The United States since 1865

The United States since 1865

The United States since 1865

The United States since 1865

Excerpt

On April 9, 1865--it was Palm Sunday--General Ulysses S. Grant rode through the Union lines to the little village of Appomattox Court House, in Virginia, dismounted from his horse, and walked up the steps of a small house. The door was opened and General Robert E. Lee, who had been awaiting this arrival, rose to his feet. The two generals, commanders respectively of the Union and Confederate forces in the Civil War, greeted each other formally.

They presented a strange contrast: the one heavily bearded, dressed for the field in a soldier's blouse, his boots and breeches spattered with mud, nothing to indicate his rank except the stars on his shoulder straps; and the other tall and imposing, faultlessly garbed in full-dress uniform, a sash of red silk about his waist and a jeweled sword at his side. For a time they chatted, recalling their common experiences in the war against Mexico. "Our conversation grew so pleasant," General Grant was later to recall, "that I almost forgot the object of our meeting."

It was, however, of some moment--nothing less than the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. The position of Lee's forces had become untenable and it was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. The terms were quickly agreed upon. Arms and materiel were to be surrendered, all troops paroled, officers permitted to retain their sidearms, and in order to expedite spring planting, every man claiming a horse or a mule would be allowed to take his animal home. The prolonged and bitter agony of the Civil War was to give way to peace, to re-establishment of the shattered Union, and to the reconstruction of the southern states.

The end of hostilities marked the close of one epoch in the history of the United States and the beginning of another. Certain issues had once . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.