After tossing shell at each other for months without end, the two men meet in the home of Wilmer McLean. One could only imagine what that might have felt like. Grant would likely enter with a sense of ease and notice the pleasantness of the room while Lee would likely think the room to be stifling hot even though it was only early April. He likely wouldn’t notice the colorful carpet in the room or its other furnishings as the heaviness of surrendering fell upon him.
No one would fault Lee for his melancholy, so it may surprise you to know that the two men first sat down and talked. Not of the surrender, but of their previous meeting while they both served the United States Army in Mexico. When Lee had enough small talk, he directed Grant back to the subject at hand — the terms of surrender. The terms are as follows:
In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th inst., I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of N. Va. on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate. One copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officer appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.
The proposal was accepted by Lee, and a written form of his acceptance was made. *I’m not entirely sure what this document is in the picture. It’s hard to read, but seems to say something about the surrender. I haven’t spotted Lee’s signature. If any of my Civil War buddies has more information, I’d love to hear it!
Grant shares his impressions of the hour, “What General Lee’s feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassable face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter [proposing negotiations], were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us…”
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