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tv   The Civil War  CSPAN  December 24, 2015 3:12am-3:49am EST

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[ applause ] on c-span three.-- c-span a live look from the appomattox courthouse national
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historic park, if the site where 150 years ago, confederate general robert e lee surrendered his army to union general ulysses s. grant, effectively ending the civil war. we will be live from the park for the next three hours as the commemoration continues with reenactments of the gun stacking that took place on this day in 1860 five when more than 22,000 of general lee's infantry troops turned over their weapons and battle flags. we will bring you the sights and sounds of the ceremony throughout the coverage and later in the program, you wi hear remarks from historian david blight who will talk about the legacy of appomattox. we will also give you a chance to call in and talk with him and elizabeth varon from the university of virginia. we are joined by two men who played a starring role in the surrender ceremony you just saw. ulysses s. grant and robert e lee. general grant is portrayed by
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kurt field and general lee by thomas jesse. you want to invite you to be part of the conversation. here's how to do that -- call us at the numbers on your screen. at c-spantweet history and you can also join us on facebook. saw moment our viewers just on american history tv, gentlemen, what were you thinking as general lee wrote away? guest: sadness. i knew how much they were suffering with the surrender after they had fought so hard for four long years. i felt it was almost anti-climactic. one of the things i noted was the silence. there were no guns, no candidate
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in, no shouts, no battle sounds. the silence was a sound we had not heard for four years and it approached the eerie. , as we watchedee that site just moments ago, you seemed to pause for a moment before mounting traveler. what was going through your mind? guest: at that particular moment, i was concerned for my horse. we were putting the bridle on and i removed the forelock from under the bridle but what was going on in my mind for most was how i was going to tell my soldiers they were surrendering and be able to do it, to actually say the words and let those men that had followed me for four years, sacrifice everything, marched in the rain and the mud from petersburg and finally tell them you are surrendered and it is over. that is what was going through
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my mind. host: a reminder to our american history tv viewers, we will be here for the next 20 or 25 minutes talking to ulysses s grant and general robert e lee. we will talk to them both in and out of character and we invite you to do the same. let's go to donald in jacksonville. i don't hear that. let's continue on and we will get to your calls in just a moment. general lee, in the days before the surrender on april 9, i had read in your memoirs you had a severe headache. but the moment you received the news, you became instantly well. guest: the headache immediately disappeared, never to return again. i expect it was because of the
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great relief for the note i had just been given from general lee -- it was the first time he had used the word surrender and i knew the end was near. -- theief was torment us relief was tremendous. the stress of pounding through the virginia countryside to stop the killing. host: what was the final straw in your decision-making, general lee, for calling for a meeting with general grant? guest: i said to general gordon forward -- i sent general gordon forward to see if we could break through. general corps of, general long street and myself decided we were going to give it one more time and see if there was any way out and stop when general gordon sent me the message back that the way was blocked by infantry, i knew right then it was time to meet general grant. i think we have donald on
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the line from jacksonville. go ahead. what i am trying to find ,ut is after all these years the confederacy was and is today still flying the flag around this country, which is kind of to blacks and people who fought and died to represent the union. why is the confederate flag -- it is a bit offensive. if a swastika was flying around in somebody's yard, you know what is going to happen. is 2015 and i have a couple of granddaughters coming -- i don't want the confederate flag lying around. it is offensive. can you comment on that? host: any thoughts on the meaning of the flag?
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-- guest: i have no comment on that. there was an unfurling of the flags. guest: what i should point out is the flags were treated with reverence by the army of the potomac and by general grant and that is good enough for me. call is fromt travis in florence, alabama. can you hear me? i'm travis from florence, alabama. i had several relatives in the army of northern virginia. my question is hadley been able to link up with johnston in north carolina, could the war have been turned in the south's favor?
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guest: no. host: why not? guest: the south was fought out. the south had done more with longer and less than any army in history. they had worn out. able torally been escape my forces, he could not have lasted any longer than days. his men were starved, out of ammunition, barefoot, many of defeated in were everything except spirit. had generally 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. host: generally? guest: i had a duty to try. i had a duty to my government and my men, but in retrospect, general grant is absolutely right.
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by the time i would reach general johnson, there's no telling how many men i would have had left. men every mile because they were exhausted and starving. they could not 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 it into the valley. host: how many days in advance to begin to devise the terms of surrender? guest: at our last meeting on the river queen with resident lincoln, general sherman, admiral david dixon porter and myself, we asked the president. we said it's almost over, what then? president clinton said let them up easy. that was my plan. -- president lincoln said let them up easy. he said get them to stop fighting and lay down the arms and leave the politics to me, general.
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i began thinking about what i would write in the surrender terms and i wrote the most verbally economic document i could write because i did not want to put a jot or tittle in that document about which anyone could debate, argue or harangue. i kept it simple and if you will read it, as i'm sure you have, it is strictly military. there is no politics in it. of a reunion a bit for you. what were your impressions of general grant seeing him with a first-time? that first, address general? was nervous. i met general lee in the mexican war, but even then, he was the great captain lee with a long shadow. lieutenant, second not long out of the academy. generally was quite the distinguished man. he was born to be the war hero
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he obviously is all stop when i met him in the parlor of the maclean house, i was disheveled, muddy as you find me now, and general lee was resplendent in a uniform that had never been more before with a jeweled presentation sword. i was nervous. in fact, and chatting with him, i tried to break the tension and general lee had to cough and say we must be about the business we are here to attend to. i have been trying to recollect what i looked like from the mexican war. good memory but i remember in the incident of meeting him, but it was briefly and i cannot recall a single feature. shaven atas clean that time. i had not yet grown a beard. when heore importantly,
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arrived, i was relieved he was there and i was not concerned with his appearance. i was concerned with mine because i did not know what the terms would be. there was a possibility i would be his prisoner. i am a gentleman and you make your best appearance. our wagons had been burnt and the uniform i wore, as new as it was an fine as it was was the last uniform i had. host: we are joined by kurt here atd thomas jesse appomattox on the 150th anniversary of the surrender of the army of northern virginia. we are taking your calls here on american history tv. joe in new york, you are on the air. caller: i have a question for general grant. the surrender ceremony, and general lee appeared in an immaculate uniform, as he
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appears to be wearing right now because he thought he would be come that she would become general grant's prisoner. i would like to ask generally did he consider he might be arrested and charged with the crime of treason? thank you very much. guest: that did come up after the war and i communicated with general grant, pointing out i .ad a parole politically,me and there was a 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. concerned you had not had a chance to speak to confederate president jefferson davis? guest: i communicated with him,
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but i don't know if he received any of my communications will stop the lines of communication were bad and jefferson davis had gone on ahead by rail. i sent him the message, letting him know the situation and i felt like i had a duty to my soldiers. once that happened, it was my decision. to jay and miami, florida. caller: i'm calling from miami. my question dealt with the same topic -- which was surrendering before president jefferson. thatpeople have said perhaps he should have waited for his commander-in-chief to surrender, that perhaps, he took that step further than he should have. i know his men were suffering
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greatly, however, is he still convinced it was the correct situation? absolutely it was the right decision. i was the commander of the army and commander-in-chief. there was no way to communicate with general davis. i made the decision and it was the right decision. decision tode the allow union rations to be distributed, but your own rations were starved from the chase as well. guest: they were hungry because we had been on the run for several days and pursued the army of northern virginia. theve general lee provisions i had kept him from getting. it was his rations i gave him. host: magnanimous of you to do
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some -- to do so. thought so. his men were starving. mine were hungry but we had been in a headlong rush to get into this place. for the first time, i saw a phenomenon that there were no stragglers in my army. andll knew the end was near every man was pushing to be at the front. no one wanted to be at the rear. host: a question from facebook. what happened to the weapons that were turned in by southern soldiers on this date, april 12, 1865? guest: they were destroyed. you allow the generals officers to keep their sidearms. issues -- important the important question is not has slidd, but what
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off the pages of the history book into the binding is i have spoken to making the document as economically verbal as possible. i had let the officers keep their sidearms and horses, but the reason i did that was not criticized by was leading a bunch of rebbe's loose in the countryside, i knew they were men of honor and i knew they would stand by their pledge. what the significance of that is is that by letting them keep their sidearms, i let them keep not aswords, so confederate officer had to surrender his sword to the victor. --liminated injury eliminated insult to injury. they were able to keep their sword and take them home and hang them over the mantle. it is american history tv live from appomattox and store it park with general ulysses s
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grant and general robert e lee taking your comment that calls for the next 10 minutes or so. you --ng to ask most of i'm going to ask both of you to step out of character for a moment. tell us how you came to play general grant on this day. guest: i'm a retired career educator. i hold a phd from michigan state university. 28 yearsrincipal for and i have been a memphis police officer and professional drummer. i was a hostage negotiator for the memphis police department. i like to refer to it as a defunct professor. i'm an adjunct professor. i teach sociology. electrician.
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i'm a superintendent for electrical contractor in tampa, florida. i have been a reenactors and i was 18 years old. i'm not a living historian, i am a actor. host: what is the difference? guest: as a reenactor, you are showing a battle, showing an event. that is a reenactor. persong historian is a and they are being that person. if you believed i was robert e lee and you believed he was general grant, then we did living history exactly like it is supposed to be done. the reenactors are like the general -- like magellan over here that are going to have to surrender their weapons. not reacting it, they are creating it.
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as far as the details behind the scenes, there's not a lot of difference. guest: we allow people to part the curtains of history and look down that long cord were of time and see things as they really were. host: did either of you ever expect to be here? guest: never. if you have told me this two years ago, i would never have believed it. host: we have jay on the line from miami, florida. go ahead. just a reminder, make sure you mute your television and listen over the phone. we will get back to his call in a moment. what happened in the days after appomattox? what did you do? in my i was here headquarters. i decided i would follow my troops out to surrender their weapons.
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general gordon and general long street convinced me that would not be a wise move. headquarters at my until the last day. i was taking care of correspondence, making sure the men did get rations. i was waiting on kernel marshall. he was one of my assistant generals and he was the one who usually wrote my orders. host: general grant, how quickly did you notify washington of the surrender and how long were you on the battlefield or in appomattox? guest: i took care after the surrender and general grant left me a myriad of minutia with all the details i had to handle.
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sometime that day, my staff reminded me, general you should telegraph the secretary of war and tell him to surrender. i telegraphed him. 10, ixt morning, on april wanted to speak with general lee again and i wrote my horse 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. we had a 30 minute conversation and in that conversation, i asked him to order all confederate armies to lay their weapons down. he do mirrored and said i cannot do that without speaking to the president. he did not know that president davis was pleading to georgia. i told him there is not a southerner underarms who will not obey your order. disagreed with him, i respect him for.
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he said that is a political matter i cannot deal with. i can only deal with my army to surrender. get one more call from illinois. this is mike from metropolitan illinois. dr. fields, where there any particular documents or records that were the most helpful to you in preparing what obviously -- you have a comprehensive knowledge of the background of general grant. were there any particular documents that were especially helpful? no, there worked. i had been giving the documents quite a bit of thoughts and it is a good question. it gets to the root of the matter. i did not have any templates or patterns to follow. notident lincoln did dictate to me what he wanted to say, so it was up to me. i've refer you to the surrender
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i wrote for the terms for general lee. it is simple, it is straightforward, and i did not or, in aragraph document that you could argue about. before we went on the air, you talked to me about traveler, the horse portraying traveler -- he has an interesting background. >> he is from liberty north carolina and is owned by copper top farms, it's a farm for therapy animals for one did veterans and children. founder -- they have wounded veterans in particular help with wounded veterans. besides looking exactly like traveler -- the horse's name is actually sues. when they tell me that, i was not sure i wanted to get on him. he is a great horse and helps
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injured people, which i think is fantastic. a before, we the were at the mclean house and i zeus, traveler, and he stood there for three hours without moving while people took photographs. he is a remarkable animal. host: it looks like we have a few animals -- if you collars left. good afternoon. hello, pittsburgh, are you there? we will wait to get the caller on the line. back into character for minute. there were many surrenders to come. did general role grant have in those surrenders? guest: i went back to washington
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that to find what was costing the government millions of dollars a day. i'm an old quartermaster and i knew it was costing. general sherman took the surrender of general eggleston johnson in north carolina and gave essentially the same terms i have found generally. they castigated general sherman for the generous terms. they wanted a court-martial and i was dispatched to north carolina in a special train. i never got off the train because i didn't want anyone to casti was there and to
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aspersions on general sherman. i had sherman come to me and i told him this is not going to work. you are going to have to write another surrender, a stiffer one. he did not like it, but that is sherman. he went back and offered general johnson and other surrender option which he had no choice to accept. host: generally, now that your role in the war is over, how much do you know of the subsequent surrenders in north carolina and texas? guest: not very much. i was trying to follow the information but i was in seclusion in richmond with my family. what information i did receive was various letters and they were telling me what has happened. , therginia, and particular lines of communication were destroyed. information about general johnson was slow in reaching man and by the time it got to me,
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general grant had already taken care of that. i was not even aware of that. step out of character for a moment and as we look back 100 50 years, what is the lesson today for people here at appomattox? what is the lesson to be learned from 150 years ago? i think the lesson we should take away from this is no matter what the issue or topic, cooler heads must ultimately prevail. we must find a compromise, we must resolve issues, as difficult as it may be because cooler heads were allowed to and plunged us into a war that did not have to happen. guest: i would agree with him on that. i would also like them to take away from this place the sacrifice on both armies, for four years and what it took to
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come here, but in particular, how general grant handled the surrender and how much that made a difference in healing of the country. call let's get another from new york. i just wanted to extend my gratitude to these gentlemen portraying lee and grant. it's an awesome portrayal and they perform a great service to our nation. i'm aware this has to be a lot of effort, studying and a lot of financial cost on her part and i just want to send gratitude because it's a wonderful service and they are doing an awesome job. thank you, very much will stop -- thank you, very much. guest: thank you. host: how far in advance to do know you would be here for these events on the 150th? guest: i knew three years ago.
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i was portraying general grant and my first trip up here three serviceo, the park indicated to me they wanted me to be the grant for the 150th. guest: i would be here last august. i had a pretty good idea i would be here last april when i came to meet everyone and the park service met me. i had about one year to prepare. if you had asked me a year and a half ago if i would be here, i would never imagine such an honor. this is sort of a highlight -- what do you have on tap? i will probably do reenacting. i will do living history where i can, i have been requested at various laces as i know general grant -- berries places as i had
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general grant will. continuing toon portray general grant because i have no political ambitions at this time. ultimately, very soon, i'm going to start portraying president grant as well as general grant. host: what sort of events will those be like? guest: living history events, a lot of educational, professional leadership organizations, such as that. people want to know how grant did what he did, how president grant did what he did. became amemoir best seller after he died. generally, did you write your own? guest: i did not write memoirs. i asked various officers for paperwork, but i only lived five years after the war. host: wheeling have one more
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caller left on the air on american history tv. is somebody there? you are on american history tv. caller: i would like to know -- that for you, general lee, that you took it very bad when you lost the war. cope and what did you do after the war? cope from theo to loss of the war? the first thing i did was get with my family in richmond guessok some time of i you could say seclusion with the family. friendsrichmond for a farm which was far away from the people who wanted to come and pay their respects to me. hands in theut my
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arms of god and said show me what to do next. host: general grant, you were in washington after the war. guest: in august of 1866, they created the rank general of the army and i got my fourth star. i was the first general of the army and was general in chief until the republican party approached me after andrew johnson's term was nearing an end and requested i run. i did not want to run, but i felt the party that had elected president lincoln had come to me and asked me and i should answer the call, so iran for the presidency. host: general ulysses s. grant portrayed by kurt fields and general robert e lee coat -- portrayed by t
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