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HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE U. S. "5 P. M., April 7th, 1865. "GENERAL R. E. LEE, Commanding C. S. A.: "The results of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from my; self the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States army, known as the Army of Northern Virginia. U. S. GRANT, LIEUT.-GENERAL."
This he intrusted to General Seth Williams, adjutant-general, with directions to take it to Humphreys's front, as his corps was close up to the enemy's rear-guard, and have it sent into Lee's lines.
The general decided to remain all night at Farmville and await the reply from Lee, and he was shown to a room in the hotel in which he was told Lee had slept the night before.
Lee wrote the following reply within an hour after he received General Grant's letter, but it was brought in by rather a circuitous route and did not reach its destination till after midnight:
"April 7th, 1865. "GENERAL: I have received your note of this date. Though not entertaining the opinion you express of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia, I reciprocate your desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and therefore, before considering your proposition, ask the terms you will offer on conditions of its surrender.
"R. E. LEE, GENERAL. "LIEUT.-GENERAL U. S. GRANT, "Commanding Armies of the U. S."
The next morning before leaving Farmville the general wrote the following reply, and General Williams again started for Humphreys's front to have the letter transmitted to Lee:
"April 8th, 1865. "GENERAL R. E. Lee, Commanding C. S. A.: "Your note of last evening in reply to mine of the same date, asking the conditions on which I will accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, is just received. In reply I would say that, peace being my great desire, there is but one condition I would insist upon,- namely, that the men and officers surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged. I will meet you, or will designate officers to meet any officers you may name for the same purpose, at any point agreeable to you, for the purpose of arranging definitely the terms upon which the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia will be received.
"U. S. GRANT, LIEUT. GENERAL."
There turned up at this time a rather hungry-looking gentleman in gray, in the uniform of a colonel, who proclaimed himself the proprietor of
the hotel. He said his regiment had crumbled to pieces, he was the only man left in it, and he thought he might as well stop off at home. His story was significant as indicating the disintegrating process which was going on in the ranks of the enemy.
General Grant had been marching most of the way with the columns which were pushing along south of Lee's line of retreat, but expecting that a reply would be sent to his last letter and wanting to keep within easy communication with Lee, he decided to march this day with the portion of the Army of the Potomac, which was pressing Lee's rear-guard. After issuing some further instructions to Ord and Sheridan, he started from Farmville, crossed to the north side of the Appomattox, conferred in person with Meade, and rode with his columns. Encouraging reports came in all day, and that night headquarters were established at Curdsville in a large white farm-house, a few hundred yards from Meade's camp. The general and several of the staff had cut loose from the headquarters trains the night he started to meet Sheridan at Jetersville, and had neither baggage nor camp equipage. The general did not even have his sword with him. This was the most advanced effort yet made at moving in "light marching order," and we billeted ourselves at night in farm-houses, or bivouacked on porches, and picked up meals at any camp that seemed to have something to spare in the way of rations. This night we
THE RETREAT FROM PETERSBURG-CONFEDERATES GRATING AND GRINDING CORN, AND COOKING FLOUR-PASTE ON RAMRODS. (BY W. L. SHEPPARD, WHO OBSERVED THE INCIDENT.)
sampled the fare of Meade's hospitable mess and once more lay down with full stomachs. General Grant had been suffering all the afternoon from a severe headache, the result of fatigue, anxiety, scant fare, and loss of sleep, and by night it was much worse. He had been induced to bathe his feet in hot water and mustard, and apply mustard plasters to his wrists and the back of his neck, but these remedies afforded little relief. The dwelling we occupied was a double house. The general threw
Army of Northern Virginia; but as far as your proposal may affect the Confederate States forces under should be pleased to meet you at 10 A. M. to-morrow my command, and tend to the restoration of peace, I on the old stage road to Richmond, between the picketlines of the two armies. R. E. LEE, GENERAL. "LIEUT.-GENERAL U. S. GRANT."
General Grant had been able to get but very little sleep. He now sat up and read the letter, and after making a few comments upon it to General Rawlins, lay down again on the sofa. About 4 o'clock in the morning of the 9th,
CAPTURE OF GUNS AND THE DESTRUCTION OF A CONFEDERATE WAGON-TRAIN AT PAINEVILLE, APRIL 5TH, BY DAVIES'S CAVALRY BRIGADE OF CROOK'S DIVISION. (BY A. R. WAUD, AFTER HIS SKETCH MADE AT THE TIME.)
The wagon-train was escorted by Gary's cavalry with five guns. General Humphreys, in "The Virginia Campaign of '64 and '65" (Charles Scribner's Sons), says it is believed that the papers of General Robert E. Lee's headquarters, containing many valuable reports, copies of but few of which are now to be found, were destroyed by the burning of these wagons.'
himself upon a sofa in the sitting-room on the left side of the hall, while the staff-officers bunked on the floor of the room opposite to catch what sleep they could. About midnight we were aroused by Colonel Whittier of Humphreys's staff, who brought another letter from General Lee. General Rawlins at once took it in to General Grant's room. It was as follows:
"April 8th, 1865. "GENERAL: I received at a late hour your note of today. In mine of yesterday I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender of this army, but as the restoration of peace should be the sole object of all, I desired to know whether your proposals would lead to that end. I can not, therefore, meet you with a view to surrender the
I got up and crossed the hall to ascertain how the general was feeling. I found his room empty, and upon going out of the front door saw him pacing up and down in the yard holding both hands to his head. Upon inquiring how he felt, he replied that he had had very little sleep and was still suffering the most excruciating pain. I said: "Well, there is one consolation in all this, general: I never knew you to be ill that you did not receive some good news. I have become a little superstitious regarding these coincidences, and I should not be surprised if some good fortune overtook you before night." He smiled and said: "The best thing that can happen to meto-day is to get rid of the pain I am suffering." We were now joined by some others of
the staff, and the general was induced to go over to Meade's headquarters with us and get some coffee, in the hope that it would do him good. He seemed to feel a little better now, and after writing the following letter to Lee and dispatching it, he prepared to move forward. The letter was as follows:
"April 9th, 1865. "GENERAL: Your note of yesterday is received. I have no authority to treat on the subject
of peace. The meeting proposed for 10 A. M. to-day could lead to no good. I will state, however, that I am equally desirous for peace with yourself, and the whole North entertains the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms, they would hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed. Seriously hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of another life, I subscribe myself, etc.,
"U. S. GRANT, LIEUTENANT-GENERAL. "GENERAL R. E. LEE."
It was proposed to him to ride during the day in a covered ambulance which was at hand, instead of on horseback, so as to avoid the intense heat of the sun, but this he declined to do and soon after mounted "Cincinnati" and struck off towards New Store. From that point he went by way of a cross-road to the south side of the Appomattox with the intention of moving around to Sheridan's front. While riding along the wagon road which runs from Farmville to Appomattox Court House at a point eight or nine miles east of the latter place, Lieutenant Pease of Meade's staff overtook him with a dispatch. It was found to be a reply from Lee, which had been sent in to our lines on Humphreys's front. It read as follows:
"April 9th, 1865.
"GENERAL: I received your note of this morning on the picket-line, whither I had come to meet you and ascertain definitely what terms were embraced in your proposal of yesterday with reference to the surrender of this army. I now ask an interview, in accordance with the offer contained in your letter of yesterday, for that purpose. R. E. LEE, GENERAL.
"LIEUTENANT-GENERAL U. S. GRANT."
Pease also brought a note from Meade, say ing that at Lee's request he had read the communication addressed to General Grant and in consequence of it had granted a short truce. The general, as soon as he had read these letters, dismounted, sat down on the grassy bank by the roadside, and wrote the following reply to Lee:
April 9th, 1865. "GENERAL R. E. LEE, Commanding C. S. Army: "Your note of this date is but this moment (11:50 A. M.) received, in consequence of my having passed
from the Richmond and Lynchburg roads to the Farmville and Lynchburg road. I am at this writing about four miles west of Walker's Church, and will push forward to the front for the purpose of meeting you. Notice sent to me on this road where you wish the interview to take place will meet me.
"U. S. GRANT, LIEUTENANT-GENERAL." He handed this to Colonel Babcock of the staff, with directions to take it to General Lee by the most direct route. Mounting his horse again, the general rode on at a trot towards Appomattox Court House. When five or six miles from the town, Colonel Newhall, Sheridan's adjutant-general, came riding up from the direction of Appomattox and handed the general a communication. This proved to be a duplicate of the letter from Lee which Lieutenant Pease had brought in from Meade's lines. Lee was so closely pressed that he was anxious to communicate with Grant by the most direct means, and as he could not tell with which column Grant was moving, he sent in one copy of his letter on Meade's front and one on Sheridan's. Colonel Newhall joined our party, and after a few minutes' halt to read the letter, we continued our ride towards Appomattox. On the march I had asked the general several times how he felt. To the same question now he said, "The pain in my head seemed to leave me the moment I got Lee's letter." The road was filled with men, animals and wagons, and to avoid these and shorten the distance, we turned slightly to the right and began to "cut across lots"; but before going far we spied men conspicuous in gray, and it was seen that we were moving towards the enemy's left flank and that a short ride farther would take us into his lines. It looked for a moment as if a very awkward condition of things might possibly arise, and Grant become a prisoner in Lee's lines instead of Lee in his. Such a circumstance would have given rise to an important cross-entry in the system of campaign book-keeping. There was only one remedy to retrace our steps and strike the right road, which was done without serious discussion. About 1 o'clock the little
village of Appomattox Court House with its half-dozen houses came in sight, and soon we were entering its single street. It is situated on some rising ground, and beyond the country slopes down into a broad valley. The enemy was seen with his columns and wagon trains covering the low ground. Our cavalry, the Fifth Corps, and part of Ord's command were occupying the high ground to the south and west of the enemy, heading him off completely.
where General Lee was. Babcock told me afterwards that in carrying General Grant's last letter he passed through the enemy's lines and found General Lee a little more than half a mile beyond Appomattox Court House. He was lying down by the roadside on a blanket which had been spread over a few fer.ce rails on the ground under an apple-tree, which was part of an orchard. This circumstance furnished the only ground for the widespread report that the surrender occurred under an apple-tree. Babcock dismounted upon coming near, and as he approached on foot, Lee sat up, with his feet hanging over the roadside embankment. The wheels of the wagons in passing along the road had cut away the earth of this embankment and left the roots of the tree projecting. Lee's feet were partly resting on these roots. One of his staff-officers came forward, took the dispatch which Babcock handed him and gave it to General Lee. After reading it, the general rose and said "Yes, he is in that brick house," answered he would ride forward on the road on which Sheridan.
Generals Sheridan and Ord with a group of officers around them were seen in the road, and as our party came up, General Grant said: "How are you, Sheridan?"
"First-rate, thank you; how are you?" cried Sheridan, with a voice and look that seemed to indicate that on his part he was having things all his own way.
"Is Lee over there?" asked General Grant, pointing up the street, having heard a rumor that Lee was in that vicinity.
"Well, then, we 'll go over," said Grant. The general-in-chief now rode on, accompanied by Sheridan, Ord, and some others, and soon Colonel Babcock's orderly was seen sitting on his horse in the street in front of a two-story brick house, better in appearance than the rest of the houses. He said General Lee and Colonel Babcock had gone into this house a short time before, and he was ordered to post himself in the street and keep a lookout for General Grant, so as to let him know
Babcock had come, but was apprehensive that hostilities might begin in the mean time, upon the termination of the temporary truce, and asked Babcock to write a line to Meade informing him of the situation. Babcock wrote accordingly, requesting Meade to maintain the truce until positive orders from General Grant could be received. To save time it was arranged that a Union officer, accompanied by one of Lee's officers, should carry this letter through the enemy's lines. This route made the distance to Meade nearly ten miles shorter
than by the roundabout way of the Union lines. Lee now mounted his horse and directed Colonel Charles Marshall, his military secretary, to accompany him. They started for Appomattox Court House in company with Babcock and followed by a mounted orderly. When the party reached the village they met one of its residents, named Wilbur McLean, who was told that General Lee wanted to occupy a convenient room in some house in the town. McLean ushered them into the sitting-room of one of the first houses he came to, but upon looking about and finding it quite small and meagerly furnished, Lee proposed finding something more commodious and better fitted for the occasion. McLean then conducted the party to his own house, about the best one in the town, where they awaited General Grant's arrival.
The house had a comfortable wooden porch with seven steps leading up to it. A hall ran through the middle from front to back, and on each side was a room having two windows, one in front and one in rear. Each room had two doors opening into the hall. The building stood a little distance back from the street, with a yard in front, and to the left was a gate for carriages and a roadway running to a stable in rear. We entered the grounds by this gate and dismounted. In the yard were seen a fine
large, gray horse, which proved to be General Lee's, and a good-looking mare belonging to Colonel Marshall. An orderly in gray was in charge of them, and had taken off their bridles to let them nibble the grass.
General Grant mounted the steps and entered the house. As he stepped into the hall, Colonel Babcock, who had seen his approach from the window, opened the door of the room on the left, in which he had been sitting with General Lee and Colonel Marshall, awaiting General Grant's arrival. The general passed in, while the members of the staff, Generals Sheridan and Ord, and some general officers who had gathered in the front yard remained outside, feeling that he would probably want his first interview with General Lee to be, in a measure, private. In a few minutes Colonel Babcock came to the front door, and making a motion with his hat towards the sitting-room, said: "The general says, come in." It was then about half-past 1 of Sunday, the 9th of April. We entered, and found General Grant sitting at a marble-topped table in the center of the room, and Lee sitting beside a small oval table near the front window, in the corner opposite to the door by which we entered, and facing General Grant. Colonel Marshall, his military secretary, was standing at his left side.
CONFEDERATES DESTROYING THE RAILROAD FROM APPOMATTOX TOWARD LYNCHBURG, AND ARTILLERYMEN DESTROYING GUN
CARRIAGES AT NIGHTFALL, SATURDAY, APRIL 8th. (BY W. L. SHEPPARD, WHO OBSERVED THE INCIDENTS.)