Some of General Lee's Officers say to him
that "Further Resistance is Hopeless"Longstreet does not
approveGeneral Grant calls for Surrender"Not yet"The
Confederate Chieftain asks TermsHis Response to his Officers as
represented by General PendletonCorrespondence of Generals Lee and
GrantMorning of April 9General Lee rides to meet the Federal
Commander, while Longstreet orders the Last Line of BattleLongstreet
endeavors to recall his Chief, hearing of a Break where the Confederate Troops
could passCuster demands Surrender of LongstreetBeminded of
Irregularity, and that he was "in the Enemy's Lines"Meeting with General
Grant- CapitulationLast Scenes.
THE beginning of the end was now at hand,not perhaps
necessarily, but, at least, as the sequence of cause and effect actually
" An event occurred on the 7th," says General Long, " which
must not be omitted from the narrative. Perceiving the difficulties that
surrounded the army, and believing its extrication hopeless, a number of the
principal officers, from a feeling of affection and sympathy for the
commander-in-chief, and with a wish to lighten his responsibility and soften
the pain of defeat, volunteered to inform him that, in their opinion, the
struggle had reached a point where further resistance was hopeless, and that
the contest should be terminated and negotiations opened for a surrender of the
army. The delivery of this opinion was confided to General Pendleton, who, both
by his character and devotion to General Lee, was well qualified for such an
office. The names of Longstreet and some others, who did not coincide in the
opinion of their associates, did not appear in the list presented by
A little after nightfall a flag of truce appeared under
torchlight in front of Mahone's line bearing a note to General Lee:
"HEAD-QUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,
" 5 P.M., April 7, 1865.
''GENERAL R. E. LEE,
" Commanding Confederate States
"GENERAL,The results 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 army known as the Army
of Northern Virginia. '
' Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"U. S. GRANT, "Lieutenant-General, Commanding Armies of the United States."
I was sitting at his side when the note was delivered. He
read it and handed it to me without referring to its contents. After reading it
I gave it back, saying, " Not yet.":
General Lee wrote in
"GENERAL,I have received your note of this day. 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.
I was not informed of the contents of the return note, but
thought, from the orders of the night, it did not mean surrender. General Lee
ordered my command from forward- to rear-guard, and his cavalry in rear of the
ma.rch. The road was clear at eleven o'clock, and we marched at twelve. The
enemy left us to a quiet day's march on the 8th, nothing disturbing the
rear-guard, and our left flank being but little annoyed, but our animals were
worn and reduced in strength by the heavy haul through rain and mud during the
march from Petersburg, and the troops of our broken columns were troubled and
faint of heart.
We passed abandoned wagons in flames, and limbers and
caissons of artillery burning sometimes in the middle of the road. One of my
battery commanders reported his horses too weak to haul his guns. He was
ordered to bury the guns and cover their burial-places with old leaves and
brushwood. Many weary soldiers were picked up and many came to the column from
the woodlands, some with, many without, arms,all asking for food.
General Grant renewed efforts on the 8th to find a way to
strike across the head of our march by his cavalry, the Army of the James and
the Fifth Corps pursuing our rear-guard with the Second and Sixth Corps of the
Army of the Potomac.
In the forenoon, 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 been 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,
"If General Lee doesn't know when to surrender until I tell
him, he will never know."
It seems that General Pendleton then went to General Lee and
made the report. General Long's account of the interview, as reported by
Pendleton, is as follows :
"General Lee was lying on the ground. No others heard the
conversation between him and myself. He received my communication with the
reply, ' Oh, no, I trust that it has not come to that,' and added, 'General, we
have yet too many bold men to think of laying down our arms. The enemy do not
fight with -pint, 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 an unconditional surrender, a proposal to
which I will never listen.
. . . 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.'
"Such were, as nearly as I can recall them, the exact words of General Lee on
that most critical occasion. You see in them the soul of the man. Where his
conscience dictated and his judgment decided, there his heart was."
The delicate affection that prompted the knights of later
days to offer to relieve the grand commander of his official obligations and
take upon themselves responsibility to disarm us and turn us over to the enemy
is somewhat pathetic, but when to it are applied the stern rules of a soldier's
duty upon a field of emergency, when the commander most needs steady hands and
brave hearts, their proceeding would not stand the test of a military tribunal.
The interesting part of the interview is that in it our great leader left a
sufficient testimonial as a legacy to the soldiers of his column of the right.
Though commanders of other columns were mutinous, he had confidence that we
were firm and steady in waiting to execute his last command.
During the day General Grant wrote General Lee in reply to
his note of the 7th inquiring as to terms of surrender,
" April 8,1865.
"GENERAL R. E. LEE, " Commanding
Confederate States Army:
"GENERAL,Your note of last evening in reply to mine of
the same date, asking the conditions on which I will accept 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 might 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.
" U. S. GRANT, '
' In reply, General Lee wrote,
"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.
"E. E. LEE,
The enemy's movements of the day were impressive of his
desire to get by our left flank and make a strong stand across the route of our
head of column. At Prospect Station, General Sheridan was informed of four
trains of cars at Appomattox Station loaded with provisions for General Lee's
army. He gave notice to Merritt's and Crook's cavalry, and rode twenty-eight
miles in time for Ouster's division to pass the station, cut off the trains,
and drive back the guard advancing to protect them. He helped himself to the
provisions, and captured besides twenty-five pieces of artillery and a wagon
and hospital train.
At night General Lee made his head-quarters near the
rear-guard, and spread his couch about a hundred feet from the saddle and
blanket that were my pillow and spread for the night. If he had a more
comfortable bed than mine I do not know, but I think not.
He sent for his cavalry commander, and gave orders for him
to transfer his troopers from the rear to the advanced guard, and called
General Gordon, commanding in front, for report and orders. The advance was
then at Appomattox Court-House, Wallace's brigade resting in the village. His
orders were to march at one o'clock in the morning, the trains and advanced
forces to push through the village in time for my column to stand and prepare
to defend at that point in case of close pursuit. General Gordon reported, as I
remember, less than two thousand men. (General Fitzhugh Lee puts it at sixteen
hundred, but he may have overlooked Wallace's brigade, which joined the advance
on that day. My column was about as it was when it marched from Petersburg.
Parts of Ewell's, Andersen's, and Pickett's commands not captured on the march
were near us, and reported to me, except Wallace's brigade.
On the 9th the rear-guard marched as ordered, but soon came
upon standing trains of wagons in the road and still in park alongside. The
command was halted, deployed into position, and ordered to intrench against the