Digital History

The Civil War

A Stillness at Appomattox Previous Next
Digital History ID 3093



By April 1865, Grant's army had cut off Lee's supply lines, forcing Confederate forces to evacuate Petersburg and Richmond. Lee and his men retreated westward, but Grant's troops overtook him about a hundred miles west of Richmond. Recognizing that further resistance would be futile, Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. The aristocratic Lee wore a full-dress uniform, with a ceremonial sash and sword, while Grant wore a private's coat.

The next day, in a final message to his troops, Robert E. Lee acknowledged that he was "compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources." Three-quarters of the Confederate white male population of military age had fought in the war, but by 1865, the North had four times as many troops as the Confederacy. At the time he surrendered, Lee's entire army had shrunk to just 35,000 men, compared to Grant's total of 113,000. Lee's decision to surrender, however, probably helped to prevent large-scale guerrilla warfare.

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