Gen. R. E. Lee,
Comd'g C. S. A.
with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst.,
I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of N.
Va. on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all
the officers and men to be made in duplicate.
One copy to be given to an officer designated by me,
the other to be retained by such officer or officers
as you may designate. The officers to give their
individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government
of the United States until properly exchanged, and each
company or regimental commander sign a like parole for
the men of their commands. The arms, artillery
and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned
over to the officer appointed by me to receive them.
This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers,
nor their private horses or baggage. This done,
each officer and man will be allowed to return to their
homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority
so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in
force where they may reside.
When I put my pen
to the paper I did not know the first word that I should
make use of in writing the terms. I only knew what
was in my mind, and I wished to express it clearly, so that
there could be no mistaking it. As I wrote on, the
thought occurred to me that the officers had their own private
horses and effects, which were important to them, but of
no value to us; also that it would be an unnecessary humiliation
to call upon them to deliver their side arms.
No conversation, not
one word, passed between General Lee and myself, either
about private property, side arms, or kindred subjects.
He appeared to have no objections to the terms first proposed;
or if he had a point to make against them he wished to wait
until they were in writing to make it. When he read
over that part of the terms about side arms, horses and
private property of the officers, he remarked, with some
feeling, I thought, that this would have a happy effect
upon his army.
Then, after a little
further conversation, General Lee remarked to me again that
their army was organized a little differently from the army
of the United States (still maintaining by implication that
we were two countries); that in their army the cavalrymen
and artillerists owned their own horses; and he asked if
he was to understand that the men who so owned their horses
were to be permitted to retain them. I told him that
as the terms were written they would not; that only the
officers were permitted to take their private property.
He then, after reading over the terms a second time, remarked
that that was clear.
I then said to him
that I thought this would be about the last battle of the
war -- I sincerely hoped so; and I said further I took it
that most of the men in the ranks were small farmers.
The whole country had been so raided by the two armies that
it was doubtful whether they would be able to put in a crop
to carry themselves and their families through the next
winter without the aid of the horses they were then riding.
The United States did not want them and I would, therefore,
instruct the officers I left behind to receive the paroles
of his troops to let every man of the Confederate army who
claimed to own a horse or mule take the animal to his home.
Lee remarked again that this would have a happy effect.
He then sat down and
wrote out the following letter:
Army of Northern Virginia,
April 9, 1865
U. S. Grant.
--I received your
letter of this date containing the terms of the surrender
of the Army
of Northern Virginia as proposed by you. As they
are substantially the same as those
expressed in your letter of the 8th inst., they are
accepted. I will proceed to designate
the proper officers to carry the stipulations into effect.
R. E. Lee,
While duplicates of
the two letters were being made, the
generals present were severally presented to General
The much talked of
surrendering of Lee's sword and my handing it back, this
and much more that has been said about it is the purest
romance. The word sword or side arms was not mentioned
by either of us until I wrote it in the terms. There
was no premeditation, and it did not occur to me until the
moment I wrote it down. If I had happened to omit
it, and General Lee had called my attention to it, I should
have put it in the terms precisely as I acceded to the provision
about the soldiers retaining their horses.
General Lee, after
all was completed and before taking his leave, remarked
that his army was in a very bad condition for want of food,
and that they were without forage; that his men had been
living for some days on parched corn exclusively, and that
he would have to ask me for rations and forage. I
told him "certainly," and asked for how many men he wanted
rations. His answer was "about twenty-five thousand":
and I authorized him to send his own commissary and quartermaster
to Appomattox Station, two or three miles away, where he
could have, out of the trains we had stopped, all the provisions
wanted. As for forage, we had ourselves depended almost
entirely upon the country for that.
Generals Gibbon, Griffin
and Merritt were designated by me to carry into effect the
paroling of Lee's troops before they should start for their
homes -- General Lee leaving
Gordon and Pendleton
for them to confer with in order to facilitate this work.
Lee and I then separated as cordially as we had met, he
returning to his own lines, and all went into bivouac for
the night at Appomattox.
Soon after Lee's departure
I telegraphed to
Washington as follows:
Appomattox C. H., Va.,
April 9th, 1865, 4:30 p.m.
Hon. E. M. Stanton:
Secretary of War,
General Lee surrendered
the Army of Northern Virginia this afternoon on terms
proposed by myself. The accompanying additional
correspondence will show the
U. S. Grant,
When news of the surrender
first reached our lines our men commenced firing a salute
of a hundred guns in honor of the victory. I at once
sent word, however, to have it stopped. The Confederates
were now our prisoners, and we did not want to exult over
I determined to return
to Washington at once, with a view to putting a stop to
the purchase of supplies, and what I now deemed other useless
outlay of money. Before leaving, however, I thought
I would like to see General Lee again; so next morning I
rode out beyond our lines towards his headquarters, preceded
by a bugler and a staff-officer carrying a white flag.
Lee soon mounted his
horse, seeing who it was, and met me. We had there
between the lines, sitting on horseback, a very pleasant
conversation of over half an hour, in the course of which
Lee said to me that the South was a big country and that
we might have to march over it three or four times before
the war entirely ended, but that we would now be able to
do it as they could no longer resist us. He expressed
it as his earnest hope, however, that we would not be called
upon to cause more loss and sacrifice of life; but he could
not foretell the result. I then suggested to General
Lee that there was not a man in the
Confederacy whose influence with the soldiery and the
whole people was as great as his, and that if he would now
advise the surrender of all armies I had no doubt his advice
would be followed with alacrity. But Lee said, that
he could not do that without consulting the President first.
I knew there was no use to urge him to do anything against
his ideas of what was right.
I was accompanied
by my staff and other officers, some of whom seemed to have
a great desire to go inside the Confederate lines.
They finally asked permission of Lee to do so for the purpose
of seeing some of their old army friends, and the permission
was granted. They went over, had a very pleasant time
with their old friends, and brought some of them back with
them when they returned.
When Lee and I separated
he went back to his lines and I returned to the house of
Mr. McLean. Here the officers of both armies came
in great numbers, and seemed to enjoy the meeting as much
as though they had been friends separated for a long time
while fighting battles under the same flag. For the
time being it looked very much as if all thought of the
war had escaped their minds. After an hour pleasantly
passed in this way I set out on horseback, accompanied by
my staff and a small escort, for Burkesville Junction, up
to which point the railroad had by this time been repaired.
SOURCE: U. S. Grant,
Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant (New York, 1885),