tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 9, 2015 11:06pm-1:31am EDT
surrender --. --. the gentleman who owned the house had married a wealthy widow from manassas and that's where he lived at the time of the first major engagement. he decided to move south he could not conduct business in northern virginia. he got into sugar speculation. he was not a farmer as many people will put out. he got into sugar speculation. and this area was convenient, because he could access the south side railroad and make trips to the south to deal in that sugar. they owned the house here at the time of the surrender. then in 1867 they are not able to keep up with the payments on the house, and the house is sold, and the family moves back to northern virginia. after the house is sold, the ragland family owns it for a time. but in the early 1890s, a group of union veterans have a plan. they're going to start a
retirement community for union soldiers here at appomattox courthouse, and they buy up land west of the village. they are unsuccessful in selling off these lots to union veterans, and they decide they're going to dismantle the house and move it to washington d.c. and create a museum out of it. the house is dismantled. and unfortunately there is a financial panic in 1893 and the firm goes bankrupt. and all the supplies or materials outside 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're going to do is rebuild the mcclain house. fortunately, the same company that took the house apart got the bid to rebuild the house, and they still had the plans so
it's been rebuilt on the exact location, using the original plans. there are a few bricks to the heart in the basement 5,500 original bricks are used on the front of the house. so when you're walking up to the house, you will pass through bricks that were here in 1865. we're back in front of the clover hill tavern which was own the in 1865 by wilson hicks. i'm going to tell you what important events took place in the tavern with the printing of parole passes for confederate soldiers so they could return home. we're now inside the clover hill tavern where parole passes were printed for confederate soldiers to return home. part of the agreement was that they would be paroled rather than be sent to prison camp. general lee and grant met a
second time here on horseback on the morning of april 10 and general lee requested some safeguard for his men that were going home, because general lee only surrendered one aernls the army of northern virginia. there was still joseph johnston in north carolina richard taylor in louisiana and alabama. kirby smith in texas. his soldiers will be passing through these areas where armies could still be mighting. they don't want these soldiers to be picked up and sent off to prison camp. they don't want to beconfederate army. these soldiers could be considered deserters and executed. so general dwrapt thinks it's a good idea to have something for these soldiers to have something to go home. john gibben says he has a portable printing press with him. and a call goes out to men who
had been printers prior to joining the army. and they did these around the clock until they had all the passes. that's how we know how many soldiers surrendered here. general george sharp was put in charge of this process. and those men that were printing those passes worked on printers similar to this. and they kept those passes going. they would have to ink the printers and strike off paroles that would look like this. they'd actually have to be hung and dried. and then they were cut into individual parole passes. these were sent over to the confederate army where the officer in their command would fill in the soldier's name and sign the parole. and that was made into a master list of paroles that was turned over to the united states forces, and that's how we know
what confederate soldiers were paroled here. each soldier would take this parole pass, and on their way home, grant entitled them to receive rations from united states forces should they encounter. they could use it for transportation on ships and railways. we've even seen cases where soldiers are being issued shoes and clothing on their way home. so it was a very valuable piece of paper to have, and it was one treasured by confederate soldiers because it was physical proof that that soldier had made it to the end here at general lee at appomattox. he did not dessert the army. next i want to take you where they met on horseback. behind me is the appomattox river valley where the
confederate army encamped. and at the top of the ridge is where general lee's headquarters was located in april 1865. there was a second meeting here. they met four times during their life. once in the mexican war at the mcclain house on april 9, here where we're standing on april soso 10, and a last time when general grant had become president lee pays a courtesy call on him at the white house. but here is where they met on horseback on april 10. grant said he wished to meet with lee one more time before he headed to washington and he asked lee to sur ep der all the confederate armies in the field. because over at the courthouse the day before he only surrendered the army of virginia. there were three other principal armies that had not surrendered. lee declines to surrender those
armies on that occasion saying that he couldn't consult with jefferson davis to know his wishes, but many people who come to appomattox do not realize that the war did not end at appomattox. effectively it does, because once lee's army surrenders, those other armies follow suit. two weeks after lee's surrender here at appomattox, joseph johnston surrendered in north carolina at the bennett place to general sherman. jefferson davis was captured on may 10, and actually andrew johnson had declared the war over on may 10, 1865, just a month after the surrender here at appomattox. however, there was still kirby smith with the army in texas, and his official surrender is not until june 2, 1865. the surrender here at appomattox was a multi-day process.
they appoint commissioners to work out the details about how the surrender will take place. that is done by commissioners on april 10. and the confederate cavalry is set to surrender their sabres and carbines on april 10, the artillery on april 11 and the bulk of the infantry surrenders on april 12. and i'm going to take you to the road where they surrendered now. we're once again standing on the richmond lynchburg stage road. before me is an artillery piece that signifies where the last artillery shots were fired on the morning of april 9. also in front of me is the home of george pierce, the county clerk. and on the evening of april 11,
1865 he had general joshua chamberlain who had set up his tent in his yard. and at this dinner, chamberlain brought coffee, something pierce hadn't had in well over a year. and over the course of the dinner conversation, pierce undoubtedly learned that chamber land was in charge of the surrender ceremony for the confederate infantry on the morning of april 12. chamberlain has his men lining this road from the lee/grant meeting site all the way to the mcclain house on april 12 at about 5:00. his men are out here for several hours before the confederates approach. and they start leaning on their rifles talking amongst themselves but as the troops approach, they have their attention. they straighten up. and he calls out shoulder arms lift the rifles from the ground to this position here.
he's got about 4,500 men lining the road and presenting a salute. general gordon is coming up returns the salute and calls to his men to shoulder arms as well. they return that salute. the confederates come up a division at a time. face front, stack their arms take off their equipment and turn over their flags. and that's probably the hardest thing for those confederate soldiers, because those flags meant everything to them. and giving them up symbolized the end of the war. the confederates would counter march, go back to the appomattox river valley. in the meantime, they would clear off the road, put everything in piles and reform. there were eight or mine confederate divisions. these ceremonies went on all morning and into the afternoon. very emotional and touching but respectful on both sides. as the last confederate troops stacked their arms on the road and returned to their camps, from the camps, they were
allowed to start their journey home. the war was over for those soldiers. now we're going to go to the park visitor center where we have our museum, and i'll show you some of our special objects in our collection. we're now in the park visitor center museum where i'm going to show you a few of our most compelling items on display including this original painting done by louis guyillaume. it does have inaccurateklaskakccuratecytecyiesinaccuracies. and he was a three star general, not four. guillaume was born in france and
immigrated to richmond virginia. the park service acquired this painting in 1954 for $1250. and that money was collected from locals and school kids here in appomattox county. to purchase the painting. what i'd like to show you next is what's left of the first truce flag september out carried by captain robert simms. he bought this towel in richmond prior to leaving on the campaign. he said he paid $20 or $40 confederate money for it. he was given this flag to carry out to stop the advance of custer's cavalry that were preparing to make an assault on the confederate left flank. throughout the events of the day, it ended up coming into the possession of a staff officer of custer, named whittaker. and whittaker presented it to
custer, and over the years, luby custer would cut off pieces of the truce flag to give out as souvenirs to people that were favorable towards her husband especially after his death at the little bighorn. this piece is general gibbens camp table used at the commissioner's meeting on april 10. they appointed three commissioners each. gibben, charles griffen and wesley merit. lee appointed pendleton gordon. they went to the tavern to have the meeting, but they said it was a bare, cheerless place, so they repaired to the mcclain house where gibbon had set up his headquarters and there was no furniture in the room because the tables had been taken as souvenirs after the meeting on april 9. so gibbons used his table and
had it inscribed after the commissioners' meeting. this is our display on the apple tree. what is the apple tree? it's one of those myths about appomattox, about lee's surrender. why is it a myth? well, because the event that supposedly took place there wasn't what it seemed. they had been corresponding about the possible of surrender surrendering the army. and when lee is finally ready to surrender his army he sends a message to general grant. but general grant is moving his headquarters, so lee's message catches up with him say 11:00 that morning and he has to dispatch men to ride ahead to make the arrangements to meet with general lee. he dispatches lieutenant colonel babcock to ride ahead to meet lee. they find lee resting under an
apple tree by the appomattox river. the confederate forces under general gordon and e.p. alexander's artillery are behind this apple tree and see lee talking under it. lee dispatches his orderly to find a place to meet. lee, babcock and dunn ride into the village. the next time they see lee they learn they've surrendered. they went over and started to cut the tree down for souvenirs. before long, federal troops came over and asked confederate soldiers why they were cutting down the tree and they said this was the tree where general lee surrendered to general grant. they wanted part of it too.
they went to work getting souvenirs. by that night all the root also been dug up and there was nothing by a hole in the ground. and many visitors will come through bringing pieces of the apple tree that their ansister brought home with them. some of them which have been donated to the park are on display here. and the apple tree myth was believed by many soldiers at the time. it was really dispelled when general grant wrote his memoirs. i think one of the most moving pieces in our collection is a letter written by lieutenant charles mennengrove. he was a staff officer for fitz hugh lee. he had joined the army maybe against his parents' wishes. and during the waning fight here at appomattox courthouse on the morning of april 9, as the federal infantry closed down the
stage road sealing off lee's line of retreat, fitz hugh lee decided he would try to escape with what cavalry he could. didn't know his men were going to be allowed to keep their horses. as they turned to ride away, a bullet struck young mennengrove and knocked him off his horse. the surgeon looked at him said he was a dead man, so they pinned a note on his jacket and let his father know of his death. as he's left dying on the battlefield, he pulls out a piece of paper and writes a letter to his mother. my darling mother, i'm dying, but i have fallen where i expected to fall. our cause is defeated but i do not live to see the end of it. i suffer agonies. would to god i could die calmly, but in all things i must see his will be done. my greatest regret in living this world is to leave you and the rest of the dear ones. the younger children will be
more comforting to you than i have been, but none of them will love you more. that is the death letter to his mother. but a federal surgeon named norris with a new york regiment actually finds mennendrove on the battlefield operates on him, removes the bullet and saves his life. so in the end, he doesn't die on the battlefield here at appomattox. what we've covered here are just the high points. there are many more stories, buildings and exhibits to see. appomattox is often forgotten by the american public or overlooked but it is one of the most significant places in history. this is the place where the killing of spy americans to the tune of over 700,000 ended. it's also the place where we
decide we would be one nation instead of two. of the events at the mcclain house on april 9, general grant's generosity to general lee and his men and the events on the richmond lynchburg stage road and during the stacking of arms set a positive course for the nation. and allowed for a stronger country to emerge. please pay us a visit or even make a special pilgrim and to visit our site. you can watch this or other american artifacts programs at any time by visiting our website c-span.org/history. were you a fan of c-span's first ladies series? first ladies is now a book published by public affairs looking into the personal life of every first lady in american history, based on interviews
with more than 50 preeminent historians and biographers. learn what made these women who they were. their lives, ambitions and unique partnerships. the lives of 45 iconic women provides stories of these fascinating women who survived the scrutiny of the white house sometimes at great personal cost while supporting their famous husbands and even changed history. c-span's first ladies is an ill lum mating, entertaining read. for the cover price of just $28.99. with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and the senate on c-span 2, here on c-span 3 we complement that coverage by showing you the most relevant public hearings. on weekends, c-span is the home
of american history tv. the civil war's 150th anniversary, visiting battlefields and key events. american artifacts touring museums and historic sites to see what they reveal about america's past. the presidency looking at the policies and legacies of our nation's commanders in chief. top college professors delving into the past. and films through the 1930s through the '70s. c-span 3 funded by your local cable or satellite provider. like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. next, an event marking the 150th anniversary of the surrender of confederate forces at appomattox courthouse.
after that a tour of the appomattox courthouse national park. 150 years ago, appomattox courthouse in virginia was the site where confederate general robert e. lee surrendered his army to ulysses s. grant. next the commemorative ceremony. university of richmond president ed ayres. lee's departure. this is about an hour and 45 minutes. my name is robin snider, and i being currently the acting
superintendent at appomattox courthouse national historical park. it is my distinct honor on behalf of the national park service and united states postal service to welcome each of you here today on hadthis historic day in our nation's history. this courthouse village stands not just as a symbol of war's end but as a point of departure for a transformed nation. the significance of what took place in mr. mcclain's parlor settled the issue of who would be the victors of the american civil war, but many questions remain unanswered. soldiers echoed their thoughts in letters and diary entries. while letters of union soldiers reflected jubilation, their words also reflected concerns.
in the front lines of appomattox chaplain j.l. morgan wrote a few days later, though the army of northern virginia is ours, still grave questions remain to be settled for which god alone can give the true wisdom and guidance. a confederate ar till rhys henry robinson berkley recorded a diary entry on april 11, after confirming in his previous day's entry that lee had surrendered his whole army. surely the last it24 hours have been intense. thoughts about what awaits my country, my family, my neighbors and myself. and several months earlier,
morgan w. carter, with the 28th united states colored troops expressed his concerns in a letter home. you know yourself that we have been trampled under the white man's heel for years now, and we have a choice to elevate ourselves and our race and what little i can do toward it i will do so most willingly. if i should die before i receive the benefit of it i will have the consolation of mowingknowing that the generations to come will receive the blessing of it. and i think it's the duty of all men of our race to do what they can. the diaries and letters of these soldiers reflect uncertainty but also hope. hope is our central path as a nation. and it is central to the story of appomattox.
when grant offered the confederate soldiers could carry home their horses, their baggage and their sidearms, he fueled hope. when lee declared that his army would not scattered to the countryside to fight a guerilla war, he provided the hope of grant and union soldiers that the conflict would end quickly and with ceremony rather than slowly and with destruction. for slaves appomattox represented the realization of dreams of freedom and fueled new hopes that the path forward would bring them justice and equality. as we gather here on this poe men tus day. as we reflect on this event that played out in this simple village, let us take hope from the events we recall and
strength from the people who lived upon and walked upon this ground 150 years ago. but let us remember too, that the hope of a moment often requires the efforts of generations to realize. in that way we remain active participants in our nation's efforts to realize the hopes and aspirations born of appomattox, 150 years ago today. at this time i would like to introduce to you patrick a. mendonka. a career postal employee we are very happy to have fortunate, to have patrick join us today for the commemoration events. [ applause ]
[ applause ] >> good afternoon. i'd like to first thank the national park service and the postal service for this fine preparation for this event today and recognize a couple of my colleagues. they're here today from the district, the district manager, william english daryl see. ed shaven and our postmaster from appomattox. thank you for being here. i'm tremendously honored to be here representing the u.s. postal service as we dedicate the final two samples of our five-year civil war sesquicentennial series. 150 years ago today robert e. lee surrendered to ulysses s.
grant. effectively ending the bloodiest war americans have ever known. we come full circle with our civil war stamp series. four years ago we began with ft. sumpter. sumpter. the farm of william mcclain was commandeered. after the second battle of bull run, mr. mcclain moved his family to safer ground about 150 miles away to a quiet country town called appomattox courthouse. here, his family lived peacefullile until 1865 when
mmc mmc mclane offered his home for the meeting. it would not have happened if not for a battle that took place about 80 miles to the east the battle of five forks. this battle was a decisive clash to force confederals to abandon their capital and ultimately led to the surrender of the army of northern virginia. today the united states postal service is pleased and proud to conclude its series by issuing two new stamps one that depicts the battle of five forks and one that depicts robert e. lee's surrender to ulysses s. grant. using historic images of these two events, art director phil jordan created the stamps we
dedicate today. the battle of five forks samples features a reproduction of a french artist who is best known for creating the 360 degree battle of gettysburg that first went on display in 1883 and can be seen today at the gettysburg national military park. the appomattox courthouse stamp is a reproduction of a 1895 painting by thomas nast who popularized the donkey as the symbol of the democratic party and the elephant to represent the republican party. in these images, we see the story of america. and remarkably all of this is done on the size of a postage stamp. from this day forward, this image will be carried on letters and packages to millions of households and businesses throughout the united states. on a personal note i experience, and i timely remembered the centennial of the
civil war. i believe it was my first tee shirt that had something on it. it demonstrated to me how exciting the history of our nation is, and how much there is to learn from it. in terms of learning, my daughter went to get easeburg college. my son and wife went to shepherdsburg. so in closing let me state that in issuing these new stamps the united states postal service has been proud to participate in the valuable effort to commemorate and reflect anew on a critical area of our nation's history. so now on behalf of the united states postal service i'd like to ask robin and dennis to come up on the stage and help us unveil the stamp. [ applause ]
today, 150 years ago to this virginia. robert efrnts lee had arrived here about one half hour prior to grant and was already in the parlor awaiting his arriveal. for the next hour and 15 minutes, we will talk about this event, 150 years to the minute after it happened. robert efrnts lee was accompanied that day by chars marshal, one of his aids. ulysses grant was accompanied by a large group of officers, to negotiate and to sign the terms of ser ender. today, 150 years ago to this minute, we are going to revisit that afternoon in the mcclain parlor. >> we remember it in its fabric, assisted by descendants of those who were there that day, but we also look for its n as osesoor larger meaning for our make andnation and its peep. at about 5 minutes after three today.rts after lee departs the house, at about 3:05 we will significantal from co this stain the bells from across this land. the liberty bell will ring at 3:15 this afternoon.the
the bell in boston's old north church will ring at 3:15 as will the bell in the state capital in richmond and the firehouse in chicago and hundreds of schools across our nation. but the it firstfirst of those bells will ring h here. the bells will ring here and across the land for four the minutes. one minute for each year of the war.par we hopets after lee departs this scene at 3:00 that you will stayhe bel with us asl. we ring the bell. and now, we begin. appomattox courthouse. on early 1865, before warle came velers appomattox courthouse was not to unlike other towns.
the tavern stood as it had for on decades. francis meeks ran a store. the he served at village's postmaster and farm cyst.vill one thing wasag different, the county seat. it's an undeniable curiosity that appomattox county was created and des itsuignated the county seat at clover hill.urthou theyse decided to build the jail before they built the e courthouse. once the courthouse opened in 1846 appomattox commenced the distinct rhythm. this court days brought life to this ty to townco once a month as business was conducted to sell slaves, ceedin to selgsl goods, to witness court
proceedings. it's likely and perhaps probable that appomattox's only world famous residents at that time, the banjo-playing sweeney family probably made appearances at court days here prior to the war. several lawyers kept offices in town. >> sheriff hicks went about his business like many other 1865 american sheriffs did, except in 1865 he spent more time rounding up confederate deserters than outlaws. george pierce lived at the yer crossroads near what is today surrender triangle. to louis isabel lived here.ts he was an attorney. another 150 residents lived in villag and around thee. village. beyond were farms, small and ed peo large.pl almost all of them cultivated by enslaved people. slaves were central to
appomattox county.nty. indeed, the slaves who lived andch worked here were worth almost the l twice as much as the land that they worked upon. their hopes, simple frame or log of buildings. it's likely by 1865, many of the men, women and children who e lived in these cabins had heard ion of the emancipation proclamation but the union was miles and miles away from appomattox until april 1865.come >> they seemed to come along once a decade or so.d and wilmer mcclain his wife rived virginia son wilmer junior and young daughter lulu arrived here
in 1863 of the curiosity was surely intensified. while appomattox had experienced war only from apar, the mcclains mids moved here from the midst of it. a close reading of newspapers in in 1861 would have rendered the locals aware of the mcclains. a s inug addition to his pursuits as a he sugar speculator and merchant run. he oversaw a sizable plantation along bull run. a crossing of bull run bore mcclain's name and became the moderately famous during the first major battles of the civil war. two, general beauregard had made mcclain's house his headquarters during the first part of the s repo war. and mentioned it in his report.
wilmer mcclain was no joel sweeney, but he arrived in appomattox with a tinge of fame.a wilmer mcclain had a complex relationship with the war and confederacy. the war tangibly threatened his tened hope and hishi family along bull mc run. mcclain's livelihood depended on the confederacy. he did a good business renting buildings and supplying the army with goods and services. he reinvested some of his profits back into the acy, b confederacy, buying hundreds of dollars worth of confederate bonds. in early 1862 when the depa confederates departed northern virginia, so did the mcclains. at least in business. he sent his family and some of his slaves aawayway for security's
it sake. then he decided to leave it all together. the decision brought him here toace th appomattox. a place that had seen none of the war and had felt its hardships only through the s home letters home o of the serving ldiers soldiers and the dire news of death by battle and sickness. wilmer mcclain, his family and at least some of their slaves next t moved into the comfortable brick house next to us here.from his there mcclain would disappear from history until april 9, ne 1865. when one r of robert e. lee's untere staffd officers encountered him on the dirt streets of the village at appomattox court house. >> robert e. lee, likely in april of 1865, robert e. lee was1865 the most famous man not just in america but perhaps in the come world. his name has cop tos us in simple
terms as a man of marvel, ct effective simplicity, unaffected dignity and incredible boldness.t ther but there was more to lee than that. was he was deeply analytical and sawtions the implications of his acts even more clearly and even most of his ardent admirers did. he became unshakably chitsed toeably committed to the success of the confederacy. and hean did perhaps more than anyone else to make that happen. in the sidmiddle of 1862 he had stunning military successes, unma perhaps unmatched in our nation's history.ignif every one of them spectacular against significant odds.rought the victories brought him fame . but more importantly, they
brought the confederacy hope. while lee won victories in virginia, around hipm the confederate effort staggered. he claimed a preeminent place in the public mind. he knew vickerystoryies by him and his army served as hope. the psychological impact of his successes, he knew, would far outstrip their military value.t his every decision his every act was purposeful, hoping for a decisive blow that would tip the scale in the confederacy's favor, and that victory would never copme. but still the confederacy and sold lee's army hoped and believed.
another soldier said simply it makes one feel better to look at him. unlike many of his opponents, lee spent little time worrying rals m aboutig what union generals might spen do to thim.figuring instead he spent his time their thinking about what he could do that to union generals and their army. his was a mindve. that craved the initiative, and he was most effective when he possessed it. and that he largely did until he arrived in virginia. >> grant unlike lee, there e would be few profuse descriptions of ulysses sfrges grant, c grant.union commander of all union armies. one veteran officer described hi him as stumpy. unmilitary slouchy, western looking. very ordinary in fact. a private soldier who saw hip in--
him in a review said he rode his horse like a bag of meal. another said he leans forward and toddles. could though the bearing could not have been more different than robert e. lee. by the time the armies arrived at appomattox he might have been only slightly less famous than his opponent. certainly, he had become a central to his nation's aspirations as lee was to the confederacy.resident charles francis adams junior, a ma grandson of presidents conceded grant's awkward ways but saw the man within.emark he is a remarkable man. he handles those around him so quietly and well.
he has a faculty of disposing of work and managing men. president lincoln recognized grant's grant's skills, but especially admired his persistency of ose. purpose purpose. he has grit of a anbulldog. another officer put it in even more colorful terms. he habitually wears an expression as if he is determined to drive his head rough through a brick wall and was about to do it.grant at general grant attached himself to the army of the pa toeotomac in 's 1864. with aith determination that e matched lee's and with an army larger than the army of northern virginia, grant thundered through virginia, through the widerness, spot sylvania in front of richmond and tersburg
petersburg. 1st on april 1, 1865, he imposed disaster on the confederates at five forks. petersburg fell on april 2 and richmond the next day. lee and his army fled west ward, trying to escape.el pas the parallel paths to the army finally intersected here not farcomer, from the home of the newcomer wilmer mcclain. >> the apple tree. p grant first proposed that lee surrender near farmville on ed aro aprilun 7 but lee danced around the issue trying to buy some time time, keeping his options open until all hope was extinguished.sunday that, came on sunday april 9. the supplies lee had hoped would feed his army had fallen into ttox
union hands. union troops blocked the road west of appomattox courthouse. before dawn that morning at the sensing what d the day might where i and knowing that how he port portrayedra himself in defeat and sa mattered a great deal lee buckl dressed in a new uniform and buckled on his sword. at some point, he received the worst news at his headquarters east of the river. his army could not breakthrough the union lines west of the courthouse. on dozens of fields, lee had always had options. but no more. there's nothing left for me to do, he said, than to go see general grant. and i had rather die a thousand deaths. over the next many hours, lee sent three notes through the lines to grant. the last was simple and direct. quote, i ask a suspension of hostilities pending the adjustment of the terms of surrender of this army.
about 10:30 in the morning of april 9th 1865, the guns of the armies fell silent. lee waited for a response under an apple tree along the stage road near the narrow banks of the appomattox river about a mile from where we are. not far from the banjo playing sweeneys' home, all the brothers were dead by now. a staff officer hauled up some fence rails for lee to sit upon as he waited. for a time, the general fell asleep. as he awaited word from grant. just before 1:00 p.m., the union staff officer bearing a flag of truce and a note from grant arrived at lee's apple tree headquarters. grant's note informed lee i will push forward to the front for the purpose of meeting you. it is now my pleasure to call forth patrick schroeder who for 20 years has explored the lanes
the fields and the home places of appomattox courthouse as an historian for the national park service. today, he will carry our story from the apple tree into mclean's parlor, 150 years ago to this minute. >> thank you, john thank you for all of you being in attendance today to remember this important date in our country's history. the union officer carrying grant's letter was lieutenant colonel orville babcock. named william mckee dunn. they found lee resting under that apple tree by the appomattox river. lee had with him only lieutenant colonel charles marshall, his aid to camp of his staff and an
orderly named joshua johns. his other aid to camp, walter taylor had begged off from having to suffer the humiliation of attending the surrender meeting. marshall did not. in fact, lee refused to duck the responsibility himself. attending the meeting in person. the previous correspondence, grant offered to save lee the humiliation anymore that he would meet with anyone that lee designated. lee's father, light horse harry lee had been with washington at yorktown and witnessed what he deemed to be the shameful behavior of lord corn wallaceñr by sending a subordinate to formally surrender the british army. lee would not shame the family's name by transferring the responsibility to a subordinate.
as the small party left the apple tree site and reached the appomattox river, lee's horse traveler stopped to drink. continued into the village behind us. and encountered wilmer mclean who was outside of his house, perhaps looking to have a guard posted at his home. mclean first showed him a building most likely in the front corner of his yard. the rain tavern as it was known but the buildings was unfurnished. then mclean offered his own home, which stands behind us. behind me and in front of you. it was a fine brick home. marshall returned to lee to guide him to the location. the group arrived at the house at about 1:00 p.m.
they left lieutenant dunn at the gate. he was posted there to watch for the approach of grant. joshua johns held the horses of lee and marshall outside the house, probably in this area where this stand is set up. babcock, marshall and lee entered the house, turned to the left and took seats in the parlor. lee's biographer suggested this may have been the longest half hour of lee's life. after riding for more than 20 miles, grant arrived with his staff in tow at about 1:30 in the afternoon. he picked up general sheridan and ord at the top of the ridge in front of you. on his way to the mclean house. in fact, he asked sheridan where
general lee was and sheridan said he is over in that house waiting to surrender to you. and he invited sheridan to come along with him. he said, come on, let's go. when grant enters the parlor, lee met him. there, indeed was a contrast between the two men. first of all, lee was 58 years old, grant was 42. there was a 16-year difference between each -- the two men. and sometimes, i think too much is made about their dress. general lee put on a new uniform that day. said he expected to be general grant's prisoner, and wanted to make his best appearance. general grant was never a fancy dresser. he had just rode over 20 miles on virginia muddy roads.
as you probably experienced today. grant wasn't riding by himself. he had his staff with him. had an escort. third west virginia calvary. none of grant's staff was clean. it wasn't like the mud just stuck to grant and no one else. they were all mud splattered. general lee had put on a new uniform and he rode only about a mile and a mile and a half to this meeting. grant explained that he did not have his baggage with him and he didn't want to makelp general lee wait. general lee said he was glad that grant didn't make him wait and he came to the meeting. they found common ground they began to discuss. grant brought up he met general lee in the mexican war. general lee recalled that he had met grant.
as the generals are speaking general grant's staff files into the room. and after some time of conversation about mexico, lee called grant's attention to the matter at hand and inquired to the terms. grant replied that the terms would be substantially the same as what he had wrote the previous day. lee then asked grant to put his terms in writing. and then lee sat down near a large marble top white table. while puffing on a cigar, grant sat at a small wooden table that had an oval top on it and began writing in pencil in his manifold order book. observing lee as he wrote, grant said he could not discern lee's true feelings. and he said the initial joy he had felt at receiving lee's letter wanting to meet with hill to surrender had dissipated.
and now, he felt sad and depressed. he recalled i felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe. the wishes of lincoln came out in the terms. grant had met lincoln on april -- march 28th and discussed the end of the war. and in effect lincoln had said, let them up easy. after all, these men would become, hopefully, worthy united states citizens again.ñ grant was generous. he was not going to send the confederate soldiers to prison camp. they would beá:siñ paroled and allowed to go home. the officers were allowed to keep their side arms and personal baggage. and their private horses. with the terms written lee would not have to surrender his sword. he would not suffer that humiliation. after reading these generous terms, lee said this will have a
very happy effect upon my army. then he inquired if the enlisted men of the army could keep their horses, as well. grant stated the terms did not allow this. and lee acknowledged they did not. but grant was perceptive and caught lee's anxiety on the matter and he acted quickly. he was not going to make lee beg for this concession. he said to lee that he did not know that the confederate soldiers own their own horses. but he assumed that many of the men were small farmers and they would need toes horses to put in a crop. he then stated he would not change the terms as written but would give instructions to allow the confederate soldiers to take their horses home to work their farms. grant well understood that this meeting taking place in this parlor was about the future of
the country. grant -- or lee responded once again, this will have the best possible effect on my army. lee found the terms agreeable. the task of putting the final draft into ink fell to lieutenant colonel e. lee parker. a native american of the seneca people. who was said to have the best penmanship on the general's staff. parker sat down to write, but he lacked ink. lieutenant colonel charles marshall lee's aid to camp alleviated the problem by producing a box wood ink stand for parker. parker wrote beautifully and the final copy, the final letter which is on loan to the national park here at appomattox from stratford hall is on display in our visitors' center.pu9ñbx marshall was tasked with writing
lee's acceptance letter of the terms. but marshall lacked paper. grant's staff quickly produced paper for colonel marshall. right there in the mclean parlor, you have the inner dependency between the north and the south. while waiting for the final letters to be completed, lee mentioned a grant he had a thousand of grant's men prisoners. mainly captured at the april 6th battle of high bridge near farmville. and lee dropped another rather large hint saying he had no food for grant's men and, indeed, he had nothing for his own men. no food for his own men. grant responded that he could send over 25,000 rations to feed lee's army. lee gratefully acknowledged that that was ample. well drafting the letters
continued, grant introduced some of the officers in the room with him, including general seth williams. general lee knew seth williams well. williams had been lee'sage -- from 1852 to 1855. another person that general grant introduced was a young captain that had joined his staff less than a month earlier. his name was robert lincoln. he was the son of abraham lincoln. he had recently graduated from harvard and joined general grant's staff in mid march and here in the mclean parlor. we don't have a record of how general lee reacted to meeting robert lincoln. the 8-year-old daughter of wilma
mclean left a rag doll on the couch in the parlor where the meeting occurred. and when everyone came in they took that doll and placed it on the mantle. of the parlor. and afterwards, the officer started tossing that rag doll around. and it was kept as a war souvenir by captain thomas moore. they called it the silent witness. the moore family kept that doll in new york. the men would exhibit it as a war souvenir. in the early 1990s the ladies of the family saying the men had passed away they wanted that to come back to the appomattox courthouse, and it's now on the second level of our visitor center museum. once the letters were finished by parker and marshall they were exchanged. the commanders lee and grant did not sign one document.
they simply exchanged those letters. the meeting concluding lee and grant shook hands, general lee went out on to the front porch called for johns and traveler. and once lee mounted, grant who had come out of the house with his staff tipped his hat to lee. and lee returned that gesture and began to ride to his army. upon approaching his men in the appomattox river valley, general lee informed them that they had been surrendered and then told them to go home and make as good citizens as you have soldiers. when general grant left the mclean house, he heard the celebratory firing of muskets and cannon being discharged. he ordered the firings stopped. he said the rebels are our
country men again. when the meeting concluded a path was set for the future of the nation. when the meeting concluded, it meant that after four years of slaughter, americans would stop butchering americans on the battlefield. there would be a lasting peace and a more permanent binding for the nation. lee's letter of acceptance of grant's terms made the emancipation proclamation effective throughout virginia. and i firmly believe and agree with what a west virginia soldier, an infantryman named j.b. cunningham present at the battle on the morning of april 9th 1865 what he wrop home to his family in a letter. the letter stated april 9th is the greatest day in american history.
thank you. >> thank you, patrick. americans have a deep and abiding personal connection with the american civil war. those americans who do not have a family connection are often intensely interested in those who do. we have seen it throughout the observances here in virginia. like wilmer mclean, come to these places. we are honored today, we've ndents welcomed this morning a couple cel of -- a slew of notable descendents. this afternoon we're happy to to feature one of them once again for you, a man who is desended o h from the only confederate officer who accompanied lee into the mclean parlor that afternoon. inoon
dennis big ela is the grate grandson of charles marshall. as i said the only officer to join lee inside the house. on most days mr. bigelow can beund found as a costume interpreter for james monroe, of james monroe county home originally known as highland. we've asked dennis if he would . take a few minutes this afternoon and share with you his wit perspective of having a family ctive connection to a historic event his of suchto magnitude and reach. mr. dennis bigelow. [ applause ] >> there's a chill in the afternoon and you've been wh sitting for a while. so you don't need a repeat of what you've heard so well in in
terms of the particulars of what happened in the mclean house andouse the surrender.rrend so i'm not going to read that out of m grandfather marshall's book. but i think you'd like to hear this. by the punctuated by the loss of the third of the army at sailor's rginia creek, on the 6th of april with conf confederate general gordon being st stopped dead by a sea of the blue coats on the morning of the the 9th, general lee knew his shrinking army could not remain whole. and could not break out of his ou encirclement. but after four years of arduous
service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude the army of northern virginia must yield a must to overwhelming numbers and resources. in the wee hours of the 9th of april, general lee's aide, and fellow staff officers of 's generals longstreet and gordon, took their only refreshment of the day. a little cornmeal gruel they shared from a heated shaving tin. and grandfather marshall noted later that this was our last meal in the confederacy. our next was taken in the united states.r [ applause ]
the agreement of surrender which took place in the mclean house 150 years ago was the culmination of seven letters between general grant and general lee, exchanges initiated ini by grant onti the 7th, and closed by grant on the morning of the n 9th. the number seven, which might be whi seen as the number of n. completions, if not perfection. grandfather marshall noted that here on the 9th of april, at the a littlet village of appomattox when general lee met general grant, the question of the of the undeniable union of the state passed into history, never to be revived. [ applause ]
but what must never be forgotten here he felt, was the conduct here of the victorious americans in blue towards defeated americans in gray.ans specifically marshall said of aid the federals, they love their enemy, and did good to those who hated them.. this great kindness over four days of surrender proceedings, from the 9th to the 12th, from agreement of terms, the stacking of arms, from the conduct of general grant to the gracious spirit of generals chamberlain of t from thehe soldiers of the blue
toward the gray, from the e strong to the broken, and lifting them up, forever molded up charles marshall's life after appomattox making him a peacemaker, and he readily alluded to matthew 5:9 blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the children of god. [ applause ] and so after that, he became the peacemaker among rtthe die-hards he l of the lost cause renewing him ng him as a citizen of the united states of america. and he did that until he died in 1902. before before he died, in 1892
a memorial day, he was asked to give a keynote speech before grant's tomb, that he may carry m on the work of peacemaking, which is our job today.. [ applause ] >> thank you, dennis. it is probably at this moment this 150 years ago that lieutenant colonel parker of grant's staff bing t washe transcribing the final terms of the surrender for grant's signature. a copy of the surrender document, as patrick mentioned, is on display in the visitors center. we met this morning a number of
descendents, including a descendent a great, great grandp nephew of parker, a seneca indian who became somewhat famous for what he did here, but remained legendary for a story told, and has been told earlier today when lee met parker at the conclusion of the meeting by one account lee paused. he flinched, wondered at the presence of a man in the room who was not white. w after he recovered himself, lee looked at eli parker extended his hand and said, i'm glad to see one real american here. eli parker grasped lee's hand in return, and told the confederate general, the general, the man at
appomattox who probably had morex who cause to doubt his status as an b american, being assured of his status as an american by a man hard who was seen atos an american. and eli parker turned and shook his hand, and said, we are all americans this day. and i'd like to just take this take moment to introduce to you just briefly, to acknowledge his presence here, al parker who ist the great, great grand nephew of eli parker of the seneca nation. [ applause ] >> in the seneca language, i wi wish to welcome all who have
gathered today, and give a thanksgiving that you have arrived safely and enjoy your njoy day here at appomattox. a wonderful time tremendous t commemoration, it's a great privilege and honor for me to represent the parker family. and to take part in this this commemorative event. thank you very much. thank you. [ applause ]nt >> i have to say that all of us who work for the national park service, many of us have done many events over the 150th, and i have to say we're in awe at say, the number of people here the thoughtfulness of the people of here, and we thank you very much for being here. we've looked today at the afternoon of april 9th, 1865, in a close-up version. it's time as this meeting in the mee house wound down between 2:30 woun and 3:00 to take a step back,
and to see the events of april 9th through maybe a larger lens. now, we are honored today to welcome dr. ed ayers from the university of richmond. some of you have met ed before. if you were in the sweltering heat heat in manassas july 21st, 2011, if you can remember back that far, he gave the keynote address at manassas on that day. it seems a very, very, very long time ago. he was more recently a driving force behind the outstanding events in richmond last weekend, commemorating the fall of richmond. co dr. ed ayers is one of america's preeminent civil war historians. i don't say that lightly.. he is committed not just to the impeccable scholarship, but to ut to reaching people beyond academia. he roots out stories untold s, he
stories, he amplifies voices unheard, and he constantly ays. challenges us to see events in new ways, always with a sense ofalways historical justice to those who were there.eare perhaps more than any historian y working in the field he helps us afford meaning to events that were almost always far more s far complex and far-reaching than we imagined it would be. he's retiring from his position he's at the university of richmond this summer. a while it's a great loss to the university for sure, dr. ayers hi devoting his time once again to on history is good news tceo the rest news of us. it is my pleasure to introduce you to dr. ed ayers.ha [ applause ] >> thank you.nk y there are indeed very many of ny you. and it's convenient that all of you come labeled. i can see where everybody's from by the baseball caps. so i see everything from boston to mississippi right here a few
rows apart. few it seems very fitting. and i'm. going to take just a few a moments for all of us to think of about what it has meant to this country to have the national park service step up throughout the this sesquicentennial to make these sites available to us ensibl welcoming to us. it's true i was at manassas and it was approximately 800 degrees, is my memory. also had the good fortune of at being at fort sumter the evening before the firing.at getty i was also at gettysburg where it was also hot. last weekend in richmond we had thousands of people come to to commemorate what it was like ate when the confederates fled that city. and the united states colored troops and abraham lincoln came into it. it was one of the more powerful it.
moments of my life to see americans come together and remembering all of our history.icans co i feel very noble by the drums building in the background here. it's been a long war. i think maybe just people in the national park service and i'm . actually going to say i would like to take this moment to take actually thank the folks in the on national park service for their remarkable work. [ applause ]the k. [ applause ] >> i thought it was very characteristic that i turned around to look john in the eye and thank him, but he was already working again. you have to convey the standing ovation.me p
people already standing there to do that. i feel a great sense of responsibility at this moment. what could i possibly say.greaib the meaning of these events thatat we just remembered seem very firmly embedded in our national story.ory. there's a reason all of you came yo here today. today. you came here to see the story that you know. and in it our national understanding.ing, appomattox is america at its best.best the gentlemanly drama on this landsc landscape showed americans to be principled generous and fundamentally decent. the shaking of hands, the refusal of the sword, the role of eli parker, the humility of both general grant and general lee, all of those things tell ustting of that the blood letting of the previous four years in which theequi equivalent of 8 million people and who had died had been an anomal anomaly. the pairedy. stories of
confederate soldiers permitted to keep their horses and guns, and of them then melting away, suddenly civilians, back to their homes, has reassured generations of americans that at americans are different from other nations. we are fundamentally unwar-like we tell ourselves, fundamentally unified. this is the story in our textbooks. this is th e story we teach our ur children. this isn't a story of our best sellers. it shows us our best selves. it elevates soldiers and men of discipline principle restraintline and , courage. it allows everyone to be a hero. even an icon. general grant himself did much to create this version of the story. here's what he wrote in his great memoirs 20 years later, s
dying in upstate new york, desperate to tell the story of te the civil war as he lived it. he recalled this day, that he ordered no firing or salutes orother uttered what he called unnecessary humiliation of confederates. cal they were quote now our they prisoners, and we did not want eir do to exult over their downfall. indeed, as you heard from from patrick, grant's own feelings, quote, which had been quite jubilant at the receipt of lee's letter, were sad and depressed.ed. i felt like anything rather than than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause. then there's just a comma. there's not a semicolon, not a dash, there's not a period, and he completes that same sentence.he com though that cause was, i believe, one of the worst for
which a people ever fought and ever one for which there was the least excuse. so in one sentence, grant is saying that he felt sad and depressed, and he admired a foe who fought so long and valiantlyd and suffered so much, but the cause was the worst for which a people ever fought.'s the that's the feeling that all americans have to wrestle with. from that day on. that's a remarkable sentence. it's self-contradictory. and it's nonse qui ter that has us understanding this event evert ever since. the cause could not have been een worse, and there's no excuse for that fight and yet the man who led the fight had fought long and valiantly. cause now, the cause of course that grant identified was the dismantling of the united states. the uworld'sn most hopeful ful democracy, to create a new n
nation that would beew explicitly slave based onry slavery. it was that severing of the everin cause andg of the fight that established the bargain that the white north and the white south would hold on to for generations. despite the terrible cause, spite grant continued, quote, i do not question the sincerity of the si great mass of those who were great opposed to it. sincerity. indeed who could have doubted bted the sincerity of the confederacy, who had bled itself to death in pursuit of that cause. the confederacy was profoundly sincere. the soldiers were sincere in their longing to lead the united states. sincere in their hatred of what they saw as an invading army.nvadin sincere in their hatred of the abolitionist and black republicans that they blamed for starting the war.
sincere in their belief that they had the best army and the rmy an best d generals. they were never shaken in those beliefs all the way up to to appomattox and beyond for generations. so general grant was right not gen to doubt their sincerity.er general grant's portrayal at appomattox gave the white south what it most wanted, and thought m it had certainly earned. respect. the soldiers were not fooled into fighting, they said. we were not traitors they said.they but were sincere believers that at we upheld the same ideals that other americans upheld.s our own freedom, our own . independence, our own rights. they used exactly the same wordst the sa as the northern counterparts and meant the same thing. as a result the fighting in the confederates' eyes could be and was divorced from the worst
cause for which a people ever fought. they can say they did not fight for slavery, but rather for home e and rightsve.r they would say that three-fourths of them were not not slaveholders, but that all were citizens and soldiers. wer and indeed the root cause that abraham lincoln said that all knew was somehow the cause of the war, was buried deeply most of the time during the war. the confederates never charged into battle shouting about houting slavery. their generals never exhorted them to fight over slavery. based the fact that the nation they fought for was the reality underneath.ity while grant, lee and their comrades met right behind us, slavery was dying elsewhere. it had been mortally wounded n medica across the south during the war
itself dissolving everywhere it could dissolve. everywhere the united states ol army wentve..ates everywhere the slaveholders fled. now, it was dying in the legislative halls in washington where the 13th amendment passed the u.s. senate the day before grant and lee met here.gran it's grant's worst cause not slavery, but rather the destruction of the united states, that too had been decided by the time people met here. the confederacy's purpose had already disappeared with eared richmondwi falling, with jeffersonnd davis fleeing into the southern night, with sherman marching to th she the southern rmspring, with the confederate army scattered and powerless. and despite later fantasies of sies guerrilla fighting, that could lla fi not be a desperate and undisciplined tactic that lee would support, he knew the war was over here. ove the confederacy was over here. ov
all the otherer confederate generals followed his example. though the war, slavery and the sla confederacy ended in the spring of 1865, no one could claim to know what would come next. everything was up in the air when the events that we are commemorating today unfolded. the story has helped us to understand what happened here. for grant, the union victory was one of right over wrong. he believed that his magna nim magnanim ti, no less than his victory, cated vibd indicated frefre society and the union's way of war. his generosity of spirit, he t, intended to say, this is what is the north is actually like. is this is the spirit of generosity that we bring. and she continues, grant's eyes es. were on the future, a future in which southerners chastened and
repentent to join the north in progress. she sees lee acting differently. he believed the union victory was might over might. if you listen to the orders that you just heard, it is that we hear haved, succumbed to superior numbers and resources. t it does not say that we have succumbed to a better purpose. in his view southerners had nothing to repent of and had survived the war with their honor and principles intact. he was intent on restoration, onon turning the clock back as much as possible to the days when virginia led the nation and before sexual extremism alienated the north from the sm south. each man believed he was on the high moral ground. but they were believing that they w they were on different high moral ground.
for supporters of lincoln and the republicans including an ligsists, black and white grant's generosity of spirit spiri proved their moral as well as their material superiority. they were giving the south a ving t chance to acknowledge that it was wrong as well as defeated. for supporters of the of confederacy and for the many northern enemies of lincoln and his party, on the other hand, n the lee's dignity proved that the south could be restored to its its place in the nation and that whatever t slavery became would change the racial order as little as possible. throughout the war, lincoln's enemies in the north had called for the union as it was, and when lee was surrendering here, he believed that is what he was helping to restore, the union as it was. both the republicans and democrats, the north and the south, claimed victory in this ceremony. th claimed vindication for their cause.
even though they claimed different things.th now, it was no accident that lee and grant grew farther and farther apart as the months and t years passed after this day. the powerful moment we ful commemorate today which seemed to stand outside of the war and outside of politics, became ever more entangled in the messy politics that followed.followe in fact, appomattox became ever appom more elevated in our national imaginations, but not because itcause resolved what would follow, but because everyone could see in it what they wanted. they could see here their highest aspirations.%÷ the white south envisioned nothing like the reconstruction that would follow. they thought that the honorable surrender here meant we thoughte we lost, we're back in the united states, they did not imagine that the united states army would press on with
reconstruction. they could not imagine that more would be asked or demanded of them. they saw appomattox as the end, as a resolution not as the ution, beginning of a more profound revolution in american life. they could not have imagined that the same army that was as gathered here would in two years help oversee the men who were held in slavery for 250 years up to this day would then become voting men in the south and in s america.ou they could not imagine that the enslaved people all around in here and in virginia would be insisted upon as being full citizens in thein 13th and 14th 14 amendments. that is not what they thought they they were surrendering. and they did not believe that did they were undergoing a th revolution in which the north would call the shots in american politics, and public life for generation after generation to
follow. now, many people in the north by contrast saw appomattox as a cessation of armed hostilities but not as a culmination a hosti fulfillment of all that the war had been. they thought merely ending the legality of slavery did not end sp its spirit.at the that the freed people would havee given to be given a chance to make lives for themselves, with law, with education, with an ucatio opportunity to gain property op with a right to the ballot box. and enemies of the south determined it would not be an permitted in h the white house anduse, i congress and supreme court that the it had joined since the founding of the nation. the american south had controlled much of american history up to the civil war. white north said, no longer. we've won the war, we will now run the nation. so grant's generosity of spirit enero was a generosity not only of a general, but of a man who a thought he stood for the future. sto
a future in which the south had the sacrificed its place of authority.ed its in the united states. now, lee and grant privately expressed their profound expres disappointment in each other over the next few years. that was one reason that grant became more devoted to black rights as president in 1868 than he had been on this day in 1865. t he thought that the white south had not fulfilled the spirit of the surrender that he struck here. when he s saw the black codes he s written within months of this time, when he saw the riots in e memphis and new orleans when he saw the ku klux klan rise up, grant said that is not the spirit of appomattox. that is a spirit of revenge.hat's that is a spirit of retaliation.revenge. it's a spirit contrary of what we agreed upon. lee, for his part, burned with resentment, that even though he had surrendered in good faith bringing the war and its faith
purposes to an end, grant and the north continued to press forgrant more and morane in the five years after appomattox. lee was appalled when grant was alled elected president of the united states. he wrote a cousin, our boasted self-government is fast becoming the jeer and laughing stock of the world.ent that's not very long after these t days that those are years that years were filled with a profound reimagining of what this countrywhat might mean. what would it mean if not only t me if slavery were gone, and the north and south were unified but what would it mean if 4 icans, million black americans actually had c had a chance to be full americans. so from lee's perspective, reconstruction was a violation reco of the bargain struck here a here. bargain that would have restoredve things to the closest as they had been in 1861 as possible. now, that's one reason that the th memory of thisat place has not been stable. people did not immediately flock
to this as a kind of shrine that it is today.ay. african-americans celebrated this place first because of the cel role of the united states can colored troops here.colore the white southerners were much were more ambivalent.ivalent. this was not a place that white hite southerners flocked to.herner that's one reason that appomattox did not become a national park site until 1950. park so it takes a long time for t people toi decide that what this place means, and it may not be an accident that it's the wake of world war ii, it takes them that long to decide, yes, this is the place that we want to remember the best thatth america is.ha this is thet place we want to wh remember where america became reunited.er the debates have never stopped. you may not be surprised to knowe that historians still argue about these things. that's because people see in see these events the testimonies to ev american shared greatness, and
testimony to promises unfulfilled. both of those things are real. let me be clear, it mattered enormously that the death and ed the suffering and the chaos a ended here as it ended here. it did matter that the union e army was gracious. it did matter that the confederates went home peacefully. most civil wars as we can see onil war our television sets every day do not end this way. most civil wars end with rampant bloodshed. and while american politics wereerican forever changed after this, hanged outright war did not resume, though many people worried that it would.eople we should be grateful for the accomplishments that happened here. on the other hand, it did mattert that fundamental issues of o freedom, of rights, and of power could not be settled here.
generations of struggle followed, and still follow to an fulfill those rights ford all th americans. i a think that's why we all come here. we come here tos t remind us of how much sacrifice there was to create a foundation on which we kroo can build.tion on that's why today is important. th it's not merely a celebration but a commemoration a remembering of just what was at stake here. and what is at stake here was here a nothing less than the future of he the united states and all the and people who live in it. not an ending, but the beginning of a long journey in which we're still traveling, and that the best days 6 the united states jo lay not behind us, but before us. thank you very much. [ applause ]est
>> thank you, dr. ayers.r. the clock ticks toward 3:00 p.m. as the meeting between lee and eetin grant neared its conclusion the armies waited under flags of truce for whils around you. it's likely after 10:30 that morni morning, not a shot echoed across this landscape. before official word of the ev surrender came out, confederates realized what the silence portended. they had risked everything in ey had their quest for r independence and any chance for recompense beyond pride was gone.a s aou south carolinaian wrote, i cannot describe it. we looked into each other's faces, blank and fathomless despair was written, no one said a word.. our hearts were too full for ere language. we could f only murmur stupidly rmur and meaninglessly the word damn surrender.artil
artillerymen were sobbing, like g children recovering after a a s severe whipping, he said. another said simply, it was the saddest day of my life. o not surprisingly, more than a few union soldiers called it the happiest days of their lives. virtually all struggled to find words to describe the moment.words a chaplain from a pennsylvania regiment wrote, it was grand to gr be there. the patient endurance and victories and defeat and ies an mismanagement and all the very gloom and sunshine of the four nd years' history of the army of the potomac crowded upon my mind.f potomac and now, it had its reward. its work is done.re and well done. one soldier offered a simple synopsis to his wife at home. my dear, i can say now that the war is over, and i am still living.he
>> the march of death, as war ath neared the. end and grief competed, for men continued to die. an at precisely the same time that lee and grant were meeting in the mclean house that afternoon, bells tolled in engine house n, number 20 in philadelphia whileengine mourners gathered at the home of a soldier and firefighter william hoover for his funeral. hoover had been a member of the he 99th pennsylvania of the army of the potomac, and captured in battle. from the "philadelphia enquirer," thehi deceased died from exposure while a prisoner in salisbury, north carolina.nort he was a member of the independence fire engine company number 20. eng hisin funeral was largely attended. the members of the independent
engine company in a body with their ambulance followed the lance remains to their last resting place. the old bell and engine house tolled the sad news of the death of one of its members. it the fall of richmond and the imminent surrender of lee's armylee's while soldiers still toiled and died, andengendered an eng uncomfortable mix of joy and sadness among northerners. from the milwaukee sentinel, our milwauk foes are flying, but our friends are falling. if is a shame not to rejoice, but it is a sin not to weep. it is unjust not to greet the living to live to see their victories, but it is cruel not to mourn the dead who died in uel the sight of what they died for. whether we have their names or
not, weth shall have their deeds. the deeds of these dead on this these field. all around the rebellious region re for all time to come, there will be, they will wear this girdle of grave of the republic sacrificial son.gr they will remain without marble mausoleums and elaborate epitaphs, but they will be sacred.e b and in future ages will draw as many r manyev reverent feet as mecca, or the pyramid of egypt. >> as the mantle clocks around appomattox courthouse click appoma toward 3:00 p.m. that sunday 3:00 afternoon, the meeting between lee and grant in mclean's parlorclane came to's an end. the two generals rose and they shook hands. rose lee bowed to the other officers her
present, and he and charles marshall walked out the front door. wa when lee crossed the threshold wh back onto the porch and into mclean's yard he walked into a nto a landscape awash with both jubilation and sadness. for union soldiers, jubilation. joy for the redemption of their four years of effort, and their sacrifice, joy for the union joy for the promise of home and safety. for slaves jubilation at the laves, prospect of freedom though the road ahead seemed uncertain d indeed.d for confederates, despair at a onfede cause lost. an immense gamble unrewarded, the reality that they would leave appomattox with no more than pride after four years of toil and sacrifice. they would return to communities th and townsey often ravaged by war, to the empty beds and chairs of
lost brothers, sons and fathers. few places have ever embodied so many emotions at odds as did appomattox 150 years ago this moment. but when robert e. lee crossed that threshold onto mclean's porch with a copy of the surrender terms written by eli n parker in his pocket he did pock more than confront a place of deep emotion. he entered a new world one in wo which therl southern confederacy hern was no longer a possibility.a the end of slavery was real, and an empowered united states ited s confronted the immense challenges of reconstruction, reconciliation and justice. though few could see it that day, lee's ride from the mclean yard through appomattox to the
suddenly she recorded, our church bell commenced to ring. re and then the methodist bell. and now all the bells in town are ringing. mr. noah clark ran by oh excitement, and i don't believe he knows who he is or where he is. i saw captain aldridge passing. aldri so i rushed to the window and he waved his hat. i raised the window and asked him what was the matter. he came to the front door where em wha i met him and he almost shook my hand off. the war is over.hook we have lee's surrender. with his own name signed.ned. five days later caroline ri richards looked out thech same window and saw a group of men gathered around someone reading the morning paper. i feared from their silent inter motionless interest that thing something dreadful had happened. that afternoon, just days after of the bells had rung in the ung aftermath of appomattox the bells rang again to mark the
death of america's president. bells have always been a werful powerful form of f public expression. they mark oursion celebrations, and our joys, our triumphs, and our tragedies. today in america, bells will toll again.ag at 3:15 the liberty bell will be struck.k and and bells across minnesota, and in downtown chicago, and in richmond, at the state capital, in delaware and california and kentucky and georgia and many more, at ebenezer baptist church in atlanta, bells will ring. and in churches across our land, in schools and courthouses, and even on street corners and in national parks. natio they will ring for four minutes, one minute for each year of the war, a grand collective gesture in remembrance of the war's end.
it is up to us here at appomattox to begin bells acrosspomatt the land. we will ring this bell, brought is b to us by the family of mrs. mccoy who will ring it first ing today. her ancestors her great-grandmother were once slaves -- great great-grandmother was once a slave, and they acquired this af bell after the civil war. we will ring this bell, and from here the bells will reverberatete across our land. for the first year of the war, ending in the spring of 1862, the year of manassas and shiloh and the realization that this thi war would be long and hard, i call for mrs. ora mccoy whose mrs. family provided this bell and john griffith the great, great grandson of general ulysses s. grant.
ending in the spring of 1863 the year of antietam and fredericksburg and the emancipation proclamation i call forth tad campbell of the sons of union veterans the commander, and dennis big ela, the great great grandson of lieut lieutenant colonel charles marsha marshall who was here at appomattox.llmattles ma ll who was here at appomattox. [ bell ringing ]lieutenant colonel charles marshall who was here at appomattox. [ bell ringing ]grandson of lieutenant colonel charles marshall who was here at appomattox. [ bell ringing ]eat grandson of lieutenant colonel charles marshall who was here at appomattox. [ bell ringing ]
[ bell ringing ] >> the third year of the war ending in the spring of 1864, the year of gettysburg vicksburg, and the overland campaign. i call cadet warren jackson of the virginia military institute who saw so many serve here and alvin parker, the great great parker grand nephew of lieutenant colonel eli s. parker.t-gr
>> the fourth year of the war, ar of endingt in the spring of 1865, sherman's march, the toils of petersbu petersburg richmond falling, fall the war's end, relief, grief, and rejoicing. i call forth sergeant clark b. hall great, great grandson of charles h. hall a u.s. marine corps veteran of vietnam and first lieutenant samuel moseley, a korean war veteran winner of kore the silver star and the purple heart. >>
join american history trch on sunday for live coverage of ceremonies marking the 150th anniversary of the surrender at appomattox. in april 1865, 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. this sunday historians reflect on the last battles and explore the aftermath and legacy of appomattox. we'll also open our phone lines to take your calls for authors david blight and elizabeth barren, sunday on "american history tv" on c-span3. this sunday on q&a senator editor for the weekly standard andrew ferguson on his writing
career, the gop presidential candidates for 2016. >> he looks like he's stood up for them. i'm amazed now, the degree to which my which primary voters on both sides are motivated by resentment. the sense of being put upon. and, you know, those people really don't understand us. and here's a guy who does understand us, and he's going to stick it to them. that happens on both sides. hillary clinton will give her own version of that kind of thing. and i don't think that that was actually true 30 years ago. i mean, resentment has always been a part of politics, obviously, but the degree to which it's almost exclusively the motivating factor -- >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a.
"american history tv" was live in march from longwood university for a seminar on the closing of the civil war in 1865. the program was co-hosted by the university and appomattox courthouse national park. next, chief historian of fredericksburg and spotsylvania national military park john hen i si talks about how the civil war is reinterpreted by each ohn he generation. this is about 1 hour and 5 minutes. [ applause ]ood morn >> good morning everybody. thank you, david. thank you, patrick. i don't know if any of you quitence li realize the amount of effort that goes into a conference like this. but the 150th observances of at pat mocks here they're working like dogs to create a program lly in that will connect all of you
hopefully in a meaningful way to this history. it's very good to be here. few this is one of the few and long-standing, enduring them conference events every year. most of them have faded away.ev but this one simply does not. be and every year it seems to get better and bigger. it's very nice to be here. i'm going to turn the tide on you a little bit today, and probably end up asking you some questions rather than have you ask me questions.tions, although we'll get to that as s well. i might have entitled this talk why is the civil war so damn hard for americans to deal with.we w we're going to talk about the as war as it extends beyond want t appomattox. but i want to start with a storyd a to kick us off. a couple of years ago i did a program, and i've done a number r a we of programs, butll this one was ducate fodr a pretty well-read rogram educated, aware, broad-thinking group. it was a program on slavery, and
emancipation. wh and it was aen pretty straightforward historical program. and when i was done it wasn't very controversial, but when i was done, i asked the audience said there were about 60 or so people i said, and they littl probably were a little baffled i sa byid wthis but i said who do you think i voted for for president in the last election? and this was in 2009.. so it was john mccain. or barack obama. and about 80% of them raised their hand and projected -- or guessed that i voted for barack obama. now i'm going to tell you whether they were right or wrong. my poibtsnt is, isn't that interesting. i can give talk about history so distance, it was 150 years ago and people, thoughtful people would concludes from that or
draw from that conclusions about my political thought. as we go on today we'll revisit that toward the end. i just wanted to share that as a kick off. think about how we portray our history and how we perceive our history. we see it through the statutes of our founders, our military heroes frozen in time. almost a noble force. we see our history and priceless artifak artifacts. we see lincoln's second
inaugural address of the wall monument, memorial to washington, d.c. we see bedroom of gettysburg left as it was, so we think. when we acquire them, what do we do? we remove all the modern intrusions. we remove the light from them. the people who live there don't live there any longer. we make them set pieces. we make them status so that our mind's eye can work in uncluttered environment. that's a remarkable experience. the monuments that population these places, too, frozen in time. the monument sits. yes, they were there.
some of this it's not have you against these things and some of this is clearly unavoidable. there's one commonality to all of these things and they portray a person in a moment where often most unfratlattering form. we are addicted to simplicity. we love to embrace the truisms that run through our lives. washington may not have cut down a cherry tree but he never told a lie. lbj was the last of the frontier presidents. he would have told you. grant was a butcher. lee was noble. gettiesy
gettysburg is where it happened. boys your work is done. lee has surrendered. you can go home. all of those things are engrained deeply in our culture, in our memory. some of them even appear in school curriculum across our land. if you will think about the memory of your own life. they're neatly organized far more organized than our experience actually was.
characterized by ideals or facts, simplicities that become conventional wisdom. more than that these little nuggets of conventional wisdom that run through our history and through our culture often become rigid. especially when there's people that have a personal stake in the history that we're talking about. what happens to violators of those conventions. those who acknowledge complexities rather than simplicities or worse deny the simplicities altogether. that are assaulted in some way,
physically of course. they are labeled unpatriotic. they are labeled unproductive, divisive, revisionists, political correct. those are the words that we use as when one violates one of our cherished simplicities we often react to that as society much as a body does to an infection. try to contain it stamp it out. there's great irony in this. it's our content commitment to conventional wisdom and the simplicities that all those things entail. it's that commitment to simplicity that invites
contention. it's our commitment to provokes people to argue complexity. history ride a very raucous time. constantly historying -- shifting. always slowed by entities. every swirl, every eddies every time someone dares to disrupt the flow as we perceive it it either engages enthralls or disaffects. what we thought we knew or
understood 80 years ago or even 30 years ago we sometimes now no longer believe or we understand differently. the symbols that we once erases as a nation are seen as offensive. the convention wisdom that undergirds our understanding of our past is so simple as to be wrong or at least incomplete or debatable. so we challenge, we debate. that really ticks some people off. it brings me to civil war in its place. i would offer that no historic event has a more complicated place. there's no event in our history we argue about more than the civil war. from its cause to its purpose to
the details. we can't even agree on its name. the war of the rebellion once led by the u.s. official government name. the war for southern independence, the second american revolution. the war for emancipation. probably two or three dozen more. in no other period of american history do we have a historical memory so carefully considered. so consciously shaped. control the universe. ensuring, trying to ensure that
suggests that americans that preserve more civil war battles than the rest of the world combined has preserved for all wars in all of history. talking about formal preservation. more preserved battlefield land related to the war probably exists than the rest of the world combined than all. society thinks of itself as being nonmilitaristic and i think in our essence we are. preserves battlefield land to such a degree. now our traditional view of the
civil war was born on the post-war period. the reunification of our nation. think about the fact in united states capital today are seven statutes to man supporting the rebellion against the federal government during the american civil war. they don't do that in syria, libya. they do it here. that's remarkable. now there are lots of ways and the reconciliation scholars have shone is buried and incomplete in some areas and in some ways. how did that come to pass? part of the answer is when you want to make up with somebody
you find common ground. place where you can both be comfortable. to some degree we did it on a national level. in the aftermath of the civil war -- few things everybody could agree with or most people and that was that the american soldier be he dressed in gray or blue was amazing phenomenon. in our search for common ground we found that ground literally on the battlefields. all of the great battle