April 12, 1865, near Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia
On April 9, 1865, the mortal remains of the Provisional Army of the Confederate States’ Army of Northern Virginia, Gen. R. E. Lee, commanding, battered itself in futility against the encircling Yankee troops under Gen. U. S. Grant. When told by his subordinates that they could do no more with their weak and hungry force, Lee did what he would rather die a thousand times than do and sought terms. He put on his best dress uniform and sword because he fully expected to be made both a prisoner and a spectacle.
A dirty and bedraggled U.S. Grant suffering from a migraine headache met Lee in Wilbur McLean’s parlor in the town of Appomattox Courthouse. Grant offered far better terms than Lee expected from a man whose very initials had come to mean Unconditional Surrender. The men were allowed to keep their personal possessions and horses and mules if they had them. The officers would be allowed to keep their sidearms and walk or ride away with dignity. Grant also provided rations to Lees starving army. The details were worked out on the 10th and 11th.
On April 12th the Army of Northern Virginia made itself up as spit and polished as its bedraggled state would allow, formed ranks and marched to its end. A few Yankees shouted and taunted at first but their officers put an end to it quickly and in order and in silence, the Army of Northern Virginia led by Georgian Gen. John Brown Gorden, still well-mounted, presented itself to the conquering Yankees. Brown brought himself to the US commander, Chamberlain, I think, brought his horse to its knee and touched his toe with his sword, then surrendered the sword, which was returned to him. The men in their ranks stacked their arms and surrendered their colors and The War in the East ended. Johnson surrendered on April 26th, once commemorated in most of The South as Confederate Memorial Day. The last Confederate field command, Stand Watie’s Cherokee Brigade didn’t surrrender until May. The last Confederate flag was struck when the CSS Shenandoah surrendered its colors in Liverpool in November after evading the US and British fleets across the Pacific, around the Horn and through the Atlantic. And then it was over.