Appomattox Courthouse

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Appomattox Courthouse

Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, is the American Civil War site at which the Confederate army, led by General Robert E. Lee (1807–1870), surrendered to Union general Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) on April 9, 1865. The surrender is commonly viewed as the end of the Civil War, although afterward the Confederate States of America government briefly attempted to maintain its rebellion.

Confederate surrender came after a series of encounters between the forces under Lee and Grant. Eighty thousand Union soldiers forced thirty-five thousand Confederate soldiers out of Petersburg, Virginia, in the end of March 1865. Grant continued pushing the rebels south and eventually managed to cut them off and surround them.

On April 9, realizing the position the Confederates were in, Lee sent a flag of truce to Grant. The two generals met that afternoon to arrange the surrender. By all accounts, Grant was generous with the terms. He allowed the officers to keep their side arms (weapons kept by the belt; hand guns and swords) and the soldiers to keep their horses for working their farms. He also issued rations to the starving Confederates. In all, 7,892 infantrymen surrendered with arms to Union forces at Appomattox. A total of twenty-eight thousand Confederate troops were paroled (released after promising not to fight) by the agreement.

Appomattox Courthouse became a national historic site in 1954.