April 9, 1865: The Battle of Appomattox Court House is fought.
This one-day skirmish was the last stand for Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy’s main military force. After several hours of fighting, General Lee proposed in a letter to Ulysses Grant that they meet at the McLean House, an estate within the small village of Appomattox Court House, so that he could surrender his force of nearly 30,000 men.
And so they met - face-to-face, for the first time in several years - and Grant offered these terms of surrender to Lee:
"… 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."
These were generous terms; Grant also provided food for the Confederate army and allowed the men to keep their horses and mules. One of Lee’s officers, shortly before the surrender at Appomattox Court House, predicted that if he were to surrender, “every other [Confederate] army will follow suit." Sure enough, when General Lee issued a farewell address to his army on April 10, the American Civil War had more or less come to an end.
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