tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 27, 2015 3:45am-4:00am EDT
spiri them. they were defeated in everything except spirit. but had general lee been able to break loose from my forces it would not have prolonged the war and certainly would not have changed the outcome of the war. >> general lee. i. >> i had a men duty to try. i had a duty to my government bsolut and myel men. but in retrospect, general grant is absolutely right. by the time i would reach general john sob, there's no very m telling how many men i would have left. i wasild anng losing men every mile because they were exhausted and manag they were starving. they just they couldn't go any further. if i had managed to escape general grant here i'm convinced he would have caught up with me before i made excite terms the ovalley. >> how many days in advance did you begin to device the terms of surrender? >> at our last meeting on the
river queen with president he presi lincoln, general sherman ver, w admiral david dickson port enand clinton myself, we asked the president in talking, we said, it's almostc2ávthat over. what then? and then president lincoln said, let them up easy. so that was my plan. president lincoln also indicated to me, you get them to stop neral. fighting and lay down the arms and leave the politics to me, general. so i began thinking about what i would write in the surrender terms, and i wrote the most verbally economic document that i could write. because i did not want to put a jot or did l in that document about which anyone could debate, argue or harangue. i kept it simple. if you'll read it, it's strictlyat wer
military. no politice f in it. >> what were your impressions m general lee of seeing general grant for the first time. you both fought in the mexican war. >> may i address that first was the general? >> of ptcourse. yes. >> i was nervous. i had met general lee in the mexican war but even then he was the great captain lee with a long shadow.ished i was a second lieutenant not long out of the academy. general lee was quite the distinguished man. he was born to be the warrior that he is. n when i met him in the parlor of at had the mclean house, i was word. dishevelled and general lee was in a uniform that had never been worn before with a jewelled h presentation sword. i was nervous.i trie in fact, in chatting with him, o trying to break the tension, general lee finally had to cough
and say general, we must be about the business that we are here to attend to. reco >> yes. >> general? >> that was quite true. a i had been trying to recollect what i had looked like from the mexican war. i do have a very good memory. i remember the incident of meeting him but it was briefly and i could not recall a single feature. >> i was clean shaven at that time. i had not grown a beard. as r >> moreel importantly when he arrived, i was relieved that he was there and i was not d not concerned with hiskn appearance. i was concerned with mine because at that time i did not know what the terms would be. there was a possibility that i would be his prisoner. i'm a gentleman and you make your best appearance. also, our wagons had been burnt. and the uniform that i wore, as new as it was and fine as it was, was the last uniform i had.
>> we're joined by thomas jessee and curt fields here at appomattox appomattox. we're taging your calls here on american history e tv. joe in new york, you're on the air. >> caller: yes, i have a neral question for general grant.ppeare at thed surrender ceremony in the n mclean house onow april 9th general lee appeared in an immaculate uniform as he appeared to be wearing right now, because he thought he would be arrested and charged with the crime ofco treason? thank you very much. >> that did come up after the war and i communicated with general grant pointing out that i had a parole. i made sure i had one. i had gone home and i did not o
raise arms. politically there washast aed call to have me arrested and tried for treason. i wanted to settle the matter and i communicated with general grant and the matter died. had >> were you concerned at all that you in terms of the settlement, hadn't had a chance to speak to confederate president jefferson davis? >> i had communicated with him. i don't know if he received any of any communications.ion you can understand that general grant after me, the lines of communication were bad. president davis had gone on ahead by rail. messa i didn't really know where he ituati wason located. i sent him the messages letting him know the situation. and then i felt i did what i -- my i had a duty to my soldiers. and once that happened, it was my decision. mi >> let's go back to our callers. jay is in miami, florida. welcome. >> caller: hello. yes. i'm calling from miami. the >> yes, jaye. >> caller: my question dealt with the topic that general lee just talked about, which was ve
surrendering before president rhaps he jefferson, jefferson davis did so. some peoplet say perhaps he should have waited for hi ste commander in chief to surrender, that perhaps he took that step tly, earlier than he should have.ever, is i know that his men were suffering greatly. however, looking back on it now, is he still convinced that it was the right decision in. y >> yes,it absolutely.deci it was thesi right decision.and i was a commander of the army ief. and i was also commander in chief. and there was no way to communicate with general davis. i made the decision and it was made the rightth decision. >> general grant, you made the decision to allow your rations, the union rations to be distributed to union troops but your own troops were fairly we starved from the chase as well.
>> they were hungry because we had been on the run for several days in pursuit of the army of northern virginia. actually u gave general lee the provisions that i had kept him from getting. >> it muz my rations. gn >> it was his rations that i gave him. i was magnanimous of you to do so. >> i thought it was at the time. we also gave him some of our rations. his men were starving. mine were hungry but we had been in a head long rush to get to this place. no and for the first time in the k war i saw a phenomenon that nea there were no stragglers in my army. we all knew the end was near and every man was pushing to be at the front. no one wanted to be at the rear. >> a question for you from facebook. john landford wants to know what happened to the firearms that were turned in by southern
soldiers on this date as a matter of fact, april 12 1865. >> they were destroyed. they were destroyed. >> and you also allowed the tant general's officer to keep their side arms.the impo why was that? >> the important issue in that question is not what i said but what i didn't say. because what has been lost over time, what has slid off the i h pages of the history books into the binding is that i've already spoken to making the document as economically verbal as possible. i had let the officers keep as their side arms and their horses. but the reason i did that is notg a bunc because -- as i was criticized, i was letting a bunch of reds loose with weapons. i knew they were men of honor and would stand by their pledge. what the significance of that is, is by letting them keep their side arms, i also let them
keep their swords. so not a confederate officer had to surrender their sword to the ed insul victor. i eliminated insult to injury. they were able to keep their swords. so they man were able to take them home and hang them over the mantle. >> it is live american history t here with general u lee see k. grant and general robert e. lee taking your calls and comments for the next 20 minutes or so. mbt and a pacific 202-748-8901.sk both i'm going to ask you to step outer of character for a moment. curt fields, tell us your background and how you came to play general grant on this day. >> i'm a retire educator. i hold a ph.d. in education fromcer michigan state university. i was a principal for 25 years,
taught for eight years, been a hostag memphis police officer professional drummer was a adjun hostage negotiator. i like to refer to it as a defunction professor. i'm an adjunct professor at the university of memphis.rician i teach sociology. >> an' thomas jessee? >> i'm an electrician, been superintendent for ana electrical contractor in tampa florida. and i've been a reenactor since i've been 18 years. not a living historian a living reactor. >> what's the difference there. we hear that term used by different people.reenac what's the difference? >> as a reenactor, you're showing a battle. you're showing an event, reenacting the event. a living historian is presenting as a person and they're telling
that person -- they're being that person. is if you believed i was robert e. lee and you believed he was neral general-- grant we did living history like it was supposed to ap beon done. the reenactors are the gentlemen over here having to surrender not their weapons. they're not particular people.as they're recreating an event. es >>t: as far as the details behind the scenes there's not a lot of difference. >> we allow people to part the curtains of history and look down that long corridor of time and see things as they really t: were. >> i.d. either of you ever expect to be here? >> never. >> no. if you had told me this two ve years ago, i wouldn't have believed it. >> i think say is w on the line, miami, jay, you still there? jay from miami, florida. go ahead. i think -- just a remind are, jay and other callers, make sure you listen your television and
listen over the phone so you can get the answer.s call you still i there? [ inaudible ] >> we'll get back to his call in a moment. let me ask you in the days after appomattox appomattox, general lee, what did you do? >> i was her e at my headquarters. at first i decided i would follow my troops out to surrender their weapons. i would be with them. general gordon and general rters longstreet convinced me that would not be a wise move. day they would take care of it. i stayed here at my headquarters at my tent until the last surrender. the last day. i was taking care of ting on correspondence making sure the men got rations, finding paroles. i was waiting on colonel marshal -- >> he was your aid? >> he was a general and he was the one who usually wrote my orders. so colonel gen marshal from
baltimore wrote general order number nine. >> how quickly did you notify washington of the surrender and i how long were you on the took battlefield or in appomattox rather after the -- a >> i took care after the surrender and general lee left me a myriad of nigh muminutia. it was later that day that my him. staff reminded me that i would telegraph and tell them of the surrender are. and i said yes, indeed. and i telegraphed them. the next morning on april 10th horse i o wanted to speak with general lee again and i rode my horse e saw out to meet him. he did not know i was coming. when he saw me, he got quickly mounted and rode out to meet me and we had about a 30-minute conversation. and in, m to that conversation i asked him to order all confederate
armies to lay their weapons out sp down. and he demurred and said i real hi cannot do that without speaking to the president. he did not know, nor did i, that ple that at the moment we were speaking president davis w u your fleeing to georgia. i told him there's not a southerner under arms who will respec not obey yout r order. and what i disagreed with him, i respect him for it. he said this is a political y deal matter that i w cannot deal with. i can only deal with my army to surrender. >> let's get one more call from s mike illinois. this is mike in metropolitan, illinois. like, go ahead. >> caller: yes, this is mike in metropolis, illinois. w what kind of documents, were there any particular documents or records that were the most have helpful to you in preparing what obviously you have a comprehensive knowledge of general grant. were there any particular documents that were especially helpful? >> no, there weren't.n
i had been giving the document t of t quite a bithe of thought. that's a good question. any t it gets toem the root of the matter. i did not have any templates or pattern to follow. i had to write my own terms. president lincoln did not dictate to me what he wanted me to say. so it was up to me. i refer you to the surrender document, or the terms that i wrote for general lee.id not and it's simple, it is uld straightforward.ar as and as i said early, i didn't want a period in that document that you could comment about. >> before we went on the air you and i talked a little bit about farms traveler, the horse portraying traveler. >> he's in liberty oklahoma.