The Surrender of General Lee – Appomattox Court House (Part 2)

This is Part Two. To read Part One, please click here.

April 9, 1865 (Sunday – Afternoon through evening)

One of many inaccurate prints of the surrender.

One of many inaccurate prints of the surrender.

General Grant, from his Memoirs:

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 only true.

McLean House (c.1950) by Theodore Horydczak.

McLean House (c.1950) by Theodore Horydczak.

Horace Porter, of Grant’s staff, from Campaigning with Grant:

About one o’clock the little village of Appomattox Court-house, with its halfdozen houses, came in sight, and soon we were entering its single street. It is situated on rising ground, and beyond it the country slopes down into a broad valley. The enemy was seen with his columns and wagon-trains covering the low ground. Our cavalry, the Fifth Corps, and part of Ord’s command were occupying the high ground to the south and west of the enemy, heading him off completely. We saw a group of officers who had dismounted and were standing at the edge of the town, and at their head we soon recognized the features of Sheridan.

Another inaccurate print.

Another inaccurate print.

Philip Sheridan, from his Memoirs:

“How are you, Sheridan?” [asked Grant.] I assured him with thanks that I was “first-rate,” when, pointing toward the village, he asked, “Is General Lee up there?” and I replied: “There is his army down in that valley, and he himself is over in that house (designating McLean’s house) waiting to surrender to you.” The General then said, “Come, let us go over,” this last remark being addressed to both Ord and me. We two then mounted and joined him, while our staff-officers followed, intermingling with those of the general-in-chief as the cavalcade took its way to McLean’s house near by, and where General Lee had arrived some time before, in consequence of a message from General Grant consenting to the interview asked for by Lee through Meade’s front that morning—the consent having been carried by Colonel Babcock.

McLean House (1965) by Timothy O'Sullivan.

McLean House (1965) by Timothy O’Sullivan.

General Grant:

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.

Grant from West Point to Appomattox

Grant from West Point to Appomattox

Horace Porter:

The general passed in, and as Lee arose and stepped forward, Grant extended his hand, saying, “General Lee,” and the two shook hands cordially. The members of the staff, Generals Sheridan and Ord, and some other general officers who had gathered in the front yard, remained outside, feeling that General Grant would probably prefer his first interview with General Lee to be, in a measure, private. In a few minutes Colonel Babcock came to the front door, and, making a motion with his hat toward the sitting room, said: “The general says come in.”

Another inaccurate print of the surrender.

Another inaccurate print of the surrender.

Col. Charles Marshall, from Lee’s Aide-de-Camp:

In about half an hour we heard horses, and the first thing I knew General Grant walked into the room. There were with him General Sheridan, General Ord, Colonel Badeau, General Porter, Colonel Parker, and quite a number of other officers whose names I do not recall.

General Lee was standing at the end of the room opposite the door when General Grant walked in. General Grant had on a sack coat, a loose fatigue coat, but he had no side arms. He looked as though he had had a pretty hard time. He had been riding and his clothes were somewhat dusty and a little soiled. He walked up to General Lee and Lee recognized him at once. He had known him in the Mexican war. General Grant greeted him in the most cordial manner, and talked about the weather and other things in a very friendly way. Then General Grant brought up his officers and introduced them to General Lee.

McLean House (c.1950) by Theodore Horydczak.

McLean House (c.1950) by Theodore Horydczak.

Horace Porter:

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. Some found seats on the sofa standing against the wall between the two doors and on the few plain chairs which constituted the furniture, but most of the party stood.

McLean House (probably 1930s)

McLean House (probably 1930s)

General Grant:

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.

Still another inaccurate print of the surrender (note: Meade?)

Still another inaccurate print of the surrender (note: Meade?)

Charles Marshall:

I remember that General Lee asked for General Lawrence Williams, of the Army of the Potomac. That very morning General Williams had sent word by somebody to General Lee that Custis Lee, who had been captured at Sailor Creek and was reported killed, was not hurt, and General Lee asked General Grant where General Williams was, and if he could not send for him to come and see him. General Grant sent somebody out for General Williams, and when he came, General Lee thanked him for having sent him word about the safety of his son.

McLean House, 1865 by Timothy O'Sullivan.

McLean House, 1865 by Timothy O’Sullivan.

Horace Porter:

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.”

Rear of McLean House (probably 1930s)

Rear of McLean House (probably 1930s)

General Grant:

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.

Inaccurate surrender print.

Inaccurate surrender print.

Charles Marshall:

After a very free talk General Lee said to General Grant: ‘General, I have come to meet you in accordance with my letter to you this morning, to treat about the surrender of my army, and I think the best way would be for you to put your terms in writing.’ General Grant said: ‘Yes, I believe it will.’ So a Colonel Parker, General Grant’s Aide-de-Camp, brought a little table over from a corner of the room, and General Grant wrote the terms and conditions of surrender on what we call field note paper, that is, a paper that makes a copy at the same time as the note is written. After he had written it, he took it over to General Lee.

McLean House with Federal soldiers by Timothy O'Sullivan.

McLean House with Federal soldiers by Timothy O’Sullivan.

General 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.

Grant’s conditions read:

APPOMATTOX C. H., VA.,

Ap 9th, 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.

Very respectfully, U. S. GRANT, Lt. Gen.

Draft of Grant's terms.

Draft of Grant’s terms.

Horace Porter:

As I was standing equally distant from them, with my back to the front window, I stepped forward, took the book, and passed it to General Lee. […] Lee pushed aside some books and two brass candlesticks which were on the table, then took the book and laid it down before him, while he drew from his pocket a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles, and wiped the glasses carefully with his handkerchief. He crossed his legs, adjusted the spectacles very slowly and deliberately, took up the draft of the terms, and proceeded to read them attentively. They consisted of two pages. When he reached the top line of the second page, he looked up, and said to General Grant: “After the words ‘until properly’ the word ‘exchanged’ seems to be omitted. You doubtless intended to use that word.”

“Why, yes,” said Grant; “I thought I had put in the word ‘exchanged.'”

“I presumed it had been omitted inadvertently,” continued Lee; “and, with your permission, I will mark where it should be inserted.”

“Certainly,” Grant replied.

Lee felt in his pocket as if searching for a pencil, but he did not seem to be able to find one. Seeing this, I handed him my lead-pencil. During the rest of the interview he kept twirling this pencil in his fingers and occasionally tapping the top of the table with it. When he handed it back, it was carefully treasured by me as a memento of the occasion. When Lee came to the sentence about the officers’ side-arms, private horses, and baggage, he showed for the first time during the reading of the letter a slight change of countenance, and was evidently touched by this act of generosity. It was doubtless the condition mentioned to which he particularly alluded when he looked toward General Grant, as he finished reading, and said with some degree of warmth in his manner, “This will have a very happy effect upon my army.”

Inaccurate, but in color.

Inaccurate, but in color.

Charles Marshall:

General Lee then said to General Grant: ‘General, our cavalrymen furnish their own horses; they are not Government horses, some of them may be, but of course you will find them out—any property that is public property, you will ascertain that, but it is nearly all private property, and these men will want to plough ground and plant corn.’

General Grant answered that as the terms were written, only, the officers were permitted to take their private property but almost immediately he added that he supposed that most of the men in the ranks were small farmers, and that the United States did not want their horses. He would give orders to allow every man who claimed to own a horse or mule to take the animal home.

McLean House with Federal soldiers by Timothy O'Sullivan.

McLean House with Federal soldiers by Timothy O’Sullivan.

General Grant:

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 clear.

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:

General Lee’s reply:

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.

A fair copy of Grant's terms.

A fair copy of Grant’s terms.

Horace Porter:

While the letters were being copied, General Grant introduced the general officers who had entered, and each member of the staff, to General Lee. The general shook hands with General Seth Williams, who had been his adjutant when Lee was superintendent at West Point some years before the war, and gave his hand to some of the other officers who had extended theirs; but to most of those who were introduced he merely bowed in a dignified and formal manner. He did not exhibit the slightest change of features during this ceremony until Colonel Parker of our staff was presented to him. Parker being a full-blooded Indian, when Lee saw his swarthy features he looked at him with evident surprise, and his eyes rested on him for several seconds. What was passing in his mind no one knew, but the natural surmise was that he at first mistook Parker for a negro, and was struck with astonishment to find that the commander of the Union armies had one of that race on his personal staff.

McLean House with family. By Timothy O'Sullivan.

McLean House with family. By Timothy O’Sullivan.

Charles Marshall:

[W]hile we were talking I heard General Grant say this: ‘Sheridan, how many rations have you?’ General Sheridan said, ‘How many do you want?’ and General Grant said, ‘General Lee has about a thousand or fifteen hundred of our people prisoners, and they are faring the same as his men, but he tells me his haven’t anything. Can you send them some rations?’

‘Yes,’ he answered. They had gotten some of our rations, having captured a train.

General Grant said: ‘How many can you send?’ and he replied ‘Twenty-five thousand rations.’

General Grant asked if that would be enough, and General Lee replied ‘Plenty; plenty; an abundance’; and General Grant said to Sheridan ‘Order your commissary to send to the Confederate Commissary twenty-five thousand rations for our men and his men.’

Palm Sunday - Harper's Weekly

Palm Sunday – Harper’s Weekly

Horace Porter:

Grant’s eye now fell upon Lee’s sword again, and it seemed to remind him of the absence of his own, and by way of explanation, and so that it could not be construed as a discourtesy, he said to Lee:

“I started out from my camp several days ago without my sword, and as I have not seen my headquarters baggage since, I have been riding about without any side-arms. I have generally worn a sword, however, as little as possible—only during the active operations of a campaign.” “I am in the habit of wearing mine most of the time,” remarked Lee, “when I am among my troops moving about through the army.”

General Sheridan now stepped up to General Lee, and said that when he discovered some of the Confederate troops in motion during the morning, which seemed to be a violation of the trace, he had sent him (Lee) a couple of notes protesting against this act, and as he had not had time to copy them, he would like to have them long enough to make copies. Lee took the notes out of the breast pocket of his coat, and handed them to Sheridan, with a few words expressive of regret that the circumstance should have occurred, and intimating that it must have been the result of some misunderstanding.

After a little general conversation had been indulged in by those present, the two letters were signed. Grant signed the terms on the oval table, which was moved up to him again for the purpose. Lee signed his letter of acceptance on the marble-topped table at which he sat. Colonel Parker folded up the terms, and gave them to Colonel Marshall. Marshall handed Lee’s acceptance to Parker.

Robert E. Lee leaving the McLean House following his surrender to Ulysses S. Grant by Alfred Waud

Robert E. Lee leaving the McLean House following his surrender to Ulysses S. Grant by Alfred Waud

Charles Marshall:

There was no theatrical display about it. It was in itself perhaps the greatest tragedy that ever occurred in the history of the world, but it was the simplest, plainest, and most thoroughly devoid of any attempt at effect, that you can imagine.
[…]
After that a general conversation took place of a most agreeable character. I cannot describe it. I cannot give you any idea of the kindness, and generosity, and magnanimity of those men. When I think of it, it brings tears to my eyes.

Robert E. Lee leaving the McLean House following his surrender to Ulysses S. Grant by Alfred Waud

Robert E. Lee leaving the McLean House following his surrender to Ulysses S. Grant by Alfred Waud

Horace Porter:

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 thrice smote the palm of his left hand slowly with his right fist 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 unaware 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, moving toward him, and 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 at a slow trot to break the sad news to the brave fellows whom he had so long commanded.

‘My Command Has Been Fought to a Frazzle’ – Appomattox Court House (Part 1)

April 9, 1865 (Sunday – Morning and early afternoon)

The night which passed at Appomattox Court House was chilling and cold, lonely and hopeless. General Lee had crafted one last plan to break through the enemy lines before him, which he thought to be only cavalry. For this, he had assembled 9,000 veterans under the helm of General John Gordon, and ordered them up at 1am. Few slept – few could. And their campfire dotted the hills above and around the small village. This was their last bivouac, populated by men soon to fight their last battle.

Sweeney Farm, Appomattox.

Sweeney Farm, Appomattox.

Silence did not long accompany this dark. Cannon fire and small arms fire shook and rattled the air. General Bryan Grimes, commanding a division in Gordon’s Corps, had shifted his skirmishers forward, finding well the Federal barricades, thrown up hastily the evening before. There, Grimes waited for Gordon.

Shortly before dawn, both Gordon and Fitz Lee, commanding the Rebel cavalry, arrived along Grimes’ lines. The three met to discuss the operation.

“General Gordon was of the opinion that the troops in our front were cavalry, and that General Fitz Lee should attack,” wrote Grimes after the war. “Fitz Lee thought they were infantry and that General Gordon should attack. They discussed the matter so long that I became impatient, and said it was somebody’s duty to attack, and that immediately, and I felt satisfied that they could be driven from the cross roads occupied by them, which was the route it was desirable our wagon train should pursue.”

Grimes volunteered to attack, and Gordon spat, “Well, drive them off.”

“I cannot do it with my division along, but require assistance.”

“You can take the two other divisions of the Corps,” came Gordon’s reply. Fitz Lee would join as well, circling around the posted Federals to fall upon the cross roads from the rear.

april9map

With that, Grimes rode to his left, meeting with General James Walker, commanding Early’s old division. He explained his plan for assault, pointing out various points where he believed they could effect a break through. And then, with Walker on his left, he placed Bushrod Johnson’s division on his right, giving him instructions to fall upon the flank of the enemy.

Light was now forming shapes and edges around them. They could see better the lines of Federals before them. In thee crossroads, Grimes could now see, these shapes and edges grew into a battery of artillery, and dim traces became solid showing threats upon his own flank. Better placing his men, he waited now for Fitz Lee, whose cavalry was making their own road to the Federal rear.

The four pieces of artillery flashed in the cold haze. “I remember well the appearance of the shell,” wrote Grimes, “and how directly they came toward me, exploding and completely enveloping me in smoke. I then gave the signal to advance.”

Plunkett-Meeks Store & House, Appomattox.

Plunkett-Meeks Store & House, Appomattox.

The scene that then played out was no less than an echo rippling and reverberating across four years of battlefields. With Fitz Lee striking with Grimes’ attack, the breastworks constructed near the cross roads were taken almost immediately. The enemy’s artillery was also now their own – a scene so familiar to these veterans, who rounded up large numbers of prisoners. There they were again, “driving the enemy in confusion for three-quarters of a mile beyond the range of hills covered with oak undergrowth.”

Grimes halted his men, reforming them to protect his right, and sent word to General Gordon – “the road to Lynchburg was now open.” He would hold, but needed further orders. For Grimes, who had taken the duty of attack upon himself, this was the moment of triumph for the Confederate army. This would be the legend of how General Lee escaped the Butcher, how, though all seemed dark and all seemed lost, they had met success and victory and there would be laurels enough for them all.

But General Grimes was not the only Rebel on the battlefield that day. His troops were not the only men in gray, killing and dying on this crisp April morning. There was also General Gordon, and the coming light formed for him blurred lines turning cavalry easily brushed aside into columns of infantry march swiftly toward the cross roads. It was as he had thought, but perhaps his men had secured for them not just the cross roads, but time. Longstreet would soon be up, Gordon believed, if only he could slow this advancing column.

Plunkett-Meeks Store, Appomattox.

Plunkett-Meeks Store, Appomattox.

Gordon turned first to his sharpshooters and then artillery. They were to fire upon this new mass with everything upon them. “It was held at bay by his shrapnel, grape, and canister.” Good. If only Longstreet, whose corps had camped a handful of miles above Appomattox, could be seen cresting the horizon behind Gordon.

But Longstreet’s men were held up by their own wagons, blocking the line of march. For reasons ungivable, it had taken four hours to come on, and it was 5am when Longstreet finally made his move. And by that time, Gordon had been long-expecting him. But across Longstreet’s front was Sheridan and soon the Army of the James, and soon after, the Fifth Corps. He was pushed back, and to his rear two additional corps from the Army of the Potomac were waiting. Longstreet was cut off and nearly surrounded.

When Gordon received word of Longstreet’s fate, he could see more Federal cavalry riding to fill the empty spaces between his own and Longstreet’s corps. For this, he detached a brigade and fed it into the open. Quickly, Gordon was realizing that he had little left.

A messenger came from General Lee, asking for a report of the work thus far. “Tell General Lee that my command has been fought to a frazzle, and unless Longstreet can unite in the movement, or prevent these forces from coming upon my rear, I cannot long go forward.”

april9milmap

The messenger rode back to Lee with Gordon’s word. With a pause, Lee spoke, more to himself than to his aide. “There is nothing left me but to go and see General Grant, and I had rather die a thousand deaths.”

Lee met quickly with James Longstreet and William Mahone, the two highest ranking officers around him. They were in agreement, now was the time. The Army of Northern Virginia would have to capitulate.

General Grant had breakfasted twenty some miles away, receiving Lee’s letter of the day previous, proposing a 10am meeting to talk of a general peace rather than a surrender. Grant knew that Lee proposed this just in case he could not break out, but when Grant replied, he knew little of the battle to his front.

General: Your note of yesterday is received. As I have no authority to treat on the subject of peace the meeting proposed for 10 A.M. today could lead to no good. I will state, however, General, that I am equally anxious for peace with yourself, and the whole North entertain the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms they will hasten the most desirable event, save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of million of property not yet destroyed. Sincerely hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of another life, I subscribe myself,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U.S. Grant

april9a-mapmap

This was the letter Lee received under a flag of truce as he made his way from Longstreet’s lines to those of the enemy. Hoping to meet with Grant, he was instead met by an officer on General Andrew Humphreys’ Second Corps staff. Lee read the letter in disgust and with some annoyance said to the officer, a colonel, “Well, write a letter to General Grant and ask him to meet me to deal with the question of the surrender of my army.”

This short message was jotted down and sent to the rear, and the battle, much to Lee’s amazement, was resumed. Lee took cover behind Longstreet’s lines, but soon the firing was ceased again. And soon all along the line, from Grimes’ division to Longstreet’s Corps, there was a silence. General Meade, after conferring with Sheridan, had allowed a one hour truce. Meade also suggested that Lee send to Grant a second, more detailed message. This he did, reiterating the request for an interview “to discuss the terms of the surrender of this army.”

Lee's message to General Grant.

Lee’s message to General Grant.

Just before this lull, Fitz Lee understood well what would soon take place. And so he folded his honor, tucking it neatly away in his saddlebag, and spoke to his staff. “I don’t wish to be included in the surrender,” he said. “Come, let’s go. General Lee no longer requires my poor services.”

And as he uttered those words, a bullet pierced the breast of his comrade, Charles Minnigerode, his aide-de-camp. The young Charles fell from his horse, striken and bleeding, but not yet dead. In pain and knowing he begged Fitz Lee to “take your pistol and kill me,” but Lee could do no such thing. He turned toward Lynchburg and left his friend dying behind him.

Minnigerode lingered, and though suffering, scrawled a short note to home:

My Darling Mother
I am dying but I have fallen where I expected to fall. Our cause is defeated but I do not live to see the end of it. I suffer agonies, would to God I could die camly [sic] but – In all things I must see His will be done. My gratest [sic] regret in leaving this world is to leave you and the rest of the dear ones. The younger children will be more comforting to you than I have been but – none of them will… love you more

Letter written by Charles Minnigerode to his mother.

Letter written by Charles Minnigerode to his mother.

Through this lull rode General Grant, who knew nothing of the cease fire or the final offer to surrender until he was several miles away. On the road he was met by a staff officer with Lee’s message. From before the dawn, Grant had been suffering what must have been a migrane – he described it “a sick headache.” He wrote later that “the instant I saw the contents of the note I was cured.”

In reply, he wrote:

“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.”

Peers House, Appomattox.

Peers House, Appomattox.

As Grant and Lee exchanged letters, the officers of the warring armies met across the lines. They mingled, talking most of old time and home. Few discussed the war and the matter at hand. One came upon a seriously wounded Rebel, who begged him to kill him and put him out of his misery. The Federal refused. “No I won’t Johnny Reb,” he said, “you might get well.” He had found Charles Minnigerode, abandoned by Fitz Lee. The Federal was right. Charles would suffer – for days he would endure pain like no other – but in the end, he survived.

General Lee received Grant’s message a little before 1pm, delivered by Col. Orville Babcock of Grant’s staff. Lee asked one of his own staff, Col. Charles Marshall, to find for them a place where they could meet, and he rode into the town.

“We struck up the hill towards Appomattox Court House,” recalled Col. Marshall. “There was a man named McLean who used to live on the first battle-field of Manassas, at a house about a mile from Manassas Junction. He didn’t like the war, and having seen the first battle of Manassas, he thought he would get away where there wouldn’t be any more fighting so he moved down to Appomattox Court House. General Lee told me to go forward and find a house where he could meet General Grant, and of all people, whom should I meet but McLean. I rode up to him and said, ‘Can you show me a house where General Lee and General Grant can meet together.’ He took me into a house that was all dilapidated and that had no furniture in it. I told him it wouldn’t do. Then he said, ‘Maybe my house will do!’ He lived in a very comfortable house, and I told him I thought that would suit.”

McLean's House, Appomattox by Timothy O'Sullivan.

McLean’s House, Appomattox by Timothy O’Sullivan.

McLean, now part of the legend, had lived upon the battlefield of Manassas, where he and his family witnessed the first major bloodshed of the war. After the second battle in 1862, he moved with his family to the small village of Appomattox, promising them that it would be a place “where the sound of battle would never reach them.”

Marshall sent an orderly back to General Lee and Col. Babcock, who soon arrived. “Colonel Babcock told his orderly that he was to meet General Grant, who was coming on the road, and turn him in when he came along,” Marshall continued. “So General Lee, Babcock and myself sat down in McLean’s parlour and talked in the most friendly and affable way.”

General Grant was led to Sheridan’s lines, where they were arrayed for battle, facing the enemy. “They were very much excited,” Grant remembered, “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 these were not Grant’s own thoughts. He had, he said, “no doubt about the good faith of Lee.” He walked up the steps onto McLean’s porch, and found Col. Marshall waiting. Perhaps turning to give himself one last look of the scene which had unfolded around him, Grant recalled:

“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.”

The conclusion of this telling will post at 3pm Eastern – the time of the surrender itself.1



  1. Sources: Reminiscences of the Civil War by John Brown Gordon; “After the Surrender at Appomattox” by I.G. Bradwell, appearing in the Confederate Veteran, Vol. 17; “The Last at Appomattox” by Henry A. London, appearing in Record of North Carolina Troops; An Aide-de-Camp of Lee by Charles Marshall; Memoirs by General Grant; From Manassas to Appomattox by James Longstreet. []

‘We Have Yet Too Many Bold Men’ – Lee Rebuffs Any Thought of Surrender

April 8, 1865 (Saturday)

The night previous a number of Confederate generals met to discuss the situation, the highest ranking among them, General William Pendleton. With neither Lee nor Longstreet within earshot, they came to the agreement that surrender was swiftly approaching. It was inevitable, they concluded, wishing now to discuss this with Lee. But which of their number, they questioned, might confront the commanding general? They asked first to speak with Longstreet, Lee’s second.

E. Porter Alexander

E. Porter Alexander

“In the forenoon,” wrote Longstreet of this encounter, “General Pendleton came to me and reported the proceedings of the self-constituted council of war of the night before, and stated that he had bene requested to make the report and ask to have me bear it to General Lee, in the name of the members of the council. Much surprised, I turned and asked if he did not know that the Articles of War provided that officers or soldiers who asked commanding officers to surrender should be shot, and said, –

“If General Lee doesn’t know when to surrender until I tell him, he will never know.”

According to Pendleton (through E. Porter Alexander), Longstreet not only refused, but also boasted that his own corps was “still able to whip four times their numbers, and as long as that was so he should never suggest a surrender.”

Pendleton then, with no other recourse, went to Lee himself. This account was recalled by General Armistead Lindsay Long, who was apparently present, two decades after the war.

General Pendleton approached General Lee who he found lying upon the ground. After explaining to Lee the conclusions of the impromptu convention of generals, Lee was to have said, “Oh no, I trust it has not come to that.” He also added, “General, we have yet too many bold men to think of laying down our arms. The enemy do not fight with spirit, while our boys still do. Besides, if I were to say a word to the Federal commander he would regard it as such a confession of weakness as to make it the condition of demanding unconditional surrender – a proposal to which I will never listen.

General William Pendleton

General William Pendleton

Lee then, according to Long (who stated that he was quoting Pendleton) waxed about the larger picture: “I have never believed we could, against the gigantic combination for our subjugation, make good, in the long run, our independence, unless foreign powers should, directly or indirectly, assist us…. But such considerations really make with me no difference. We had, I was satisfied, sacred principles to maintain, and rights to defend, for which we were in duty bound to do our best, even if we perished in the endeavor.”

These poetic words, told Long by Pendleton long after the war, claimed to show “the soul of he man. Where his conscience dictated and his judgment decided, there his heart was.”

However, at the time, Pendleton may have told a different story. As recorded by Porter Alexander in the 1880s, “It had evidently been very coldly received. He said that General Lee had answered him that there were too many men there with arms in their hands to think of laying them down.”

Alexander concluded that “General Lee took no one into his confidence as to his intentions, or as to his correspondence with General Grant; preferring, as his hand became the harder to play, to play it more and more alone.”

Also the day previous, General Grant had written to Lee of surrender, and Lee had replied, asking for terms. Grant received the communication on the morning of this date, replying soon after. Lee received Grant’s answer in the afternoon.

“Your note of last evening in reply to mine of the same date, asking the conditions on which I will accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, is just received. In reply I would say that, peace being my great desire, there is but one condition I would insist upon, – namely, that the men and officers surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged. I will meet you, or will designate officers to meet any officers you may name for the same purpose, at any point agreeable to you, for the purpose of arranging definitely the terms upon which the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia will be received.”

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General Grant, in his own memoirs, made little mention of this exchange. He provided copies of his and Lee’s correspondence, but gave almost no commentary, allowing them to stand on their own. However, he related a story from the morning of this date:

“Lee’s army was rapidly crumbling. Many of his soldiers had enlisted from that part of the State where they now were, and were continually dropping out of the ranks and going to their homes. I know that I occupied a hotel almost destitute of furniture at Farmville, which had probably been used as a Confederate hospital. The next morning when I came out I found a Confederate colonel there, who reported to me and said that he was the proprietor of that house, and that he was a colonel of a regiment that had been raised in that neighborhood. He said that when he came along past home, he found that he was the only man of the regiment remaining with Lee’s army, so he just dropped out, and now wanted to surrender himself. I told him to stay there and he would not be molested. That was one regiment which had been eliminated from Lee’s force by this crumbling process.”

General Lee believed that he had one last chance to break away from the Federals. Thus far, this day’s retreat had been easier. His men were suffering for lack of supplies, but there were, he knew, supplies waiting for them at Appomattox Court House, less than a day’s march away. The enemy columns had played not at all upon his flanks, and if he could beat them to Appomattox, they could push on to the Staunton River, crossing it and burning the bridge behind, then march south to finally link with Joe Johnston.

But the road to Appomattox was shorter for Grant than for Lee. This, of course, fell upon Philip Sheridan, commanding the mass of Federal cavalry on Lee’s left flank. At dawn, he had sent his troopers toward Appomattox, a scout reporting that four trains of cars were loaded with supplies and waiting for Lee’s men. Sheridan had a mind to allow the train to rest at Appomattox, but to sever the track to the west, so it could not escape.

John Brown Gordon

John Brown Gordon

This was accomplished with swiftness by George Armstrong Custer’s command, which had the advance. “These regiments set off at a gallop,” penned Sheridan in his memoirs, “and in short order broke up the railroad enough to prevent the escape of the trains, Custer meanwhile taking possession of the station, but none too soon, for almost at the moment he did so the advance-guard of Lee’s army appeared, bent on securing the trains.”

In his report, General Custer described: “The train was found to be guarded by about two divisions of infantry, in addition to over thirty pieces of artillery, all under command of Major-General Walker. Most of the enemy’s guard were placed in position and then fire concentrated upon the road over which it was necessary for me to advance. The enemy succeeded in repulsing nearly all our attacks, until nearly 9 o’clock at night, when by a general advance along my line he was forced from his position and compelled to abandon to our hands twenty-four pieces of artillery, all his trains, several battle-flags, and a large number of prisoners. Our loss was slight. Our advance reached Appomattox Court-House that night and charged into the camp of the rebel army.”

While Sheridan’s men were riding toward Appomattox, General Lee had been handed Grant’s reply. That it was not an unconditional surrender, and that the possibility of exchange was on the table must have been surprising to Lee. Discussing it with nobody, Lee sat by the side of the road and wrote:

I received, at a late hour, your note of to-day. In mine of yesterday I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender of this army; but as the restoration of peace should be the sole object of all, I desired to know whether your proposals would lead to that end. I cannot, therefore, meet you with a view to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia; but as far as your proposal may affect the Confederate States forces under my command, and tend to the restoration of peace, I should be pleased to meet you at ten A.M. to-morrow on the old stage-road to Richmond, between the picket-lines of the two armies.

The message was handed to a staff officer who rode with it to Grant’s headquarters, twenty or so miles northwest. He would receive it the following morning.

James Longstreet

James Longstreet

That night, Lee rode to within two miles of Appomattox Court House, and now heard the booming cannons fighting back Sheridan’s strikes. These were before him, and he now knew that the Federals were again barring his way. He shifted his cavalry from rear guard to front, and at midnight gathered to him his most trusted officers.

Across the dark land just a few miles to the west was the bulk of Sheridan’s cavalry, now encamped at the depot. Lee knew well of these, but had no way of knowing that not far south was General Edward Ord’s Army of the James, which had taken the lead before the Army of the Potomac. They were not encamped, but marching, drawing closer through the night as Lee’s own army rested.

The council, the last Lee would call, found Lee with Longstreet, Fitz Lee, Pendleton, and John Gordon assembled. The rest would not be long, as Lee ordered the army to march again at 1am. Longstreet was to hurry his men to Appomattox Court House, hold the village, and allow safe passage for the rest of the army and its supplies. But General Gordon had a suspicion that there was not simply cavalry before them, but infantry as well. He named Ord’s army, but Lee could not believe such a story.

In the end, Lee devised his last plan for battle. Fitz Lee’s cavalry, along with Gordon’s infantry, and a few batteries of artillery, would attempt to hack their way through Sheridan’s lines. Longstreet’s corps would then be up for support. In all, they could muster 9,000 for this fight, and would throw themselves knowingly against Sheridan’s 15,000.

Appomattox Station

Appomattox Station

But if they could break the line, break Sheridan’s hold before them, they would again be in the lead. A strong rear guard could hold them, and force of will would drive them to Lynchburg and to Johnston.

As the meeting adjourned, Gordon sent a staff officer to ask Lee if there were any specific instructions for where he should halt after breaking through, where his men might encamp the next night.

“Yes,” spoke Lee in reply, “tell General Gordon that I should be glad for him to halt just beyond the Tennessee line.”1

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  1. Sources: Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 46, Part 1, p1132, 1136-1137; Memoirs by Ulysses S. Grant; Memoirs by Philip Sheridan; From Manassas to Appomattox by James Longstreet; Memoirs of Robert E. Lee by Armistead Lindsay Long; Reminiscences of the Civil War by John Brown Gordon; Fighting for the Confederacy by E. Porter Alexander; Out of the Storm by Noah Trudeau. []

‘The Most Inviting Point for Attack’ – Lee Plans to Assault Grant

March 24, 1865 (Friday)

Since the early days of March, General Lee had become certain that he could not hold Petersburg come spring. He would have, claimed Jefferson Davis after the war, simply abandoned the city at once had not his horses been too weak to pull their burdens through the quagmire that passed for roads in and around the Confederate capital. As weeks drew on, Lee turned to corps commander John Gordon, whose troops – those of Richard Ewell’s Corps – held the right of the Army of Northern Virginia.

John Brown Gordon

John Brown Gordon

Gordon had gained favor with the commanding general, rising in rank as those before him fell ill or were ushered off to other parts of the war. To Lee, at least according to Gordon, he gave three suggestions about the near future of the army. First, he suggested that they could meet with Grant and hope for the best terms he would give. Second, if they would not surrender, they must abandon the defenses of Petersburg and Richmond, march to North Carolina to defeat Sherman. Lastly, he proposed a strike at Grant.

Together, the two generals mulled over the decision to be made. Each option was carefully weighed, and by the end of the night, according to Gordon, Lee seemed more inclined to the first – asking for terms. While Lee was given that clout by Davis, he understood that Grant was not unleashed by Lincoln in a similar way. With President Davis more than reluctant to abandon the Confederacy’s capital until the very moment of sheer necessity, it left Lee only one option: he must attack Grant.

This was a seeming impossibility. There was, of course, no hope at all of a general victory. Such a strike needed to be surgical and decisive. To Gordon fell the task of examining the Union lines to find the weakest section, and for a week, he committed himself to such reconnaissance. There was much to consider. Where, thought Gordon, might his own troops launch such a sortie? And further, which embattlement of the enemy could be deemed weak enough to force a desired break?

“All these points considered,” wrote Gordon after the war, “I decided that Fort Stedman on Grant’s lines was the most inviting point for attack.” Gordon now had to consider just how he would craft his assault. Across several days, Gordon devised the attack, and finally met with Lee to discuss his machinations.

Interior of Fort Stedman

Interior of Fort Stedman

Gordon insisted that he could take Fort Stedman by a night assault, “and a sudden, quick rush across ditches, where the enemy’s pickets are on watch, running over the pickets and capturing them, or, if they resist, using the bayonet.”

As for the fort itself, General Gordon explained what his men would be thrown up against: “Through prisoners and deserters I have learned during the past week all about the obstructions in front of General Grant’s lines. They are exceedingly formidable. They are made of rails, with the lower ends deeply buried in the ground. The upper ends are sharpened and rest upon poles, to which they are fastened by strong wires. These sharp points are about breast-high, and my men could not possibly get over them. They are about six or eight inches apart; and we could not get through them. They are so securely fastened together and to the horizontal poles by the telegraph wires that we could not possibly shove them apart so as to pass them.”

By Gordon’s description, it seemed as if there was no question at all. But Gordon (again, according to Gordon), had the solution. “The is but one thing to do,” he claimed to have said to Lee. “They must be chopped to pieces by heavy, quick blows with sharp axes. I propose to select fifty brave and especially robust and active men, who will be armed only with axes. These axemen will rush across, closely followed by my troops, and will slash down a passage for my men almost at a single blow. This stalwart force will rush into the fort with the head of my column, and, if necessary, use their axes instead of bayonets in any hand-to-hand conflict inside the fort.”

Fort Sedgwick, but quite similar to Stedman.

Fort Sedgwick, but quite similar to Stedman.

This was, of course, a most ridiculous plan, and Lee wasn’t about to approve it on the spot. This was too important for such haste. Fort Stedman was of little importance to Lee, but all that lied south of it. If he could drive an immovable force into Grant’s lines at Fort Stedman, it would cut off the entire Federal left, causing the ground they now held to be, at least for a time, perilous. Grant would have to retract much of the Army of the Potomac from the roads south of Petersburg. This would leave the way open for Lee to fall south to Joe Johnston’s army in North Carolina.

Lee and Gordon met again on the night of the 23rd to discuss their final concerns. Several scouts had been rounded up who knew well the land, having houses across the ground prior to the war. He was also willing to commit nearly half his entire army to the strike, pulling troops from the corps of James Longstreet and A.P. Hill. Finally, Lee gave his blessing, and Gordon’s plan was adopted. All through that night and this day, the Southern troops concentrated on the portion of their line opposite Fort Steadman, known as Cloquitt’s Salient. The next morning, the 25th, could come the assault.

Map of Petersburg defenses with Fort Stedman highlighted.

Map of Petersburg defenses with Fort Stedman highlighted.

In the meanwhile, across the escarpments and abatis, General Grant had decided to bring on the end: “The day that Gordon was making dispositions for this attack (24th of March) I issued my orders for the movement to commence on the 29th. Ord, with three divisions of infantry and Mackenzie’s cavalry, was to move in advance on the night of the 27th, from the north side of the James River and take his place on our extreme left, thirty miles away.”

There was much more to Grant’s plan. Nearly his entire line was set to utterly crush Lee’s defenses. To General Meade, commanding the Army of the Potomac, General Ord, heading the Army of the James, and to Sheridan, who was now moving his force of cavalry to the Union right, Grant sent the details of the attack.

And then, shortly after the setting of the sun, a vessel arrived near Grant’s headquarters to deliver President and Mrs. Lincoln, as well as their son, Tad. They were greeted by General Grant and his own wife. For the night, Lincoln would stay aboard the ship, but the next morning, it was planned for him to come ashore and review the troops.

Lincoln’s journey from Washington to Petersburg was not without controversy. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, as well as others, believed Lincoln’s life to be in danger. With the Rebels so desperate, they believed that, perhaps, an abduction plot or even assassination was not out of their moral reach. Stanton did all he could to keep Lincoln in Washington, and even tried to stop the President’s ship from leaving the harbor, but to no end. Lincoln wished to see the ending of this war, and what better place could be had apart from Grant?1



  1. Sources: Official RecordsSeries 1, Vol. 46, Part 1, p50-53; Rise and Fall Vol. 2, by Jefferson Davis; Reminiscences of the Civil War by John Brown Gordon; The Last Citadel by Noah Andre Trudeau; The Lincolns by Daniel Mark Epstein; Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy by Ethan S. Rafuse. []

Custer Captures Jubal Early’s Entire Command

March 2, 1865 (Thursday)

Through the long night, Confederates under Jubal Early made their retirement to Waynesboro, leaving Staunton behind them. There, they established a thin line of defenses on either side of the road, just west of the town.

Custer

Custer

“My object, in taking this position,” wrote Early after the war, “was to secure the removal of five pieces of artillery for which there were no horses, and some stores still in Waynesboro, as well as to present a bold front to the enemy, and ascertain the object of his movement, which I could not do very well if I took refuge at once in the mountain.”

All told, he had in his band little more than 1,500. Whatever bold front he hoped to present would have to be very bold indeed. “I did not intend making my final stand on this ground,” he continued, ” yet I was satisfied that if my men would fight, which I had no reason to doubt, I could hold the enemy in check until night, and then cross the river and take position in Rockfish Gap; for I had done more difficult things than that during the war.” And yet, this was not to be.

The Federals were helmed by Philip Sheridan, who had pushed them with due speed south to Staunton, above which they encamped the night previous. But come the dawn, they were again on the march, turning east toward Waynesboro and Early’s Confederates. Leading this march was the division of George Armstrong Custer.

“My orders were to proceed to Waynesborough, ascertain something definite in regard to the position, movements, and strength of the enemy, and, if possible, to destroy the railroad bridge over the South River at that point,” wrote Custer in his report filed soon after. “The roads were almost impassible, owing to the mud caused by the heavy rains of the past few days. Our march was necessarily slow.”

They came first upon the enemy in the town of Fishersville, after a slog of six miles. There Early had placed his advance pickets, whom Custer’s own drove with ease, the enemy fading in the direction of Waynesboro. But there, Custer discovered Early’s main line, “posted behind a formidable line of earth-works. His position was well chosen, being upon a range of hills west of the town, from which his artillery could command all approaches, while his infantry could, by their fire, sweep the open space extending along their entire front.”

Custer now selected the brigade commanded by Col. William Wells, which was moved forward in an attempt to compel Early to show his hand. There was, as yet, no attack. This demonstration showed to Custer that a frontal attack would likely not bring victory, but merely blood and dying upon his own men.

“But one point seemed favorable to attack,” Custer recalled. “The enemy’s left flank, instead of resting on South River, was thrown well forward, leaving a short gap between his left and the river. The approach to this point could be made under cover of the woods.”

For this, Custer now chose three regiments, placing them under Col. Alexander Pennington with orders to dismount and fall upon the enemy’s left. Pennington gathered men from Ohio, New Jersey, and Connecticut, drawing them right and into the woods. Now concealed, he himself reconnoitered the ground over which they would assault.

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This movement, though mostly concealed from the enemy’s eyes was espied by Early. “I immediately sent a messenger with notice of this fact to General Wharton,” he wrote, “who was on that flank, and with orders for him to look out and provide for the enemy’s advance; and another messenger with notice to the guns on the left, and directions for them to fire towards the advancing force, which could not be seen from where they were.”

The ground now scouted, Col. Pennington rode back to his men, still concealed in the woods, and ordered them forward. They came as close as they might, to within 100 yards of the Confederate left, and were still unnoticed. They halted at a fence, pausing to pull it down, and then charged.

“The movement,” wrote Pennington, “was completely successful. The entire line of the enemy was thrown into confusion and obliged to retreat, many throwing away their arms and accouterments to enable them to do so more effectually.”

Just as the attack came upon Wharton’s line, Wharton himself, who had not received Early’s warning, rode up to Early. Now in sinking shock, Early “pointed out to him the disorder in his line, and ordered him to ride immediately to that point and rectifying it. Before he got back, the troops gave way on the left, after making very slight resistance, and soon everything was in a state of confusion and the men commenced crossing the river.”

The Confederate artillery, unlike the infantry, remained at their posts up until the Federals were upon them. “One piece was captured,” recalled Custer, “with the sponge staff still inserted in the bore and the charged rammed half way home.”

Early rode himself to the water’s edge and across, trying to stop his men and trying to rally them, “but they could not be rallies, and the enemy forded the river above and got into our rear.”

Today's approximate map.

Today’s approximate map.

“The rout of the enemy,” Custer went on, “could not have been more complete; no order or organization was preserved. The pursuit was taking up by my entire command, and continue through Rockfish Gap for a distance of twelve miles.”

Early could now see that “everything was lost.” After Custer’s men had gotten between his own and the mountains, and the retreat cut off, Early “rode aside into the woods, and in that way escaped capture. I went to the top of a hill to reconnoiter, and had the mortification of seeing the greater part of my command being carried off as prisoners, and a force of the enemy moving rapidly towards Rockfish Gap.”

General Early had with him his staff and as many as twenty men. They rode first for Greenwood Depot, to where the stores of Staunton and Waynesboro had been removed, but upon approach could see that the Federals were upon this as well. It was then to Jarman’s Gap, three miles distant, and there found some shelter for the night. The weather turned colder and ice formed across the roads, stranding Early and his small clutch of survivors.

In the meanwhile, Custer counted his bounty:

“Among some of the substantial fruits of this victory we had possession of about 1,800 prisoners [probably closer to 1,500], 14 pieces of artillery, 17 battle-flags, and a train of nearly 200 wagons and ambulances, including General Early’s headquarters’ wagon, continaing all his offical desks and records. The result of this engagement was of the highest value and importance to us for another reason; it opened a way across the Blue Ridge Mountains through Rockfish Gap, and thereby saved us from several days’ delay and marching.”

Sheridan would rest his men for a few days upon reaching Charolettesville, and would avoid Lynchburg all together. Early would shuffle around some uncaptured officers, ordering them to Lynchburg, but for no real purpose. For the entire month of March, Early would try to gather his strength in Lynchburg, but he would find that there was little strength to gather.1



  1. Sources: Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 46, Part 1, p502, 504-505; A Memoir of the Last Year of the War For Independence by Jubal A. Early. []