Julie Weathers

The Surrender

The Surrender

When the Civil War broke out, Robert E. Lee was in Texas. He received the news and spent the night pacing his room in the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, torn about what he should do. He was against slavery. He’d written editorial letters in newspapers with his views about why it was wrong and he believed in the near future the issue would resolve itself peacefully as more people in the south joined his belief and the practice simply became economically unsustainable.

Lee was staunchly in favor of the Union and the constitution.

His dreams for a peaceful solution ended with the secession of the southern states. Lt. Col. Lee had just been promoted to lead the Texas armies, but he was recalled to Washington with the looming war in the east. On February 1, 1861 Texas seceded from the Union just as Lee was preparing to go to Washington after being recalled by Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott. By April seven states had seceded. On April 18, 1861, four days after the fall of Fort Sumter, Scott offered Lee command of all the Union armies.

Lee replied, “I could take no part in an invasion of the southern states.” He resigned his commission, ending more than thirty years of service to his country.

He loved the army. It was his life and his dream even before he entered West Point where he graduated without a single demerit in four years and was the first graduate to do so.

“I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union,” Lee said in a letter to his son. “I will sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation.”

On April 3, 1865, Richmond fell, ringing the death knell for the confederacy.

Lee’s army was weak, exhausted and surrounded as they retreated to the west with Grant nipping at their heels.

On April 7, Grant initiated a series of dispatches that led to the eventual surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

Grant’s dispatch rider passed through Confederate lines to deliver the first message.

“General R.E. Lee, Commanding C.S.A.:
5 P.M., April 7th, 1865.
The results of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.
U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General”

Lee promptly responded and Grant received his answer shortly after midnight.

“April 7th, 1865.
General: I have received your note of this date. Though not entertaining the opinion you express of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia, I reciprocate your desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and therefore, before considering your proposition, ask the terms you will offer on condition of its surrender.
R.E. Lee, General.”

Grant, who was suffering from another of his debilitating headaches, replied early that morning.

“April 8th, 1865.
General R.E. Lee, Commanding C.S.A.:
Your note of last evening in reply to mine of the same date, asking the conditions on which I will accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, is just received. In reply I would say that, peace being my great desire, there is but one condition I would insist upon,–namely, that the men and officers surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged. I will meet you, or will designate officers to meet any officers you may name for the same purpose, at any point agreeable to you, for the purpose of arranging definitely the terms upon which the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia will be received.
U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General”

As the armies continued to fight, and Lee retreated, Lee sent the following message.

“April 8th, 1865.
General: I received at a late hour your note of to-day. In mine of yesterday I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender of this army, but, as the restoration of peace should be the sole object of all, I desired to know whether your proposals would lead to that end. I cannot, therefore, meet you with a view to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia; but as far as your proposal may affect the Confederate States forces under my command, and tend to the restoration of peace, I should be pleased to meet you at 10 A.M. to-morrow on the old state road to Richmond, between the picket-lines of the two armies.
R.E. Lee, General.”

Grant was exhausted and still suffering from his headache when he penned the reply at 5:00 in the morning.

“April 9th, 1865.
General: Your note of yesterday is received. I have not authority to treat on the subject of peace. The meeting proposed for 10 A.M. to-day could lead to no good. I will state, however, that I am equally desirous for peace with yourself, and the whole North entertains the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms, they would hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed. Seriously hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of another life, I subscribe myself, etc.,
U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General”

Still suffering, Grant received Lee’s response as he approached Appomattox.

“April 9th, 1865.
General: I received your note of this morning on the picket-line, whither I had come to meet you and ascertain definitely what terms were embraced in your proposal of yesterday with reference to the surrender of this army. I now ask an interview, in accordance with the offer contained in your letter of yesterday, for that purpose.
R.E. Lee, General.”

Grant immediately dismounted and wrote his response.

“April 9th, 1865.
General R. E. Lee Commanding C. S. Army:
Your note of this date is but this moment (11:50 A.M.) received, in consequence of my having passed from the Richmond and Lynchburg road to the Farmville and Lynchburg road. I am at this writing about four miles west of Walker’s Church, and will push forward to the front for the purpose of meeting you. Notice sent to me on this road where you wish the interview to take place will meet me.
U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.”

General Horace Porter later recorded in great detail the days leading up to the surrender and the actual agreement between the leaders.

It’s an amazing detail in history and I strongly urge my readers to take a few moments of time to read it.

As I near the end of the revisions in FAR RIDER, I cannot help but think of the rest of the story, for although it reaches a satisfactory conclusion, it does not tell the entire story. The scheming baroness will continue to create events that stir up hatred toward the M’Eriyn until a final flashpoint causes an all out war.

Families will be torn asunder very similar to our own Civil War. My heroine will assume a role much like that of J.E.B. Stuart’s to Gen. Lee. The young nobleman who once teetered on the brink of love will become her nemesis and hound her throughout the war.

A part of me wants to continue writing this story once I ship it off as I am fully in love with the tale and its characters. Another part of me realizes the sad truth. There is a very real possibility FAR RIDER will never draw its first breath, and so I will proceed to resume work on DRAGON VALLEY once FAR RIDER is re-sent to the agent.

 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Wow. I had no idea.

    Funny how the story we don’t see can often be bigger than the story we do.

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