The Day the Civil War Was Over
On April 9th, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrenders his 28,000 Confederate soldiers To Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia. This is said to be the day the American Civil War ended. There were a few widely scattered skirmishes for several weeks but it is generally accepted that the Civil War was over on this date.
The Southern Army was struggling through the Virginia countryside, which was bare of food and supplies. The number of Confederate soldiers deserting had become a serious problem for General Lee. He had essentially run out of options. The Union Army had cut the Confederates off from other Rebel troops in North Carolina and General Sheridan had effectively cut off any hope of retreat as well having taken 6,000 prisoners at Sayler’s Creek.
The opposing generals, the highest ranked in both their armies, met at the home of Wilmer McLean to hammer out the details of surrender. In a quirk of fate Mr. McLean had the dubious honor of having the Civil War start in his farmhouse at Manassas and end at his home in Appomattox where General Lee asked for the terms of surrender. General Grant, eager to stop the loss of lives in both the North and South armies, to say nothing of the tremendous expense to both sides, penned the terms of surrender. General Robert E. Lee, also tired of waging a losing war, the huge loss of lives and seeing the ruin of the Confederate States agreed to the terms as laid out by General Ulysses S. Grant. The war was officially over.
The cost in human lives was staggering. Most experts estimate that 620,000 lost their lives in bloody battles and battlefield diseases. Some say the cost could be as high as 700,000. Exact figures will never be known but all agree that more Americans died in the American Civil War than any other war the United States has been involved in.
The term of the surrender most affecting the soldiers of the Confederacy was that all were pardoned and allowed to go home with their horses and personal items. Officers would get the same terms but would be allowed to retain their side arms as well. The starving Rebel soldiers would receive Union rations as well. General Grant is credited with a well known quote from the surrender scene that pretty well summed up the end of the American Civil War. “The War is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again”.