New Day At Appomattox
by John Paul Strain
Spring showers had brought new life to the Appomattox countryside, and the morning of April 10, 1865 found General Robert E. Lee in his tent preparing for the new day and a new beginning. The day before had been a sad one for Lee as he had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant and the Federal Army.
Shortly after 9 o’clock, word came to General Lee that General Grant had ridden over from the courthouse to meet with Lee, and had been stopped by Confederate pickets. Chagrined that his pickets had not shown proper respect to the commander of the Federal Army, Lee quickly threw on a military overcoat, and mounted Traveller. From a distance Lee saw a white flag and the familiar US flag, and quickly galloped over to meet Grant. Grant was accompanied by a number of Federal Generals including Major General Phillip H. Sheridan.
Lee lifted his hat in greeting as Grant did the same and the two shook hands. After a moment of greeting, the other officers attending Grant politely withdrew just out of earshot in a semicircle around the two great commanders. The purpose of Grant’s meeting was to establish peace, and end the ﬁghting across the whole nation. Grant wished Lee to use his inﬂuence with other Confederate armies to end the war. Lee politely said that he could not advise the remaining Confederate commands without ﬁrst consulting President Jefferson Davis. Grant understood Lee’s position and did not attempt to persuade him. The meeting lasted about half an hour.
As Lee prepared to bid farewell to Grant, several of the Federal Generals asked if they might be allowed to go into the Confederate camp and visit some of their old army friends. Lee immediately gave his permission, and a new beginning of cooperation and healing for the nation began.
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