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In march of 1865, Confederate forces made a valiant last stand against General Sherman's advancing troops, but were undone by the most unlikely of errors
Last Days of the Confederacy: Jefferson Davis in Greensboro and Charlotte, April 1865
The President of the Confederacy held two meetings of his cabinet, April 12-13, 1865, at the home of J. T. Wood in Greensboro, N.C., which was a few yards north of the intersection of present day South Elm Street and McGee Streets.
As the shades of winter slowly lifted during the early months of 1865, the Confederacy was in its darkest hours. After Richmond fell on April 3, 1865, Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), President of the Confederate States of America, and his advisors fled the city on the railroad headed south. His cabinet included Attorney General George Davis, Secretary of the Treasury George Trenholm, Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin, and Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, among others. President Davis and his entourage, watching their government crumble around them, were powerless to stop the collapse. Major General William T. Sherman had devastated Georgia and ransacked the arsenal at Fayetteville. General George Stoneman destroyed the abandoned Confederate prison at Salisbury and conducted cavalry raids throughout western North Carolina. Not safe in Richmond, Davis and his cabinet fled deeper south on a fifteen-day passage through North Carolina.
Arriving by the Piedmont Railroad at Greensboro on April 11, 1865, Davis’s cabinet found a cold reception from residents, due mainly to Richmond’s perceived mismanagement of the war effort. While Davis found quarters with the nephew of his first wife, John Taylor Wood, his advisors were forced to make the “Cabinet Car,” a decrepit wooden boxcar, their mobile boardroom and sleeping quarters. Throughout April 12 and 13, Davis held meetings with his staff and generals Joseph E. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard on the feasibility of uniting tattered Confederate forces against the north or sending General Johnston to broker peace with the Union. After the meetings, Davis and his cabinet procured wagons and left Greensboro on April 15. Tennessee cavalry escorted them on the four-day journey to Charlotte. En route, Davis and his party spent the night of April 16, 1865 in a pine grove four miles east of Lexington and the following night, Easter Sunday, at the rectory of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury. Their next stop was at Concord on April 18th, where Judge and Confederate sympathizer Victor C. Barringer offered his residence on North Union Street to Davis and his party.
The next day the group reached Charlotte, where Davis first heard of Lincoln’s assassination while standing at the corner of Tryon and Fourth Streets, as he was about to enter the Lewis F. Bates residence. Contrary to some accounts, Davis is widely believed to have lamented Lincoln’s death, if not for the loss of a worthy adversary, for the rise of Andrew Johnson to the presidency, which Davis regarded as disastrous to the South. The Confederate government met in the Charlotte branch of the Bank of North Carolina from April 19 until April 22. Over that time, Davis also met with Governor Zebulon B. Vance, whose attendance was essential as the troops within North Carolina were the Confederacy’s last hope, despite the Union capture of Raleigh on April 13. The last meetings of the Confederate government occurred at the Phifer House in Charlotte from April 22 through 26.
On April 26, Davis and select members of his cabinet sought passage to South Carolina, hoping eventually to make their way to Florida. Some members of the cabinet left the group, such as George Davis, who returned to his family in New Hanover County. While traveling, the party met with former Attorney General Thomas Bragg and proceeded to Georgia. On May 10, however, Union forces, led by Colonel B. D. Pritchard, raided a makeshift camp near Irwinville, Georgia, where Davis and his entourage spent the night. Union forces captured the Confederate president, despite Davis’s efforts to conceal himself, and led him to be detained at Fort Monroe, Georgia, until his release two years later.
Alfred Jackson Hanna, Flight Into Oblivion (1959)
Michael B. Ballard, A Long Shadow: Jefferson Davis and the Final Days of the Confederacy (1986)
William J. Cooper, Jefferson Davis, American (2000)
Hudson Strode, ed., Private Letters of Jefferson Davis, 1823-1889 (1966)
Jefferson Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (1881)
Last Stand of the Confederacy - HISTORY
| Last Capitol of the Confederacy |
The historic Sutherlin Mansion in Danville, Virginia,
served as the last capitol of the Confederate States
of America from April 3-10, 1865.
Following its flight from Richmond after the
fall of Petersburg, the government of the
Confederate States of America reassembled
in Danville, Virginia. There, in the historic
Sutherlin Mansion, President Jefferson Davis
and his full cabinet met for the last time (less
Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge).
Now home to the Danville Museum of Fine
Arts and History, the Sutherlin Mansion is
generally considered the last capitol of the
The Southern government would go on for
days to come, operating from cities in North
Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, but it
was last fully functional in Danville. It was
here that Jefferson Davis issued his last
formal proclamation and it was here that key
decisions were made regarding the gold and
silver of the Confederate treasury, some of
which is rumored to be buried in the city to
this day. It was also in Danville that Southern
leaders learned of the surrender of General
Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern
Virginia at Appomattox Court House .
When completed in 1859, the beautiful
Sutherlin Mansion was regarded as the most
impressive in Danville. The home of William
T. Sutherlin, the mayor of Danville at the
outbreak of the Civil War and a self-made
industrialist who owned the second largest
tobacco factory in Virginia, the house once
stood at the center of a four acre estate.
Sutherlin gave up his duties as mayor after
he was elected to the Virginia Secession
Convention in 1861. He initially opposed the
breaking up of the old Union, but then
President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000
volunteers to invade the South after the
bombardment of Fort Sumter .
When this news reached Richmond,
Sutherlin and the other delegates reacted
angrily. Virginia left the Union and cast her lot
with her fellow Southern states.
The former mayor was in poor health and
could not serve in the field, but served as the
Confederate Quartermaster of Danville and
eventually rose to the rank of major in the
Confederate army. The city, with its railroad
connections, was a major supply center for
the Confederacy and Sutherlin's job was one
of considerable responsibility.
When Petersburg fell in the spring of 1865
and Robert E. Lee recommended the
evacuation of Richmond, Danville was a
logical choice for relocating the capital of the
Confederacy. Despite the disaster that had
befallen them, President Davis and his
officials remained confident that Lee would
find a way to prevail and that the war for
Southern independence would continue.
Loading the Confederate Treasury aboard a
train, along with as many supplies and
official papers as possible, the government
left Richmond for Danville. As the President
and his party arrived, Major Sutherlin offered
the use of his home.
President Davis occupied a bedroom at the
rear of the house on the second floor from
April 3-10, 1865. On April 4th, as he resumed
the business of the Confederacy, Davis
signed his final proclamation on a desk that
can still be seen in the mansion.
The proclamation noted the "great moral, as
well as material injury to our cause" from the
occupation of Richmond by Union troops.
It went on, however, to point out that Lee's
army was now free to maneuver again and
that so long as the people of the South
remained committed, they could never be
conquered. "Let us but will it," Davis wrote,
"and we are free."
Later that day the President met in the
Sutherlin Mansion with his full cabinet for the
last time. The only cabinet officer not present
was Secretary of War John C. Breckenridge
who was still outside of Richmond.
The Confederate officials hoped that a
junction of the armies of Robert E. Lee in
Virginia and Joseph E. Johnston in North
Carolina would provide the manpower for
victory. It was not to be. Lee was trapped at
Appomattox Court House and surrendered to
Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865.
The Sutherlin family went on with life after its
brush with history. Major Sutherlin later
served in the Virginia State Legislature and is
remembered today for his role in the
establishment of Virginia Tech.
The Sutherlin Mansion is now home to the
Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History.
A plaque on the building includes the words,
"If I forget thee, Oh Jerusalem."
The Alamo: The First and Last Confederate Monument?
Many have argued that the removal of Confederate monuments will soon lead to the destruction of statues honoring Jefferson, Washington, and Andrew Jackson. One could argue, however, that the statutes of Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis did not just seek to honor slaveholders. They were deliberately erected to memorialize Jim Crow and thus intimidate blacks. What about The Alamo?
According to myth, The Alamo honors the resilience and courage of Anglos and Tejanos pitted against Mexican centralism, brutality, and corruption. In fact, The Alamo is all about emancipation and slavery.
Slavery separated the Republic of Mexico from the United States. American Freedom led to one of the largest hemispheric spikes of Black captivity as British industrial demand for cotton led to an upsurge of racialized plantation slavery in the US South. In Mexico, on the other hand, the Wars of Independence (1808-1824) led to the almost complete eradication of slavery in the zones where it most mattered, the Mexican Bajio, the economic engine of the late Spanish viceroyalty.
Texas was a region long used to indigenous slavery. To Tejanos, the Apache and Comanche were both cousins and captives. Industrial racialized slavery, however, arrived in Texas with entrepreneurs like the Austins who persuaded the impoverished Tejanos in San Antonio to become their lobbyists in Saltillo to delay the implementation of state legislation outlawing chattel slavery. Besieged and brutalized by Comanche raids, Tejanos became Austin’s lobbyists in Coahuila, a federal province deeply skeptical of plantation slavery.
For a full decade (1825-1835), leading Afro-Mexican generals and politicians in Mexico City witnessed with growing concern the expansion of racialized plantation slavery in Texas. In 1835, Mexico passed a centralizing constitution abolishing slavery in every state in the Union, including Coahuila, and sent an army led by Santa Ana to dismantle the Texas Cotton Kingdom. Anglo settlers fled to Louisiana, including the retreating armies of Sam Houston. Santa Ana split his cavalry to cut off Houston at the Sabine. In a serendipitous last moment decision, Houston turned around to confront the weakened Santa Ana. Houston won. The Lone Star Republic was born.
Until 1845, Texas was a pariah state, shunned by the British, the French and the USA. It accomplished little, except avoiding Comanche raids. Steamboats could not ply the waters of the Sabine, Natchez, Trinity, and Brazos that went undragged. Galveston did not become a deep-water port and cotton moved on rafts to neighboring New Orleans. The public infrastructure to secure plantation slavery was financed after 1845 with federal dollars (a lesson to keep in mind in the wake of Harvey). The only thing Texas did well as an independent republic was to draft the constitution of 1841. It made it illegal for any manumitted Black to remain physically in the state, let alone aspire to citizenship.
In 1836, John Quincy Adams described the Texas Revolt as the first civil war "between slavery and emancipation." The Alamo memorializes the first battle of the American Civil War, full twenty-five years before the battle of Fort Sumter. It is the first Confederate monument to slavery.
History buffs remember Averasboro, Bentonville as Confederacy's last stand
The bloody battles of Averasboro and Bentonville near the end of the Civil War fail to summon the same attention as those at Antietam or Gettysburg.
Though Averasboro proved to be a prelude to the larger Battle of Bentonville - which is regarded as the last chance for the Confederacy - they were separate engagements fought at winter's end of 1865 in rural eastern North Carolina.
Part of the same Confederate operation, the battles were intended to inflict blows on Gen. William T. Sherman's army during the last stage of the Union commander's unrelenting campaign through the Carolinas.
"Up to that point, Sherman met with very little resistance. From the fall of Atlanta to the Battle of Averasboro, there's little more than skirmishing going on," said Mark Bradley, the author of several books focusing on the Civil War in North Carolina. "I think it's fair to say they're overconfident, especially just before Bentonville. Here's Johnston's scrapped-together army, and suddenly there's the danger he could pose to Sherman's Carolinas campaign."
"Sherman's able to defeat Johnston . but Sherman's army didn't crush Johnston's army at Bentonville," Bradley said. "His army survived, and he stood toe to toe with a much larger army on the 20th and 21st (of March 1865). Though not a decisive battle, it is still significant."
Technically a Federal tactical win, the preamble Averasboro was actually a Confederate strategic victory. The South, outnumbered 3 to 1, accomplished a primary goal of delaying the advance of the left wing of Sherman's troops for at least one day.
Donny Taylor, who is historic site manager at Bentonville Battleground State Historic Site, said visitors are often surprised by the size of the showdown at Bentonville, some 25 miles from Averasboro in Johnston County.
"It was one, if not the last, where the Confederates actually chose the battle and were the aggressor," he said. "As far as a change in any outcome of the war, it did not do that. The men in the ranks did not know the war was about over. It still showed the efforts the Confederates were making to do their duty as soldiers and stop the presence of what they considered an invading army."
This month, the 150th anniversaries of these two Civil War conflicts are being recognized.
It appears few descendants of the original families who lived in the vicinity of the sprawling Averasboro and Bentonville battlefields are still around. But there are some, including Gene Smith and Nelson Rose, who have passed-down stories to share from the war and its aftermath.
Then there are the re-enactors who long for the weekends and the opportunity to dress in the wool army uniforms of the day, playing roles in re-created field battles of the 1860s.
"I just think it's one of the most interesting times in our history," said W.S. Jackson, a 57-year-old re-enactor who lives near Spivey's Corner. "It's not taught and studied that much in school, and a lot of folks don't care."
While he can portray both sides, Jackson will dress as a Confederate during the anniversary commemoration at Bentonville, where about 3,000 re-enactors are expected.
"They're interested in history. The Civil War was a turning point in the history of this country," Taylor said. "A lot of them had ancestors fight on either side, which was brother against brother. There's a definite camaraderie there. You make a lot of friends from all over the country.
"You relate to the history of that time - manners, dress. You relate that to today's public."
Times have changed since the reverberations from artillery and gunfire shook the ground during the Battle of Averasboro.
Only one of the three antebellum homes from the once 8,300-acre Smithville plantation - Lebanon - remains in the ownership of the original family. A U.S. flag flies outside a contemporary home built on part of the battlefield, in front of where the Oak Grove plantation home originally stood off Burnett Road.
"Tourists and people come all the time. If I didn't stop them, they'd come right through the front door," said Ron Lewis, who bought the Oak Grove home about six years ago before having it moved across Burnett Road.
This rural pocket at the Cumberland-Harnett county line remains well preserved, and well away from development.
"It's a wonderful place," said Wade Sokolosky, who co-wrote the book "No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar - Sherman's Carolina Campaign: From Fayetteville to Averasboro."
"People can go out there on a calm morning, and you can feel the battle," he said.
Remnants of the clash remain.
Not far from the battlefield museum is Chicora Cemetery, the final resting place for 56 Confederate soldiers.
Cannon ball holes and places where stray bullets pierced the heart pine of the Oak Grove plantation house are still visible. The structural damage - including part of a hand-hewn beam in the attic's wainscoting that was cut away by a cannon ball and a near perfect circle from a second cannon ball on an opposite wall - remains from the Battle of Averasboro on March 15 and 16, 1865.
The battle was fought along three lines in northern Cumberland County and southern Harnett County, at a bottleneck formed by the Cape Fear and Black rivers. Accounts vary, but the North suffered 682 losses at Averasboro, including 533 soldiers who were wounded the South tallied 500 losses, with no record of how many were wounded.
In a letter dated April 12, 1865, nearly a month after the conflict, 18-year-old Jamie Smith wrote to a schoolmate: "All nature is gay and beautiful, but every Southern breeze is loaded with a terrible scent from the battle field, which renders my home very disagreeable at times."
The young woman lived on the Smithville plantation, better known today as Lebanon.
Gene Smith, the retired senior editorial writer for The Fayetteville Observer, has lived much of his life in the Lebanon house. It is an early example of Greek Revival architecture and the first Harnett County property placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Smith family has owned and occupied the home since its construction in 1824 as a wedding gift.
Some of Gene Smith's ancestors were witnesses to the horrors of Civil War conflict, as the extended Smith family huddled in an upstairs room of the house after it had been turned into a hospital for the Confederate wounded. Barns, outbuildings and sheds were used for the injured.
Tables set up under shade trees were used for amputating limbs.
"A lot of people died here," said Smith, 67, and a keeper of his family history. "It was an infirmary, and they did the surgery outdoors under the outbuildings. They had the sick people indoors."
Lewis recalls driving along N.C. 82 just outside Godwin and seeing the stately Oak Grove, at the time standing about 200 yards from the road. He loves history, and he fell in love with this remote area and its link to U.S. history.
"To have a home that was an important part of the Civil War - it's actually an honor to own something like this," said Lewis, 49, who lives in nearby Eastover and plans to turn the empty Oak Grove into a museum. "This house was an operating room during the Civil War. People's blood was all over this wooden floor."
Stains remain on the rough-hewn hardwood floor downstairs in one of Oak Grove's dozen rooms. Two rooms were used to perform surgeries during the battle, and the stains are from the blood of the wounded and dying, Lewis said he was told.
While Lebanon was transformed into a Confederate field hospital and the 1865 home of William T. Smith served as a Federal field hospital, Oak Grove was used as a Confederate hospital where the wounded from both sides were treated briefly, according to recorded sources.
"Sherman and his troops came to this house," Lewis said. "The family was kicked out and stayed in a ravine before going to (Lebanon). They ransacked everything. Then they burned the furniture."
The Battle of Averasboro, as Smith pointed out, was not fought in Averasboro.
The battle took place on the Smithville plantation, which was made up of three smaller plantations that had all been owned by John Smith.
Averasboro (often spelled Averasborough), once the third-largest town on the Cape Fear River behind Wilmington and Fayetteville, no longer exists. Founded before the Revolutionary War, it served as a key stopping point for Stage Road travelers and boatmen.
Chicora Golf Course has been built where the town once thrived.
"It was large enough to have been considered for a possible site as the (state) capital," Smith said.
The Confederates staged the Battle of Averasboro to stall the Union troops, and it proved to be well-planned and well-executed. However, some longstanding accounts question whether the conflict can even be considered a battle. It has been dismissed as a tactical skirmish, a delaying action.
It also has a number of names, such as the Battle of Black River and the Battle for Smithville.
"It's not well understood," said Smith, who lives with his wife, Sherry, in the Lebanon home on the northern end of the battlefield. "If you judge a battle by what they were attempting to do, the Rebs did that. If it's judged by the number of casualties, this was certainly a battle. There was well over 1,000 killed here, not including the injured and missing in action."
The fight at Averasboro led, three days later, to the Battle of Bentonville, one of the last major battles of the Civil War and the largest battle ever fought on North Carolina soil.
"The Battle of Averasboro was a significant play in this. It was not simply some sort of happenstance occurrence as the Union troops came up," said Walt Smith, a former vice president of the Averasboro Battlefield Commission whose ancestors lived in the William T. Smith plantation home.
Technically, Smith recounted, the fighting got underway around the William T. Smith home at the southern end of the battlefield. That's more than two miles south of the Lebanon estate.
"It was wet, cold and rainy," he said. "They were mired in mud."
Southern troops led by Gen. William G. Hardee - soldiers from South Carolina, Georgia and Florida - fell under the overall command of Gen. Joseph Johnston by the time of the Averasboro conflict. Johnston had been looking for a place to strike Sherman's army during the Union general's Carolinas campaign.
Following the skirmish at Monroe's Crossroads on what is now Fort Bragg, and after the fall of Fayetteville to Sherman's troops, Hardee's Confederates burned the Clarendon Bridge on the way out of Fayetteville before setting up a defensive arrangement on the Smithville plantation.
It was there, just south of Averasboro, that Johnston saw an opportunity.
He learned that Sherman's 60,000 troop-strong army was traveling in two wings, with a good day's march between them. And he saw that he could delay the left wing at Averasboro. Johnston wanted Hardee's troops to hold back Sherman's advance so he could concentrate his total available forces of about 20,000 men and boys at Bentonville.
From a Confederate's perspective, Averasboro is important for where Hardee decided to make a stand, said Sokolosky, the writer and expert.
"His army had basically been shadowing Sherman's army coming up through South Carolina," he said. "Originally, Hardee's army started with about 12,000 troops. By the time Hardee reaches Fayetteville, his army is down to about 6,500 to 7,000."
Despite the odds, Averasboro allowed Johnston time to organize his strategic attack for the battle at Bentonville, where he surprised Sherman's 14th Corps.
It gave the Confederates "kind of a morale boost," Sokolosky said, while - more important - giving Johnston's and Hardee's combined forces a fighting chance at Bentonville.
"Without Averasboro," Civil War writer and historian Bradley said, "Bentonville really isn't going to be possible."
Sherman and Johnston's armies had met before on the battlefield - at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Atlanta.
Veterans of the Battle of Bentonville would later say the fighting was as intense, fierce and devastating as the battles at Gettysburg or around Atlanta, according to information posted at Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site.
About 4,100 men were killed, wounded or went missing during the battle, staged March 19-21, 1865. Gunfire was said to be so intense it stripped several feet of bark from the pine trees. Survivors opened haversacks to find their flour salted with shrapnel.
At Bentonville, the Rebels suffered the heaviest casualties as the Confederacy was collapsing and the war was nearing an end. Historically, it was the only major attempt to arrest the progress of Sherman's army after the fall of Savannah.
"Here we are three weeks before the South surrenders, and we have men fighting for their lives at Bentonville," said Bradley, author of "Last Stand in the Carolinas: The Battle of Bentonville."
"Like the game is not up yet. Like the Confederates have not lost," he said. "It's amazing to me men are still fighting as if the war is still in doubt. That's what I find so fascinating about that battle. They still fought with the same determination and dedication as if this was an early battle that could determine the outcome of the war.
"Appomattox Court House takes place just three weeks later."
Nelson Rose and his wife, Ann, live in a two-story farmhouse on 8 acres of the Bentonville battlefield. The first day of the battle took place on their land, and what's left of a line of overgrown Confederate earthworks is still on the property.
"When we got married, he used to carry me across the branch," Ann Rose said from their living room. "That was the actual trench. They were the original breastworks, pristine from the Civil War."
She recalled how Rose's father, Charlie Nelson Rose, would tell their eldest son, the late Barrett Rose, that when you went out to that hallowed ground, you could hear the soldiers talking.
"He was just messin' with him," Nelson Rose said.
Rose came of age on the battlefield, knowledgeable of what had taken place at Bentonville during the war. Two of his ancestors, William Bright Cole and William Nicholas Rose, fought for the South.
By his father's side, this retired Employment Security Commission manager is directly connected to the plantation of Willis Cole, which Confederate Gen. Wade Hampton selected as the ideal location to halt the Union advance.
Cole is his great-great-great-grandfather.
"Growing up on the battlefield in the '50s and '60s, when you were hoeing and weeding, you would find artifacts on top of the ground," he said. "As the ground was cultivated and it rained, they would work themselves up and be sitting there."
Over the years, the elder Rose has accumulated a small display cabinet worth of war artifacts from his farmland, including U.S. and Confederate buckles, bullets, Minie balls, buttons, coins and shards of rifles.
His family has sold about 250 acres to the Civil War Preservation Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the places where North fought South. In turn, the property is transferred to the state.
"The land is never going to be sold. This is history," his wife said. "We're sitting on history."
The Battle of Bentonville lasted three days, after which Johnston conceded to Sherman's army. He withdrew his downtrodden troops and retreated to Smithfield.
"Most said it was a last-ditch effort by Johnston to get all the Confederates together and try to stop Sherman," Rose said. "To put together a depleted army like that against a seasoned, well-supplied logistics force like Sherman's was sort of a last-ditch effort. That's why they went on to Smithfield, Raleigh, Bennett Place and surrendered right after Lee surrendered to Grant."
The lesser-known story of how the Civil War ended in North Carolina
Durham, N.C. &mdash Confederate Gen. Joe Johnston and a small band of trusted officers slogged along a muddy red-clay road toward Gen. William T. Sherman.
Not for battle this time, but in hopes of ending the bloodiest war ever fought in the Western Hemisphere.
As Johnston loped toward his Union adversary, he faced a decision: Would he end things quickly and cleanly, a surgical stroke to end the Civil War? Or would he follow the wishes of the Confederacy's president, scattering his forces into a festering guerrilla war?
Johnston was weary of war. And, as he approached the mud-spattered opponent on the road just west of Durham, he saw a man equally weary.
There would be no battle that day, April 17, 1865. It was time for peace.
Most people believe the Civil War ended when Robert E. Lee offered his sword to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.
But the largest surrender on the American continents - and the one that kept the Civil War from sinking into long-running partisan skirmishes - came nearly two weeks later at a family farmhouse near Durham called Bennett Place.
"It's a fact, but the facts don't fit the narrative people were raised on," said John Guss, site director at Bennett Place State Historical Site, which preserves the site of Johnston's surrender to Sherman. "People think that when Lee surrendered, the war was over, right?
"But when you realize that a larger Confederate force was still out there, still able to fight - then, no, this war wasn't over."
"This army was not surrounded, like Lee's was. They could easily have packed up and headed for the hills. Things could have gotten a whole lot uglier."
But it didn't, thanks to two generals tired of mud and thoroughly mistrusted by their respective governments.
If Averasboro and Bentonville had proven one thing to Sherman, it was that his foe would still fight.
The Union suffered more than 2,000 casualties in sharp fighting in March, far more than during the entire campaign from Atlanta to Fayetteville. And the Confederate army under Johnston escaped as Sherman's forces advanced to Goldsboro to resupply.
Still, it was clear the war was winding down. In Virginia, Grant was trying to pin Lee down. In North Carolina, Sherman could force the issue with a bloody campaign.
"Grant and Sherman were planning a hammer-and-anvil operation," said historian Jim Leutze. "The idea was to get Lee and Johnston together, pin the armies between them in Virginia and finish the fight.
"It became a moot point when Lee surrendered at Appomattox."
Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, freed Sherman to end things in the South.
"Sherman was a very interesting guy," Leutze said. "He wasn't the stupid brute many in the South would like to paint him. He believed the only legitimate object of war was to secure a more perfect peace.
"Ending the disorder of rebellion, not the people he fought, was his goal. Whatever it took, he would do it."
Sherman's army entered Raleigh, which surrendered without a shot, on April 13. In response, the general issued orders that forbade foraging and destruction in the city.
"In the South, Sherman has been painted as the villain," said historian Wade Sokolosky. "But it's not that simple."
Raleigh, which feared his scorched-earth reputation, was the only town in the Carolinas campaign that saw no intentional damage from Sherman's forces.
As the Confederate cabinet - on the run from Richmond, Virginia - reached Greensboro, Johnston discussed his army's fate with Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Davis was adamant: fight on.
Johnston's view that "it would be the greatest of human crimes to continue the war" prevailed. He sent word to Sherman asking for "a temporary suspension of active operations" and a meeting April 17 to make "arrangements to terminate the existing war."
The wording was important. Johnston was not simply seeking to surrender his command. He wanted to end the Civil War altogether. It was a tone that resonated with Sherman.
"Sherman was far more interested in the long-range results," Leutze said. "He saw that surrendering of Johnston's army was one step, but only one step. It seems strange, given his reputation, but Sherman embraced Abraham Lincoln's lenient vision for a postwar nation."
Bennett Place, a small farmhouse just west of Durham Station, was chosen by an accident of timing. The generals had agreed to meet midway between Durham and Hillsborough.
Johnston and his guard were a couple of miles past the farmhouse of James and Nancy Bennett when they met Sherman and his escort.
Johnston suggested backtracking to the Bennett house, which had served as a bed-and-breakfast in the past. Sherman agreed, and soon the family was tucked in the nearby kitchen as the generals began talking.
Johnston's aides included South Carolina Gen. Wade Hampton, who declined to shake hands with Sherman. Hampton blamed Sherman for the burning of his home, and the two had sniped at each other in the press, including in The Fayetteville Observer.
"Legend has it that while their generals were inside ending the war, Hampton and (Union Gen. Judson) Kilpatrick were outside ready to start a new one," Guss said. "Their subordinates had to separate the two more than once.
"In fact, when the surrender was announced, Hampton would have no part of it. He took several men and planned to continue fighting. He got south of Charlotte when he finally ran out of gas and just went home."
Sherman had more than the surrender on his mind. As his train was preparing to leave Raleigh for Durham that morning, the general received a coded telegram from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton: "President Lincoln was murdered about 10 p.m. last night in his box at Ford's Theatre."
The first person he shared the news with was Johnston, and then only after the two were alone. Sherman later recalled that, as Johnston learned the news, "perspiration came out in large drops on his forehead, and he did not attempt to conceal his distress."
Sherman was prepared to offer Johnston the same terms Grant gave Lee. Johnston offered something more: as long as they were talking peace, why not just end the whole war?
If Sherman agreed, Johnston said, "instead of surrendering piecemeal, we might arrange terms that would embrace all the Confederate armies."
If not, Johnston noted, he could tell his men to melt into the hills and the nation would be subjected to a grueling guerrilla war.
Johnston was fishing, and Sherman took the bait. He returned to Raleigh that evening to discuss the matter with his generals, who agreed with the concept. Johnston returned to Greensboro to apprise the cabinet.
When the generals met at Bennett Place the next day, Johnston brought Confederate Secretary of War John Breckenridge. Breckenridge was a lawyer, former vice president, a Confederate general and a shrewd politician. By the time the day was done, a treaty had been written to surrender all arms, recognize state governments in the South, provide a general amnesty for the Confederate cabinet and establish federal courts.
"In general terms," Sherman wrote, "amnesty, so far as the Executive of the United States can command, on condition of the disbandment of the Confederate armies, the distribution of the arms, and the resumption of peaceful pursuits by the officers and men hitherto composing said armies."
"Sherman went way, way beyond his authorization," Leutze said.
Sherman reached for the moon. He grasped a hornet's nest. When news of the surrender terms reached Washington, politicians howled and publications called Sherman a traitor, suggesting he had been bought with Confederate gold.
Secretary of War Stanton sent Grant to Raleigh to get the army ready for another fight. In Grant's view, however, "Sherman's terms were unacceptable and improper, but he was no traitor. . At worst, he had broadly construed Lincoln's lenient sentiments."
Grant saw no sense in resuming hostilities, unless Johnston wanted to fight.
He didn't. Ordered by Jefferson Davis to lead what was left of the army into the hills, Johnston refused.
With Grant running interference, the two generals regarded as traitors by their own governments patched up the peace on April 26. The terms were similar to those given at Appomattox:
No Confederate soldiers would be taken into custody they simply would sign a parole and go home.
Officers and other ranks would be allowed to keep their horses.
Officers were allowed to keep their side arms.
With the fighting ended, Sherman the monster became Sherman the merciful. He ordered field rations for hungry Confederate soldiers. He issued orders forbidding foraging, then ordered commanders to loan captured horses, mules and wagons to families to aid in spring planting. He also ordered distribution of corn, meal and flour to civilians.
"Sherman understood the South," Sokolosky said. "He knew the people. He knew that giving the South dignity would go a long way toward healing wounds."
Confederates who mustered out in Greensboro on May 1-2 also received their last pay: one Mexican silver dollar from a cache of silver that Johnston had reserved for them.
Many of the men returned home with small strips of colored cloth. Rather than surrender their company flags, most units chose to either burn them or rip them into small pieces as keepsakes.
"I'm willing to bet over the next 100 years, there were descendants of these men who found these strips of cloth among their dad's keepsakes," Guss said. "They probably wondered what the heck it was."
Soon, Bennett Place was a farm again. Some of Sherman's officers ran off with the drop-leaf table on which the surrender was crafted.
Sherman returned to Washington, where his troops staged a big parade before disbanding. When Grant became president in 1869, he named Sherman commanding general of the Army, a position he held until 1883.
Johnston returned to civilian life as a businessman and congressman. He and Sherman became friends. In 1891, Johnston was an honorary pallbearer at Sherman's funeral, which hastened his own death.
Johnston kept his hat off as a sign of respect, despite a cold rain.
"If I were in his place and he were standing here in mine, he would not put on his hat," Johnston said.
A few weeks later, he died of pneumonia.
Bennett Place did not survive. After the war, the family left and the house fell into disrepair. It burned in 1921.
Thankfully, Guss said, a bit of Civil War ego helped historians restore the home.
"Sherman didn't like journalists, but he didn't mind illustrators, it seems," Guss said. "He asked Johnston to pose with him at the table in the Bennett House. That's how we're able to have an exact replica of the interior."
Today's restored model of the Bennett family farmhouse offers a look into the daily life of a small Southern family in the 1800s.
"People can stand on the road where the generals met," Guss said. "Battlefields might be remembered, but this is a place that brought peace."
One dangerous part of the war is alive and well. Live ammunition, left behind when Confederate forces went home, are often found across the Piedmont.
"It makes sense that in a battlefield site like Bentonville, you'd expect to find shells and bullets," Guss said. "There's no reason for people to think about that around here. People don't know there was a skirmish near Chapel Hill on April 17. They don't know about the encampments of thousands of soldiers nearby.
"A few weeks ago, a man was out walking his dog in Chapel Hill after a heavy rain. He looked down and, what do you know? A cannonball, still primed.
"They may be old, but they're still volatile. They can kill you just as dead."
|Battle of Thermopylae||480 BC||Greek city-states||Achaemenid Empire||A force of 7,000 allied Greek soldiers blocked the pass of Thermopylae from the invading Persian army numbering between 70,000 and 300,000 soldiers. The Greek defenders held their position for at least three days before being overrun. The battle has since become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. ||Persian victory|
|Battle of the Persian Gate||330 BC||Persian Empire||Kingdom of Macedon (League of Corinth)||A Persian force under Ariobarzanes held Alexander the Great and his hand-picked, 17,000-strong force back for a month behind the narrow pass reaching Persepolis before being attacked in a pincer movement. The Persians, who were unarmed at this time, fought to death.||Macedonian victory|
|Battle of Gaixia (Last Stand at the Wu River)||202 BC||Xiang Yu's Forces (Western Chu)||Liu Bang's Forces (Han)||After his defeat at the Battle of Gaixia, Xiang Yu was chased by Liu Bang's elite cavalry to the Wu River, where he made his famous last stand with the last 28 of his loyal soldiers. They killed hundreds of Han soldiers, but after being seriously wounded, Xiang Yu slit his own throat.||Han victory|
|Siege of Numantia||133 BC||Celtiberians||Roman Republic||The Roman consul Scipio Aemilianus with an army of 20,000 Roman legionnaires plus 40,000 allies and mercenary troops, surrounded the city of Numantia during the Roman conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Scipio's army constructed a wall around the city, created an artificial lake between that wall and the city walls, and erected several 10 feet towers from which archers could shoot into Numantia. The Romans asked for the full surrender of the Celtiberians. The inhabitants of Numantia refused to surrender and decided to die free rather than becoming slaves. Little by little the Numantians succumbed either from starvation, Roman arrows, or mass suicide. Overall the siege lasted between 8 and 16 months (depending on the sources) and ended with the burning and complete destruction of the city.  ||Roman victory and culmination of the Numantine War and the Celtiberian Wars.|
|Battle of Lauro||45 BC||Pompeians||Caesarians||After being defeated during the Battle of Munda, Gnaeus Pompeius the Younger unsuccessfully attempted to escape the Caesarian forces that pursued him and his remaining followers. Eventually, the Pompeians were cornered and surrounded near Lauro. After one last breakout attempt that allowed some of his forces to escape, Gnaeus Pompeius (who was heavily wounded) and the remaining Pompeian defenders mostly fought to the death against the Caesarians. ||Caesarian victory, death of Gnaeus Pompeius the Younger|
|Siege of Masada||74 AD||Jewish Sicarii Rebels||Roman Empire||One of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War, occurring at the hilltop fortress of Masada in current-day Israel, near the Dead Sea. The lengthy siege by Roman Empire troops culminated in the Roman legion surrounding Masada and constructing a siege ramp against the western face of the plateau, moving thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth over several months. Upon reaching the fortress, the Romans discovered that all 960 rebels had committed mass suicide. The siege of Masada is often revered in modern Israel as "a symbol of Jewish heroism". ||Roman victory|
|Battle of Karbala ||680 AD||Husayn of Banu Hashim and his Shia||Umayyad Caliphate||The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar (October 10, 680 AD) in Karbala, in present-day Iraq. The battle took place between a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali numbering to be 72 and a larger military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph, numbering to be 30,000||Umayyad victory|
|Siege of Mecca (692)||692 AD||Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr's caliphate||Umayyad Caliphate||In 692 the armies of the Umayyad Caliphate besieged Mecca to put an end to the rival caliphate of Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. After six months of brutal fighting, with over 10,000 men including two of his sons having defected to the Umayyads, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr and his remaining loyal followers made a last stand at the Kaaba, where they fought to the death. ||Umayyad victory|
|Battle of Roncevaux Pass||778 AD||Franks||Basques||A large force of Basques ambushed Charlemagne's army. To escape, Charlemagne assigned a rearguard to delay the Basques until the Franks could retreat. The rearguard action was successful, but all of the soldiers who took part in it were killed. ||Basque victory|
|Battle of Stamford Bridge||1066||Kingdom of Norway (872–1397)||Kingdom of England||The battle was part of the Viking invasion of England. The battle took place near the town of Stamford Bridge. A force of 9,000 Vikings were opposed by|
3,000 Matabele warriors. The Matabele leader offered to spare the Shangani Patrol if they surrendered, but they refused and kept fighting. Under the orders of Major Allan Wilson † , the remaining British took cover behind their dead horses and inflicted heavy casualties on the attackers. After they ran out of ammunition, the remaining survivors were finished off by an assagei spear charge. The British took total casualties, but killed
Usually, the Matabele mutilate the bodies of the enemy, but made an exception for Wilson's men. One of the Matabele leaders explained after the battle, "The white men died so bravely we would not treat them as we do the cowardly Mashonas and others." 
The Germans launched a full frontal offensive on Osowiec Fortress at the beginning of July the attack included 14 battalions of infantry, one battalion of sappers, 24–30 heavy siege guns, and 30 batteries of artillery equipped with poison gases led by Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg. Russian defenses were manned by 500 soldiers of the 226th Infantry Regiment Zemlyansky, and 400 militia.
The Germans waited until 4 a.m. on 6 August for favorable wind conditions, when the attack opened with regular artillery bombardment combined with chlorine gas. "The gas caused the grass to turn black and leaves to turn yellow, and the dead birds, frogs and other animals and insects were lying everywhere. Terrain looked like Hell." The Russians either had no gas masks, or had poorly made ones, and most soldiers used their undershirts as masks, with many soaking them in water or urine. Sub-Lieutenant Vladimir Kotlinsky, the highest ranking Russian soldier to survive the initial attack, rallied the other surviving soldiers, and they elected to charge the advancing German lines.
Over twelve battalions of the 11th Landwehr Division, making up more than 7000 men, advanced after the bombardment expecting little resistance. They were met at the first defense line by a counter-charge made up of the surviving soldiers of the 13th Company of the 226th Infantry Regiment. The Germans became panicked by the appearance of the Russians, who were coughing up blood and bits of their own lungs, as the hydrochloric acid formed by the mix of the chlorine gas and the moisture in their lungs had begun to dissolve their flesh. The Germans retreated, running so fast they got caught up in their own c-wire traps. The five remaining Russian guns subsequently opened fire on the fleeing Germans. Kotlinsky died later that evening.
The Russians did not hold the area for much longer. The Germans threatened to encircle the fortress with the capture of Kovno and Novogeorgiesk. The Russians demolished much of the fortress and withdrew on August 18th.
With the resignation of the Ottoman Empire from the war with the Armistice of Mudros between Ottoman Empire and Entente on 30 October 1918, it was expected that Fahreddin Pasha would also surrender. He refused and did not surrender even after the end of the war despite pleas from the Ottoman Sultan. He held the city until 72 days after the end of the war. After the Armistice of Moudros the closest Ottoman unit was 1300 km (808 miles) away from Medina. 
Eventually, his men faced starvation due to a lack of supplies, and the remaining garrison, including Fahreddin Pasha, surrendered on 10 January 1919. 
Major General J.E.B. Stuart: Last Stand of the Last Knight
Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant’s overland campaign had ground to a halt. In two days of bitter but inconclusive fighting in the Virginia wilderness — that forbidding expanse of second-growth pine and tangled thicket below the Rapidan River — Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had fought the larger and better-equipped Army of the Potomac to a standstill. The daring and aggressive Lee had foiled his enemy’s attempt to slice through the Wilderness and march on to Richmond, the Confederate capital. Aided by the great profusion of natural cover, Lee had parried the thrusts of Major General George Gordon Meade, the Union army’s commander, and had blunted the broad strategy imparted to Meade by Grant, who was accompanying the Army of the Potomac in his role as general in chief of all U.S. armies. By the evening of May 7, 1864, the massive Union host sat stalled along the forest’s southern rim.
Lee gave much credit for his success to his cavalry, especially its leader, Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart. Throughout the fighting that had just ended, the 31-year-old native of Patrick County, Virginia, had made inspired use of his 9,000 horsemen. As on numerous fields the previous fall, this most celebrated mounted leader of the war took the measure of his 12,000 opponents in the Union cavalry, currently led by a newcomer to the Virginia theater, the diminutive and feisty Major General Philip H. Sheridan. On the first day of fighting in the Wilderness, Stuart’s savvy veterans cut off and pummeled Sheridan’s advance echelon. On the second day they put heavy pressure on other elements of Sheridan’s command, not only slowing their advance and that of the infantrymen in their rear, but also denying Meade critical intelligence on Lee’s dispositions. To cap their performance, on May 7 Stuart’s riders frustrated Sheridan’s attempt to penetrate south of Todd’s Tavern and open a way for Grant and Meade to exit the Wilderness in the direction of Spotsylvania Court House.
While Lee and Stuart worked closely and cordially in tandem, the same could not be said of Meade and Sheridan. Grant had brought Sheridan from Tennessee to command the Army of the Potomac’s cavalry without asking for Meade’s consent. Both Meade and Sheridan were highly competent officers, but Meade had a temper as volatile as Sheridan’s. The two cooperated well enough during their first 24 hours below the Rapidan, but a clash of wills and temperaments seemed inevitable. By the evening of May 7, it was on the horizon.
The trouble began in earnest on the afternoon of the 6th, when Meade received an erroneous report that Confederate infantry had gotten between Sheridan and the army’s infantry, threatening to encircle the cavalry. Against Sheridan’s protests, Meade ordered the cavalry to withdraw from Todd’s Tavern. The next morning, as Sheridan had foreseen, Grant ordered the cavalry back to spearhead the army’s march south to Spotsylvania. By then, however, one of Stuart’s divisions, under Major General Fitzhugh Lee, occupied the very works around the tavern that the Federals had just vacated. It took an all-day slugging match to evict the newcomers, saddling Sheridan with a casualty list he blamed on Meade’s overreaction to bad news.
Sheridan’s anger and frustration were still simmering when the next provocation came. Late on the 7th, after the fighting had died down, Meade went forward with his staff to inspect his positions below Todd’s Tavern. Visiting the bivouacs of two of Sheridan’s three divisions, he learned that the commanders — Brigadier Generals Wesley Merritt and David McMurtrie Gregg — had received no marching orders for the next morning. Without immediately informing Sheridan, he issued orders of his own. He sent Merritt’s men to secure the Brock Road, the most direct route to Spotsylvania from the north, and he directed Gregg to head southwest along the Catharpin Road to guard Corbin’s Bridge over the Po River, a logical avenue of enemy pursuit. Meade did not communicate with Sheridan’s third division, under Brigadier General James Harrison Wilson, which already had orders to seize Spotsylvania early the next morning and hold it until the infantry arrived.
When Sheridan learned of Meade’s intervention, he was incensed. He later claimed he intended for Merritt and Gregg to secure not only Corbin’s Bridge, but also two other spans over the meandering Po — Snell’s Bridge and the so-called Block House Bridge, both of which offered the enemy alternate routes to Spotsylvania. Meade’s orders placed Merritt’s command a mile or more from Block House Bridge and left Snell’s completely unguarded.
Civil War Times
Because Sheridan never issued orders of his own, it is difficult to validate his claim that he was more farsighted than Meade. As he had proved on previous occasions, he was not averse to bending the truth to win an argument. Hindsight, however, placed Meade’s decisions in a bad light. Early on the morning of the 8th, Lieutenant General Richard H. Anderson, temporarily commanding Lee’s First Corps, led 12,000 Confederate infantry and artillery along the Shady Grove Church Road, across the Po at Block House Bridge, and into Spotsylvania. Supported by elements of Stuart’s cavalry, Anderson drove out Wilson’s troopers, who had arrived not much earlier. Although it would take two weeks of fighting to establish the fact beyond doubt, Lee had thwarted Grant’s first attempt to pass around his south flank on the road to Richmond.
The events of May 7 were enough to cause a rift between Meade and his cavalry leader, but the breach widened after 3:00 the next morning, when the army’s infantry vanguard, the V Corps of Major General G. K. Warren, began its march toward Spotsylvania. At about the same time, Merritt’s troopers set out to clear the Brock Road, as Meade had ordered. But, as Lieutenant George B. Sanford of the 1st U.S. Cavalry observed, ‘We had certainly not advanced a mile and daylight had scarcely broken, when we were again as heavily engaged as on the previous evening. For perhaps an hour or more we managed to make some slight progress, but then by the increasing weight of the fire it became evident that Stuart had been reinforced by the Confederate infantry, and our advance came practically to a standstill.’ Soon, Warren’s infantrymen found their path blocked by Union troopers, horses, and wagons, and it became clear they would not reach Spotsylvania in time to evict Anderson.
Warren, whose temper rivaled Meade’s and Sheridan’s, complained loudly about the foul-up, which he blamed on the cavalry in his front. Upon hearing the criticism, Sheridan reacted just as angrily. Arriving on the site of the traffic jam about 5:00 a.m., he pulled Merritt’s men off the road, cursing Meade’s interference.
When the V Corps at last went forward around 6:00, some of Warren’s subordinates unleashed invective of their own. Brigadier General John C. Robinson, the bushy-whiskered commander of Warren’s advance division, was heard to shout, ‘Oh, get your double damned cavalry out of the way, there is nothing ahead but a little cavalry, we will soon clear them out!’ One cavalryman who overheard this outburst thought to himself, ‘Old man, you will find something more than a little cavalry on ahead but on he went and in less than fifteen minutes afterwards I saw them carry my General Robinson back on a stretcher with a leg shot off.’
Shortly before noon, as the V Corps continued to make glacial progress against Fitz Lee and Anderson, Sheridan caught up with Meade. Then erupted one of the loudest, bitterest shouting matches ever overheard by the Army of the Potomac headquarters staff. Meade echoed Warren’s criticism that the cavalry should have cleared the Brock Road long before the infantry reached it. Sheridan retorted that Meade’s unwarranted meddling in the cavalry’s operations had caused the foul-up. As Sheridan admitted, ‘One word brought on another, until, finally, I told him that I could whip Stuart if he [Meade] would only let me, but since he insisted on giving the cavalry directions without consulting or even notifying me, he could henceforth command the Cavalry Corps himself — that I would not give it another order.’ Sheridan stalked off in a huff.
Such flagrant insubordination could not go unpunished. Meade went directly to Grant’s headquarters, where he recounted the episode, epithet for epithet. No doubt he expected Grant to take his side in the quarrel, so he must have been shocked when Grant appeared to act otherwise. But when he related Sheridan’s boast that he could defeat Stuart if given a free hand, Grant is said to have replied, ‘Did he say so? Then let him go out and do it.’
Meade must have been shocked. Instead of disciplining Sheridan, he was forced to send him on the mission of his dreams. By 1:00 p.m. that day, he had written an order directing Sheridan to concentrate his command, stockpile three days’ rations and an appropriate amount of forage, cut loose from the army, detour eastward around Spotsylvania, and head for Haxall’s Landing. At that supply base, 50-some miles to the south, Sheridan was to link with Major General Benjamin F. Butler’s Army of the James, which was operating directly against Richmond. There, the cavalry would refit prior to rejoining its own command. The operation, which the enemy undoubtedly would interpret as a raid on Richmond, was principally an effort to draw Stuart’s men into the open for a finish fight.
Sheridan was delighted with his orders, which validated his belief that cavalry’s primary role was independent operations, not close support of the main army. He realized the magnitude of the opportunity handed to him, and he vowed to make the most of it. As he later wrote, ‘I sent for Gregg, Merritt, and Wilson and communicated the order to them, saying at the same time, ‘We are going out to fight Stuart’s cavalry in consequence of a suggestion from me we will give him a fair, square fight we are strong, and I know we can beat him, and in view of my recent representations to General Meade I shall expect nothing but success.”
Early the next morning, more than 10,000 blue-jacketed troopers, accompanied by horse artillery batteries, ammunition wagons, ambulances, and pack mules trotted out the plank road toward Fredericksburg, then south along the historic Telegraph Road toward Richmond. Sheridan had elected to take all but five partially dismounted regiments. Never before had such a throng set off on a mission in the eastern theater. As if to better display the power at his disposal, Sheridan marched his force in a single column more than 12 miles long. From the start, the gait was slow and deliberate, in contrast to the near-killing pace Sheridan’s predecessors had forced on men and mounts. The day was warm and dry and this, added to the prospect of an open road after days of battle in the maddening Wilderness, lifted the troopers’ spirits. The only blot on the enthusiasm was the effect that thousands of hooves had upon the sun-baked Telegraph Road. An officer in Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer’s Wolverine Brigade of Merritt’s division observed, ‘Clouds of dust…fill eyes, nose, and air passages, [and] give external surfaces a uniform, dirty gray color, and form such an impenetrable veil that, for many minutes together, you can not see even your hand before you.’
The dust gave away Sheridan’s position and hinted at his intentions. Just as Sheridan had hoped, Stuart’s scouts tracked the Union column almost from the hour it set out. First to observe its movements were members of Brigadier General Williams C. Wickham’s brigade of Fitz Lee’s division, patrolling the Confederate far right south of Fredericksburg. Wickham reported the size of Sheridan’s column to Stuart, noted that it appeared to be on a raid and opined that it was heading for Beaver Dam Station, a Virginia Central Railroad depot 30 miles above Richmond.
The report reached stuart east of Spotsylvania Court House, where he was watching Brigadier General Lunsford L. Lomax’s brigade of Fitz Lee’s division battle Meade’s vanguard. At once, Stuart understood that he must bar Sheridan’s path, but his tactical options were limited. His first division, under Major General Wade Hampton, was well to the west and north, engaged along the Po River. Realizing that Hampton could not relocate in timely fashion, Stuart decided to pursue with Lomax’s Virginians and Marylanders — who in midafternoon were relieved by infantry — and the North Carolina brigade of Brigadier General James B. Gordon, recently detached from Hampton’s command. These forces would be augmented by Wickham’s Virginians, whom Stuart ordered to trail the Federal column, slowing it as much as possible. The Confederate pursuit force was less than half the size of Sheridan’s party, but Stuart had beaten longer odds on more than a few occasions.
By 3:00 p.m. Stuart was heading south from Spotsylvania, accompanied by Fitz Lee, Lomax’s troopers, a horse artillery unit, and a two-gun section of a second battery. Sheridan had such a head start that this force, even riding at top speed, would not catch him until the next morning. Having much the shorter route, Wickham’s troops enjoyed what one of his troopers described as ‘the satisfaction of harassing the enemy to our heart’s content.’ Late in the afternoon they made first contact at Jerrell’s Mill on the Ta River, about 22 miles from Sheridan’s starting point. The blow fell squarely on the rear guard, part of Brigadier General Henry E. Davies’s brigade of Gregg’s division. Davies eventually repulsed the attackers, but for a time his position was awash in chaos as panicked troopers fled through the ranks of the next regiments in line.
After destroying Jerrell’s Mill and the grain and flour stockpiled there, the Federals resumed their march. They found, however, that they could not shake Wickham, whose point riders struck time and again in hit-and-run fashion. At first an irritant, the small-unit assaults became a cause of alarm as casualties mounted. Finally, Davies had had enough. Near Mitchell’s Shop, five miles south of Jerrell’s Mill, he set a trap by having his rear guard feign retreat. As the Federals raced along a bend in the narrow, tree-lined road, Wickham’s men sped forward, shouting in triumph, directly into a crossfire from dismounted members of the 1st New Jersey and 1st Pennsylvania, positioned behind good cover on both sides of the road. Dozens of Confederates fell dead or wounded before the survivors managed to pull back. An angry and frustrated Wickham collected his men, tended to his casualties, and sent a small force to observe the enemy at a more prudent distance. He then waited for Stuart, Lee, and the rest of the pursuit force to join him.
Stuart and Lee, riding ahead of the main body, did not reach Mitchell’s Shop until nightfall. The bulk of Lomax’s brigade arrived about an hour later. Gordon’s men, whose disengagement from Spotsylvania had been slow and precarious, reined in some time before midnight. By then Stuart had decided to split the force so recently concentrated. He sent Fitz Lee, with Wickham’s and Lomax’s men, south to Beaver Dam Station. There, they could counter any attempt by Sheridan to cut the Virginia Central close to Richmond or to move against the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad. Meanwhile, Stuart accompanied Gordon’s brigade farther west to oppose any raiding parties that slipped around Lee’s right flank.
Stuart’s side operation proved unnecessary, but early the next morning Lee caught up with Sheridan’s column, which was breaking camp just above the North Anna after a long, leisurely sleep. Quickly emplacing his battery-and-a-half, Lee shelled the Federal rear — now held by Wilson’s division — as it began to accompany Gregg’s men across the stream to join Merritt near Beaver Dam Station. As one perturbed raider put it, ‘Reveille was sounded by the enemy with artillery and carbines, instead of the friendly trumpet or bugle.’ As the raiders fell into line, dismounted, to oppose the intruders, Sheridan sent Custer’s brigade of Merritt’s division to occupy and destroy Beaver Dam Station. At that strategic depot the Federals not only torched a vast amount of railroad property but also liberated nearly 400 Union prisoners of war from trains carrying them to Richmond prisons.
The fight along the North Anna was sharp but brief. Believing the terrain unsuited to a decisive engagement, Sheridan had his entire column moving toward Richmond, 27 miles away, by midmorning. Aware that he lacked the manpower to force a longer encounter, Fitz Lee let him go and crossed the river to inspect the smoldering ruins of Beaver Dam Station. Stuart and Gordon joined him there a few hours later.
Having guessed wrong about Sheridan’s westward strike, Stuart now suspected he might head east to Hanover Junction, where he could cut not only the Virginia Central but also the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad. Again, Stuart divided his force. Because the Federals had pushed directly south from Beaver Dam, he sent Gordon and his North Carolinians in that direction, while he accompanied Lee’s brigades cross-country toward the junction. Before starting out, however, Stuart ran an impromptu errand of his own. Accompanied by a single aide, Lieutenant A. Reid Venable, he left Beaver Dam and rode a mile and a half to the Edmond Fontaine plantation. There, he fell into the arms of his family, who had been staying as guests of Colonel Fontaine. After embracing his wife, Flora, Stuart kissed four-year-old James, Jr., and 17-month-old Virginia Pelham Stuart. The ‘most affectionate fare-well,’ as Venable pronounced it, lasted only minutes then Stuart and he galloped back to the main body.
The two officers overtook Lee’s column on the march and accompanied it to Hanover Junction. There, Stuart found he had guessed both right and wrong about his enemy’s latest intentions. Sheridan had not attacked the junction. Instead, he had continued south across the Little and South Anna rivers. But below the South Anna he had indeed turned eastward toward Ashland Station on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Rail-road in fact, only the Federal rear guard was still at that depot, the main body having pushed on south. At last convinced that Sheridan intended to attack Richmond, Stuart sent one regiment, the 2nd Virginia, ahead to Ashland, where it chased off enemy stragglers. Gordon’s brigade followed shortly after, aiming for the rear of the main column. Stuart and the remaining men, including the horse artillery, rode southeastward at a furious clip, determined to intercept the Federals short of the capital.
Sheridan’s column took a roundabout route toward Richmond, moving parallel to the railroad for some miles after leaving Ashland before angling off in the direction of an old, abandoned watering hole known as Yellow Tavern, six miles north of Richmond. Divining Sheridan’s objective, Stuart beat him to that dilapidated landmark, where the Mountain and Telegraph roads came down from the northwest and northeast, respectively, to form the Brook Turnpike, a major avenue to Richmond. Sizing up the area for its defensive potential in the midmorning of May 11, Stuart determined to make a stand. He deployed Lomax’s brigade astride and east of the Telegraph Road and Wickham’s men farther to the north and west. The troopers, most of them dismounted, took a position behind farm fences and atop tree-covered ridges. Artillery units trundled into position at various points along both lines. All weapons — cannon, carbines, pistols — pointed west toward the Mountain Road, on which the Federals could be seen advancing.
Sheridan’s point riders came into view at about 11:00. Satisfied that the showdown he awaited had arrived, Sheridan moved immediately to the attack. Even as he did so, however, he had to turn about and confront Gordon’s men, who thudded into the Union rear, again covered by Gregg. As had happened two days earlier, the attack created a panic in the Union ranks before order could be restored. A fierce saber and pistol battle between mostly mounted opponents followed and lasted well over an hour. The men of the 10th New York of Colonel J. Irvin Gregg’s brigade found themselves in the thick of the action. One New Yorker had his skull crushed by a heavy blade in the hands of a hulking Confederate. A second killed an opponent literally at point-blank range, pressing his carbine against the man’s back, pulling the trigger, and shattering his vertebrae. A third fell from his saddle in the midst of the melee and escaped being trampled only by grabbing the tail of a passing horse, which pulled him to safety. The strange battle slackened only when reinforcements from Davies’s brigade rushed up to beat back the attackers and hold them at arm’s length.
While Gregg battled Gordon, Sheridan advanced his main force in the opposite direction. Ordering large portions of each division to dismount, he sent Wilson’s men to occupy Wickham and, farther south, Merritt’s troopers to oppose Lomax and gain access to the turnpike to Richmond. Both commands made headway — at first slowly, against fierce resistance, especially from Stuart’s horse artillery. Then, as Sheridan’s greater numbers began to tell, his men made steadier progress toward the Telegraph Road and the Brook Turnpike. By perhaps 3:00 p.m., the Confederates had been forced back at all points, although a counterattack on the right by Wickham’s Virginians had regained most of the ground lost in that sector. More importantly, Brigadier General Thomas C. Devin’s brigade of Merritt’s division had fought its way afoot around Stuart’s lower flank and held the upper reaches of the turnpike.
At this point, the Confederates appeared to be holding on for dear life. Sheridan, whose most memorable characteristic was his killer instinct, determined to press his advantage as far as it would go. He saw an opening when a battery along the Confederate left flank — Captain Wiley H. Griffin’s Baltimore Light Artillery — began to infiltrate the Union right-center, held by the Michigan Brigade. At Sheridan’s urging, Custer — who shared his superior’s predilection to go for the jugular — advanced the dismounted troopers of his 5th and 6th Michigan to clear a path for a mounted charge by the rest of his brigade. The carabineers were successful enough that, at about 4:00 p.m., Custer sent forward the mounted 1st Michigan — a regiment he had led in a similar attack on the third day at Gettysburg — followed by elements of the 7th Michigan Cavalry.
With a fierce yell, the charging troopers covered the distance to their target — approximately 400 yards — with remarkable speed, especially considering the obstacles in their path, which included several fences and a meandering watercourse. Despite the resistance they met on all sides, the Wolverines reached Griffin’s battery before its guns could be trained on them. Slicing downward with their sabers, they knocked hapless gunners off their feet. Other Michiganders chased off the battery’s mounted supports. Still others swarmed over the guns, capturing two of them and carrying them off in triumph along with a pair of ammunition-laden limbers and dozens of prisoners.
Noting Custer’s success, Sheridan gave the order to advance on all fronts. With renewed momentum, Wilson’s men began to drive in Wickham’s, while the bulk of Merritt’s command pushed back the troops on either side of the captured battery. Taking part in the push were many of the dismounted men who had paved the way for the 1st Michigan, including Private John A. Huff of Armada, Michigan. Formerly a member of one of Colonel Hiram Berdan’s celebrated sharpshooter regiments, Huff had reenlisted in the spring of 1864 and opted to ride to war with the 5th Michigan. Ironically, he now found himself charging a Rebel battle line afoot, lugging a Colt Army revolver instead of a rifle with a telescopic sight. Still imbued with the sharpshooter instinct, Huff singled out an officer in a plumed hat, sitting on his horse along the Telegraph Road just north of where the battery had gone under. The rider was firing his own pistol at a group of Huff’s comrades. Taking careful aim at a distance of more than 400 yards, the private drilled his victim in the right side of his abdomen with a 44-caliber bullet and then raced for his own lines to avoid retaliation.
As Huff retreated, members of Stuart’s staff turned to see their general, an expert horseman, reel in his saddle. When a crimson stain spread along the waist of his gray jacket, they realized to their horror that Stuart had been wounded. One of Stuart’s closest subordinates, Captain Gustavus W. Dorsey of the 1st Virginia, was close enough to reach up and steady him in the saddle. When Dorsey asked Stuart about his condition, Stuart replied in a quiet voice, ‘I’m afraid they’ve killed me, Dorsey.’ By this point, both Wickham’s and Lomax’s men were falling back to positions beyond the Telegraph Road, giving Sheridan complete access to the Brook Turnpike and Richmond. Afraid that his entire line was collapsing, Stuart at first refused to be taken to the rear. He shouted to Dorsey and all near him, ‘Go back to your men and drive the enemy!’
But it was too late. The sun was going down and the battle was ending as a strategic victory for the Federals. All the Confederates could do was escort Stuart from the field. The noise and carnage on every side had rendered Stuart’s horse unmanageable, so Dorsey helped the general to the ground, placed him against the base of a tree, rounded up another horse, and, with the assistance of comrades, helped him remount. Holding the suffering Stuart in the saddle, Dorsey and the others helped him to the rear. En route, an increasing number of riders passed them at breakneck speed. The sight so overwhelmed Stuart that he called out in an anguished voice, ‘Go back! go back! and do your duty as I have done mine, and our country will be safe. Go back! go back! I had rather die than be whipped.’
About half a mile behind the front, Confederates placed Stuart in an ambulance, which he shared with Reid Venable and a second aide, Lieutenant Walter Hullihen. Soon afterward, Fitz Lee and Stuart’s medical director, Major John B. Fontaine, arrived. Stuart formally passed his command to an ashen-faced Fitz Lee, and then Doctor Fontaine turned Stuart onto his side and gently probed the wound. During or immediately after the procedure, Stuart, fearing he had taken on the death-pallor he had observed on the countenance of so many badly wounded subordinates, asked Venable and Hullihen how he looked ‘in the face.’ Hesitating only slightly, both aides pronounced him free of the pallor. Stuart was silent for a moment and then remarked, ‘Well, I don’t know how this will turn out but if it is God’s will that I shall die I am ready.’ At one point Fontaine suggested that Stuart would benefit from an alcoholic stimulant. At first Stuart, a lifetime teetotaler, refused, but at Venable’s strong urging, he relented.
It was indeed God’s will that Stuart should die, and soon. Fontaine’s original diagnosis — that Huff’s bullet had severed blood vessels and perforated Stuart’s intestines, a fatal condition — was later confirmed via more thorough examination by other surgeons. Detouring around Sheridan’s roadblock on the Brook Turnpike, the ambulance lurched along, slowly and painfully carrying Stuart to Richmond, the sounds of battle growing ever fainter. Early on May 12, Stuart was finally placed in bed at the Grace Street home of his brother-in-law Dr. Charles Brewer. There he lay, often in great pain, as doctors tried unsuccessfully to stop the internal hemorrhaging. In the distance he could hear the sounds of renewed combat as Sheridan’s raiders struggled to cross the James River northeast of the city against spirited opposition from Stuart’s appointed successor, Fitz Lee. Considering his primary mission fulfilled at Yellow Tavern, Sheridan had decided against a direct attack on Richmond. Then he was content to head south to refit in preparation for a triumphal return to the Army of the Potomac.
Death from peritonitis overtook Stuart at 7:40 p.m., four hours before his hastily summoned wife could reach his side. By then Stuart had disposed of his official papers and personal effects, had led his attendants in the singing of hymns, and had informed a stream of sorrowing visitors, including President Jefferson Davis, that he was willing to die ‘if God and my country think I have fulfilled my destiny and done my duty.’ All he addressed in this way assured him that he had done so, nobly and well.
Generations of historians have echoed the sentiment of those at the deathbed, ensuring Stuart a place among the world’s most successful leaders of mobile strike forces. Yet his greatest contribution to military science was not in the realm of battlefield tactics but in his unerring ability to send his commanders accurate, specific, up-to-date reports of enemy movements and intentions — real-time strategic intelligence, as it is called today. It was this gift that Robert E. Lee emphasized in his famous lament that Stuart ‘never brought me a piece of false information.’
This article written by Edward G. Longacre and originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Civil War Times magazine.
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The Confederacy Made Its Last Stand in Brazil
The civil war ended in 1865 with the loss of the Confederates and the Union’s abolition of slavery, causing more than 600,000 military casualties and nearly depleted the Southern economy.
The North disbanded the Confederate army and began a period known as the Reconstruction. It wasn’t exactly welcomed in the South, and some decided to leave the United States for somewhere else.
“Somewhere else” turned out to be the Empire of Brazil, spanning a vast space taken up by today’s Brazil and Uruguay. The Emperor at the time, Dom Pedro II, was interested in developing his own cotton and sugar-cane industry. For this, he needed skilled farmers, and the Southern émigrés seemed fit for the job.
Most of them were from Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina and came from large households that relied heavily on agriculture.
The Emperor offered them financial help with travel expenses, subsidized the price of land, and let them build plantations tax-free. Some 20,000 people moved to Brazil between 1865 and 1885, where slavery was still legal. (The numbers vary, with some sources claiming that a more realistic figure is around 10,000 settlers.)
The Confederate settlers inhabited various places. Some saw the appeal in developing the urban areas of Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paolo, while others decided to try their luck in the vast and scarcely inhabited northern and southern Amazon region, like Santarem and Parana.
Confederate immigrants Joseph Whitaker and Isabel Norris.
The colonies remained a cloistered community for years to come. The Confederate refugees married among themselves and spoke only English. They also invested in separate schools, churches, and cemeteries, importing priests and teachers from the United States.
The colonists founded the first Baptist Church in Brazil, together with the Campo Cemetery in which members of the Protestant religion were buried, according to their tradition.
Alison Jones, who was a third-generation descendant of the original settlers, described her experience growing up in such an environment to the Seattle Times in a 1995 interview: “I remember when I was 4 years old, I was lost in a textile factory and I couldn’t tell the people anything because I only spoke English. I didn’t learn Portuguese until I started school.”
House of the first Confederate family in Americana.
Some historians interpret this migration as motivated by the fact that Brazil hadn’t abolished slavery until 1888, and that former slave owners of the South wanted to continue their exploitative way of living somewhere else. But Alcides Gussi, an independent researcher of the State University of Campinas, Sao Paolo, begs to differ.
Even though slavery was legal, Gussi claims that only four families actually owned slave labor, with a total number of 66 slaves, in the period between 1868 to 1875.
Whether it was because of the dire financial situation among most of the settlers, or because the former Confederate slave owners realized their mistakes, remains unclear. Perhaps it was a bit of both.
Confederate Festival in Santa Bárbara do Oeste , São Paulo , Brazil .
Some cases were recorded in which the freed slaves decided to accompany their former masters. Most notable was the story of Steve Watson. Watson went to Brazil, together with Judge Dyer of Texas, his former owner, who assigned him to be an administrator of a sawmill. At one point, Dyer decided to return to the U.S., due to a combination of homesickness and financial failure. He left all his property in Brazil to Watson.
Judith McKnight Jones, a great-granddaughter of one of the original American settlers, tried to explain the reasons for her family’s departure from Texas during the migration to the Seattle Times:
“They came here because they felt that their ‘country’ had been invaded and their land confiscated. To them, there was nothing left there. So, they came here to try to re-create what they had before the war. I grew up listening to the stories. They were angry and bitter. When they talked about it, moving here, the war, leaving their homes, it was always a very sore subject for them.”
Nevertheless, the American settlers managed to form communities and preserve their cultural heritage within their new country. Two new towns emerged from their small, disclosed communities―Santa Bárbara d’Oeste and Americana. Descendants of Americans during the Confederate Festival in Santa Bárbara d’Oeste, São Paulo
Both of these settlements are located in the Brazilian state of São Paulo and are part of the Metropolitan Region of Campinas. These towns are now the home of a number of descendants of the American colonists, who remain connected through Brazil’s Fraternity of the American Descendants.
The Confederados, as they are called by the Brazilians, hosts the annual Festa Confederada―a ceremony dedicated to preserving the memory of their ancestors. The festival features Confederate flags and uniforms, dances, and music from the period, together with American Southern cuisine spiced up with Brazilian flavors.
The event’s main purpose is fundraising for the Campo Cemetery, as the burial ground remains perhaps the most powerful symbol of their community.
Even though the descendants have almost completely assimilated into Brazilian society, they hold affection for the short-lived Confederate States of America, which they consider their original homeland.
The Last Surrenders of the Civil War
To many Americans the word Appomattox is synonymous with the end of the Civil War.
The war, however, did not officially conclude at that tiny village west of Petersburg, Virginia. But what happened there in early April 150 years ago certainly marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.
After the fall of Richmond, the Confederate capital, on April 2, 1865, officials in the Confederate government, including President Jefferson Davis, fled. The dominoes began to fall. The surrender at Appomattox took place a week later on April 9.
While it was the most significant surrender to take place during the Civil War, Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s most respected commander, surrendered only his Army of Northern Virginia to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
Several other Confederate forces—some large units, some had yet to surrender before President Andrew Johnson could declare that the Civil War was officially over.
The Grant-Lee agreement served not only as a signal that the South had lost the war but also as a model for the rest of the surrenders that followed.
After Richmond fell and Davis fled, Confederate commanders were on their own to surrender their commands to Union forces. Surrenders, paroles, and amnesty for many Confederate combatants would take place over the next several months and into 1866 throughout the South and border states.
Lee’s Last Campaign: Starved for Supplies
The string of events marking the end of the war all began with Lee’s Appomattox campaign.
General Lee’s final campaign began March 25, 1865, with a Confederate attack on Fort Stedman, near Petersburg. General Grant’s forces counterattacked a week later on April 1 at Five Forks, forcing Lee to abandon Richmond and Petersburg the following day. The Confederate Army’s retreat moved southwest along the Richmond & Danville Railroad. Lee desperately sought a train loaded with supplies for his troops but encountered none.
Grant, realizing that Lee’s army was running out of options, sent a letter to Lee on April 7 requesting the Confederate general’s surrender.
“The result of last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle,” Grant wrote. “I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself any further effusion of blood, by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the C.S. Army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.”
Lee responded, saying he did not agree with Grant’s opinion of the hopelessness of further resistance of his army. However, he did ask what terms Grant was offering. This correspondence would continue throughout the following day.
Meanwhile, Union Gen. Philip Sheridan’s cavalry, along with two rapidly moving infantry corps, marched hard from Farmville, in central Virginia, along a more southerly route than Confederate forces. Union cavalry reached Appomattox Station before Lee and blocked his path on April 8.Engineer camp, 8th N.Y. State Militia, War Department. Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
The next morning, Lee faced Union cavalry and infantry in his front at Appomattox Court House and two Union corps to his rear three miles to the northeast at New Hope Church. At dawn, Confederate Gen. John B. Gordon’s corps attacked Federal cavalry, but Gordon quickly realized he could not push forward without substantial help from other Confederate forces.
Lee, upon learning of this news and realizing his retreat had been halted, asked Grant for a meeting to discuss his army’s surrender. He later asked for “a suspension of hostilities” pending the outcome of the surrender talks.
Grant received Lee’s request four miles west of Walker’s Church, about six miles from Appomattox Court House. One of Grant’s aides, Lt. Col. Orville Babcock, and his orderly, Capt. William McKee Dunn, brought Grant’s reply to Lee. The meeting place was left to Lee’s discretion. Lee and two of his aides rode toward Appomattox Court House, accompanied by Babcock and Dunn. Soon Lee sent the aides ahead to find a suitable location for the surrender.
Lee’s Men Get to Keep Horses: Rations Go to Confederate Soldiers
Soon after entering the village, the two Confederates happened upon a homeowner, Wilmer McLean, who showed them an unfurnished and somewhat run-down house. After being told that would not do for such an important occasion, he offered his own house for the surrender meeting. After seeing the house, they accepted and sent a message back to Lee.
Lee reached the McLean house around 1 p.m. Along with his aide-de-camp Lt. Col. Charles Marshall and Babcock, he awaited Grant’s arrival in McLean’s parlor, the first room off the center hallway to the left. Grant arrived around 1:30. His personal staff and Generals Phil Sheridan and Edward Ord were with him. Grant and Lee discussed the old army and having met during the Mexican War.
Grant proposed that the Confederates, with the exception of officers, lay down their arms, and after signing paroles, return to their homes. Lee agreed with the terms, and Grant began writing them out.
One issue that Lee brought up before the terms were finalized and signed was the issue of horses. He pointed out that unlike the Federals, Confederate cavalrymen and artillerymen in his army owned their own horses. Grant stated that he would not add it to the agreement but would instruct his officers receiving the paroles to let the men take their animals home. Lee also brought up the subject of rations since his men had gone without rations for several days. Grant agreed to supply 25,000 rations to the hungry Confederate soldiers. Most of the rations were provided from Confederate supplies captured by Sheridan when he seized rebel supply trains at Appomattox Station the previous day.
Lee and Grant designated three officers each to make sure the terms of the surrender were properly carried out.
Grant and Lee met on horseback around 10 in the morning of April 10 on the eastern edge of town. There are conflicting accounts to what they discussed, but it is believed that three things came out of this meeting: each Confederate soldier would be given a printed pass, signed by his officers, to prove he was a paroled prisoner all cavalrymen and artillerymen would be allowed to retain their horses and Confederates who had to pass through Federal-occupied territory to get home were allowed free transportation on U.S. government railroads and vessels.
Printing presses were set up to print the paroles, and the formal surrender of arms took place on April 12. For those who stayed with Lee until the end, the war was over. It was time for them to head home. Lee left Appomattox and rode to Richmond to join his wife.
Lee’s Wife Asserts that the General Did Not Surrender the Confederacy
In a statement about her husband, Mary Custis Lee remarked that “General Lee is not the Confederacy.”
Her assessment was spot on, for the Confederacy still lived. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s army—the next largest after Lee’s still at war—was operating in North Carolina. Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor controlled forces in Alabama, Mississippi, and part of Louisiana. Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith’s men were west of the Mississippi, and Brig. Gen. Stand Watie was in command of an Indian unit in the Far West. Nathan Bedford Forrest had men in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.
The day after Lee’s surrender, the federal War Department was still trying to work out who was included in the terms of the agreement its terms had not yet been received in Washington. Was it all members of the Army of Northern Virginia or just those who were with Lee at the time of surrender?
Maj. Gen. Godfrey Weitzel, the Union commander in charge of Richmond, telegraphed Grant that “the people here are anxious that [John] Mosby should be included in Lee’s surrender. They say he belongs to that army.” The unit they were referring to was Mosby’s Rangers, also known as the 43rd Battalion of Virginia Cavalry, who harassed Union forces in Virginia for the last few years of the war.
In addition, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton requested from Grant further clarification about forces in Loudoun County, Virginia, that belonged to the Army of Northern Virginia and whether they fell under Lee’s surrender. Grant clarified the matter in a telegram to Stanton on the night of April 10:
The surrender was only of the men left with the pursued army at the time of surrender. All prisoners captured in battle previous to the surrender stand same as other prisoners of war, and those who had escaped and were detached at the time are not included. I think, however, there will be no difficulty now in bringing in on the terms voluntarily given to General Lee all the fragments of the Army of Northern Virginia, and it may be the army under Johnston also. I wish Hancock would try it with Mosby.
This matched a telegram sent mid-afternoon from Chief of Staff Gen. Henry W. Halleck to Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock in which the chief of staff advised the general that the secretary of war wanted him to print and circulate the correspondence between Grant and Lee concerning the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Halleck then provided further guidance that “All detachments and stragglers from that army will, upon complying with the conditions agreed upon, be paroled and permitted to return to their homes.”
The “Gray Ghost” Gives Up Without Surrendering
Since not everyone was yet in a surrendering mood, Halleck further advised that those who did not surrender would be treated as prisoners of war. He ended the telegram with one exception, “the guerrilla chief Mosby will not be paroled.”
Mosby’s response was delivered to Hancock on April 16. Mosby was not ready to surrender his command but would meet to discuss terms of an armistice. After reading the letter, Hancock agreed to meet at noon on April 18 a cease-fire would begin immediately. That evening the War Department wired that Grant had authorized Hancock to accept the surrender of Mosby’s command.
In the days just after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, there were heightened personal safety concerns for top officers. Hancock sent Brig. Gen. George Chapman, a Union cavalry officer, in his place to confer with Mosby on the April 18. Mosby was still not ready to surrender and requested a 48-hour extension of the cease-fire. Chapman agreed and notified Mosby that the cease-fire would continue until noon on April 20. Hancock turned down Mosby’s requests for another 10 days until Mosby could learn the fate of Johnston’s army.
The “Gray Ghost” chose to disband his unit rather than surrender en masse. In his announcement read to his men on April 21, Mosby told them, “I disband your organization in preference to surrendering it to our enemies. I am no longer your commander.” Each man would be left to decide his own fate.
Most of Mosby’s officers, and several hundred of his men, rode into Winchester to surrender themselves and sign paroles. Federals allowed them to keep their horses. Hancock estimated that around 380 rangers were paroled. Others followed suit and started turning themselves in at other towns in Virginia. Even more joined their colleagues and signed paroles in Washington and at military posts over the next several months.
Hancock offered a $2,000 reward for the capture of Mosby the same day that the majority of his men surrendered conspicuously without their commander and raised it to $5,000 in early May.
Mosby and his younger brother, William, went into hiding, near their father’s home outside Lynchburg, Virginia, soon after learning of Johnston’s surrender to Sherman in North Carolina. In mid-June William received assurances from a local provost marshal in Lynchburg that his brother would be paroled if he turned himself in. John Mosby presented himself the next day only to be told the offer had been countermanded by Union authorities in Richmond. Several days passed before Grant himself interceded, and on June 16 Mosby was told his parole would be accepted. The following day, Mosby turned himself in and signed the parole in Lynchburg. Mosby returned to the business of law shortly after the war.
Mosby, like Lee prior to his surrender, was counting on Johnston to pull away from Sherman in North Carolina and join other Confederate forces.
But Johnston was being pursued by the forces commanded by Union Gen. William T. Sherman. After Sherman’s successful “March to the Sea,” in which his army marched from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia, in the fall and winter of 1864, he steadily pushed Johnston’s Confederate army further north through the Carolinas.
Sherman Pursues Johnston, But Overplays His Hand
EnlargeGen. William T. Sherman and Gen. Joseph Johnston (National Archives Identifiers 525970 and 525983)
Sherman marched through South Carolina, capturing the state capital, Columbia, in February. Union forces reached Fayetteville, North Carolina, on March 11 and began a push toward Goldsboro. Sherman’s forces clashed with Johnston’s army at Averasboro on March 16 and again at Bentonville in a multiday battle that ended on March 21.
Johnston’s Confederate army was reduced to around 30,000 following the battle of Bentonville. This amounted to about half the size of Sherman’s Union command. When Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield’s Union force joined Sherman at Goldsboro several days later, the combined Union force reached approximately 80,000 men. Sherman was now on a rail line that connected him directly with Petersburg, Virginia.
Sherman went to City Point, Virginia, where he met with Grant and Lincoln on March 27 and 28 to discuss the coming end of the war. After the meetings ended, Sherman returned to his army to resume his pursuit of Johnston. As the two adversaries continued moving north, Johnston learned of the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond and of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The plan for Lee and Johnston to join forces had collapsed. With Grant now free from fighting Lee in Virginia, the two Union forces—Grant’s and Sherman’s—could turn their combined attention toward Johnston and crush his lone Confederate army.
Sherman’s army started marching toward Raleigh on April 10 with Johnston’s army retreating before it. Word reached Sherman of Lee’s surrender on April 11, and he informed his troops the following day. North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance sent representatives on April 10 to begin peace talks with Sherman. Those talks stopped several days later after Union forces entered Raleigh on April 13. The following day Johnston sent a letter proposing a suspension of operations to allow civil authorities to make arrangements ending the war.
Sherman notified Grant and Stanton that “I will accept the same terms as Gen. Grant gave Gen. Lee, and be careful to complicate any points of civil policy.”
Johnston, who had received advice from both Governor Vance and Confederate President Davis regarding peace talks, reached out to Sherman to discuss terms of his surrender. Several days passed before Sherman and Johnston eventually met near Durham Station on April 17. Sherman offered Johnston the same terms as those given Lee at Appomattox.
Johnston suggested that they take it one step further and “arrange the terms for a permanent peace.” Sherman saw an opportunity to not only end the war for his opponent’s army but to end the war entirely.
Talks continued the following day with Confederate Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge accompanying Johnston.
Sherman, Johnston in Accord, But Washington Says “No”
Sherman agreed to seven principal provisions. The agreement, however, went beyond military terms and the surrender of Johnston’s army. The agreement applied to any (read all) Confederate armies still in existence. The troops would disband and return to their state capitals, where they were to deposit their arms and public property at the state arsenals. The federal executive would recognize state governments, including their officers and legislatures. Where rival governments existed, the U.S. Supreme Court would decide which one would be recognized.
Federal courts would be reestablished in southern states, and the people would have their political rights and franchises guaranteed, including their rights of person and property. The war would cease, and a general amnesty would be provided.
Sherman was convinced his signed agreement with Johnston would end the war. In his cover letter awkwardly addressed to Grant or Halleck, Sherman argued that the agreement, “if approved by the President of the United States, will produce peace from the Potomac to the Rio Grande.”
In a follow-up letter to Halleck the same day, Sherman advised: “please give all orders necessary according to the views the Executive may take, and influence him, if possible, not to vary the terms at all, for I have considered everything.”
Sherman had overplayed his hand. He did not realize that neither the President nor any high-ranking member of the federal government would ever agree to the terms outlined in his accord with Johnston. The plan he worked out with Johnston was quickly rejected by federal authorities.
Sherman, thinking he ended the war, was surprised by the response he received from Washington. The Union commander had to inform Johnston that unless new military terms were reached, their armistice would end on April 26. That day the opposing army commanders met once again in Durham Station and worked out an agreement limited to military issues. Now that political matters were not included in the terms, Grant, who was sent to make sure Sherman got it right this time, quickly gave his approval, thus accepting the surrender of the largest Confederate force still in existence.
More Surrenders Follow General Johnston’s Lead
In addition to his Army of Tennessee, General Johnston also surrendered various forces under his command in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
After Lee and Johnston capitulated, there were still armed Confederate troops operating in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).
At the time of Johnston’s surrender, Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, son of former U.S. President Zachary Taylor, commanded around 10,000 men in the Confederate Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana.
The city of Mobile, Alabama, surrendered to Union forces in mid-April after Union victories at two forts protecting the city. This, along with the news of Johnston’s surrender negotiations with Sherman, led Taylor to seek a meeting with his Union counterpart, Maj. Gen. Edward R.S. Canby. The two generals met several miles north of Mobile on May 2. After agreeing to a 48-hour truce, the generals enjoyed an al fresco luncheon of food, drink, and lively music. Canby offered Taylor the same terms agreed upon between Lee and Grant. Taylor accepted the terms and surrendered his command on May 4 at Citronelle, Alabama.
After Taylor surrendered, other units followed quickly.
The fleeing Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, was finally captured by Union cavalry on May 10, near Irwinville, Georgia. His capture was soon followed by the surrenders of smaller Confederate forces in Florida, Georgia, and northern Arkansas.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, who fell under the geographic command of Richard Taylor, surrendered his cavalry corps several days after his commander.
In his farewell address to his men at Gainesville, Alabama, on May 9, Forrest stated: “I do not think it proper or necessary at this time to refer to causes which have reduced us to this extremity nor is it now a matter of material consequence to us how such results were brought about. That we are beaten is a self-evident fact, and any further resistance on our part would justly be regarded as the very height of folly and rashness.”
He ended his address by advising his men to “Obey the laws, preserve your honor, and the Government to which you have surrendered can afford to be, and will be, magnanimous.”
Several weeks later, the War Department issued a special order calling for a grand review of Union armies to be held in Washington to celebrate recent Union victories. On May 23, Maj. Gen. George Meade’s Army of the Potomac marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, followed the next day by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s Army of Georgia and Army of the Tennessee. Despite this 19th-century equivalent of a victory lap, the war still continued in Texas and Indian Territory.
Fighting Continued West of the Mississippi River
From January 1863 until the end of the war, Confederate Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith commanded the Trans-Mississippi Department. The department included Arkansas, most of Louisiana, Texas, and Indian Territory. After Union victories at Vicksburg and Port Hudson, Smith’s command was cut off from the rest of the Confederacy. Union control of the Mississippi would keep his army west of the river for the remainder of the war.
In the spring of 1864, Confederate forces in his department defeated Union Gen. Nathaniel Banks at the Battle of Mansfield in the River Red campaign. Smith later sent Maj. Gen. Sterling Price on a large cavalry raid into Missouri, which proved a huge failure after Price’s men were repulsed back into Arkansas.
Two days after President Johnson declared the war “virtually at an end,” Union Col. Theodore Barrett attacked a smaller Confederate force, half his size, commanded by Col. John S. Ford at Palmito Ranch in Texas, May 12, 1865. The overconfident Barrett was soundly defeated in what became the last engagement of the American Civil War.
Less than two weeks later, Smith, succumbing to the inevitable, surrendered his command on May 26. Following his surrender, the former West Point graduate and U.S. Army officer fled to Mexico and then Cuba to avoid prosecution for treason. After learning of President Johnson’s May 29 proclamation concerning amnesty and pardon, Smith returned to Virginia in November to take the amnesty oath.
At the outset of the Civil War, members of the Cherokee Nation tried to stay neutral. Within months, however, the Cherokee split between those who supported the Union and those who supported the Confederacy. The most famous Confederate supporter was Stand Watie, who was promoted to colonel of the First Cherokee Mounted Rifles in late 1861. Watie was eventually promoted to brigadier general in the spring of 1864 and later commanded the First Indian Brigade.
Watie still maintained a fighting force nearly a month after Smith surrendered the Trans-Mississippi Department. Realizing he was fighting a losing battle, Watie surrendered his unit of Confederate Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Osage Indians at Doaksville, near Fort Towson in Indian Territory, on June 23. Stand Watie was the last Confederate general to surrender his command.
The Final Surrender: Liverpool, England
While Confederate land forces surrendered throughout the late spring and summer of 1865, the Confederate raider CSS Shenandoah continued to disrupt Union shipping. The ship, originally the Sea King, involved in the Bombay trade, was purchased in England in the fall of 1864 by a Confederate agent. Precautions were taken to disguise ownership, and the ship sailed to Madeira, off the coast of Portugal, manned by an English crew.
There, the Englishmen were replaced by a Confederate crew led by James I. Wadell. The vessel was soon transformed into a war ship with the addition of armament and naval supplies, and her name was changed to CSS Shenandoah. After being outfitted, the newly christened raider sailed southward around the Cape of Good Hope, into the Indian Ocean, and into the South Pacific. The vessel was in Micronesia at the time of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.
The Shenandoah continued north through the Pacific Ocean, into the Sea of Okhotsk, and settled in the Bering Sea in mid-June. Wadell was under orders to destroy the whaling fleets of New England, and the Shenandoahnow focused on Yankee whalers. Because the ship’s crew were still unaware that the war had ended, the Shenandoah went to work disrupting Union vessels in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean. By August of 1865, the Shenandoah had captured or destroyed 38 ships, including whalers and merchant vessels.
Waddell set sail for England after learning from a British ship that the war was over. The last Confederate surrender occurred on November 6, 1865, when the Shenandoah arrived in Liverpool. The only Confederate vessel to circumnavigate the globe was surrendered by letter to the British prime minister, Lord John Russell. She was soon turned over to the Americans, who hired a merchant captain to sail her to New York. After a couple days at sea, a winter storm forced the captain to limp back to Liverpool with badly damaged sails. Eventually the vessel was sold to the sultan of Zanzibar and renamed El Majidi.
President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation on August 20, 1866, formally announcing the end of the Civil War (page 1 shown). (General Records of the U.S. Government, RG 11)
In a presidential proclamation issued on April 2, 1866, President Johnson declared that the insurrection that had existed in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, and Virginia, was at an end. The one exception was Texas.
Later that summer, the President declared that the insurrection in Texas was suppressed. The President acknowledged that “adequate provisions had been made by military orders to enforce the execution of the acts of Congress, aid the civil authorities and secure obedience to the Constitution and the laws of the United States in the state of Texas.”
On August 20, 1866, President Johnson issued a proclamation announcing the end of the American Civil War: “And I do further proclaim that the said insurrection is at an end and that peace, order, tranquility, and civil authority now exists in and throughout the whole of the United States of America.”
With that proclamation the United States officially closed a costly, bloody, and deadly chapter in its nation’s history that started at Fort Sumter several years—and hundreds* of thousands lives—earlier.