tv American Artifacts CSPAN April 5, 2015 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT
top 1% of their states were in washington dc as part of the united states senate youth program. on c-span q&a. >> join american history tv on april 9 and 12th for live coverage of ceremonies marking the 150th anniversary of the surrender at appomattox. in april 1865, confederate general robert e lee met union general ulysses s grant in the village of appomattox courthouse and surrendered his army of northern virginia, effectively ending the civil war. we will be live from appomattox national historic courthouse as historians reflect on the last battles and explore the aftermath and legacy of appomattox. we will bring you reenactments of some of the key moments from 150 years ago and open our phone lines to take your calls for
authors. that's live april ninth and 12th here on american history tv on c-span three. >> each week, american artifact takes viewers to archives museums, and historic sites around the country. on april 9 1865, confederate general robert e lee met union general ulysses s grant village of appomattox courthouse and surrendered his army of northern virginia. while confederate armies were still active in the field, the surrender of the southpaws most potent remaining fighting force effectively ended the civil war. next, we tour appomattox courthouse national historical park to learn more about the events surrounding that day.
this is the oldest building this was called clover hill before became appomattox courthouse. this county was one of the later counties formed and they will take part of the counties in form appomattox county in 1845. this county have about 9000 people, more than half of them were enslaved working on the tobacco farms. as of 1850 about 120 people lived here in appomattox courthouse. folks would stay at the clover hill tavern. the courthouse holding was built in 1846. there was a jail which burned. interestingly enough, when people come to appomattox courthouse, they learned in their school books that it took
place at appomattox courthouse. what it did, and the town of appomattox courthouse, but the surrender meeting took place at the home of wilmer mclean. this is where the most significant events took place in the spring of 1865 with lee's surrender. now we are going to walk down the stage road and discuss the battle of appomattox courthouse on the morning of april 9 that effectively and in lee's retreat. we are standing on the historic
stage road which was a critical part of lee's retreat. many people wonder why generally was headed toward appomattox courthouse after leaving toward leesburg. the idea was he is going to concentrate his army at amelia courthouse and head south and link forces with general johnson in north carolina. general grant was a bit different from former generals and locked the line of retreat and thus had to continue further west, searching for rations and hoping to get around grant's army. next place generally could gather supplies was about three miles from here at appomattox station. supplies had been brought over to feed general lee's army. everything the army needed -- hundreds of thousands of rations, new uniforms, equipment -- that is where they are headed after leaving cumberland church
on the night of april 7. general lee's advances led by confederal reserve artillery and they go into camp about one mile from medex station. general custer's silvery advances upon that station and captures the supply and then encounters rubin lyndsay walker's reserve artillery and fight for about four hours the battle of appomattox station. a unique battle in the civil war because it is mounted calvary attacking unsupported artillery. no infantry involved. the battle lasted about four hours from the afternoon until after dark. he captures thousand prisoners and 200 wagons.
the advance of custer's men continue to break down in the village here where they are repulsed at the eastern edge of the village. federal calvary form on the ridge west of town will stop there is a council of war with james gordon, fitzhugh lee, asking should they surrender or should they try to break out? it is determined they will try to break out on the morning of april 9 stop general gordon brings his troops through on the morning of april 9 and files off into these fields. there's a federal calvary brigade about 1200 men holding the ridge of their. general gordon has about 5000 men with about 4000 calvary
under armistead lawn. the attack begins a little after 7:30 and they successfully drive the federals off that ridge. hard marching infantry from the 24th core and a division of truth -- division of troops from united and from the 25th score had covered 30 miles and they had come up and closed the road act out and begin to push gordon's men back into the appomattox river valley. federal troops are coming from the south. further from the south and east is general custer swinging around the confederate left flank. behind general lee, about four miles from here is general meade with the army of the potomac. white flags are sent out to stop the fighting and over the course of the week of fighting, lee's
army had dwindled from 60,000 men to 30,000 men here at appomattox court house. he had lost half his army and determined it was time to meet with general grant and surrender his forces. they did that here on the afternoon of april 9. we are now inside the parlor of the home of william maclean, the appomattox county resident who move here in the fall of 1862. general lee and general grant corresponded over three days and after being effectively surrounded, generally wished to have a meeting to surrender his army. lee sent charles marshall into the village to find a suitable place to meet and encountered wilmer mclean. he sat here at this marble top
table and general grant also arrived at about 1:30. he sat at the oval wooden table. the two had met each other in the mexican war and that was their first discussion. they talked about the mexican war for quite a while and the conversation got quite prevalent that -- got quite was in. generally reminded general grant the nature of the meeting and asked general grant to put his terms in writing. grant sat down and said his terms in writing for general lee, that confederal officers would be paroled and allowed to go home. he would allow officers to keep their side arms and personal baggage. general lee later requests that his men can keep their horses. rand initially says no that that is not under terms but thinks about it for a minute and says he understands most of these men
are small farmers and can use those worse is. he will not rewrite it into the terms but will allow the confederate forces to keep their horses if they owned one. general lee said this would have a happy effect on his army. the terms are red over by generally and given to general grant. general grant calls for theodore bowers to write out the terms and ink. bowers is nervous, botch is the job and turns it over to healy parker. he is a senokot indian and they say he had the best penmanship in the army. he writes out the formal terms for general grant. general lee's staff are -- staff officer is marshall and they exchange those letters. that is how the surrender is effective. they both do not sign one document.
over the course of the meeting general grant introduces officers of the staff to generally. some of them general lee knows very well like seth williams who is lee's adjutant. another interesting aspect is there was a young captain named robert lincoln. another interesting participant there was a witness to this ceremony. this ragdoll of lula mclean. it was sitting on the couch when the officers came in and they moved it to the mantle during the meeting. some of them took the doll off
the mantle and began tossing around. the doll was taken home as a war souvenir. in the 1990's, the family wanted the doll to come back to appomattox courthouse and it is now on display. the meeting lasted about an hour and a half. it was said to be a gentleman's agreement. general grant was in generally in agreement with the terms and ordered rations to send to be feed -- sent to lee's army. general lee, goes out into the yard, calls for his worse, traveler, and writes back to the confederate army bearing the news of his surrender full top the gentleman had owned the house, was originally from alexandria and had married a wealthy widow from manassas and
that's where he lived at the time of the first major engagement there. after the second battle of masses, they decided to move south to not conduct business in northern virginia stop he got into sugar speculation. he was not a farmer, as many people would put out stop this was convenient because he could access the south side railroad and make trips to the south to deal in sugar. he owns a tie -- on the house of the time of the surrender at they are not able to keep up with the payments on the house in the house is sold and the family moves back to northern virginia. after the house is sold, the raglan family owns it for a time, but in the 1890's, a group of union veterans have a plan. they are going to start a retirement community for union soldiers here at appomattox courthouse and buy up land west
of the village. they are unsuccessful selling off these blocks to union veterans and decide they are going to dismantle the house in 1893 and move it to washington dc and create a civil war museum out of it. parts of the house are stacked up in the yard and there is a financial panic in 1893 and the firm goes bankrupt. all the supplies outside the house either start to rot away or are taken as souvenirs. the park service when it takes over the facility in 1940 determines the one thing they are going to do is rebuild the maclean house. the same company that took the house apart got the bid to rebuild the house. so it has been rebuilt on the exact location.
there are a few bricks to the hearth and basement. we are back in front of the clover hill tavern which was owned in 1865 by wilson hicks. i'm going to take you inside and tell you what important events took place. we are now inside the clover hill tavern. part of the agreement was generally's army would be paroled rather than sent to prison camp. they met a second time on horseback on the morning of april 10 and general lee requested some safeguard for his
men going home because generally he only surrendered one army, the army of northern virginia. richard taylor with troops in louisiana, herbie smith out in texas. his soldiers would be passing through these areas where soldiers could be fighting. they don't want the soldiers to be sent off to prison camp or sent to the army because they had been given were not to serve anymore. these soldiers as they are traveling home passing through confederate lines could be considered deserters and executed. general grant thinks it's a good idea to have something for these confederal soldiers to go home. a corps commander says he has a portable prison press with them. to come work these presses around-the-clock until they
shrug off the parole passes for the confederate soldiers. that's how we know how many confederate soldiers actually surrendered here to stop general george sharp was put in charge of the process and the men printing those passes worked on printers similar to this and kept those passes going. they would have to ink the printers and strike off roles that would look like this. they would be hung and dried and were cut into individual parole passes that were sent over to the confederate army where the officer and their command would fill in the soldier's name and sign the parole. that was made into a master list that was turned over to the united states forces and that's how we know what confederate soldiers were paroled here. each would take their pearl pass and grant entitled them to
receive rations from the united states forces should they encounter and could use it for transportation on ships and railways. we have seen cases where soldiers are issued shoes and clothing on their way home, so it's a valuable piece of paper to have. it was one treasured by the confederate soldiers because it was the room -- physical, physical proof that soldier had made it here to appomattox with general lee, he did not desert the army. next, i want to take you to the place were generally in general grant met on horseback. it is the area where the confederate army came up to the formal surrender ceremony. behind me is the appomattox river valley where the confederate army encamped april 8 through april 12 whenever the individual soldier happen to leave.
at the top of the ridge is where generally has headquarters was located. there was a second meeting the between generally and general grant here at appomattox. a met four times during their life, once during the mexican war, here where we are standing on april 10, and a last time when general grant had become president, lee pays a courtesy call at the white house. but that is where they met on horseback on april 10. grant said he wished to meet with general lee one more time before he headed to washington and asked generally to surrender all the confederate armies in the field. there were three other principal armies in the south that had not surrendered. lee declined to surrender those armies on that occasion, saying he could not consult with jefferson davis to know his wishes. many people who come to appomattox don't realize the war
did not end at appomattox. effectively, it does because once lee's army surrenders, the others follow suit. general joseph johnston surrendered at the bennett place to union general william sherman. jefferson davis was captured on may 10 and andrew johnson declared the war over on may 10, just a month after the surrender here at appomattox. there was still kirby smith with the army in texas and his official surrender is not until june 2, 1865. the surrender at appomattox was a multi-day process. after leeann grant met, they appoint commissioners to work out the details of how they surrender will take place. that is done by the
commissioners on april 10 and the confederate cavalry is set to surrender their sabers and carbines, the artillery, and the bulk of generally's army surrenders on april 12. over 22,000 men and i will take you to to the road where they surrendered now. we are once again standing on the richburg/wichman stage road. the signals were the last artillery shots were fired on the morning of april 9. also is the home of george pierce, the county clerk. he had a special guest for dinner general jocelyn kj -- general jocelyn chamberlain.
over the course of their dinner conversation -- chamberlain has the lee-grant meeting site all the way up to the maclean house. his men are out here for several hours before the confederate approach and start leaning on the rifles, talking among themselves. as the confederate troops approach, general chamberlain calls his men to attention. they straighten up and called out shoulder arms. he's got about 4500 men lining the road on the north and south side and is presenting this loop. general gordon at the head of the confederate column calls on
his men. they come up a division of time and face front, stack their arms and turnover their flags. that's one of the hardest things for those confederate soldiers. giving them up symbolize the end of the war. the confederates would counter march, go back to the appomattox river valley and would put everything in line and reform. there are eight or nine divisions that came on this morning into the afternoon. very emotional and touching but simple on both sides. they returned to their camps and were allowed to start their journey home. the war was over for those soldiers. now we will go to the park
visitors center where we have our museum and i will show you the special objects in our collection. we are now in the park visitor center museum where i will show you a few of our most compelling items on display, including this original painting of the surrender seen. it is the most iconic painting of the surrender. but it does have inaccuracies. leeann grant never sat at the same table and grant at the time was a three-star general not for stars as in the painting. the artist was born in france and emigrated to richmond, virginia and was living there prior to the war. grant set for him twice. the park service acquired
painting in 1964 four $1250. that was collected from locals and school kids here in appomattox county. what i would like to show you next is the first truce flag sent out to federal forces carried by captain robert sims. brought this towel in richmond and said he paid $20 or $40 confederate money for it. he was given the flag to carry out to stop the advance of custer's calvary. throughout the events of the day, it ended up coming into the possession of a staff officer of custer named whitaker and whitaker presented it to custer. over the years, libby custer would cut off pieces of the flag
to give out as souvenirs to people who are favorable toward her husband. this piece is the camp table used during the commissioners meeting on april 10. generally in general grant appointed three commissioners each. lee appointed william nelson pendleton, james long street and they went to the tavern to have the meeting but said it was a bear and cheerless place, so they repaired to the maclean house. there was no furniture left in the room because the tables had been taken as souvenirs after the meeting on april 9. this is our display on the apple tree.
what is the apple tree? it is one of those myths about appomattox and lee's surrender. why is it a myth? because the event that a put -- the event that supposedly to waste there wasn't as it seems. lee and grant had been corresponding for several days about the possibility of lee surrendering his army. on the morning of april 9 when lee was finally ready to surrender his army, he sends a message to general grant but general grant is moving his headquarters. we's message catches up with him and he has to dispatch men to ride ahead to make the arrangements to meet with general lee. he dispatches orval babcock to ride ahead and meet lee. they find the resting under an apple tree by the appomattox river.
the forces are on the hills behind this apple tree and see this federal officer talking with general lee under it. lee dispatches lieutenant colonel marshall to find a place to meet and then eventually lee, babcock, and done right back to the village. the next time the confederate soldiers see generally, they learn they have surrendered. they mistakingly assume the federal officer talking to him under the tree was general grant, so they went over and started to cut the tree down for souvenirs. before long, federal troops came over and asked them why they were cutting down the tree. the confederate soldier said this is the tree were general lee surrendered to general grant will stop the federal soldiers that i want to get part of that apple tree to and went to work doing souvenirs out of the apple tree. by that night, all the routes had been dug up in there was nothing but a hole in the ground where the apple tree stood.
many visitors will come through bringing pieces of the apple tree which have been -- several of them which have been donated to the park are on display here. the apple tree myth was believed by many soldiers at the time -- it was dispatched when he wrote his memoirs. one of the most moving pieces in our collection is a letter written by charles miniter road. he was a staff officer for fitzhugh lee. he joined the army may be against his parents wishes. as a federal infantry close down the stage road, sealing off his line of retreat, he decided he
would try to escape with what calvary he could. did not know his men were going to be allowed to keep his horses. then a bullet struck leung man knocked him off his horse. he looked at him and said he was a dead man and penned the note to his jacket to let his father and mother know of his death. he pulls out a piece of paper and write a rather moving death letter to his mother and says my darling mother, i am dying, but i have fallen where i expected to fall. my causes defeated but i do not live to see the end of it. in all things, i must see his will be done. my greatest regret is to leave you and the rest of the dear ones.