While driving the roads of Virginia this month we just happened to pass by this National Historic Park so we absolutely pulled over to see what this was all about. What a surprise to learn that we had happened upon the place where on April 9, 1865 Robert E. Lee, commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia, surrendered his men to Ulysses S. Grant, the general-in-chief of all United States forces. It was Lee’s surrender that signaled the end of the Southern States attempt to create a separate nation thus ending the Civil War.
The court house was the first building where we stopped to get a closer look. We both assumed that it was here that the surrender took place but we quickly learned that this was not the case. Appomattox Court House was simply the name of the town. When the town of Clover Hill became the county seat in 1845 it was renamed Appomattox Court House. So not to confuse you, William is standing on the courthouse steps in the town of Appomattox Court House.
We continued to tour the town and found our way to the Clover Hill Tavern. It was built in 1819 and was the oldest village structure.
Inside the tavern we saw a wall to honor those who were engaged in the conflict here at Appomattox Court House. The photos displayed shows only a handful of the men who fought here. The Confederate Army under Robert E Lee had 30,000 soldiers and the Union Forces under Ulysses S. Grant had 60,000 soldiers.
Most of you know that I have worked for Xerox for over 40 years so you can easily understand why I was drawn to the room next door where these printing machines were on display.
It was here that I learned the importance of these prints. After Lee’s surrender the 28,000 soldiers were given a Parole Pass which gave them proof that they were not deserting the Confederacy nor were they to be taken prisoners by the Union Forces.
The reenactment of stacking of the arms really brings this alive. It is difficult to imagine just how many rifles were placed along the road at Appomattox Court House.
This is the spot where the last shot from the artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia was fired on the morning of April 9, 1865.
Wilmer McLean and his family left their home in Manassas, Va and moved to this home at Appomattox Court House. He was a sugar speculator and he wanted to be near the railroad. Lee used the parlor of their home when he surrendered to Grant.
When Grant and Lee sat down in the parlor of the McLean home, Grant asked only that the Confederates pledge not to take up arms against the United States. Grant allowed the Confederate officers to keep their side arms and any man who owned a horse to take it home with him. After a long and bloody war the surrender has become known as “The Gentlemen’s Agreement” a testament to the character of these two great men.
One thing that William and I always do is STOP and take the time when we pass something of importance. We do not know when we might pass that way again so the time to stop here at Appomattox Court House was today – An afternoon well spent.