Monday, May 29, 2017

Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, 5/24/2017

The attempt of the Southern states to create a separate nation during the Civil War ended at this location on April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered his men of the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant, general in chief of all United States Forces. The Confederate Troops turned over their flags, stacked their weapons, and began the journey back to their homes just three days later. 

Clover Hill was a small settlement along the Richmond-Lynchburg State Road in the early 1800s. The county of Appomattox was formed in 1845, and the town was renamed Appomattox Court House and became the county seat. The courthouse (1845) is the Visitor Center today of the National Historic Park. 

Displays at the Visitor Center honor those who served here. Various exhibits tell of the events and people involved in the surrender here. 

film is shown in the 2nd floor theatre that provides a great summary of the events of the surrender. Grant and Lee had both skillfully led their troops against each other in the final year of the Civil War. Both men of dignity and integrity, Lee's army (9,000) were literally starving and were surrounded by Union forces when Lee surrendered under a flag of truce. The two men met at the residence of the McCleans and worked out the terms of the surrender. 

Lincoln was adamant that the war would end without humiliating the confederacy and Grant followed these instructions. He asked only that the Confederate troops pledge not to take up arms against the United States. Officers were allowed to keep their side arms and anyone who owned a horse was permitted to take it home with him. Below is Lee's copy of the terms of the surrender. 

The documents were signed in the parlor of the McLeans home. The white table below is a replica of the one where the terms were signed. The original furniture is on display at the Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington, DC. The vases on the fireplace are original and were in the same position on that fateful day in April, 1865. 

The surrender began the reunification process. President Lincoln's son, Captain Robert Todd Lincoln was present at the signing of the agreement. 

It took time for word of the surrender to spread to the rest of the Confederate and Union troops. In the following months, surrenders occurred throughout the South.

We toured the rest of the McLean residence that is restored to the period. 

Cooking for the family was done by slaves in the kitchen behind the house

All of the slaves owned by the McLeans shared this house. 

The Clover Hill Tavern was built in 1819 and was the only restaurant, overnight lodging, and bar in the area. 

During the surrender, printing presses were set up by Union solders to produce the parole documents (30,000 were printed). The terms of the surrender were that when a Confederate soldier signed a parole, they were permitted to return to their home peacefully. The document basically stated that the holder would not bear arms against the United States. The parole also provided the bearer with free transportation (rail, boat, etc.) and rations on their journey home. 

The Tavern Kitchen now serves as a bookstore for the historical park. Nearby is the building used for overnight lodging.

Next to it is a building that housed the slaves that worked at the tavern. 

Several other buildings in town included a small attorney's office (Woodson), the Meeks Store and stable.

After the walking tour of the restored village of Appomattox Court House, we drove to a couple of more sites on the grounds of the park. This is where Grant's headquarters were located (southwest of the village). One of the final battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Appomattox Station occurred about a mile from here.

The North Carolina Monument honors the North Carolinians that served with General Lee's Army during the Appomattox campaign. It is positioned where the North Carolina Brigade fired the last organized volley from the Confederate infantry on April 9, 1865. Lee surrendered a few hours later. Follow the trail through the woods to see the monument and the field where the last battle occurred. 3,000 spectators attended the dedication of the monument on April 10, 1905.

We continued the .8 mile loop hike of the Appomattox History Trail to the Raine Monument and Cemetery. The 30' obelisk was erected in 1912 by C. Hunter Raine to honor family members, including his dad, Captain Charles Raine, who was killed in action during the Civil War in 1863. Nine other graves are located in the Raine cemetery (many of them children).

Our final stop was at the Confederate Cemetery. Nineteen (of about 100 killed in the last two days of the war) are buried here. Originally, troops were buried where they died. But in 1866, these bodies were collected and reburied here. One Union solder is also interred in this cemetery. The identities of just seven are known. Most of those killed here were removed for burial at Poplar Grove National Cemetery near Petersburg. 

Near the cemetery is this remaining portion of the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage RoadGrant traveled the short distance along this road to Appomattox Court House where he met with Lee to determine the terms of the surrender that ended the Civil War. 

Just five days later, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated throwing the country into turmoil yet again.

Although I thought I knew about the surrender here that ended the Civil War, I learned so much more by visiting this site. For US history buffs out there, this place is a must-see. It's located about 90 miles west of Richmond and near Lynchburg, VA. For additional information, visit their website at

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