The South Surrenders

General Robert E. Lee, who was leading the Confederacy, surrendered to the Union leader, General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. The surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, officially ended the Civil War in America, which had taken high death tolls on citizens of both sides.

Robert Edward Lee

General Lee based the surrender on the fact that his troops were not only vastly outnumbered, but they had little in the way of food and supplies.

Before Surrendering

Prior to the surrender, General Lee had hoped to unite with additional Confederate troops in North Carolina so they would have enough men and supplies to continue to fight.

Germans surrendering in 1945.
Germans surrendering in 1945.

However, the Union Army stopped that idea when they went through Virginia and stopped the Confederate troops. General Lee and his troops had to abandon and retreat from their Richmond capital, and they were halted at Appomattox, Virginia.

Low Morale

Besides being low on fighting troops and supplies, many of the Confederate soldiers were also deserting. This left General Lee with little choice but to surrender when the Union Army and General Grant surrounded them.

Both Grant and Lee agreed to meet on April 9, 1865, so they could talk about the terms of Lee’s surrender. Lee was at the McLean House in Appomattox, and Grant met him there. Grant held Lee in high respect, and it is said that before they started talking about the surrender that Grant held some small talk with Lee.

Terms of Surrender

The surrender terms had already been talked about between General Grant and President Lincoln. Lincoln knew that there was a requirement for a state of peace, and this meant that the soldiers on the Confederate side had to be dealt with well, so they wouldn’t rise up again.

Lincoln and Grant organized generous terms that included: rifles would be turned in by Confederate soldiers, and they could keep their horses or mules and immediately return home. The soldiers had also not eaten well, and they were given food. The surrender terms were above what the soldiers and Lee expected, and they felt that they were fair.

The War Ended

Although Lee’s troops were involved in the surrender, there were still a lot of armies and soldiers in and around the southern states that didn’t surrender. It took a short time, but once they heard about the surrender, they knew the war had ended.

General Sherman accepted the surrender by General Joseph Johnston on April 26, 1865. This action prompted other officers to also surrender so that on June 23, 1865, General Stand Watie became the last general to surrender.

President Jefferson Davis

During the Civil War, the Confederate states refused to accept President Abraham Lincoln as their president and instead, elected their own with President Jefferson Davis. The last cabinet meeting of the Confederate group was held on May 5, 1865, and they officially ended their government although Davis attempted to escape after the surrender, they captured him, and he spent two years in prison.

The surrender was an action to end the war, but it wasn’t considered to be official until the then President Andrew Johnson signed the document announcing the end of the American Civil War on August 20, 1866. With the war over, both sides hoped that there would be peace in the country as attempts were made to rebuild and heal.

What did you Learn?

What were the names of the main leading generals of the two sides of the Civil War?
General Lee and General Grant

What were the initial surrender terms for the Confederate soldiers?
Rifles would be turned in by Confederate soldiers, and they could keep their horses or mules and immediately return home and given food

What was the date that President Jefferson Davis signed the document that officially ended the Civil War?
May 5, 1865

Why did General Lee feel he was forced to surrender?
Low supplies and outnumbered by Union troops

Why did President Lincoln originally want more than fair terms for the members of the Confederacy?
So that the Confederate soldiers wouldn’t be angry and rise up again

What city and state did Generals Lee and Grant meet to talk about surrender?
Appomattox, Virginia