The Civil War Ends

Shortly after noon, 150 years ago on April 13th, General Robert E. Lee, Commander for the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and General Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army, met at the home of Wilmer McLean in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The meeting took place on Palm Sunday and lasted roughly an hour and a half, ending in Lee surrendering to Grant.

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Terms of the surrender included the Union taking all the rebel officers and soldiers, their arms, artillery, and public property; but officers would retain their side-arms, private baggage and horses. Each officer and man was allowed to return to their homes, and not be disturbed.

Although General Lee surrendered, other Confederate generals and Confederate President Jefferson Davis did not. It was not until June 1865, after Jefferson Davis’ capture in May 1865, and Generals Alexander McDowell McCook and Joseph “Joe” E. Johnston had surrendered, that the war was considered over.  Jefferson Davis, General Grant, Lee, McCook, and Johnston were all graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.

The Civil War transformed America in countless ways and resulted in the greatest expansion of veterans benefits in history (at that time): the first National Cemeteries and burial benefits were authorized, benefits for Regular and Volunteer forces were equalized, first benefits for African Americans who served in Union forces, government-furnished prosthetics, pensions to provide for caretakers, veterans preference in hiring, and the first National Homes which evolved into today’s federal veterans hospital system were all founded as a result of the war.

The National Park Service is commemorating the anniversary with a national bell-ringing across the land today and some VA sites are participating.

Links:

http://www.nps.gov/apco/the-surrender.htm

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/appomattox-courthouse/appomattox-court-house-history/surrender.html

http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-83254728/

Story: VA Historian

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