Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

tv   Surrender at Appomattox  CSPAN  March 15, 2015 5:00am-5:56am EDT

5:00 am
kind of settled down in place. general lee now came back to where the army was now located. he would then be made to rest by some of the officers that approach them. the general was quite tired at this point. you can imagine after three nights on the road. three days. the losses that he had sustained, half of the army lost in the last week. he took his place in front of gordon's position. sitting on a bunch of rails and an apple orchard. he would await the response of general grant. as i mentioned, general grant was located. the message was delivered.
5:01 am
he dated his response 1150. he entrusted his response with his aid. they found general lee resting at the apple orchard. delivered the message, which in essence would indicate the general lee should select the site of their meeting, and general grant would approach when he arrived. so, general lee sent forward -- actually, he mounted his horse and he had with him his secretary lieutenant, and the headquarters courier, and the two federal offices. they approached the river, the
5:02 am
appomattox, but stopped when one person wanted to drink. at which point, general lee set for -- set forward colonel marshall with the headquarters aid to go into the village and find a suitable meeting location. as i mentioned the village was very much neutral location between contending forces. marshall left an account of that ride. he said, general lee told me to go forward and find a house. very critical that he mention house. in the community, there was a courthouse. the courthouse is a judicial chamber. no one is on trial. besides, what day of the week is it? it's sunday. it's locked in close.
5:03 am
he continued on, where we could meet general grant, and of all people, who did i meet mclean. i'm sure everyone, or most of you, have heard of mclean. i rode up to him and said, can you show me a house where general lee and grant can meet together? he took me to a house that was dilapidated. it had no furniture in it. i guess we would probably do the same. nonetheless, it was a structure that stood out in front of his two-story brick home, which had an english basement. the house had originally been built in 48. the small building that the colonel was taken to was probably a small building no longer in use. i told him, it wouldn't do.
5:04 am
he said, maybe my house will do. he lives in a house and i told him i thought it would suit. i sent him back to bring general lee who was coming up behind. i went into the house and's debt down. after a while, general lee and thatbabcock came along. so, general lee babcock and myself sat down in mclean's parlor and taught in an amicable way. we often hear of general lee's attire when this meeting took place. he had dressed himself in a very sought lists almost new
5:05 am
confederate uniform at 1:00 a.m. complete with leather boots, feingold spores -- fine gold spurs. when the general saw him, and inquired why he was so tired it he said, i want to leave my best possible appearance. is this the confidence of a man that thinks his men could break through the federal lines? or is this reality? well, what do we know about mr. mclean and the people who lived in that house? one was age 50. i would consider wilmer and opportunities. he had married his wife, who at
5:06 am
this point was four months pregnant. other children were living at the house and the time. i'm sure that all ladies would welcome a bunch of military officers with muddy boots coming into their house unannounced. she had brought to the marriage -- as i mentioned, wilmer was an opportunist -- a fine home called yorkshire, 1200 acres of property in one location, and additional -- an additional 800 acres in another location. wilmer was a sugar importer and a wholesale grocery. when he moved into gotcher, he became a gentleman's farmer. you see, york shire is located
5:07 am
in a place called manassas. it was seen fit by a general in july of 1860 want to make his headquarters in mr. mclean's home. mr. mclean will have property at the beginning of the war, the first battle of manassas july 21, 1861, and he will bring it into his parlor in 1865. he had no friends or relatives when he moved to appomattox. he was episcopalian, and most of the inhabitants of the community were baptist and methodist. being a tradesman, he was close to the southside railroad. he could use this for commercial purposes, which had connections to petersburg and lynchburg and points south and north. general lee, when he arrived at
5:08 am
the home, i said to be nine stairs, when across the porch into the central hall, and into the parlor, to the left of the central hall. he may have noticed above the fireplace a lithograph drawing. that lithograph drawing was the interview between george washington and -- why do we think general lee would have an interest in the drawing? simply because his wife, mary anna randolph, was the great-granddaughter of martha washington. lee would be related to the washingtons.
5:09 am
he would find that he was related to the carter's, the fitzhugh's, the harrise's and the randolph's. many of the first families of virginia. robert's father was henry light horse lee, of revolutionary warfare fame and governor of virginia. his mother was and hill corridor of the king carter family. unfortunate, his father had gambled on speculation and land, which did not materialize. when robert was six, his father left for barbados. robert would not see him again.
5:10 am
he had to relatives that were signers of the declaration of independence, richard henry lee and francis lightfoot lee. from his mother, the family had moved to arlington at this point, away from stratford, his birthplace. from his mother, he learned of the economy, moderation, self-control courtesy, jen tilly, honor, and devotion. the fact that he was in his room was duty. he had not asked others to accompany him. he had asked only one other officer to come that did not and that was walter taylor. walter taylor had gotten married , he only been married one week. he declined to come.
5:11 am
general lee would not ask others to share in the trial of surrender. in 1825, he would attend the united states military academy and graduate in 1829. graduate second in the class of what he thinks -- of 46. he would become a member of the elite corps of engineers and be responsible for projects and saving the waterfront in st. louis. he and mary would have seven children -- three sons, all of which would serve in the confederate army, and four daughters. in the mexican war, he would serve on general scott staff -- general scott's staff.
5:12 am
he would later say the general lee was the best soldier of the field. he would be superintendent of the united states military academy from 1852-1855. on april 17, 1861, virginia would secede and the following day, colonel lee would be offered by francis blair junior command of all federal forces. he would reject the offer. he would resign from the army on april 20 and take command of virginia forces on the 23rd. . june 1, 1862, he took command of the army of northern virginia.
5:13 am
we know the rest of the history. seven days stuck at manassas, sharpsburg fredericksburg. on february 9, 1855, he was made general in chief of all confederate forces. 39 years of military service. meanwhile, grant is making his way toward this meeting. he has them, as i mentioned, staff and upon entering the facility, he meets general sheridan and asks where generally is located, and he was in the house there to surrender. rant indicated that -- grant and
5:14 am
decay that they should ride. there is a vast difference in general grants background and appearance which makes this meeting kind of a symbolic one of division. a division in the history of the country. a division culturally, industrially. grant would dismount in the courtyard into the same hallway and go into the parlor. general lee is now seated behind a small oval top table, and using a king back chair. he has been about one hour. the longest half hour and e lee's life. one might imagine, since i reiterated all the things i've taken place in his life, and his idol being george washington,
5:15 am
the things he would contemplate. when grant enters the parlor, he will bring with him 15-17 other federal offices. and a newspaper officer of the "new york herald." the newspaper reporter traveled with the staff quite regularly. this was not an unusual situation. grant's uniform -- if we can call it that -- was quite the drug will -- money, he had no spurs. he had no cord on his hat. he wore no so lord. he had the uniform of a private,
5:16 am
only modified with five buttons. the only distinguishing mark between general grant and i was any other soldier is the fact that he had lieutenant general shoulder boards. he hadn't expected general lead to react as quickly as he had, even though he had indicated to the secretary of war the day before the general lee would surrender on this day. what we know about grant. we know i'd initially that general lee his hand, the two offices shook hands. grant, at this point, is 42 years of age. general lee is 58 years old. he was born on april twice on april twice 7 1822, at a place called point pleasant.
5:17 am
he would soon move with the family to georgetown, where he said most of his childhood. his father, jesse grant operated a tannery. he was very outspoken and opinionated. many would call him a know it all. his mother was very genteel. he was born into this world, and given a name of hiram ulysses grant. the young boy hated the tannery. he couldn't stand the smell of it. his name was changed when he entered west point. they only had entry for someone named ulysses simpson grant. the entry was made because of a
5:18 am
congressman from the area who thought the boy was named after his mother. he turned out to be an indifferent student at the academy. he had over 250 demerits. he didn't want to go to west point. he wanted to become a mass teacher. but his father insisted and he didn't argue against his father. he set a record at the academy. general grant was an expert horseman. he graduated in 1843, the 21st of 39 cadets. he was assigned to the fourth united states infantry. he went to jettison barrett's where he soon became friends of another officer by the name of james longstreet. he would fight in the mexican
5:19 am
war. in 1848, he married julia dance. they would have four children, three sons and one daughter. he did not like being apart from his family or his wife, especially when transferred to many of the western outpost. as a result, he may have taken up the use of alcohol. april 11, 18 54, he was promoted to captain. shortly thereafter, he was forced to resign on being under the influence of alcohol. the acceptance of that resignation was in the secretary of war office, and the secretary of war was jefferson davis. he never showed the stories that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
5:20 am
though, in reality, he drink very little. he drink only when -- drank only when, for the most by, separated from his family. he returned to st. louis after several jobs, all of which were failures until finally his father invited him to come work in his leather goods store in illinois. he was there when the war broke out. offered his services to united states army, but without the backing of congressman washburn he probably would have never gotten the command. the local congressman had influenced and saw that the former captain got a regiment. from there, he went on to achieve great military success.
5:21 am
for henry shiloh, china, -- chattanooga. he was ordered to washington and he was promoted to lieutenant general. i certainly can't think of anyone who went from the street corners, so to speak, of st. louis, and the leather goods store to lieutenant general in three years. he had promised, obviously. no one since george washington held that rank on a permanent basis. on march 12, he was given command of all federal forces. he took his position in the field. the field would bring forth wilderness, cold harbor,
5:22 am
petersburg, and finally meeting with general lee. of volunteers staff officer on general need staff -- general nmean's staff observed him on several occasions and said he is of eyes of clear blue, for head high, a jar set squarely. his face has three expressions deep thought, extreme determination, and great simplicity and confidence. it was hard to shake general
5:23 am
grant, even in the present calamity, he would always remain column. what would entitle him to be here? what instructions had he received? how would he know what to put on paper? he met with the president several times. he met with the president on march 28, and again on april 3 in petersburg. he had instructions from a march 3 telegram. he had generally instructions on how to conduct his surrender. of course, there would be no talk of other military forces. that was a political consideration to recognize the
5:24 am
other forces as a single unit would be in a sense of recognition of the existence of the confederation, would the lincoln administration would never do. had he had any experience? his military experience. but, i venture to say, that no one had more experience of this procedure, military surrender as general grant. he accepted the surrender of four dollars -- fort donnelly, and he became known as unconditional surrender grant. on july 3 1863. could he put his terms explicitly in writing?
5:25 am
would there be any second guessing as to what was intended? i put forward to you that he was an excellent writer. his autobiography was just completed. he died one week earlier. it is still in print today and considered one of the best autobiographies in english language. general mead said that you only need to just -- needed to read his instructions wants to understand their full complicity. he had experience, instructions, and the ability. one thing that is probably also not known about this meeting, and we will talk about what transpires is that grant smoked probably during the entire meeting.
5:26 am
one of his staff officers said that he consumed 20 cigars per day. i don't know if he smoked that many or gave them away, or chewed on them, but they said he consumed 20 cigars, and there is no doubt that you probably smoked to relieve the tensions of the meeting during the full preceding. the first conversation between the two generals was talk of the mexican war. that wasn't something that they had written about to discuss. it may have been something that general grant brought forward to ease himself into the discussion. did generally remember general grant? -- general lee remember general grant? sunsetted no. some say the general lee did recognize them.
5:27 am
general grant had this to say our conversation grew so pleasant, that i almost forgot the subject of our meeting. after the conversation ran on for some time, general lee brought my attention to the object of the meeting the purpose of getting me to give the terms to his army. i said sadly, his army should lay down arms and not take them up again during the civil war unless duly and properly exchange. he said he so understood my letter. we then fell off again in conversation to matters for of the subject that brought us together. this continued for some time when general lee again interrupted the course of a conversation by suggesting that the terms that i propose to his army ought to be written out.
5:28 am
general lee called for the order book. writing in the order book, he began to write out the terms. his order book was kind of a modern copy machine. he could write out an order and have two copies below it which he could then tear out and give to other commanders if he wished. so that time would not be wasted, or the possibility of a mistake in re-copying. the terms, as written, in draft form, stated that the officers of northern virginia would be paroled until properly exchange. the arms the artillery, and all
5:29 am
these symbols of war and public property would be surrendered. the officers could retain their personal baggage and courses. -- horses. general grant then detailed one of his staff officers to copy the terms into ink after they had been gone over three fully. -- briefly. while this was taking place, general grant said what general lee's feelings are, i do not know. he is a man as much dignity, it was impossible to say if he felt sad or was to merely to show it. what ever his feelings were, they were entirely concealed from my observations, but my own
5:30 am
feelings, which had been jubilant, were sad and depressed. i might add that colonel parker, who would begin the process of copying this draft was not a citizen of the united states. he was a seneca indian. grant had met him in illinois when he was supervising the construction of the post office. colonel parker had gone on to study law, but not being a citizen, he was not allowed to practice. he went on to an institute in new york state, and became a civil engineer. matt recognize the man for his ability, not for his birth.
5:31 am
actually before parker began to copy in eating and grant had given the copy to general leaee for him to read and make corrections. there was a correction to be made. the word "exchange" had been left out and lee asked for it to be included, which was granted. the terms were handed to general lee. the terms, as written, where written in ink that was provided by colonel marshall.
5:32 am
the federals haven't brought any ink with them. mr. maclean's ego was unusable. so, we will have terms of surrender drafted by a gentleman who is not a citizen of the country, using ink from the opposing side. general lee asked general marshall to complete a letter of acceptance. he completed one, but it was unacceptable, so he required a second effort. he does not have enough paper so he must borrow taper from the federal offices. if you're are looking for symbolism in this meeting, it's all over. if this country is going to have to come together and proceed
5:33 am
into the 20th, 21st, 20 second century, it must use the resources of all of its citizens . as well as the physical resources available to them. general grant would then rise and there would be an introduction made with some of the federal offices in the room. general lee would note that seth williams is there. he had been in west point from 1852-1855. he also noted colonel parker and said, it is good to see one real american here. you know what colonel parker said?
5:34 am
he said, general, we are all americans. as there is anything that is symbolic with what happened in that room, it is really not about the military event. it's about the feeling that came from it. the feeling to bring about a reunification of the nation after a very bloody contests. i thank you for your indulgence. this meeting lasted until about 3:00. general lee boyd depart and general grant would depart. other events at appomattox are beyond the scope of these meetings. any question? [applause]
5:35 am
>> we do have time for a few questions. i see a gentleman standing over here at the microphone in the aisle to the left. if you could give your name and then ask a question we would appreciate it. >> my name is jim morgan. i would like to ask you a question not about the maddox, but about something that you mention happen in general lee's life earlier the offer of the federal army. i question is if you could address the comment -- the controversy of that because there is no record of the conversation, and on the fact that lee at the time was the most junior colonel in the united states army. whether general scott, a stickler for details and protocols, would allow for his junior kernel to jump up over his other generals.
5:36 am
>> there are about three questions there. the offer, as we understand it was made by frederick blair junior, not the senior. it was probably made on behalf of the president, who did not want to be turned down if that were the case, and actually, probably wanted to feel out general lee's real intentions and his patriotism in this case. beyond that, we don't know the details. we know that leverage and to this offer if that were made because he went over to see scott, right there after, and told him that he apparently had this offer and rejected it. scott said he was making the biggest mistake of his life. lee was held in great regard by general scott, as i mentioned
5:37 am
one of the best soldiers in the army. he had considerable experience in staff positions. whether or not he was jumped over other people, apparently made no difference. at this point, they were looking for the right individual to handle this. and fat, one thing that grant when he became a lieutenant insisted on that he did not have the follow the order of seniority to promote officials. you will find, after general grant became commander in chief, there are a number of positions filled over and above people of older rank. that's all -- was there another part of your question? >> you mentioned some wonderful
5:38 am
symbolism between grant and lee. could you add anything, perhaps in the same vein, of symbolism between grant after the surrender in his relationship with don singleton? >> i know very little about his relationship with singleton. he became a supporter of grant and grant appointed him to some foreign post, i believe. i know that he never unattended but one reunion in his life, the i'm aware of. i don't know the in between the two. i also know that longstreet became an ardent supporter of grant after the war, for which he paid dearly. that probably doesn't answer your question, but that's all i know about the relationship.
5:39 am
>> richard pittsburgh. i've all the people that were at the surrender ceremony, perhaps the one that is a -- that deserve to be there the most was not george meand. any explanation for that? some say it was logistics of him getting there. >> that's true. general mead was not there. general grant was a very determined and eventual, and he liked -- determined individual and he liked to do think straightforward. he didn't like to make deviations. when he came to see general lee, he came directly from the field and did not send back for or try
5:40 am
to get additional uniforms, nor did he ask others to accompany him, other than the stuff that was with him. he happened to me general sheridan upon his entry into the village, so they did accompany him. i don't think there was a particular flight of -- slight of general mead. they did work together. i don't think there was any real and 10, except in the mind of other writers who happen to write about that after the war. he also, of course, did not include general humphreys or right in that meeting as well. i think he did intend to bring his staff with him, because he wanted to have, i think observation of what had taken place. these officers could attest to
5:41 am
what had taken place. they could be observers. i don't know that answers your question. what happened with mead, he was in there. he was in an ambulance at the time. he was sick. had a miraculous recovery. after the surrender was announced, by 4:00 that afternoon, he was seen riding up and down into the ranks, and actually went over to see general lee. grant had also a miraculous recovery. he received general lee's message wanting to meet with him, the headache that he had had disappeared. maybe that was the reason. yes. >> my name is susan. i wanted to get back to the mclean house. i understand that after the surrender ceremony, a lot of the
5:42 am
furniture went to with the troops. i have often wondered was this voluntary on the part of the mclean's, or were they somewhat forced into giving up the furniture? >> i think they had as much choice in the matter as they did in allowing all those people into the house. i just happen to be prepared for that question. there were a number of items removed from the house. they were removed, i would say, involuntarily by the mclean family. they would contend to descendents later on that nothing was that she for sale itself. americans, being americans called of all generations, like
5:43 am
souvenirs. you probably bought some today. general sheridan paid $20 in gold. it is now in the smithsonian institute. i will say that many of the items are still at the park in their collections. many are in museums. the larger pieces in other museums were borrowed back in the 1950's and copy from the original so that they have the same appearance as the original. general sheridan gave a piece to general custer. it was kept 80 custer family and later given to the smithsonian did lee's -- lee's marble top table was obtained for $40 in greenbacks. this was the first time we had a federal currency it could be
5:44 am
used anywhere. it is in the chicago historical society now. grant 's solo back chair -- swivel back chair is in the smithsonian institution. please came back chair was obtained by whitaker. that is in the smithsonian. that candlesticks that were on the table, the marble top table were obtained by brigadier general shargh. they are actually in an exhibit. the silent witness i think, is one of the more interesting pieces in the room. it was a ragdoll owned by an eight-year-old girl.
5:45 am
it was left in the parlor. when the fed also came in the parlor they started passing among themselves. you can see it today in the parlor c exhibition, called the silent witness. the vase on the mantle remained in the mclean family. they were later given to the park. you can see them. the cell phone was kept in the mclean family. the original is in the park collection in the mclean parlor. the bookcase in the room, it is now in the smithsonian institution. those are the only known furnishings that where in the parlor. there was no interest in the rest of the house because i had
5:46 am
nothing to do with the surrender proceeding. even though, general gibson had his headquarters there for a few days afterwards. i hope that answers your question about furniture. >> thank you. [applause] lee's surrender. pre--- please welcome professor varon. elizabeth: thank you. thank you very much. it is a pleasure to share the stage with these scholars. i am grateful to patrick for having included me. you gained great insight into the appomattox campaign and the surrender seen. i would like to turn our attention now to the immediate aftermath, to the political debate's bond by appomattox -- debate spawned by appomattox. i will argue lee and grant
5:47 am
represented distinct visions of what the honorable peace would look like. they were fundamentally incompatible, contrary to a myth. they represented fundamentally incompatible visions of what the peace would look like and why the war turned out the way it did. i also try to take us beyond lee and grant. as the drama unfolded, countrymen and women would crowd the scene and have their own agenda aspirations, and dreams. among those dreams was the dream of freedom itself. in the eyes of african-americans, lee's surrender was a freedom day, the day, the moment that the promise of emancipation was fulfilled. lee's vision emphasized confederate righteousness. grant's vision emphasized --
5:48 am
african americans would associate appomattox with liberation. let's start with lee and the confederates. lee and the men in his inner circle , even as this writer took shape, to turn military deceit into moral victory. in lee's view, the union victory was a victory of might overwrite, -- over right. this interpretation was enshrined in the famous farewell address he promulgated through his troops the day of the surrender, april 10. lee says famously, the army of northern virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources. lee was implying unmistakably in making this reference to numbers
5:49 am
and resources both that the confederate men were -- and the northern victory was illegitimate. the overwhelming numbers and resources argument was about the outcome of the war, a staking of the claim that the yankees had won, not because of their virtue skill, and bravery, but instead because of brute force, numbers, and resources. in lee's eyes an honorable peace would obliterate what he considered the grievous effects of the war those are his words and restore to the country what it had lost. the civic virtue that lee associated with the halcyon days of an imagined past, the days of the early republic. those were the days, as lee saw it, when americans had taken it for granted that virginia would lead the nation. those were the days, as lee saw it, before abolitionists had
5:50 am
viewed african-americans as free. he exchanges letters with grant. this will be calmly's -- become lee's political keyword. for example, six months after the surrender, he wrote to his friend the following lament about what had been and what might yet again be. he wrote, as long as virtue was dominant in the republic so long was the happiness of the people secure. may and ever merciful god save us from destruction and restore us to the bright hopes and prospects of the past. this was a fundamentally nostalgic view of the peace nostalgic for the long-gone days. lee cast the surrender terms in
5:51 am
the best possible light. he believed that those -- that the surrender was a negotiation in which lee extracted concessions from grant and they believed the piece was contingent on the north's good behavior. it are to protect his troops against possible reprisals, he requested a grant at appomattox a day after the surrender that each individual confederate be issued a printed certificate as proof that the soldier came under the april 9 terms. these certificates vouched that if a surrendered soldier went home and observed the laws where he resided, he would "remain undisturbed." now for confederates, these paroles became cherished artifacts of the war. they represented the consciousness of duties faithfully performed by those men who were there until the final days.
5:52 am
but those certificates also represented, in the eyes of confederates, the promise that honorable men would not be treated dishonorably by the victorious yankees. lee intended to hold the union to that promise. a few weeks after the surrender on april 29, 1865, lee gave an interview with the northern reporter. lee wanrned in this interview that if arbitrary, vindictive, or revengeful policies were adopted by the yankee government, southerners would consider the ease surrender terms breached and would renew the fight. the big take away is this. lee has a reputation in the modern-day for having counseled resignation to defeat among southerners. for confederates in the immediate postwar period, the evidence shows he was not a symbol of submission. he was a symbol of measured
5:53 am
affiants. to bear this out -- defiance. to bear this out i will talk about how soldiers saw the surrender. the emphasis in the farewell address on confederate righteousness blended seamlessly with the religions convictions of confederate soldiers. many of the rank-and-file surrendered at appomattox clung to the idea that god, however he might chastise his chosen people, would someday deliver them. such a conviction was the most comforting answer to a pervasive question, had all the suffering been in vain? in his april 9 diary entry william wyatt asked, has god forsaken us only to answer, i, for one, can't believe it. god has rarely humbled us to exalt us. grant is prosperity and honor. that night, he noted the men in his regiment clung to him. god moves in mysterious ways.
5:54 am
as a historian has put it, providential theology was excellent enough to accommodate defeat for the confederates. many believed god might still furnish victory in his own appointed way and time. a second major theme in confederate soldiers accounts concerns the social composition of the yankee army, the numbers and resources claim was an argument not only about the size of the yankee army, but the composition of the yankee army. in the confederate eyes, the yankees achieved the overwhelming numbers by filling the ranks, as the southern artillery man put it, foreigners of every nationality and regiments of our former slaves. in other words, confederate soldiers believed they had been compelled to surrender to their social inferiors a mercenary army well-suited to the unions hard war tactics. confederates did not believe they had relinquished the moral
5:55 am
high ground at appomattox. if we look at these reactions of confederate civilians, we see that echoed in the sediments -- sentiments of soldiers. civilians imagined the surrender scene as an enactment of lee's superiority to grant. one claim circulated through confederate newspapers in late april of 1865. it purported to be accurate, but was not accurate at all. in its, grant refuses to take it. according to the account, grant says, keep that. you have won it by your gallantry. you have been overpowered and i cannot receive it as a token of surrender from so brave a man. of course, rants never said any such thing to robert e. lee.

39 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on