Be­hind the scenes at Pam­plin: News of sur­ren­der

The Progress-Index - - LOCAL - By Colin Ro­man­ick Di­rec­tor of Mar­ket­ing & De­vel­op­ment, Pam­plin His­tor­i­cal Park

Af­ter an eleven day cam­paign and a morn­ing bat­tle at Ap­po­mat­tox Court House, Con­fed­er­ate Gen­eral Robert E. Lee sur­ren­dered the Army of North­ern Vir­ginia on April 9, 1865. Lee had lost more than half of his forces, orig­i­nally num­ber­ing about 60,000 men, in the fight­ing re­treat from Peters­burg and the ear­lier losses at the bat­tle of Five Forks. The weary rebels had hoped to es­cape the reach of Union Gen­eral U. S. Grant by march­ing to re-sup­ply and even­tu­ally join forces with Maj. Gen. Joseph E. John­ston’s army in North Carolina. Af­ter the morn­ing bat­tle at Ap­po­mat­tox Court House, it was ap­par­ent to Lee that his forces could not break through the Union lines as he stated, “there is noth­ing left me to do but to go and see Gen. Grant, and I would rather die a thou­sand deaths.”

Lee and Grant met at the McLean House around 1:30 p.m. in the af­ter­noon ac­com­pa­nied by a small group of officers. Af­ter some pleas­antries, both men sat down to ne­go­ti­ate the terms of sur­ren­der. Grant of­fered fa­vor­able terms and even fed the rebels af­ter days of march­ing and fight­ing with lit­tle in the way of ra­tions. Lee was thank­ful for the le­nient terms and put to rest any thoughts of a pro­longed guer­rilla war that could have gone on for years. Some of Lee’s officers had sug­gested plans to con­tinue the fight in a guer­rilla style war that Lee re­jected in his last coun­sel of war on April 8.

De­spite Lee’s sur­ren­der of the Army of North­ern Vir­ginia at Ap­po­mat­tox, this did not end the war. The Army of Ten­nessee un­der Maj. Gen. Joseph E. John­ston con­tin­ued to fight in the field for over two weeks un­til their even­tual sur­ren­der of around 90,000 men on April 26. Even still, the last large Con­fed­er­ate mil­i­tary for­ma­tion un­der Gen. E. K. Smith in Galve­ston, Texas was forced to sur­ren­der on June 2, which fi­nally al­lowed the coun­try a rest from years of war.

All of these dra­matic events were cap­tured by news­pa­pers at the time. The April 9 sur­ren­der in par­tic­u­lar was cap­tured by The Rich­mond Whig in their April 10, 1865 edi­tion. This news­pa­per was founded in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia in 1843 and was one of four daily news­pa­pers in that city to re­main loyal to the Whig Party. Pres­i­dent Zachary Tay­lor and Win­field Scott are two no­table Vir­ginia na­tives who were Whig Party mem­bers and Tay­lor was the last Whig Party mem­ber to be a U.S. pres­i­dent. By the time of se­ces­sion though, the Whig Party had frac­tured and was a shadow of its for­mer self. The Rich­mond Whig re­mained crit­i­cal of Con­fed­er­ate Pres­i­dent Jef­fer­son Davis through­out the Civil War due to a per­ceived mis­trust of Whigs by the Con­fed­er­acy. This partly can be con­trib­uted to the fact that Whigs were known for their sid­ing with abo­li­tion­ists against slav­ery and re­sis­tance to se­ces­sion. The Rich­mond Whig would mud­dle through post-war Re­con­struc­tion and print its fi­nal edi­tion in 1888.

[CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO/PAM­PLIN HIS­TOR­I­CAL PARK COL­LEC­TION]

The Rich­mond Whig was a daily news­pa­per pub­lished from 1843 through 1888. This April 10, 1865 edi­tion fea­tures the sur­ren­der at Ap­po­mat­tox Court House the pre­vi­ous day.

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