Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant

On the morning of the 5th, I addressed Major-General Sherman the
following communication:

“WILSON’S STATION, April 5, 1865.

“GENERAL: All indications now are that Lee will attempt to
reach Danville with the remnant of his force. Sheridan, who was
up with him last night, reports all that is left, horse, foot,
and dragoons, at twenty thousand, much demoralized. We hope to
reduce this number one-half. I shall push on to Burkesville,
and if a stand is made at Danville, will in a very few days go
there. If you can possibly do so, push on from where you are,
and let us see if we cannot finish the job with Lee’s and
Johnston’s armies. Whether it will be better for you to strike
for Greensboro’, or nearer to Danville, you will be better able
to judge when you receive this. Rebel armies now are the only
strategic points to strike at.

“U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
“MAJOR-GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN.”

On the morning of the 6th, it was found that General Lee was
moving west of Jetersville, towards Danville. General Sheridan
moved with his cavalry (the 5th corps having been returned to
General Meade on his reaching Jetersville) to strike his flank,
followed by the 6th corps, while the 2d and 5th corps pressed
hard after, forcing him to abandon several hundred wagons and
several pieces of artillery. General Ord advanced from
Burkesville towards Farmville, sending two regiments of infantry
and a squadron of cavalry, under Brevet Brigadier-General
Theodore Read, to reach and destroy the bridges. This advance
met the head of Lee’s column near Farmville, which it heroically
attacked and detained until General Read was killed and his small
force overpowered. This caused a delay in the enemy’s movements,
and enabled General Ord to get well up with the remainder of his
force, on meeting which, the enemy immediately intrenched
himself. In the afternoon, General Sheridan struck the enemy
south of Sailors’ Creek, captured sixteen pieces of artillery
and about four hundred wagons, and detained him until the 6th
corps got up, when a general attack of infantry and cavalry was
made, which resulted in the capture of six or seven thousand
prisoners, among whom were many general officers. The movements
of the 2d corps and General Ord’s command contributed greatly to
the day’s success.

On the morning of the 7th the pursuit was renewed, the cavalry,
except one division, and the 5th corps moving by Prince Edward’s
Court House; the 6th corps, General Ord’s command, and one
division of cavalry, on Farmville; and the 2d corps by the High
Bridge Road. It was soon found that the enemy had crossed to
the north side of the Appomattox; but so close was the pursuit,
that the 2d corps got possession of the common bridge at High
Bridge before the enemy could destroy it, and immediately
crossed over. The 6th corps and a division of cavalry crossed
at Farmville to its support.

Feeling now that General Lee’s chance of escape was utterly
hopeless, I addressed him the following communication from
Farmville:

“April 7, 1865.

“GENERAL–The result of the last week must convince you of the
hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of
Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and
regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of
any further effusion of blood, by asking of you the surrender of
that portion of the Confederate States army known as the Army of
Northern Virginia.

“U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
“GENERAL R. E. LEE.”

Early on the morning of the 8th, before leaving, I received at
Farmville the following:

“April 7, 1865.

“GENERAL: I have received your note of this date. Though not
entertaining the opinion you express on the hopelessness of
further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia,
I reciprocate your desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and
therefore, before considering your proposition, ask the terms you
will offer on condition of its surrender.

“R. E. LEE, General.
“LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT.”

To this I immediately replied:

“April 8, 1865.

“GENERAL:–Your note of last evening, in reply to mine of same
date, asking the condition 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 again
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 the Northern
Virginia will be received.

“U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
“GENERAL R. E. LEE.”

Early on the morning of the 8th the pursuit was resumed. General
Meade followed north of the Appomattox, and General Sheridan,
with all the cavalry, pushed straight ahead for Appomattox
Station, followed by General Ord’s command and the 5th corps.
During the day General Meade’s advance had considerable fighting
with the enemy’s rear-guard, but was unable to bring on a general
engagement. Late in the evening General Sheridan struck the
railroad at Appomattox Station, drove the enemy from there, and
captured twenty-five pieces of artillery, a hospital train, and
four trains of cars loaded with supplies for Lee’s army. During
this day I accompanied General Meade’s column, and about midnight
received the following communication from General Lee:

April 8, 1865.

“GENERAL:–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.

“R. E. LEE, General.
“LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT.”

Early on the morning of the 9th I returned him an answer as
follows, and immediately started to join the column south of the
Appomattox:

“April 9, 1865.

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

“U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
“GENERAL R. E. LEE.”

On this morning of the 9th, General Ord’s command and the 5th
corps reached Appomattox Station just as the enemy was making a
desperate effort to break through our cavalry. The infantry was
at once thrown in. Soon after a white flag was received,
requesting a suspension of hostilities pending negotiations for
a surrender.

Before reaching General Sheridan’s headquarters, I received the
following from General Lee:

“April 9, 1865.

“GENERAL:–I received your note of this morning on the
picket-line, whither I had come to meet you, and ascertain
definitely what terms were embraced in your proposal of
yesterday with reference to the surrender of this army. I now
ask an interview, in accordance with the offer contained in your
letter of yesterday, for that purpose.

“R. E. LEE, General.
“LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT.”

The interview was held at Appomattox Court-House, the result of
which is set forth in the following correspondence:

APPOMATTOX COURT-HOUSE, Virginia, April 9, 1865.

“GENERAL: In accordance with the substance of my letter to you
of the 8th instant, 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 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
officers 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 his home, not to be disturbed by United States
authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in
force where they may reside.

“U. S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General.
“GENERAL R. E. LEE.”

“HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, April 9, 1865.

“GENERAL: I have received your letter of this date containing
the terms of 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 stipulations into effect.

“R. E. LEE, General.
“LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT.”

The command of Major-General Gibbon, the 5th army corps under
Griffin, and Mackenzie’s cavalry, were designated to remain at
Appomattox Court-House until the paroling of the surrendered
army was completed, and to take charge of the public property.
The remainder of the army immediately returned to the vicinity
of Burkesville.

General Lee’s great influence throughout the whole South caused
his example to be followed, and to-day the result is that the
armies lately under his leadership are at their homes, desiring
peace and quiet, and their arms are in the hands of our ordnance
officers.

On the receipt of my letter of the 5th, General Sherman moved
directly against Joe Johnston, who retreated rapidly on and
through Raleigh, which place General Sherman occupied on the
morning of the 13th. The day preceding, news of the surrender
of General Lee reached him at Smithfield.

On the 14th a correspondence was opened between General Sherman
and General Johnston, which resulted on the 18th in an agreement
for a suspension of hostilities, and a memorandum or basis for
peace, subject to the approval of the President. This agreement
was disapproved by the President on the 21st, which disapproval,
together with your instructions, was communicated to General
Sherman by me in person on the morning of the 24th, at Raleigh,
North Carolina, in obedience to your orders. Notice was at once
given by him to General Johnston for the termination of the truce
that had been entered into. On the 25th another meeting between
them was agreed upon, to take place on the 26th, which
terminated in the surrender and disbandment of Johnston’s army
upon substantially the same terms as were given to General Lee.

The expedition under General Stoneman from East Tennessee got
off on the 20th of March, moving by way of Boone, North
Carolina, and struck the railroad at Wytheville, Chambersburg,
and Big Lick. The force striking it at Big Lick pushed on to
within a few miles of Lynchburg, destroying the important
bridges, while with the main force he effectually destroyed it
between New River and Big Lick, and then turned for Greensboro’,
on the North Carolina Railroad; struck that road and destroyed
the bridges between Danville and Greensboro’, and between
Greensboro’ and the Yadkin, together with the depots of supplies
along it, and captured four hundred prisoners. At Salisbury he
attacked and defeated a force of the enemy under General
Gardiner, capturing fourteen pieces of artillery and one
thousand three hundred and sixty-four prisoners, and destroyed
large amounts of army stores. At this place he destroyed
fifteen miles of railroad and the bridges towards Charlotte.
Thence he moved to Slatersville.

General Canby, who had been directed in January to make
preparations for a movement from Mobile Bay against Mobile and
the interior of Alabama, commenced his movement on the 20th of
March. The 16th corps, Major-General A. J. Smith commanding,
moved from Fort Gaines by water to Fish River; the 13th corps,
under Major-General Gordon Granger, moved from Fort Morgan and
joined the 16th corps on Fish River, both moving thence on
Spanish Fort and investing it on the 27th; while Major-General
Steele’s command moved from Pensacola, cut the railroad leading
from Tensas to Montgomery, effected a junction with them, and
partially invested Fort Blakely. After a severe bombardment of
Spanish Fort, a part of its line was carried on the 8th of
April. During the night the enemy evacuated the fort. Fort
Blakely was carried by assault on the 9th, and many prisoners
captured; our loss was considerable. These successes
practically opened to us the Alabama River, and enabled us to
approach Mobile from the north. On the night of the 11th the
city was evacuated, and was taken possession of by our forces on
the morning of the 12th.

The expedition under command of Brevet Major-General Wilson,
consisting of twelve thousand five hundred mounted men, was
delayed by rains until March 22d, when it moved from Chickasaw,
Alabama. On the 1st of April, General Wilson encountered the
enemy in force under Forrest near Ebenezer Church, drove him in
confusion, captured three hundred prisoners and three guns, and
destroyed the central bridge over the Cahawba River. On the 2d
he attacked and captured the fortified city of Selma, defended
by Forrest, with seven thousand men and thirty-two guns,
destroyed the arsenal, armory, naval foundry, machine-shops,
vast quantities of stores, and captured three thousand
prisoners. On the 4th he captured and destroyed Tuscaloosa. On
the 10th he crossed the Alabama River, and after sending
information of his operations to General Canby, marched on
Montgomery, which place he occupied on the 14th, the enemy
having abandoned it. At this place many stores and five
steamboats fell into our hands. Thence a force marched direct
on Columbus, and another on West Point, both of which places
were assaulted and captured on the 16th. At the former place we
got one thousand five hundred prisoners and fifty-two field-guns,
destroyed two gunboats, the navy yard, foundries, arsenal, many
factories, and much other public property. At the latter place
we got three hundred prisoners, four guns, and destroyed
nineteen locomotives and three hundred cars. On the 20th he
took possession of Macon, Georgia, with sixty field-guns, one
thousand two hundred militia, and five generals, surrendered by
General Howell Cobb. General Wilson, hearing that Jeff. Davis
was trying to make his escape, sent forces in pursuit and
succeeded in capturing him on the morning of May 11th.

On the 4th day of May, General Dick Taylor surrendered to
General Canby all the remaining rebel forces east of the
Mississippi.

A force sufficient to insure an easy triumph over the enemy
under Kirby Smith, west of the Mississippi, was immediately put
in motion for Texas, and Major-General Sheridan designated for
its immediate command; but on the 26th day of May, and before
they reached their destination, General Kirby Smith surrendered
his entire command to Major-General Canby. This surrender did
not take place, however, until after the capture of the rebel
President and Vice-President; and the bad faith was exhibited of
first disbanding most of his army and permitting an
indiscriminate plunder of public property.

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