On April 9th, 1865, General Robert E. Lee decided it was finally time to call it quits. He sent an aide, Colonel Charles Marshall, under a flag of truce to meet with General US Grant about the terms of surrender.
A meeting would be set up in the McLean house in Appomattox Courthouse. The time would be around 1:30pm. General Lee met with General Grant and began to talk like old friends. The respect for one another and for each other’s army was one born out of long years of action against each other. There was no bitterness or hatred. The terms were simple. The men were to lay down their arms, sign their parole, and the men who had horses were allowed to keep them in order to help with the Spring harvest.
The two men signed copies of the order and went back to their own camps. The next day, General Lee would order his famous General Order Number 9 — “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 the result from no distrust of them. But feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that would compensate for the loss that must 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 increasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous considerations for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.”
The civil war would last 4 years and would cost a total of 620,000 lives on both sides. These men were Americans. They fought for reasons that we still do today. Honor, loyalty, and devotion to ones duty. No matter what side you had kin on, we should remember and respect their memories as Americans.
Jeremy Scott is a 36-year-old military history buff from Houston, Texas. He has been interested in military history since the age of 8 years old. His blog: http://militaryhistorydispatches.blogspot.com/ shows his interests as the Napoleonic era, the American Civil War, and both World wars I and II. He has a deep respect for the “boots on the ground” the common military soldier, and hopes that his humble writings interest those soldiers.