.. ns to move again, Lee had assessed the situation and informed President Davis that Richmond and Petersburg were doomed. Lees only chance wold be to move his troops out of Richmond down a southwestern path. They were to meet with General Johnstons forces. Johnston had been dispatched to Virginia after being ordered not to resist the advance of Shermans Army.
Lee chose a meeting point to the west, in the small town of Amelia Court House. He made a narrow escape. The soldiers could see Richmond burning as they made their way across the James River and to the west. Grant had finally broken through. Richmond and Petersburg were finished on the second day of April. President Lincoln visited the fallen city of Richmond after a brief visit to Petersburg on April 4th.
He arrived by boat with his son, Tad, and was led ashore by no more than twelve armed sailors. The city had not yet been secured by Federal forces. Lincoln had barely stepped out of the boat as former slaves began crowding around him singing praises. Lincoln proceeded to join with General Godfrey Weitzel, who had been placed in charge of the occupation of Richmond, and took his headquarters in Jefferson Davis old residence. When he arrived there, he and Tad took an extensive tour of the residence and discovered Weitzel was not there. Some of the soldiers remarked that Lincoln had a boyish expression and no one was sure what he was thinking as he sat in Davis office.
When Weitzel arrived he asked the President what to do with the conquered people. Lincoln replied that he no longer gave direction in military manners, but went on to say, If I were in your place, Id let em up easy, let em up easy. (Johnson, Robert Underwood, and Clarence Clough Buel, eds., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. Vol. 4. New York: The Century Co.,1887.) With the Federals hot on their rears, Lees forces were headed west toward Amelia. Lee had asked the Commissary Department of the Confederacy to store food in Amelia before leaving Richmond. The troops rushed there in anticipation, but were very disappointed in what they found.
There was an abundance of ammnuition and ordinance, but not a single bite of food. Lee had to move his nearly starving troops out immediately because he could not afford to give up his lead over the advancing Federals. Headed for Farmville, where Lee had been informed there was an abundance of bacon and cornmeal, they continued westward hoping to join with Johnston eventually. The Confederate forces reached Farmville but several skirmishes took place along the way as some Federal regiments would catch up and attack. The men had no more begun to eat their bacon and cornmeal when General Sheridan arrived and initiated a fight.
Luckily, it was nearly nightfall and the Confederate force slipped out under a cover of darkness, but not before General Lee received General Grants first request for surrender. Rushing to leave Farmville in the night, on April 7th, the Confederates did not get the rations they so desperately needed and they were forced to forage for food. Many chose to desert and leave for home. General Lee saw two men leaving for home and said, Stop young men, and get together you are straggling. One of the soldiers replied, General, we are just going over here to get some water.
Lee replied, Strike for your home and fireside. (Freeman, Douglas Southall, R.E. Lee: A Biography. Vol 3. New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1935.) The soldiers did as General Lee suggested. Rebel forces reached their objective which was Appomattox Court House, around 3:00 pm on April 8th.
Lee had received word that supplies had arrived to the south by train at the Appomattox Station. The pursuing Union forces also knew about these supplies and took a faster southern route to the station. The Federals had taken the supplies by 8:00 pm and would wait at the station for the evening while preparing to attack the Confederates at Appomattox Court House the following morning. Lee meanwhile scribbled out a brave response to Grants inquiry asking for an explanation of the terms to be involved in the surrender. The final battle began when the Confederate battle line was formed to the west of Appomattox at daybreak.
The Union soldiers were in position in front of the line with cannons. When the Federal cannons commenced to fire, the Confederate signal for attack was sounded and the troops charged. One soldier later remarked, It was my fortune to witness several charges during the war, but never one so magnificently executed as this one. (McCarthy, Carlton, Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia 1861-1865. Richmond: Carlton McCarthy, 1882.) This Confederate advance only lasted from about 7:00 am to 9:00 am, at which time the Rebels were forced back.
The Confederates could no longer hold their lines and Lee sent word to Grant to meet at 1:00 pm to discuss surrender. The two men met at the now famous McLean House and a surrender was agreed upon. It was 2:00 pm on April 9, 1865. Johnstons army surrendered to General Sherman on April 26, in North Carolina. General Taylor of Mississippi/Alabama and General Smith of the trans Mississippi/Texas surrrendered in May ending the war completely.
The Civil War was a tragic event. A war in which thousands died in their home country over nothing more than a difference in opinion. Although slavery was the cause of the Civil War half of the country thought it was wrong and the other half just couldnt free them. The war was fought in probably 10,000 different places and the monetary and property loss cannot be calculated. The Union soldiers that died numbered 360,222 and only 110,000 of them died in battle. Confederate dead were estimated at 258,000 including 94,000 that actually died on the battlefield. The Civil War was a waste in terms of human lives and possible accomplishment.
Tragedy had struck a new country and tarnished it for eternity. The Civil War will never be forgotten and will live on in the hearts and minds of Americans forever. Bibliography Casdorph, Paul D. Lee and Jackson Confederate Chieftains. New York: Paragon House, 1992. Catton, Bruce.
A Stillness at Appomattox. New York: Doubleday, 1963. Davis, Burke. Shermans March. New York: Random House, 1980.
Foote, Shelby. The Civil War. Vol 3. New York: Random House, 1974. Garraty, John Arthur. The American Nation: A History of the United States to 1877.
Vol. 1, Eighth Edition. New York: Harper Collins College Publishers, 1995. Korn, Jerry. Pursuit to Appomattox, The Last Battles. Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1987.
Leone, Bruno, ed. The Civil War Opposing Viewpoints. American History Series. California: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1995. Mathless, Paul, ed. Voices of the Civil War.
Vicksburg. Virginia, Time-Life Books, 1997. Miers, Earl Schenck. The Last Campaign. Philadelphia: J. B.
Lippincott Co., 1972. Bibliography Included above. American History Essays.