APPOMATTOX, former courthouse (county seat) of the county of the same name in Virginia, twenty miles east southeast of Lynchburg, and scene of the surrender of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to the Union Army of the Potomac on 9 April 1865. General Robert E. Lee, retreating from Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia, on the night of 2–3 April, planned to withdraw into North Carolina via Danville. However, the Federal troops across his front at Jetersville forced him westward to Farmville, where he hoped to procure rations for a march to Lynchburg. En route to Farmville, Lee came under heavy attack. On 6 April, at Sayler's Creek, he lost about six thousand men. By the time Lee reached Appomattox Courthouse on 8 April, long marches without food had depleted the Confederate ranks to two small corps. That night, the reflections of Federal campfires against the clouds showed that the surviving Confederates were surrounded on three sides. To continue fighting, Lee reasoned, would only carry a hopeless struggle into country that had escaped the ravages of war.
On 9 April, at about 1:00 p.m., Lee rode into the village and, at the house of Major Wilmer McLean, formally arranged the surrender of all forces then under arms in Virginia. When on 12 April the troops marched into an open field to lay down their weapons and their flags, the Federal guard presented arms. At Appomattox 7,892 Confederate infantrymen surrendered with arms in their hands. The total number of troops paroled was about 28,000. Union general Ulysses S. Grant tried to get the Confederate commander to advise all the remaining Confederate troops to cease resistance, but Lee insisted that this was a decision for the civil authorities. Appomattox became a national historic site in 1954.
Davis, Burke. To Appomattox: Nine April Days, 1865. New York: Rinehart, 1959.
Hattaway, Herman, and Archer Jones. How the North Won. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983.
Wheeler, Richard. Witness to Appomattox. New York: Harper and Row, 1989.
Douglas SouthallFreeman/a. r.
See alsoPetersburg, Siege of ; Virginia, Army of Northern .
Appomattox (ăpəmăt´əks), town (1990 pop. 1,707), seat of Appomattox co., central Va.; inc. 1925. Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union general Ulysses S. Grant at nearby Appomattox Courthouse on Apr. 9, 1865. After Gen. Philip Sheridan's victory over the Confederates at Five Forks on Apr. 1, Lee abandoned Petersburg and Richmond and retreated westward. Grant pursued, pressing Lee's flank and rear, while Sheridan cut off further retreat at Appomattox Courthouse. Severed from supplies and surrounded by Union forces, Lee was forced to surrender. This marked the virtual end of the war, as the remaining Confederate armies, on hearing of Lee's act, followed suit. The site has been made a national historical park (see National Parks and Monuments, table).