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Lee Surrenders to Grant: April 9, 1865

Map of General Lee's Surrender
On April 9, 1865, 150 years ago this month, Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to the Union’s Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, signaling the beginning of the end of the Civil War.

After Lee’s hold on Richmond and Petersburg broke, he hoped to take his army to meet up with Joseph E. Johnston‘s troops. But things came to a head with the Union Army as Lee neared Appomattox Court House. On April 6, he lost 8,000 men to the Federals in engagements at Sailor’s (Sayler’s) Creek. Grant, aware that Lee’s already dwindling army was now at an even further disadvantage, sent him a message suggesting surrender. Lee was not ready to surrender but did ask Grant for his terms.

Appomattox Court House
Lee hoped to break through the Union troops that were blocking his army’s progression and planned a last ditch attempt for the morning of the 9th. When it became clear that this attempt would fail, Lee, having already dismissed the possibility of resorting to guerrilla warfare, arranged to meet with Grant to surrender his army.

The two generals met in a home in Appomattox Court House later that day. Lee dressed in his best, while Grant, whose baggage had gone astray some days prior, arrived in a mud-stained uniform. The terms of surrender stated that all arms, artillery, and public property (except officers’ side arms and horses) were to be turned over, and that the paroled men, both officers and enlisted, were to return to their homes and not take up arms again until properly exchanged. Grant also allowed Lee’s two requests: that the enlisted men also be permitted to keep their own horses and that rations be provided for his starving army.

Description of what constituted the Army of Northern Virginia at time of surrender
The official surrender ceremony occurred a few days later, on the 12th. Though Lee’s army had surrendered, the war wasn’t over. There were still other Confederate troops in the field. But the Army of Northern Virginia had not only been the most successful of the Confederate armies, it—and Lee—had also taken on a symbolic power. So as other Confederate generals heard of Lee’s surrender, they too began to capitulate over the next month. President Andrew Johnson officially declared an end to hostilities on May 9.

Interested in learning more about Lee’s surrender or about other aspects of the Civil War? Explore Fold3’s Civil War Collection.


  1. Viann Powers says:

    Three ancestors, James McCullion and John McCauley who were with the 6th PA Cavalry and Daniel McCullion who was with the 17th PA Cavalry, fought at Sailor Creek and were on the scene at Appomatox. John McCauley came through his duty uninjured until after the Surrender and was shot in Washington, DC while on guard duty about two weeks after the surrender. He was disabled with a shattered arm and because unable to earn a living for the rest of his life. These three men were from Pottsville, Schuykill Co. Pennsylvania

  2. LaQuencis Scott says:

    My ancestors came to Virginia very early (1609 to 1619). Most of them settled in or near Petersburg. Their home and estate survived until the civil war when Grant leveled the estate and most of Petersburg. So many of my families fought
    in the War. Both grandfathers two great grandfathers many cousins and
    uncles who lived during that time. One cousin was severely injured at
    New Market. He was an VMI graduate. Reading about the War is heart
    rendering. I do wish that more people from the Union states and newly
    arrived immigrates would read about the war and know that it wasn’t just
    about slavery, it started out with economy issues in New York and morphed
    into several major problems that could not be resolved.
    Please read both sides of Battles. When I was working on the Hill in Washington,
    D.C. I visited Gettysburg. I cried all the way through the cemetery. So sad, both
    Union and Confederate Soldiers buried there. God bless their souls.

    • J says:

      Although there were other reasons that led to the Civil War, the most undeniable reason was the issue of slavery. There would have been no civil war without this 600lb gorilla in the room. The wealthy elite of the South simply did not want to give up their way of life and they dragged the entire country into a war over it. Shameful.

    • Paul Ashworth says:

      The War was never about slavery but States Rights.
      Over the past 50 years, I’ve read many many letters home and personal accounts and slavery was never mentioned as their reason to fight!
      Today’s historians are trying to change history.

    • Paul Ashworth says:

      There was no 600 lb gorilla, the north simply could not keep up the south economically. 80% of the wealth was in the south where they had free labor in comparison to the north having to pay for their labor. That’s behind Lincoln freeing the slaves ONLY in the south and NOT the whole country.

    • Joseph Patterson says:

      For a book written entirely from a Southern perspective, I recommend “History of Kershaw’s Brigade” by D. Augustus Dickert. The book is quite detailed, and, incredibly, was written after the war entirely from memory. ( One of my grandfathers served in the brigade, in the Fifteenth South Carolina Infantry.)

    • Denley Daw says:

      As is most always the case, it is the “victor” who scripts the history. For far too long, the root causes of the War of Northern Aggression have been (shamefully) hidden from deserving exposure. Undeniably, slavery was an important aspect of the war, but far from the “cause”. Indeed, and on more than one occassion, Lincoln not only accepted, but (reluctantly) vocalized the South’s agrarian-based economy’s need, for indentured servitude, as long as the union was preserved. Preserving the union wasn’t a sentimental platitude. Anyone, truly educated in the affairs-of-state of the United States (circa: 1850-1861) is aware that 75% of the United States’ revenue (all derived from Customs duties and tariffs during that era) were produced by 4-states; Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia (source: U.S. Senator (R-Missouri) H. Benson, 1856). Hardly a measurable fraction of this revenue found its way back to “any” southern state. Dare I submit – Should such similar circumstances exist in anyone’s family, would “divorce” not be plausible? It further troubles me to hear otherwise “credentialed” scholars remark, “Those who started, and participated in the “Civil War”, were traitors.” No, they were not. Indeed, there was no constitutional (read: law) violation to the South’s peaceful secession. And, yes, it was peaceful, until Lincoln and the North refused (numerous) plea’s to vacate Ft. Sumter. Upon secession, the North became, well, nothing but common trespassers.
      The final straw, assuming you know “true” history, was the passage of the Morril Tariff. That is when the South unilaterally declared, “We have had enough”.

    • Andrew G says:

      BS. The crux of the entire conflict was the south’s desire and need to subjugate an entire race to slavery. Stop fooling yourself. I am a proud son of New Orleans. The revisionist nonsense drives me nuts.

    • Fred Muenz says:

      Dirt poor southerners were duped by the plantation/slave owners into fighting for a concept called “states rights” against their own best interests. We see the same thing happening today when the super rich spend huge amounts of money to preserve their special tax breaks and prevent any changes which would make them pay their fair share. They’ve convinced people to oppose their own best interests, while they get richer.

    • Joe says:

      My brother, there are many many more who live in the north that know the truth than you may be aware of.. I live in Mn and will forever know the real reason for the “War between the States”.. When one is actually interested in this subject they spend 30 years reading and researching “Actual” facts and reasons. Most of the ones who still continue to pretend that they know the war was over slavery I just ignore and do not even engage in conversation. All it means is they are still of the sheep elite and have never had any intentions of finding the truth. I believe with the advent of the internet more and more people are now not able to pretend they do not know what really happened. Most real historians also are as certain as certain can get that if Jackson had not been killed by accident a few weeks before Gettysburg, the outcome would have been the opposite of the one that it became.

    • Joe says:

      To Denley Daw..

      Wow, Very well put and impressive.. It is finally a wonderful thing for someone like me who has studied this War for over 30 to see that others know the truth as well.. The internet has brought those of us who know the truth together. For so long it was hard to find anyone who knew what I knew. I live in Mn and wow this bleeding heart state is not a place to find anyone who looks for the truth for the mere fact of knowing the truth… Thanks brother.

    • Joe says:

      To Andrew G.

      You are the one who is a revisionist if you do not know the true history. The true reason for the war has been revised for the 154/150 years since it happened. Who has the power to tell more of the reason for the war. Duh the ones who win. They have more control of the papers, the School system and the propaghanda machine. It takes a cunning and intelligent person to learn the truth of a matter and not be afraid to learn to be wrong.

    • Charles T. Watts says:

      My family were in Virginia About the same time frame. They lived in Hanover Co. They did the best they could as most back then did. They migrated all the way down to Texas. A few of the Watts family served with Mosby . Others in Hoods Texas Brigade and were lucky enough to come back home , they were at Gettysburg too. The others served with Terry’s Texas Rangers and drove Sherman and Grant nuts in the Trans- Miss. District, They served to free our country of an oppressive government that had lost it’s way . I had some in the Federal Army also they served Honorably too. That plain fact is ,our education system is failing to show all sides and teaches history in Micro encapsulated form to teach history to our students. It isn’t just The Civil War Veterans that are forgotten but little if any about the Korean War Or anything that might cause the students to be interested in history. The Battle Grounds of all Nations are in time forgotten ,Except by that few who have been touched as you were on that Precious Ground. I’m a Civil War Living Historian, Served with Seldins Artillery,Texas Dixie Grays Artillery, And i served with Co.F 8Th Texas Volunteer Cavalry Better Known as Tery’s Texas Rangers. From time to time i give Living History lessons when i can to students in 7th /8th grade history. Now i’m a humble member of the Former Texas Rangers Association. My Son and i do Cemetery dedications for former Texas Rangers Honoring their service. Remember that the feelings you had at Gettysburg are shared with many who go there,and are appreciated by those who made that Supreme Sacrifice and stayed there. In Your Service, CharlesT.Watts

    • George Hinterbichler says:

      Such a beautiful, heat felt rendition, of the horrific effects, to all, of the Civil War and all war. Thank you.

    • Susanne DeHart says:

      Great consensus. I grew up in Southwestern Va and “you would have thought” the division still exists today.

  3. Jack L. Gilbert says:

    War is hell on earth and there is nothing like it. I know because I have fought in it. It has no soul, feeling, face, or anything to do with humanity. It scars the body, mind, soul and you lose sight of your spirit. It reduces man to the level of
    inhumanity. The very pit of hell houses those that participate in it’s horrible grief.
    The blood soaked soil drinks in the life of those that donate. No one chooses to
    forfeit the irreplaceable jewel of life sanely. To become callous to these procedures is insanity. ALL participants of these procedures should under go psychological debriefing and carefully rehabilitate them back into society.

  4. Joel Levitt says:

    In my opinion the individuals who say slavery was the cause of the Civil War are simple reading propaganda rather than the truth! All the states “volunteered” to join the Federal Government and since they
    “volunteered” to join they also “volunteered” to leave the Federal Government. Thus, the primary cause of the Civil war was the Federal Government forcing them to remain in the Federal Government. The Civil War was over states rights more than slavery because slavery was legally in our U.S. Constitution approved by Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madision, etc.

    I believe that if fifty people “volunteered” to join an organization and later decided it was not
    beneficial to them they could “volunteer” to leave the same organization. Is this not so?

    • Bruce Essler says:

      Thats just pro southern rationalization. Also the Articles of Confederation contained a statement about it being permanent or words to that effect, so wouldn’t the Constitution have the same intent?
      The southern armies might not have fought to save slavery, but the state legislatures, particularly in South Carolina who voted for succession, had protecting slavery in mind. How many of them were slave owners? Plus, what caused succession? The election of Abraham Lincoln, whose republican party was anti slavery. The south who didn’t get its way in the election of 1860 took its ball and went home.

    • Michelle Roberts says:

      Just what do you think the states wanted the right to do? Preserve slavery of course!

    • Joe says:

      Also very well put. My argument when ever I get into a debate with anyone who pretends to know anything about this war, ( which they never do ) I say, so tell me this. If a woman gets married but her husband gets abusive does she not have a right to get a divorce? I mean she did say “till death do us part” right? so she should have to stay just because she said those 5 words?! No!, I didn’t think so. They usually sputter and try some laim answer, but fail terribly.

    • E. Collins says:

      Amen! But some of us have been hit twice. Not only did they destroy our homes and farms but as a Native American we were chased around like animals. I do not tolerate certain phrases used toward us. As a famous person called them- “the low information group”. I consider the source and smile because I know my history and they don’t. But the truth is not PC.

  5. dennis r neely says:

    states rights were the main issue,but I don’t think the states had the right to leave the union any ole time they wanted to. they ratified a constitution that was the the surpreme law of the land. it wasn’t the the states right to just pull out. a lack of education by the middle class of the south allowed the elite in the south to do as they wished. its a sad thing when human beings consider other human beings as property just to earn a buck.

    • Tom says:

      What ever the cause of the Civil war, we’re left with the consequences, an almost all powerful Federal Government that rewrote the constitution to it’s liking (13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, the 10th amendment ignored), and later on Federal courts granting the Federal Government even more power through erroneous interpretations (interstate commerce clause) of what was left of the constitution.

      If there’s one consultation, it’s that the government created by Lincoln will soon be unsustainable, and like many empires before it, will end up in the ash heap of history.

    • Charles T. watts says:

      In most cases your right but as for Texas, Texas was a republic of it’s own. The state was formed when the U.S. Government basically brought Texas into the United States much to the shagrin of the Mexican government. The Mexican War was to show the Mexican government that the U.S. was willing to use force to have it’s way. The people of Texas were promised many things and with Sam Houston’s insistance the Texas Republic was Annexed. The whole deal was debated for many years pryer to the actual act of annexation. Texas has the right to divide into several sections that could become states. The State flag can be flown at the same height as the U.S.flag. and the state capitol is 6 inches taller than the U.S. capitol. The main problem was that the state of Texas is a problem logistically for troops to do what was as a hugh task to accomplish. Usually without pay. Because of many problems the Texas Legislature debated for a long time if Seccession or leaving the union to become a Republic was a constant hot point. In the Census of 1860 it was noted that less than 2% of the population was or could be considered slave .That in Texas there were more indentured (slaves none the less) from Europe were in Texas. That there was a considerable number of Free people of color that were property owners and were considered community leaders and well respected. Texas And technically California, and those ares that were gotten as war prizes could possibly go before the court and possibly when their freedom. But at what cost?

  6. Joseph Patterson says:

    Slavery was a compelling issue in the conflict, but it was not the reason most Confederates fought. Most of them saw their way of life threatened by the northerners, who were different, and seen as “the others”. The South was primarily agrarian, although it had a small, but growing industrial base. All of my family members who fought in the war fought for the Confederacy, and surviving letters reveal their feelings. I was born and grew up in Pennsylvania, about 25 miles east of Gettysburg, and had a primarily northern viewpoint, until I delved into my family history.
    The war was a terrible tragedy for all envolved, and probably could have been resolved without bloodshed, had better communication existed, and cooler heads prevailed. The South had hoped that Britain would intervene on the side of the Confederacy, but the British knew that the South had to sell their cotton, no matter who won the war, and that Britain had no need to invest blood into the conflict. The Southern plantations could have freed their slaves and hired them back as paid workers at pay levels that would not have hurt their profitability. Indeed, that is exactly what happened after immancipation, but with the added burden of great destruction and loss of life among the owner’s families. Lincoln wanted to bring the south back into the union without bitterness, but after his death, his party wanted to punish the South, and in their lack of vision, perpetuated the bitterness that has remained to the present day. To my grandfather, who was born shortly after the war ended, “Damn Yankee” was one word.

    • Welton Ard says:

      I would like to read the book about Kershaw’s Brigade. My great-great grandfather was
      also in the 15th infantry regiment of South Carolina. Company G.

    • Joe says:

      If you wish read some more about the reason Mr. Dishones Abe wrote the Immancipation when he did… Napoleon III was about come in on the Confederacy side. He knew that if he made the war about freeing slaves, even if the world knew that as NOT the reason, he knew that no leader of any kind would take the risk of looking as though they approved of slavery. Their own people would look down on them. Perception is 80% of the battle. Have fun learning about this part of history most have no clue about.

  7. Clyde Dunavent says:

    My people came to the Colonies in 1589 and resided in Henrico county Va. There has been a member of the family in every war ever fought including the Mideast. We lost far more members in the Civil War than all other wars combined but let me assure you,
    “Damnyankee” is still one word.

  8. memmim says:

    It’s apparent that the ‘civil war’ still wages in the hearts of both the north and south, everywhere. At any mention of the war hatred shows its ugly face. There were just reasons on both sides… there were atrocities on both sides… there were many dead young men on both sides whose chance to live their lives was snatched from them. War is hell however you look at it. I’m a Southerner, but most of my ancestors were of those ‘damn yankees’ fighting – NOT over slavery – they didn’t have slaves, they were poor young men, but they fought and died to ‘preserve the Union’!
    I sometimes think what would have happened IF the South had won and our country were divided. There would be no world power known as the USA, no country where people from all over the world dream to come seeking a better life, some risking their lives to do so. There would be two small insignificant countries, still arguing with and threatening their neighbors. If one were attacked by a foreign country, would the other help or be glad? Would both have fought and made a difference in World War I or World War II – or would we be speaking German or Japanese?…
    My problem with the Civil War and all wars is it is the leaders of the countries that start the war BUT it is our innocent young boys who are called to fight, suffer extreme hardship, sacrifice and die, while our leaders sit in their comfortable offices, enjoying their lives far away from danger. Then the few young veterans who do survive who were promised so much are treated worse by these leaders than 2nd class citizens, criminals or illegal immigrants. Instead they receive little more than broken promises…

    To quote W. H. Auden …
    “To save your world you asked this man to die:
    Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?”

    Epitaph for the Unknown Soldier

    • Ivy Trott says:

      Here, here! From South Africa, originally England, where I lost a brother and several cousins in WW11, and the family lost more than we even know now in WW1. My and my husband’s families between them have served in Afghanistan in five consecutive wars…. I have four grandsons who will probably be in the next one. ‘Nuff said.

    • Michelle Roberts says:

      Well said!

  9. Bettyann Reed says:

    As April 9 is my birthday (I’ll be 72), I pause annually in my prayers of gratitude for a long and full life, to thank Generals Grant and Lee for having begun the end of the Civil War on this date. It was extraordinarily moving for me to have visited many of these battle sites a few years ago, including both Gettysburg and Appomattox. But I’m still left to wonder if human beings will ever find more reasonable, sensible, and compassionate non-violent ways than war, to settle their inevitable disagreements.

    • Charles Robbins says:

      The answer to “Will it ever end?” is Peter, Paul, and Mary’s song “Blowing in the wind” and “How many times must a cannonball fly before it is put to rest?”.

      The problem starts with people (rich, poor, leaders, farmers) whose pride says that they can defy God and decide for themselves. Do you recall who first said this?

    • Yolonda lovelace says:

      Happy Birthday

  10. Bettyann Reed says:

    P.S. I had both paternal and maternal ancestors fighting on both Union and Confederate sides, and grew up bombarded by both viewpoints. It never ends until people learn to LISTEN to each other, instead of being too preoccupied with hammering home their own opinions, to hear and honor some of the other side’s points.

    • Joe says:

      I hate to say this but here goes…. The people who argue about the true cause of the war on the confederate side know the truth and have the facts, the ones who argue for the Union are only stating what they have been told to believe and have done little to no actual researc. Sorry, but I have been discussing this war for 30 years and know this to be a fact. If I ever get into a conversation with someone who pretends to defend the Union, I find they have no facts and no knowlege what so ever about events, temprature of the times, nor any understanding of the econimic times. All of the Confederate defenders know all of this and sometimes I even find they know a piece of history a man who has been studying it for 30 years does not know… This is the difference of the two arguments.

  11. Robert Belair says:

    I have known ancestors on both sides from the civil war….. my mother’s Towle family and my father’s Belair family.
    My Belair ancestors were from Louisiana, and originally Cajuns from Canada that went to Louisiana and the Towles were originally from New Hampshire.
    It’s not known if the two families unknowingly met on a battlefield but at least one Towle spent time in a Confederate POW camp
    On of the Belairs was an Confederate officer from Louisiana.
    And one of my Towle ancestors was a Union officer who served as the commander with of a new Hampshire infantry unit.

  12. Clifford Anderson says:

    My great-grandfather Floyd B. Anderson was in the 1st NY Vol. Cavalry, and I have both his revolver and sword. Interest in genealogy got me to probing into my mother’s side in 2007, and I’d then discovered that I have another Civil War veteran within my ancestry. His name is Conrad Litt, who was the brother of my 2nd great-grandmother, Clara Litt Senn. I eventually found her gravestone, and also both their parents at the Indian Falls Cemetery in Pembroke, Genesee, NY. On one of my trips to do more research, the Town Historian told me they had a book entitled, “I Take My Pen in Hand,” which contained 25 letters that had been written home by Conrad during the war. My g-grandfather Floyd survived the conflict, but Uncle Conrad did not. He was killed in action during the night assault on Ft. Wagner, at Morris Island, South Carolina, July 18, 1863, and his body was never recovered. And since Conrad was the only son of this German immigrant farmer family, the name of Litt came to an abrupt end with his death. Then, last year, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs had purchased the adjoining farmland to the Indian Falls Cemetery to construct a new National Veterans Cemetery, so I decided that I would erect a VA government memorial headstone, in honor of Uncle Con. The stone will be installed soon, right next to his father’s gravestone, which looks out over the undeveloped VA farm field from a hilltop. I plan to have a Civil War military memorial ceremony there on this coming Memorial Day, to dedicate and to consecrate the headstone to the memory of Conrad Litt. The family emigrated to the U.S. in 1854, so I have to ask myself, why a 19 year old german boy would enlist within the 100th NY Volunteer Infantry in 1861? It was probably more to do with the Bounty offered, the steady pay, and the promise of 100 acres of land upon completion of his service, than it was in the patriotic sense. But yet, he gave the ultimate blood sacrifice to preserve the Union. I’d also applied to the US Army in the hopes of securing a Purple Heart for Conrad, but that Medal has been denied to Civil War vets, due to current Army Regulations. I don’t think this is really fair, because the award has its root beginning with Gen. George Washington, during the War of our Independence in 1782, as the Badge of Military Merit. With a political help, I hope to change the AR 600-8-22, through Congress and President’s approval, to include Soldiers of the Civil War. Actually, there were about 15 Civil War veterans who DID receive the Purple Heart, but they had to apply for it themselves after 1932 when the PH was created. On a side note, Gen. Ely S. Parker, an American Native Indian who was Gen. U.S. Grant’s personal secretary and advisor, was born at the Indian Falls of the Tonawanda Creek in Pembroke. He’d written down the Terms of Surrender at Appomattox for ending the War. When Gen. Robert E. Lee saw Parker’s dark complexion, he at first thought him a negro. Upon learning the truth, Lee said to him, “I am happy to see one real American here.” Ely Parker responded with, “General, sir, we are all Americans here.” The new VA National Veterans Cemetery, in Pembroke, Genesee County, New York, will begin its construction in 2016.

    • Leland Steve Davies says:

      From one family historian to another I champion and honor your research and efforts. Succes in tieing up loose ends in our families brings comforting pleasure for a job welldone. I think you are right about the reasons for the service being a reward which goal fell short. Have you read “The memoirs of Ulysis S Grant”? The battles were so great dangerous and reported, that many drafties went AWOL. THOSE WHO served as long as yours did are truly heros and deserving of the recognition you seek for him. My Welsh “Davies” ancestors, including my grand father Moses born in 1854 followed three older brothers with the women and children in 1867. On arrival in Ellis Island possibly in 1864 (The story is told) one of the three brothers from Liverpool was separated from the two others at check in from Merther Tydfil. I have the impression that because of the need and nessessary draft conditions the war demanded AS MANY ABLEBODY RECRUITS as they could get. The good news my g grandfathers brother later rejoined his family in the Pennsylvania Coal fields of Lucerne County. I have not been to Gettysburg yet, I have driven the rolling hills of Vicksburg many times and am in awe of the honor paid to our veterans. May your hero also be so honored.

  13. Phil says:

    Perhaps those who feel that slavery was the most important cause of the Civil War should research a little bit closer. There were 5 States allowed to keep slavery for a period of about 5 years following the end of the war. A deal was struck so that these States would not secede from the Union and they would provide troops.
    Additionally – check out the history of Nashville, TN. Fort Negley was built under the direction of the Union Army almost exclusively with slave labor (both men and women). Many slaves came to Nashville as the Union had taken the city and they expected to be free. Freed slaves were conscripted and forced to work. Most were not paid at all for their work. Hundreds of them died during the construction of the Union fort.
    There is more proof out there that this was a State’s Rights war more than anything else. Every issue possible was addressed by the Presidents of the US so that they had more troops and that they could identify and take (and hold) strategic resources in each State.
    Anyone think that General Sherman’s burn-and-slash through the South was standard warfare? It was Grant’s and Sherman’s idea to break the South in every way possible. Sherman included in his orders for the march that “…VII. Negroes who are able-bodied and can be of service to the several columns may be taken along, but each army commander will bear in mind that the question of supplies is a very important one and that his first duty is to see to them who bear arms….”. I don’t see the word “volunteers” in this statement.
    The Civil War was horrible for all people – regardless of race. It is a National tragedy that was not somehow avoided. After seeing the lengths both sides went to in the war – why could not a peaceful solution have been found?
    Slavery is wrong — but that was a sideline issue.

  14. to whom it may concern: I have read and I don’t recall where or when, that one of the big factors that at that period of time was that due to the fact that the South at this time was not blessed with the manufacturing facitualies that the North had. The South had the materials and the North had the means to furnish the finished product. So the South would send their raw material to the North for manufacture and the North would send the manufactured product back to the South. Where the bind came in was that the South had to pay a tariff on the raw material entering the North and a tariff to receive the finished product back into the South. I would assume that the Mason Dixon line existed at this time and that was how they determined what was the South and what was the North. So my thinking is that this had a lot to do with the aggitation between the South and the North. I’m sure that there are many people who read this will disagree with me on my observatlion on the matter but that is the way I see it. please excuse my spelling as I can’t find spell check to check my spelling.

    • Richard says:


  15. Michael says:

    Had Lincoln not have been murdered the reconstruction would have been peaceful. Due to Booths assignation of the President the Republicans turned on the South with Carpetbaggers and corrupt “leaders’ in DC. It was shameful that hostility’s had to come however, with their backs to the wall the southerners turned against the Union and fought a bloody and divisive war. To this day the South still bristles at how the Union treated is fair flower of the South. BTW I’m from Missouri and it’s history during this era was just as sad.

  16. John Reed says:

    The Tennessee governor, Isham G. Harris, addressed the state legislature in Jan 1861 calling for a secession convention. The text of his speech is available on line.
    Virtually all his grievances concerned slavery. He thought it ought to be legal from coast to coast and from Mexico to Canada. He fumed against the Underground Railroad and worried that restricting interstate commerce in slaves would make slavery unprofitable.
    At the beginning of the war confederate units were sent to East Tennessee to prevent if from seceding from the rest of the state. With support in the region the Union held Knoxville even against the outstanding confederate general Longstreet. A number of residents from my county in West Tennessee died serving the Union.
    Texas Governor Sam Houston, who had moved from East Tennessee, refused to support the Confederacy, and German settlers in the Texas hill country were largely Unionists.
    Alabama had unionist partisans active in several areas of the state.
    The idea of a south land solidly united against northern aggression is a myth.

  17. Leland Steve Davies says:

    My comment above said my family.arrived at Elles Island. It was actually Castle garden which was the immigration station on the top of Manhatten at the time of the civil war.

  18. Michelle Roberts says:

    For me and my family, the civil war was indeed a tragedy. I am descended from a slave and her “owner” in Virginia. All sides of this conflict converge in those who came after them and has left its mark on us. It is very challenging to be true to who you are and maintain a sense of pride in one’s ancestors on both sides in light of the history.
    I have ancestors who were slaves, Confederate Soldiers, Union Soldiers, Slaveowners and civilians of political power, and ordinary citizens both Northerners and Southerners. Talk about a mix of ideals! All of you above are arguing about cause when all that matters is effect. The effect on the people of the time and on those of us who live with the communal memory of those times.

    • Andrea says:

      Michelle Roberts, you’ve said it all clearly and with insight. And you have the ancestry to speak this truth. Your forefathers and mothers would be proud. Thank you.

  19. Sam Blair says:

    7 Blair brothers fought for the south,all from Va. My Ggrandfather Luther Rice Blair and his brother William A.Y. Blair in Wright’s Halifax Artillery in Petersburg and played huge roll at The Crater,John Francis Marion Blair,Samuel Brittain Blair and Arthur Sydney Blair with 53rd Va, George W. Blair and Suter F. Blair w/ the 38th Va. all from Pittsylvania Co. Va. Suter died at Gettysburg in Pickett’s Charge,George captured at Gettysburg,sent to Ft. Delaware then Point Lookout,Md. Then.. exchanged to Ft Lee Feb. 1865 and died at Five Forks April 1,1865 with the 38th Va. Samuel and Arthur were captured at Farmville April 6,1865,,,,,

  20. Margy Gray says:

    Grant won the civil war because –he knew what was important —a clean uniform to wear to meet the enemy was the last thing on his mind—-winning a peace treaty was his goal!!!!!!!!

  21. Richard says:




  22. It was my understanding that Lee had tried unsuccessfully for several hours to surrender to Grant and was told he was not available and that a planned attack was within minutes to finish Lee and his last troops. When Grant finally was reached and planned to meet with Lee that Grant made it a point not to dress formally for the surrender. Grant knew Lee before and had been formally talked too about his messy attire and wanted to show this point to Lee one last time to insult Lee along with his surrender. Grant later regretted his actions.

  23. David McCrary says:

    There’s a great book called ‘What If’?, about the vagaries surrounding great historical events. While far from a great event I always remind my children, when discussing American history, that their 2X paternal and 2X maternal great grandfathers were infantry soldiers during the War of Northern Aggression, one Confederate (37), one Union(24). They were both present during the Battle of Vicksburg. I then ask what if one or the other had had one or the other in their crosshairs and fired a fatal shot? Fortunately, for us, that did not occur. My wife’s Union grandfather was with the Lead Mine Regiment out of Galena, IL. He finished the war unscathed and participated in the Grand Review in DC before returning home to Warren, Il. My Confederate grandfather was taken prisoner at Vicksburg, signed parole papers, then proceeded home, rejoined (big mistake), got captured in 1864 (again) and spent the rest of his time as a POW at Camp Douglas, IL. The war ended as he was being processed for a prisoner exchange.

  24. Jim Coshland says:

    Surprisingly, I see no mention of the long scope of history as embodied by the American Revolution. There is little doubt that the American Revolution began it’s first phase in 1776 which lasted until 1861. The second phase of the Revolution was between 1861 and about 1918. From 1918, it’s third phase lasted until about 2000. We are now in the fourth phase of the American Revolution. The Roman Empire went through similar transitions. It failed and collapsed when it did not advance, but stagnated and regressed. Other empires have had the same thing happen. Fortunately, the American “empire” has, with fits and starts managed to advance to where we are now. Whether we continue, only the future will tell.

    • Tom says:

      American was never meant to be an empire, but rather a country, empires by their very nature are unstable, brutal and usually die a violent death.

  25. James says:

    States’ rights indeed, meaning principally the right to retain slavery. The secession documents of South Carolina and Mississippi specifically reference it, and it is recognized and protected in the Confederate Constitution using the specific words “the institution of negro slavery”, leaving little doubt that it was race-based and not a question of bonded servitude in general. Lincoln downplayed abolition initially in an attempt to avoid alienating border states and those which either had not yet called a secession convention, or where a convention was held, but voted to remain in the Union. The Fort Sumter crisis became a tipping point later on. It is also fair to note that many who opposed slavery then could not have imagined a multi-racial society in their time, and we struggle with this still. Individuals may go to war for many reasons, but it is ahistorical thinking to conclude that the Confederacy’s “peculiar institution” was somehow only incidental to “the cause”, even if the cause was nominally states rights. One should also take care when editorializing on history as those who acted in the past could not foresee their future any more than we can replay the past differently to realize different outcomes.

    • John says:

      Exactly!!! It was about states rights and specifically Southern States wanting the right to continue to enslave others of a different race! It allowed them to continue their economic wealth. I believe that to be the crux of the war. Northern Aggression ha!!!

  26. Joe Beaty says:

    My three times Great-Grandfather Issac Best freed his slaves prior to the War of Northern Aggression. Yet he and his younger brothers fought in the war alongside others who owned slaves but most who didn’t. What would be their motive for fighting in a war that they didn’t have a reason to be in. People can revise history all they and call me and others ignorant of the facts but I have to question their motives. My dad told me stories that were handed down to him of the war and it always came to states rights. Anyway, I am not here to change anyone’s mind nor do I consider mine changeable. I have to believe that my family fought for something other than slavery because they did not own slaves.

  27. Joe says:

    I know most if not all who read this will pause and say hmmm… But most will not get it for a while, if you do spectacular.

    If the south would have won the war, there would have NEVER been Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and R

  28. Joe says:

    My last comment was meant to say Rockefeller at the end….

    And that would have been way more than enough of a reason for the south to have won.

    The American Machine created these evil men. They all got money from the behemath that the Union became… I hope no one actualy believes that any one of these bafoons did any real business in the South.

  29. Glenn Grymes says:

    I had ancestors fighting on both sides. Some from PA., the others from VA. Not having any correspondence from those folks, I doubt that I can honestly give you a rationale as to why they really fought.
    Yet here I read argument after argument defending one point of view after another justifying the greatest amount of bloodshed ever spilled in this land of ours, as though after 150 years your respective points of view are really pertinent to life in the 21st century!
    Bottom line that “peculiar institution” was ended, at least on paper, although it took another century for even a modicum of civil rights to be realized by people of color.
    We get so caught up in this land about debating one another as to who is right, and what is wrong our people fail to see what is good, and why we need to count our blessings!
    The past is just that! Let’s stop fighting over things that cannot be changed, and unite to create an even better country so the horror of a civil war never happens again!

  30. DorotheaMeekColeman says:

    My family married into the Lee Family at least twice. I have always admired Gen. Lee. I married into a family of Coleman’s that were from the South but had nothing to gain in the slavery issue, and everything to loose, and they did. My father in law, Jacob Coleman was born 22 June 1867, and the family moved to Arkansas just after the census of 1870 in Georgia. Jacob was a very honest, hard working man, that believed in the equality long before it was though of. He knew his history well, and I was able to enjoy his perspective of it, and his belief that all people should be afforded the opportunity to well, be educated, own their own business and prosper from their work. His politics never wavered nor did his belief in God. I counted it a privilege to have known him and was with him when he passed away at age 100 years and 6 months.

  31. Mariane Browne O'Reilly says:

    My great grandfather Thomas Bardon, with the 158th NY regiment out of New York City,was supposed to be at Appomatox but he ended up in Point Of Rocks Hospital in Va. before the final battle laid up with influenza. He was later discharged from Ft. Monroe in North Carolina. I would appreciate any info about his unit or the history of those last battles in which his unit fought.

  32. Tom says:

    Slavery was ill-suited to an industrial state. It lacked flexibility. You had to feed and maintain slaves whether business was up or down. They were a burden and a responsibility. Kindly Yankees hit upon the superior idea of sweated labor, usually of immigrants who had no way of defending themselves. These could be fired when convenient. If they then died it was a matter of no account as, the Lord be praised, more were arriving by the boatload.

    And so the pious men of Northern money, who went to church every week, learned to work children twelve hours a day in tubercular dimness, where they grew deformed from poor diet and died early of lead poisoning and rickets.

    Of course this wholesome system sometimes resulted in unfortunate revelations. If to save a few dollars the master of a noisesome tenement neglected to install fire escapes, and in the ensuing conflagration girls were clutching each other and jumping to their deaths from the seventh floor to avoid being burned to death—ah, well. The ways of God were mysterious, and girls easily replaced.

    There was no slavery, though. That would have been immoral.

    • joy klein says:

      Tom, you are so right. And there are billionaires today who live off the sweat of others, often poor people in communist countries who will work for a bowl of rice. They even feel they shouldn’t have to pay taxes, being “job creators”. The “robber barons” of the past and present have a lot in common with the slaveholders of the past.

    • Jim says:

      I do believe that it is the Providence of the Lord working in men’s lives that brings each of us to where we are today and even evil institutions such as slavery did allow a race of people to be here in this county who would not otherwise have had the opportunity. No matter by what reason or fortune we are blessed to be here.

  33. Kerry Gregory says:

    Three generation of my family fought in the Civil War on both sides. My great grandfather and great-great grandfather Gregory served in two different regiments but their company in each was made up of the same men. They were not poor dirt farmers or plantation owners but what would be middle-class farmers made up of both races. The south used intergrated units. Nearly one third of the men in their company were free black men. They served at Pensacola, Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, and Chickamauga, and later guarded the hospital and railroad at West Point Mississippi. They were also and I included most of the men both black and white decendents of Revolutionary War Soldiers.


    “Mr. Davis had communicated to General Kirby Smith the fall of Richmond and the surrender of General Lee, and that he would endeavor to get to Cuba, and thence cross over to Texas, where, with 37,000 men west of the great river, they would make a stand at Hempstead, Texas. It was understood that in this last rally the best terms possible for capitulation would be made.” Source: Captain Ernest Cucullu, Aide-de-Camp to General Kirby Smith, recalling the last written official order to Smith by Davis. Found in the Confederate Veteran, Volume I, p. 43, 1893.

  35. Melody royal says:

    The civil war was the worst as far as loosening more men in battle. Than any conflicts, world wars and present. Not that it’s a comfort to all the men and women who have served and died. A lot of bloodshed on our home land. And general Lee was not in good health. It was honorable. But needed

  36. George Haines says:

    My great grandfather was a volunteer from Michigan, He fought under Custer and was injured at Frying Pan Virginia June or July 1863

  37. Ross C. Laugher says:

    My ancestors fought on both sides in the American Civil War. Casper Laugher (Law)
    fought as acorpaoral for the 2nd Maryland Cavalry Regiment; company D. He then continued the war fighting for the 5th Regiment Maryland Volunteers; company C. Casper fought from 1861 and was discharged on 1st September 1865. His brother james also fought for the same regiment.
    Opposing them, fighting for the Confederacy, was James E. Laugher, who fought for the State of Texas in Waul`s Texas Legion as a private in Company E.
    James E. Laugher fought at Gettysberg.
    I am still discovering more information about their part in this terrible conflict and will continue my research.

  38. M. Anne Hart says:

    I have two swords a relative picked up at Appomattox, a Calvert and a Masonic sword both were burned. Did they burn the arms layed down in surrender. I can find nothing about this. Thanks for any help.

  39. Felix Gravino says:

    My great grandfather fought in Hagood’s regiment and surrendered at Appomattox, as did my great great grandfather in Holcombe’s Legion, and my Great grand uncle who road with A.P. Hill. All lived many years after the war. All were decendents of Revolutionary war heros. Another great great grandfather was not so lucky he was killed at the battle of Seven pines, and two other ancestors father and son died at Richmond and Gettysburg respectively. I had many many more ancestors in the American Revolutionary war, and American Civil war and one in the French and Indian war. My grandfather was a WWI veteran serving in the Argonne Forest and Yypres Offensive and wounded twice. He was an immigrant. My father, his brother, and my mother’s three brothers were WWII veterans. My father was also a Vietnam veteran. My oldest brother was a Vietnam veteran and died from agent orange, I am a veteran and my younger brother is a Iraqi war veteran. I have counted over one hundred veterans in my mother’s genealogy alone. We are warrior class. I guess it is in our genes . We are called to serve. We go when we are asked. In the words of Mark Twain. “I love my country, but I don’t have to love it’s institutions”. is the best way I can sum it up. Our country is not perfect, but it is how we evolved and we can make it a better place.

  40. Angry Southerner says:

    Of course, The Civil War was about slavery. The Southern economy at the time built it’s foundation on slavery. If there were no slaves, the South would crumble. How long do you expect to get free labor. I am the great grandson of a slave, and may I add the great-great-great grandson of a slaveholder. Slavery is wrong no matter rather it’s in The Constitution or not. Slave holders wanted wealth but were to lazy to work for it themselves, wanted to steal that wealth from hardworking African slaves. May their souls burn in hell

  41. Wallace Crawford says:

    Ask yourself these questions

    How much European investment in American agriculture and industry prior to the Civil War.

    Who would benefit by the fracturing of the Great American empire.
    Who would have benefited by the internal manipulation of both the South and the North.

    Did we not save these same Sonzz A’ Bitches in two world wars.

    Do we not use these same tactics on small unsuspecting countries in order to convert them to U.S Friendly democracies ?

    Divide and Conquer was the intent.

    Nuff’ said

    Wallace Crawford
    Semper Fi

  42. Kimber Lowers says:

    My Anscestor John Lowers. was in the 103 pa inf company F (not the one in H) He was (along with the John in H) taken captive on 4-20-1864 in Plymouth NC. they were taken to Andersonville Prison… One John Lowers was released, one was not… It looks as if my John Lowers (company F) was transferred to Salisbury prison. All i know is they presumed him dead as of 1890……what a shame, There is no burial, no name on a monument, showing what he did for our country. His three boys grew up in the soldiers orphanage. Never getting to know their father….. John B Lowers is now listed as being 1 of 6 men unaccounted for…… wow…

  43. joy klein says:

    Yes indeed, slavery is the 600 lb gorilla in the room. There are people who study all the battles of the civil war, and all the documents and letters, and think they know it all. Was slavery all that important? To even ask makes it all the more horrible. Some people wear blinders that enable them to zero in on economy, states rights, and such, while protecting their minds from seeing the horrors of kidnapping and false imprisonment. Blinders protect the hope in the back of their minds that white men are superior and entitled. Back then, as to this day, there are people afraid to take off the blinders and see that southern economy, states rights, and everything else about the Civil War was about a horrible crime against humanity, slavery.

  44. dan'l says:

    The hackneyed conversation is so silly. The top leaders of the secession were themselves quite clear in their knowledge of what the primary cause of the war was. The post-war “lost causers” like the ones here, continue to ignore the wel documented articles of secession as written by several of the primary seceding Southern states well before they were the “losing” side. Defense of the Slavery system was listed in the first or second paragraph, well ahead of any “tariff” or “Northern Aggression” issues. Simply read Confederate VP Stevens’ view on it at the time. Simply see that there were several notable Union Generals and an Admiral from Virginia who chose to defend Virginia FROM the slavers rather than for them. Simply see that the South wanted far more than just “to be left alone” and actively worked to EXPAND slavery not only into new territories but via their congressmen to impose on the Northerners with new laws that required all citizens to support slavery. Outrageous taking of citizen’s rights. Simply see how Southern citizens brazenly invaded and took U.S. Forts that were payed for by ALL citizens of the country before secession. The South was the aggressor, but don’t get that from post-war writings. Get it from accounts before and during the war before there was a “winner.” The fact that anyone would call either side the “winner” in that war is a testament to their profound naivety, and proof of an agenda rather than a calm review of facts to ascertain the truth of the time.