Wednesday, April 09, 2008

April 9th, 1865

Lee to his men-

"Men, we have fought through the war together. I have done the best that I could for you.Go home now. If you make good citizens as you have made good soldiers, you will do well. I shall always be proud of you. Good-bye and God bless you all."

The surrender terms Grant wrote for Lee were generous. Grant would not take any prisoners, but simply secure the paroles of officers and men not to take up arms "until properly exchanged"; for although the principal Confederate army had been vanquished, the war was not yet over. Other Confederate troops under other commanders remained in the field. Officers were permitted to retain their sidearms, and officers and men could keep their horses and their personal effects. Everyone would be "allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles..."

As Lee rode away, the Union soldiers began to cheer. Grant ordered them to stop. He said "The Confederates are now our prisoners, and we do not want to exault over their downfall. The war is over, they are our countrymen again". Lee's men lined the road to his camp. As he approached, his men began to cheer, as he passed by, those who could speak said good-bye, those who could not just stood silent and watched.

On April 10, Lee gave his farewell address to his army. The same day a 6-man commission gathered to discuss a formal ceremony of surrender, even though no Confederate officer wished to go through with such an event. Brig. Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain was the Union officer selected to lead the ceremony. As Brig. Gen. John B. Gordon passed, followed by the famous Stonewall Brigade, Chamberlain gave the order to salute. Gordon reared his horse and facing Chamberlain touched his sword to his toe returning the salute. Chamberlain said "It was honor answering honor."

The surrender started the unification of the country.

The stories of both Gordon and Chamberlain are fascinating. How they both lived through the war to meet at Appomattox is astounding in itself.

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