Robert E. Lee's Surrender to General Grant


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 22, 1865

This site features an online archive of our extensive collection of Harper's Weekly newspapers. These papers have a wealth of important news and information on the war. It is fascinating to watch the war unfold on the pages of these original Civil War Newspapers.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)


Five Forks

Battle of Five Forks

End Civil War

End of the Civil War

Lee's Surrender to General Grant


Petersburg Civil War Map

Richmond Capture

Capture of Richmond

Illinois Central Railroad Land

Illinois Central Railroad Land



Appomattox River

Lee Crossing the Appomattox River


Union Troops Occupying Petersburg Virginia

Richmond Fall

Fall of Richmond in the Civil War


Confederate Capitol in Richmond



APRIL 22, 1865]



(Previous Page) have protested with all his heart. ROBERT E. LEE offered his sword.

From that moment he has been an active soldier. His military skill has been much overrated. STONEWALL JACKSON, his Lieutenant, achieved his most famous successes, and LEE'S two aggressive campaigns were ignominious failures. No man can be held guilty of a want of genius. But will those who are so eager in extolling General LEE inform us why this Christian hero had not a word to say in regard to the atrocious treatment of our prisoners in rebel hands, especially at Belle Isle, under his eyes ? Will the flatterers of this Virginian gentleman explain why his reports of operations in the field were so unfair and deceptive ? Will the friends of this simple hearted soldier say why he tried a trick of words in his final correspondence with General GRANT ?

There is no act known to us during his long career as a rebel in arms which should favorably signalize ROBERT E. LEE among hundreds of his fellow rebels. Why does not JOHNSTON, or EWELL, or LONGSTREET, or HILL deserve the same praise ? What excellence of character or excuse for conduct has he which they had not ? Do those who speak so softly of his crimes feel as gently about JEFFERSON DAVIS ? Yet DAVIS at least heartily believed in his cause, and it was LEE, at the head of the army, who made DAVIS'S crime so prolonged and bloody.

We have no emotion of vengeance against General LEE. We would not hang him not because he has not deserved hanging, but from motives of state policy. Neither are we inaccessible to admiration for a foe. Major ANDRE we can pity, but General ARNOLD we despise. ROBERT E. LEE was an American citizen educated by his country, who, from a mistaken sense of duty, deserted his flag. Had his story ended there it would have been sorrowful. But he drew his sword against that flag not because of any oppression or outrage, but because by peaceful and lawful means it bade fair to become the symbol of justice and equal rights; and he drew it, thank God ! in vain. There his story ends, and it is infamous.


IN this hour of high patriotic exultation our thoughts naturally reach across the sea and with the profoundest gratitude to our friends abroad who have steadily maintained our cause and their faith in its final triumph, and maintained it against the doubts and hostility and ignorance of the ruling class. They will now feel that their faith in the strength of a purely popular government is fully justified. The remark of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer that Davis had "created a nation," and of the British Foreign Minister, that the United States Government was fighting for dominion, sprang from their conviction that their own Government could not subdue so formidable a rebellion, and from their total ignorance of the capacity of a free popular system. We can forgive them ; but the result proves that the finest political sagacity is with the liberal and not the aristocratic party in England.

In France the members of the Government have been more reticent, but their acts have spoken plainly ; and the unfriendly feeling of the court circles has been apparent. The Emperor, a student of history, has wisely refrained from committing himself, and his wisdom will now have its reward.

But to us now, and to all faithful Americans hereafter, the names of JOHN BRIGHT, and RICHARD COBDEN, and GOLDWIN SMITH, and JOHN

ELIOT CAIRNES, and WILLIAM E. FORSTER, and NEWMAN HALL, with their friends in England; and of HENRI MARTIN, LABOULAYE, LAUGEL, and others in France, will be always honorable and precious. Shall the events of the last four years not teach us that all believers in a true popular government, enlightened and just, whether they advocate its claims by eloquent tongues or vindicate its power by irresistible arms, and in whatever country they live, form the great liberal party of the world, to which the interests of civil order and peaceful progress are intrusted?


THE following striking portrait of the President we find in the Northern Whig of Belfast, in Ireland ; and we can hardly be mistaken in attributing it to Professor JOHN ELIOT CAIRNES, of Queens College, Galway, the author of one of the most valuable books upon our history ever written, " The Slave Power," and one of our most effective foreign friends. In the earlier months of the war Professor CAIRNES, in a series of most trenchant and unanswerable articles under his own name in the London Daily News, utterly demolished several of the Southern secession leaders who tried to argue with him the question of the war in its economical and political aspects :

"Mr. LINCOLN is one of those historic characters whom CARLYLE, in the better days of his earlier and saner genius, would have loved to sketch. Among the men who have been summoned from the unambitious pursuits of everyday life to save and guide nations in their hour of trial, the uncouth and yet not undignified figure of the Illinois rail splitter and village lawyer 'mean white' of

Keutucky by birth will hold by no means the lowest

place. But for the migration of his father across the Ohio ABRAHAM LINCOLN, it is strange to think, might now be risking the worthless life of a ' cracker' or 'sand hiller' in the armies of JEFFERSON DAVIS. If it were not for Mr. CARLYLE'S adhesion to the principle of ' hiring servants for life' as one of the forms of the rule of the strongest, it is easy to see to which of the two leaders in the civil war his sympathies would turn. JEFFERSON DAVIS is a type of the professional politician practiced in the conventions of government a master of those arts of national 'palaver' and diplomatic 'having the honor to be,' which excite, even in an unreasonable degree, Mr. CARLYLE'S dislike and contempt. He is an American statesman with a European varnish. ABRAHAM LINCOLN, on the either hand, with his genius for silence, and its correlative, occasional felicitous speech, struggling with the difficulties of an imperfect early education the fine spirit in the rough garb blending firm purpose with humane heart a deep religion, with a genuine, if homely, humor seems made for CARLYLE'S pen. The formal, decorous, courtly figure el the founder of the Union will contrast strangely with the ungainly and unpolished figure of (we trust) its destined restorer. But history will recognize one thing common to GEORGE WASHINGTON and ABRAHAM LINCOLN a pure honesty void of all self seeking. When the heats of party passion and international jealousy have abated, when detraction has spent its malice and the scandalous gossip of the day goes the way of all lies, the place of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, in the grateful affection of his countrymen and in the respect of the world, will be second only, if it be second, to that of WASHINGTON himself."


A FRIEND in Illinois sends a story of Senator, late Governor, YATES of that State, which should become historical in his honor.

By the " black laws" of Illinois, lately repealed, free negroes, or, as the law expressed it, " free people of color" when found in the State were liable to arrest and sale. Under this law two persons were arrested about two years since, and convicted of the crime of being " people of color." They were sold, one for fifty-five and the other for ninety-nine years. A prominent lawyer in the town (the names are given us) believing the law to be unconstitutional appealed the case, becoming security for costs, to the Supreme Court, which declared the law, constitutional, and that the convicted persons who had been temporarily released by the lawyer's action should be returned to the buyers. The offenders, however, had meanwhile left the State, and the lawyer found himself liable for a large sum.

He reflected for some time, and finally repaired to Governor YATES, who was about vacating the chair. The lawyer presented his case to the Governor's sagacity and humanity, and at the close of the interview emerged with a radiant face. Meeting a fellow lawyer who was familiar with the circumstances, he said to him, cheerfully,

"Well, it's finished."

" How finished?"

" The men are pardoned," said the lawyer. " How pardoned ?" asked his friend.

The lawyer looked at him for a moment while a grim smile passed over his face, and then answered,

" Pardoned for being black."

This was the last official act of Governor YATES, and Illinois has done wisely in bidding him go up higher.


THE tumultuous excitement of these closing days of the war has prevented attention to an act which, in the more tranquil times of the future, will be estimated with all the honor it deserves. Mr. EZRA CORNELL, Senator from the Twenty-fourth District, in this State, proposes to give five hundred thousand dollars immediately to found a university, worthy the name, at Ithaca. Mr. WHITE, Senator from the Onondaga District, one of our most excellent scholars and most efficient public men, has introduced a bill into the Senate establishing the University, and appropriating to it the income of the sale of public lands granted to this State by Congress by the act of July, 1862.

The importance of Mr. CORNELL'S gift to all the higher interests of the State is so apparent that the Board of Regents appointed a committee to visit the People's College at Havana, to which the proceeds of the grant had been previously appropriated, for the purpose of ascertaining whether that college did now conform, or was likely within the limited time of five years to conform, to the conditions of the grant. The committee visited the People's College, made a careful investigation of its condition through the testimony of its officers and neighboring friends, and reported that it did not now conform to the requirements of the law. They further submitted the testimony from which it could readily be inferred whether it was likely to conform to them within the time.

No candid man can read the testimony with out seeing that there is no reason whatever to believe it can do so. The People's College is apparently a small institution with no other prospects than such as may arise from the fund under the act of 1862. It consists of a college building and a hundred acres of land ; furniture to the amount of a thousand dollars, and a library of two thousand volumes, made up of Congressional documents, Pacific Railroad reports, and documents of the State of New York. It has no philosophical or chemical apparatus, nor shops, tools, machinery, nor farm buildings, farming implements or stock, although the ex-

pressed intention of the United States grant was the fostering of practical mechanics and agriculture. Instruction in the collegiate department has not begun, and there are about a hundred and fifty students in the preparatory school.

Whoever has the interests of the most generous education at heart can not doubt that the union of the grant of the United States with the gift of Mr. CORNELL will secure a foundation for a university worthy of the State ; and that the advantage of one comprehensive, amply equipped institution is greater than that of a dozen smaller and staggering schools. In such a movement concentration is power. The character of a truly noble university attracts the most eminent men to its chairs, and they in turn attract the multitude of students. Who can estimate the value of AGASSIZ, for instance, to the University at Cambridge ? Yet only an institution so liberally endowed could secure the services of a savant so eminent against the imperial competition of Europe. In every way the increase of resources increases the opportunity and the usefulness of a college, and we can see no public reason whatever in the interest of education, why the grant under the law of Congress should not be transferred to the Cornell University.


To be praised by GIBBON, says THACKERAY, is like having your name written upon the dome of St. Peter's ; and if any man, however unworthy, had been so lucky, he would not fail to mention it to his friends. We have been reminded of THACKERAY'S remark by the approbation which the course of Harper's Weekly during the War has elicited from the North American Review for April, 1865, the able, brilliant, and scholarly organ of the truest American conservatism ; and we can not forbear repeating it with pride and pleasure to our readers :

"It has been one of the most powerful of the organs of public opinion. Its vast circulation, deservedly secured and maintained by the excellence and variety of its illustrations of the scenes and events of the war, as well as by the spirit and tone of its editorials, has carried it far and wide. It has been read in city parlors, in the log hut of the pioneer, by every camp fire of our armies, in she wards of our hospitals, in the trenches before Petersburg, and in the ruins of Charleston; and wherever it has gone it has kindled a warmer glow of patriotism, it has neared the hearts and strengthened the arms of the people, and it has done its full part in the furtherance of the great cause of Union, of Freedom, and of Law. Whoever believes in his country and its constant progress in developing human liberty will understand that he has an ally in Harper's Weekly.

" The articles upon public questions which appear in the paper from week to week form a remarkable series of brief political essays. They are distinguished by clear and pointed statement, by good common sense, by independence and breadth of view. They are the expressions of mature conviction, high principle, and strong feeling, and take their place among the best newspaper writing of the time. They are a running commentary upon events, and are themselves an important expression of that public opinion which they help to mould and to direct.

" Our historical societies and public libraries through out the country should secure a complete set of the volumes of Harper's Weekly, for every year will add to their value as an illustrated record of the times; and as long as the paper is edited as it now is, and maintains the public cause with such vigor, independence, and effect, it will be one of the most trust worthy and important exponents of the better political opinions of the times."


THERE is an old, old tree a-dozing by my door;

Not a leaf upon it grew for four long years and more; Nor came there ever bird, or butterfly, or bee, To revel in the branches of the old, old tree.

Among its topmost twigs, that so closely interlace, Run the wire-cords that harness the steeds of time and space

The telegraphic runners that ceaselessly convey,

From north and south and east and west, the tidings of the day.

This morn o'er the old tree I saw a change had come: The bursting forth of green leaves; the insect's joyful hum ;

And the warbling of the spring birds that gladness brought again

To the boughs that long were moaning in the wind and the rain.

What can thus have stirred the heart of the dry old tree? The little birds that sing there now have whispered it to me:

'Twas the singing of the wires with such glorious news alive,

In the dawning of the glad days of April, 'Sixty-five.

IN HARPER'S WEEKLY will be commenced immediately a new Serial Story, entitled


Author of "BARBARA'S HISTORY," &c.

"Barbara's History" is a very graceful and charming book, with a well-managed story, clearly cut characters, and sentiments expressed with an exquisite elocution. The dialogues especially sparkle with repartee. It is a book which the world will like, and which those who commence it will care to finish. This is high praise of a work of art, and so we intend it. From the London Times.



UPON the evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg Lee's army moved westward toward Burkesville. This army was thoroughly demoralized, and the line of retreat was strewn with muskets, knapsacks, and artillery caissons. General Grant distinguished himself in the pursuit no less
notably than in the defeat of the rebels. Moving his own army westward, he kept pushing Lee northward, keeping him to the north bank of the Appomattox. Lee finally succeeded in crossing the river, and concentrated his army in the region of Amelia Court House. But in the mean while, by the night of Tuesday, April 4, Sheridan and the

Fifth Corps had, by a march of thirty six miles, gained a position west of Lee, near Jettersville, on the road to Burkesville. This movement resulted the next day in the capture of a train of three hundred wagons, with five cannon and a thousand prisoners.

Grant, on Wednesday, with the Twenty-fourth Corps, had reached Nottoway Court House, and here learned by a dispatch from Sheridan that Lee had been intercepted. On Thursday Grant had brought his army up to Sheridan's support, and with the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Corps lay in line of battle at Burke's Station, facing to the north and east, and cutting Lee off from Danville. Lee then tried to move on toward Lynchburg, by taking a circuitous route by way of Deatonsville, toward the Appomattox, which he hoped to cross, and, with the river between him and Grant, secure his retreat. But Grant's movements were too rapid to permit of this. Lee was compelled to fight at Deatonsville, where he was defeated, his loss amounting to thirteen thousand prisoners, including Lieutenant-General Ewell and Major-Generals Custis Lee, Kershaw, Cone, De Barry, Anderson, Hunton, and Barton. Fourteen cannon were taken, and several hundred wagons.

This battle was fought on Thursday, April 6. The next day General Grant wrote to Lee asking him to surrender "that portion of the Confederate States army known as the Army of Northern Virginia." He said: "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." Lee replied the same day, saying that though he was not entirely of Grant's opinion as to the hopelessness of further resistance, he reciprocated the desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and asked upon what terms Grant would accept the surrender. On the 8th Grant again wrote declaring that he should insist upon but one condition, viz. : "That the men surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms again against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged." To this Lee replied that he did not think the emergency had arisen to call for the surrender, but desired an interview at 10 A.M. the next day on the old stage road to Richmond in respect to the restoration of peace. On the 9th Grant wrote that he had no authority to grant such an interview. He said, " The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms they will hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed."

This note was received by Lee on the spot which he had designated for the interview. He immediately replied, stating that he had received the note on the picket line, whither he had come to meet Grant and ascertain definitely the terms on which the army could be surrendered. He seemed to have forgotten that he had said most distinctly in his letter requesting the interview that he could not meet Grant with a view to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia. He now fell back upon Grant's original offer, and requested an interview for the specification of the terms of surrender. This letter reached Grant on the Farmville and Lynchburg Road. He immediately hastened to the front to meet Lee. At Appomattox Court House General Grant stipulated that rolls of all the officers and men should be made in duplicate; that both officers and men should give their parole not to take arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged; that all the arms, artillery, and public property should be turned over, excepting the side arms, horses, and private baggage of the officers; that each officer and man should be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by the United States authorities so long as they should observe their parole and the laws in force where they may reside. General Lee replied in the following terms:

GENERAL, I have received your letter of this date, containing the terms of surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia by you. As they are substantially the same as those expressed in your letter of the 8th instant, they are accepted. I will proceed to designate the proper officers to carry the stipulations into effect.

Very respectfully your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE, General.


On the 17th of March the Thirteenth and Sixteenth Corps invested the Spanish Fort, one of the principal defenses of the city of Mobile, on the east side of the bay. On the 29th the national troops were intrenched within seventy yards of the enemy's rifle pits. Up to the 31st the Union loss was about 800. Two national iron-clads, the Monitors Milwaukee and Osage, were blown up in Mobile bay on the 28th and 29th ult., by rebel torpedoes, killing four men and wounding seven. As the vessels sunk in shallow water it is thought they can be raised.

The column of national troops under General Steele, which left Pensacola, Fla., on the 20th of March, arrived in Front of Mobile, opened communication with General Canby's force, and commenced hostilities on the 29th. On his march General Steele had considerable skirmishing, but met with no serious opposition. At one point on the route the rebel cavalry were found drawn up as if determined on desperate work ; but at the first charge from the national troops they broke in confusion. Some of them fled instantly, others surrendered without firing a shot, while many threw down their arms and begged for mercy. Altogether General Steele's captures were one brigadier-general, twenty-two other officers, four hundred men, and four hundred and fifty horses. At another point on his march General Steele's men cut the Mobile and Montgomery Railroad, and captured two wagon trains.


The President issued an important proclamation on the 11th, claiming that our vessels of war in foreign ports shall no longer be subjected to restrictions as at present, but shall have the same rights and hospitalities which are extended to foreign men-of-war in the ports of the United States, and declaring that hereafter the cruisers of every nation shall receive the same treatment which in their ports they accord to ours.

Admiral Porter reports that the rebels blew up the following vessels in the James : Virginia, flag ship, 4 guns iron-clad Richmond, 4 guns ; iron-clad Fredericksburg, 4 guns; iron-clad Nansemond, 2 guns ; wooden ship Hampton, 2 guns ; wooden ship Roanoke, 1 gun ; and the wooden torpedo tender Sherapne.

A paper at Paducah, Kentucky, has a report that Wilson's cavalry has completely routed Forrest's forces near Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Refugees from Danville, as late as April 5, state positively that Stoneman's column, which was last heard from at Boone, Watauga County, North Carolina, reached the Danville Road on Tuesday last, and commenced tearing up the new track between Danville and Greensborongh.

Among the war material captured last week by Sheridan were five guns of the Armstrong pattern, said to have been a present from the English Government to the Confederates, and had not yet been used. They are beautiful specimens of manufacture.

It is announced that Garibaldi's daughter, Teresita, has just given birth at Caprera to a boy, who, by his grandfather's desire, has been christened Lincoln, in honor of the " American President who has abolished slavery."


ACCORDING to Paris advices the rebel ram Stonewall left Ferrol March 21, accompanied to sea by a Spanish frigate. The United States frigates Niagara and Sacramento immediately followed, and the Stonewall returned to port.

It is expected that before July 20 telegraphic communication will be established between Europe and America. Captain James Anderson, of the Cunard steamer China, has been appointed to command the Great Eastern during the laying of the cable. That vessel will sail from Valencia, Ireland, about the 1st of July, and by the middle of that month will be due at Heart's Content, Trinity Bay.


The war in Uruguay still goes on. At the latest advices hostilities had commenced on the 9th of February before Montevideo. Flores had offered the port of Buena to the foreign residents as a place of refuge.




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