before them, the terms of surrender were arranged, and at General Lee's request reduced to writing, as follows:
APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE, VA.,
April 9, 1865.
GENERAL: 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 to be 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 and 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 officers appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers nor the private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to he disturbed by United States authority so long as he observes his parole, and the laws in force where he may reside.
U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant general.
"Unless you have some suggestion to make, I will have a copy of the letter made in ink and sign it," said Grant; and it gave Lee the opportunity to tell him that the cavalrymen and many of the artillerymen owned their own horses, and he wished to know whether these men would be permitted to retain their horses. The terms gave to the officers only that privilege, and so Grant stated; but seeing that Lee's face showed plainly that he would like that concession made, the former said feelingly that he supposed that most of the men in ranks were small farmers, that their horses would be useful in putting in a crop to carry themselves and families through the next winter, and that he would give instructions "to let all men who claim to own a horse or mule take the animals home with them to work their little farms" The Union commander was in touch with his President.
General Weitzel, who had entered Richmond with his Twenty-fifth Corps and received its formal capitulation, asked Mr. Lincoln what he "should do in regard to the conquered people " The latter is reported to have replied that he did not wish to give any orders on that subject, but added, If I were in your place I'd let 'em up easy, I'd let 'em up easy." It was the fear of his men losing their horses in case of surrender that made the Confederate cavalry commander ask permission at the council the night before to extricate his cavalry in case of surrender, provided it was done before the flag of truce changed the status, To Grant's written proposition for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, General Lee replied:
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 instant, they are accepted. I will proceed to designate the proper officers to carry the stipulation into effect.
R. E. LEE, General.
Lieutenant-General U. S. GraNT.
The formalities were concluded without dramatic accessories, and then Lee's thoughts turned to his hungry veterans and to his prisoners. "I have a thousand or more of your men and officers, whom we have required to march along with us for several days," said Lee to Grant. "I shall he glad to send them to your lines as soon as it can be arranged, for I have no provisions for them. My own men have been living for the last few days principally upon parched corn, and we are badly In need of both rations and forage." The rations sent from Lyochburg to the Southerners were captured. When Grant suggested that he should send Lee twenty-five thousand rations, the latter told him it would be ample, and assured him it would be a great relief. The Confederate commander then left, and rode away to break the sad news to the brave troops he had so long commanded.
General Grant's behavior at Appomattox was marked by a desire to spare the feelings of his great opponent. There was no theatrical display; his troops were not paraded with bands playing
and banners flying, before whose lines the Confederates must march and tack arms. He did not demand Lee's sword, as is customary, but actually apologized to him for not having his own, saying it had been left behind in the wagon; promptly stopped salutes from being fired to mark the event, and the terms granted were liberal and generous. "No man could have behaved better than General Grant did under the circumstances," said Lee to a friend in Richmond. "He did not touch my sword; the usual custom is for the sword to be received when tendered, and then handed back, but he did not touch mine." Neither did the Union chief enter the Southern lines to show himself or to parade his victory, or go to Richmond or Petersburg to exult over a fallen people, but mounted his horse and with his staff started for Washington. Washington, at Yorktown, was not as considerate and thoughtful of the feelings of Cornwallis or his men. Charges were now withdrawn from the guns, flags furled, and the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia turned their backs upon each other for the first time in four long, bloody years.