tv Battles of Appomattox CSPAN April 9, 2015 2:33am-3:36am EDT
our tax system and sunday night at 8:00, author susan butler on franklin roosevelt and soviet leader joseph stalin. saturday night at 8:00 eastern on american history tv on c-span3 on lectures in history. university of virginia college of wise professor jennifer murray on several war veteran reunions have changed from the reconstruction era to present. american history tv visited longwood university in virginia for a ceremony on the closing of the civil war in 1865. the program was co-hosted by university and appomattox
courthouse national historical park. ron wilson talks about the terms of the surrender. this is about an hour. >> thank you. it's indeed a pleasure to be here. i think this is the 16th seminar. i think we owe a debt of gratitude to longwood university and to dr. coles and patrick schroder and you ought to give them all a round of applause. [ applause ] how many of you, and there are quite a few of you, have been to the mcclain house at appomattox
courthouse? that makes things rather easy for me. it's time for lunch i believe. one thing that's probably not generally known is that the first offer of surrender didn't come from a letter from general grant. it came from a group of officers that have gathered april 7th and these officers concluded that because the circumstances facing the army that it might be best to suggest to general lee that he opened negotiations with general grant. they selected him as their spokesman. william nelson for episcopalian.
he approached general lee that day. he would not hear that suggestion. he said there were too many brave and good men. general grant and most of the federal forces moved in. general lee moved the army of northern virginia north of the appomattox river. general grant establishes his headquarters at the prince edward hotel also known as the ran randolph house which no longer stands. last night i had the pleasure of staying at the longwood bed and breakfast on high street.
in one of those rooms this one happened to be occupied by chris hawkins. it's a desk along with other furniture. the furniture came from general grant's quarters in the prince edward hotel. on one of those pieces he wrote out a letter to general lee. it would turn out to be the first letter asking for the surrender of the army of north virginia. it was written about 5:00 that afternoon. was a bridges had been burned he had to take a route over the wagon bridge underneath high bridge. he didn't reach general lee until about 9:00 that evening. he had some difficulty getting his messages through the mines but was eventually able to do
so. general lee received the message, read it, didn't say anything. he then handed it to james long street. james long street had won very cryptic and brief reply not yet. the army then would pick itself up out of the entrenchments and mover further westward. we knew that road would take them to a place called appomattox courthouse. when general lee read the letter he requires a response. his response was he didn't think it was time to surrender the army but what terms did general grant propose considering its surrender. general grant, of course, then would write a reply but this wouldn't reach general lee until the next day on the 8th. meanwhile, general lee had
progressed to within a very short distance of appomattox courthouse when this second message got to him. it quite simply said that general grant proposed to accept the surrender of the army of northern virginia by the men laying down their arms and to be exchanged until properly exchanged being paroled. in other words they could go home. this is where the situation gets a little different. it's near midnight. general lee has written a letter of response and the letter of response reaches general grant at his headquarters along the roadside near shepherds. the general is undergoing a severe migrationegraine headache and nothing could seem to ease him including the staff officers that are playing an out of tune
piano. general grant only understood stood two songs. one was yankee doodle and the other one wasn't. the message that reached him was a much serious nature. general lee changed the entire nature of the correspondence. he approached general grant on a prospect of peace surrendering all confederate forces. this is something that has a little prior history to it. on march 2nd general lee had written to general grant and it said in that message sincerely desiring to leave nothing untried that may put an end to the calamities of war, i propose to meet you at such convenient time and place as you may designate with the hope of upon interchange of views it may be
found practical to submit to the subject of controversy between the two belligerents a convention of the kind mentions. he proposed a peace settlement. message was sent to the war department. general grant received the following response written by the president but signed by secretary of war. it says general grant, the president directs you to say that he wishes you to have no conference with general lee unless it be for the copitchlation of general lee's army or some military manner. he instructs you to say you're not to decide discuss, confer upon any political considerations. such questions are the president holds in his own hands and will
submit them to no military conference or convention. he suggested the meeting take place at 10:00 on palm sunday morning wean the two lines of the forces. general grant would not respond. he would not respond until the next day of april 9th. as we know, general lee had held a council war at his headquarters the night of the 8th around midnight and it was determined that if they were successful in breakthrough the federal blockage they would continue down into campbell
courthouse and pennsylvania county and down into the hillsboro region. if unsuccessful then lee, general lee was to be notified so that flags and troops could be sent out. we know that the attack was not successful. general lee now would order that flags of truce be sent out along the lines. this would be about 10:00 in the morning of the 9th that this was done. general lee would ride through general long street's lines which we seen on the previous maps or to the north of appomattox with the hope of meeting general grant. general grant was not there. general grant had taken a ride now from his headquarters across country with his staff and escort cavalry the find out what the general was doing in front
of the army. the ride in excess of 24 or 25 miles. so was general lee to do at this point? he attended the meeting. battle had gone badly against him and federal forces were closing in very tightly around him. if you orwere general lee, what would you do? he didn't hesitate. he dictate a third letter in which we proposed the meet general grant on terms previously offered of the previous day. this was taken into the adjacent federal lines but was told that general grant was not present. that an attack had been ordered and could not be stopped. he asked him to read carefully the instructions he asked to send to general grant.
they did so and came back in response from general mead who was present. he was will riding in an ambulance but he respopdnded indicatinge inging received message and they would try to locate general grant so action could be taken. he also allowed for an armistacis to take place. no one occupied it. it was a neutral location between the contending forces. general grant was eventually located by lieutenant charles and general lee's message was brought. an actual fourth letter was sent by general lieu.
another thing that's not generally known yet appomattox during this time of armistice that a group of officers both federal and union met around the courthouse building. they were there for about an hour and a half. it was in essence a west point. gordon was there. wilcox was there. sheridan was there opinion chamberlain was there and many other officers. they liberally shared contents that were brought out. there was an agreement made. the agreement was between general orde and general long longstreet there would be no
movement of troops unless the other counterpart was notified. everyone kind of settled down in place. general lee who had written through longstreet's lines came back to where the four of his army was now located near the appomattox river. you can imagine how tired he would have been after three nights on the road, three days responsibility. the losses he had sustained. he took his place. sitting on a bunch of fence rails in sweeney's apple orchard. he would await the arrival or
response from general grant. as i mentioned, general grant was located. the message was delivered. he dated his response 11:50. he entrusted his response to lieutenant william key dunn. they found general lee resting at apple orchard, delivered the message that general lee should select the site of their meeting and general grant would approach when he arrived. general lee then sent forward actually he mounted his horse traveler. he had with him his secretary lieutenant colonel charles
marshal and courier by the name of william mckey dunn and the two federal officers. they approached the river the appomattox using a fjord. he sent forward colonel marshal with the headquarter's aid to go into the village and find a suitable meeting location. as i mentioned the village was very much of a neutral location. marshal left an account of that ride. he said general lee told me to go forward and find a house. in the community there was the courthouse. no one is on trial.
besides, what day of the week is it? it's sunday. it's locked and it's closed. he continued on where we could meet general grant and of all people whom should i meet, mcclain. i'm sure everyone or most of you probably heard of wilmer mclain. i rode up to him and said can you show me a house where general lee and grant could meet together. he took me to a house that was de dilapidated and had no furniture in it. it was a structure that stood out in front of his two story brick home which has an english basement. the house originally been built in 1848 probably as a tavern. this small building that the colonel was taken to was
probably an ancillary structure a small building no longer in use. i told them it wouldn't do. then he said maybe my house will do. he lived in a very comfortable house. i told him i thought it would suit. i had taken the orderly along with me and i sent him back to bring general lee and babcock who were coming on behind. i went into the house and sat down and after a while they came in. colonel babcock said he would meet general grant and turn him in when he came along. general lee babcock and myself sat down in the parlor and talk talked in the most friendly way. the conference took place. he dressed himself in very much
a thoughtless almost new confederate gray uniform at 1:00 in the morning of april 9th complete with leather boots, fine gold spurs fine filled hat, gauntlets presentation sword. when it was acquired why he was so attired. he said i probably have to be general grant's prisoner and want to be my best possible appearance. is this the confidence of man who thinks his men would breakthrough the federal lines or is it reality? what do we know about mr. mcclain and the people that lived in that house? wilmur was age 50. i would consider him an
opportunityist. he married virginia haugh and heavy beverly mcclain who was now four months pregnant. she had five other children living in the house at the time. i'm sure the ladies living in this auditorium would just welcome a bunch of military officers with muddy boots coming into their house unannounced. she brought to the marriage a fine home 14 slaves, 1200 acres of property in one location and an additional 830 in other locations. wilmer was a sugar importer and a wholesale grocer. when he moved into yorkshire he
became a gentleman farmer. it's located in a place called manasas. it was seen fit by general boragard to make his headquarters in mr. mcclain's home. he'll have property at the beginning of the war. being a tradesman, he was close to the south side railroad. he could use this for commercial purposes which had connections in petersburg and lynchburg and
points south as well as north. general lee, when he arrived ascended the nine stars, entered the central hall and then into the parlor to the left of the central hall. he may have noticed above the fireplace a lithograph drawing. it was the interview between george washington and martha. why do we think that general lee would have an interest in that drawing? simply because his wife mary anna randolph was the great granddaughter of martha
washington. lee would be related to the washingtons. he would find he was related to the carters, the fitzhugh's and the randolph's, many of the first families of virginia. report robert's father was henry lighthouse robert lee. unfortunately, his father has a propensity to gamble on speculation and land which did not materialize. when robert was 6 his father
left for barbados and robert would not see him again. he had two relatives that were signers of the declaration of independence. richard henry lee and francis lightlee. from his mother, the family moved to arlington at this point away from stratford his birthplace. from his mother he learned moderation, self-control, court see, gentility, honor self-devotion. the fact he was in this room was duty.lf-devotion. the fact he was in this room was duty. he asked only one other officer to come that did not and that was walter taylor. he had gotten married. he had only been married a week.
he declined to come. 1825 he would attend the united states military academy and graduate in 1829 with no demerits graduating second in a class of 46. he would be responsible for building projects of fort monroe and saving the water front in st. louis. he and mary would have seven children, three sons all which would serve in the confederate army and four daughters.
he later would say that lee was the very best soldier he had ever saw in the field. he would be in the military academy from 1852 to 1855. on the 17th of april 1861, virginia would succeed. the following day colonel lee would be offered by frances p.blair junior command of all forces. he would reject the offer. he would resign from the army on the 20th of april and take command of virginia forces on the 23rd of april.
grant indicated they should ride down. there's a vast difference in general grant's background and his appearance which makes this meeting kind of a symbolic one of a division. a division in the history of the country. a division culturally, industrially. general lee is seated behind a small oval top table. he's been there about a half hour. it's the longest half hour in robert e. lee's life. one might imagine since i reiterated all the things that
had taken place in his life and his idol being george washington, the things that he was contemplating. the newspaper reporter traflveled with the staff quite regularly so this was not an unusual situation. grant's uniform, if we can call it that, was quite bedraggled. it was muddy from the 20-plus mile ride. he had no spurs. of course, he didn't need them because he was an expert horsesman. he had no cord on his hat.
he wore no sword. he had the uniform blouse of a private only modified with five buttons. he indicated through what the secretary wore the day before that general lee would surrender on this day. what do we know about grant? we know initially that general lee extended his hand, two officers shook hands. grant is at this point is 42 years of age. general lee is 58.
he's born on the 27th of april on the front tier of ohio called point pleasant. he would move with the family when they moved to georgetown where he spent most of his childhood. his father ordinary personperated a tannery. he was very outspoken, very opinionated and many would call him a know it all. his mother was very gentile. he was born into this world and given a name of hiram ulysses grant. the young boy hated the tannery. he couldn't stand the smell of it. his name was changed when he entered west point. they only had entry for someone
named ulysses. he thought that the boy was named after his mother. he turned out to be an indifferent student at the academy. he had over 250 demerits. he dapts want to go to west point. he wanted to be a math teacher and you didn't argue against his father. he graduated in 1843, 21st of 39 cadets cadets. he was assigned to the fourth united states infantry. he went to jefferson barracks where he soon became friends
with another officer by the name of james longstreet. he would fight in the mexican war. he did not like being apart from his family or his wife. as a result he may have taken up the use of alcohol. april 11th 1854 he was promoted to captain. shortly he was forced to resign on being under the influence of alcohol. the acceptance of that recognize was in the secretary war office. the secretary of war was jefferson davis.
he never shook stories that would haunt him for the rest of his life. in reality he drank very little. he drank only when for the most part separated from his family. he returned the st. louis, had several jobs all of which were failures until finally his father invited him to work in his leather goods store in illinois. he was there when the war broke out. without backing he probably never would have gotten command. he had influence and saw the former captain got an illinois
regimen. from there he went onto achieve great military success. he was ordered to washington on the 3rd of march 1864. on the 9th he was promoted to lieutenant general. i can't think of anyone that went from the street corners, so to speak of st. louis in a leather goods store to lieutenant general in three years. he had promise obviously. on the 12th of march he was given command of all federal forces but he took his position
in the field. the field would bring forth wilderness of pennsylvania, cold harbor petersburg and finally the meeting with general lee. he said he is rather under middle might of a light build light brown hair and short brown beard. his eyes are clear blue. his face has three expressions deep thought extreme determination and great simplicity and calmness.
it was hard to shake general grant. he would always remain waumnin calm. what would entitle him to be here at this meeting? what instructions had he received? how would he know what to put on paper. he met with the president several times. he met him again on the third of april in petersburg. he had what the president's feelings were and his instructions on how to conduct should a surrender take place.
had he had any experience? he had his military experience. i venture to say that no one had more experience at this procedure, military surrender than general grant. he had accepted the surrender of fort donaldson. of course, on condition fall terms. he became known as uncondition that will surrender grant. he accepted the copitchlation on july 3rd 1863.
ss it's not uncustomary for him to smoke excessively. he would consume 20 cigars day. i don't know if he smoked that many or give them away. he consumed 20 cigars. there's no doubt that he probably smoked two release the tensions of the meeting during this whole proceeding. they're first conversation was talk of the mexican war. that wasn't something that they had written about to discuss. it may have been something that general grant brought forward to ease himself into the discussion. did general lee remember general grant? some authors say no. general grant korcolonel marshal
they said general lee did recognize him. general grant had this to say. our conversation grew so pleasant that i almost forgot the subject of our meeting. after the conversation run on this style for some time general lee caught my attention to the object of our meeting and said he asked for this interview for the purpose of getting from me the terms i proposed to get in his army. i said that his army should lay down their arms not to take them up again during the contiuance of the war unless duly and properly exchanged. he said he so understood my letter. then we gradually fell off again in a conversation about matters foreign to the subject that had brought us together. this continued for some little time when general lee again interrupted the course of the conversation that the terms ought to be written out.
general lee called for his order book. he sent for three copies. he began to write out the terms. his order book was like a modern copy machine. he could write out an order and have two copies below it which he could tear out and give to other commanders if he voiced the same order to be replicated so the time would not be wasted or mistake be made in recopying. the terms were written in draft form stated that the officers would be paroled until properly
exchanged. that the arms, artillery and all the symbols of war public property would be surrendered. that the officers could retain their side arms and personal baggage and horses. general grant detailed one of his staff officers, lieutenant cornell parker to copy the terms into ink after they had been gone over briefly and several words interlined. while this is taking place, general grant said what general lee's feelings were i do not know as he was man of much dignity with an impassable face that wasn't impossible to say whether he felt glad that the end had finally come or he felt sad of the result or too manly
to show it. whatever his feelings were, they were concealed from my observation. my own feelings were sad and depressed. might add did cornell eli parker was not a citizen of the united states. he was a seneca indian. grant met him when he was superviesuper supervising the courthouse. he had gone onto study law but not being a citizen, he couldn't practice. he had become a civil engineer. grant recognized the man for his ability not for his birthright.
before parker began to copy it into ink grant had handed the draft to general lee for him to read and make any noted corrections. there was a correction to be made. the word education changed had been left out and general lee asked for permission for the word to be included, which was granted. colonel parker completed his task. the terms were handed to general lee. terms as written, however were written in ink.
that was provided by colonel marshal. the federals hadn't brought any ink with them. mr. mcclain's ink was gummy. it will have terms of surrender drafted by a gentleman who is not a citizen of the country using ink from the opposing side. general lee wanted him to draft a letter of acceptance. completes one form but is unacceptable to the general and he requires a second effort. he does not have a lot of paper so he must borrow paper from the federal officers. if you're looking for symbolism in this meeting it's all over.
if this country is going to have to come together and proceed into the 20th 21st 22nd century, it must use the resources of all of its citizens as well as the physical resources available to them. general grant will then rise and it will be an introduction made. general lee will note that seth williams is there. he was at west point if 1852 to '55. he also note colonel parker in saying it was good to see one real american here.
you know what colonel parker said, he said general as he shook his hand, we're all americans. if there's anything that's symbolic with what happened in that room it's really not about the military events, it's about the feeling that came from it. the feeling to bring about a reunification of the nation after a very, very bloody contest. thank you for your indulgence. this meeting lasted until about 3:00. general lee would depart and general grant would depart. other events occurred at appomattox but they are beyond the scope of the surrender proceedings. are there any questions?
[ applause ] >> duo have time for a few questions. i see a gentleman standing over here in the aisle to our left. if you can give your name and ask your question. appreciate. >> yes, sir, my name is jim morgan. i'd like to ask you a question not about appomattox but something you mentioned that occurred in general lee's life earlier and that is the supposed offer of the full command of the union army by francis blair. if you could address the controversy over that based on the fact there was no real record of the conversation that blair is maybe not had the authority to do it and on the fact that lee at the time, was the most junior colonel in the united states army having only been a full colonel for a couple of months and whether general
scott would have allowed his most junior colonel to be jumped over the commanders. >> there's about three questions there. the offer as we understand it was made by blair junior, not the senior. it's probably made on behalf of the president who didn't want to be turned down if that were the case. probably wanted to feel out general lee's real intentions and his patriotism in this case. beyond that, we don't know the details. we know that lee rejected this offer if it were made because he went over to see scott right there after and told him that he had this offer made. he had rejected it and scott
said he was making the biggest mistake of his life. lee was held in great regard by general scott. as i mentioned he was one of the best soldiers in field in the army. he had considerable experience not if the field but in staff positions. whether or not he was jumped over other people made to difference at this point. they were looking for the right individual to handle this. in fact, one thing that grant when he became a lieutenant general insisted upon was that he did not have to follow the order of seniority to promote individuals. you'll find that after general grant becomes commander in chief that there are a number of positions that filled over and above people of older rank. the other part of your question.
>> you mentioned some wonderful symbolism between grant and lee. could you add anything perhaps in the same vain symbolism between grant after the surrender and his relationship with john singleton mosby. >> i know very little about his relationship with john singleton mosby other than mosby became a supporter of grant and grant a pointed him to some foreign post. i know that mosby never attended but one reunion in his life that i'm ware of. i don't know interrelationships between the two. i also know that longstreet became a supporter of grant after the war for which he paid dearly for that support.
that probably doesn't answer your question but that's all i know of their relationship. >> richard feller. with all the people at the surrender ceremony perhaps the one that deserved to be there the most wasn't george bean. any explain for that. some people say it's because of the logistics of him getting there. if you can get communications to lee three time it seems to get to the army of the potomac commander to participate. >> that's true. general immediate was not there. general grant was a very determined individual and he'd like to do things very much straightforward. he didn't like to make def
deviations. hen when he came to see general lee he came directly from the field and he didn't send back for or try to get addition that will uniforms nor did he ask others to accompany him to the meeting. he happened to meet general sheridan on his entry into the village. i don't think there was a particular slight of general mead. the two did work together. maybe not as closely as some would like for that to happen. they did work together but i don't think there was any real intent except in the mind of other writers who happened to write about that after the war. he also didn't include general humphre humphrey's or general wright in that meeting. i think he did intend to bring his taf with himstaff with him because
he wanted to have observation that had taken place. these officers could attest to what had taken place. they would be observers. i don't know in that answers your question. what happened was mead wasn't there. he was in an ambulance at the time. he was sick. he had a miraculous recovery after the surrender was announced. by 4:00 that afternoon he have seen riding up and down into the racks and actually went over to see general lee. grant had also a miraculous recovery. he received general lee message, the headache he had disappeared. maybe that was the reason. yes. >> my name is susan. i wanted to get back to the house. i understand that after the
surrender ceremony that a lot of the furniture went with the troops. i've often wondered was this voluntary on the part of the mcclain's or were they somewhat forced into giving up this furniture? >> i think they had as much choice in the matter as they did in allowing all of those people in their house. i just happen to be prepared for that question. there was a number of items that were removed from the house. they were removed involuntary by the mcclain family. they would also contend later on that nothing was for sale itself. americans have been americans of
all generations like souvenirs. you probably bought a lot of them out here today. who wouldn't like to have the table that general grant used in drafting the terms. general sheridan thought so. he paid $20 in gold for it. i'll say that many of the items are still at the park in their collections. many are at the museums. the ones that are larger pieces were borrowed back in the 1950s so they have the same appearance as the originals. general sheridan gave the piece to general custer. it was kept infh and later given to the smithsonian. this is the first time we have a national currency during the
civil war. it could be used anywhere. it is in the chicago historical society today. grant's swivel back chair. he sat in an office type chair that was swivelled with a leather back on it. that was obtained by general henry capehart. he was in custard's division too. that is in the smithsonian institution. lee's cane back chair was obtained by colonel edward whittaker. it's in the smithsonian. the candle sticks that were on the table the marble top table was obtained by brigadier sharp. the silence witness is one of the more interesting pieces in
the room. it was a rag deal owned by an 8-year-old girl. it has been left in the parlor. when the federal officers came into the parlor they saw the doll and started kind of passing it among themselves. it was later taken by captain thomas w.c. moore. the family later returned it. you can see it in the park collection called the silent witness. the vase mantles. mantles on the vase. they remained in the mclean family and they were later given to the park and can you see those mantle vases on existence. that was kept in the mclean family and it is in the -- the original is in a park collection in the mclean parlor. and the secretary bookcase in the room is now in the smithsonian and that was kept in the mclean family. those are the only known
furnishings that were in the parlor. there was no interest in the rest of the house because it had nothing to do with the surrender proceedings. even though gem given had his headquarters there afterwards for a-- for a few days. so i hope that answers your question about the furniture. afterwards for -- for a few days. so i hope that answers your question about the furniture. >> thank you, ron. >> you're welcome. >> join american history tv for live coverage of ceremonies marking the 150th anniversary of the surrender at appomattox. in april of 1865 general robert e. lee met url grant in the ville amg of appomattox courthouse and sur rendered her army ending the civil war. we'll be live in appomattox in virginia on april 9th and 12th
as historians including the university of richmond ed heirs reflect on the last battles and reflect on the last battle of appomattox and bring you re-enactments from the key moments of 150 years ago and open our fine loans to take your calls foragers david blight and elizabeth varron. here on sunday on american history tv on c-span3. >> this sunday on q&a, senior editor andrew ferguson, on the gop candidates for 2016 and what voters are looking for in a candidate. >> they want somebody who looks like he's stood up for them. i'm amazed now to the degree to which primary voters on both sides are motivated by resentment.
and the sense of being put upon. and those people really don't understand us. and here is a guy who does understand us and he's going to stick it to them and that happens on both sides. hillary clinton will give her own version of that kind of thing. and i don't think that was actually true 30 years ago. i mean resentment has always been part of politics obviously. but to the degree that which it is exclusively the motivating factor in republicans and democrats. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and 7:00 p.m. pacific on q&a. american history tv visited longwood university in virginia for a seminar on the closing of the civil war in 1865 it. was co-hosted by the appomattox