As the news of Lee’s surrender spreads across the country, naturally, it’s met with mixed feelings. From a Union supporter, the experience resembled this account:
“To-day, at ten o’clock, the gratifying news that Lee has surrendered was received at General Steedman’s headquarters, creating the wildest excitement. As the news spread the men gathered in crowds and rent the air with the most vociferous cheers. The Twenty-ninth Indiana was ordered to “fall in” without arms, and then followed a regimental “three times three” that would have done your heart good to hear. At noon the forts that crown the crests of the hills about town fired a salute of one hundred guns, the whistles of the locomotives and machine shops screamed, while everybody feels good.”
But from a stout Confederate supporter, we read:
“After supper we went into the parlor and had music. We tried to sing some of our old rebel songs, but the words stuck in our throats. Nobody could sing, and then Clara Harris played, ‘Dixie,” but it sounded like a dirge.” The same writer goes on to remember the night Georgia seceded. “I shall never forget that night when the news came that Georgia had seceded. While the people of the village were celebrating the event with bonfires and bell ringing and speech making, he (her father) shut himself up in his house, darkened the windows, and paced up and down the room in the greatest agitation. Every now and then, when the noise of the shouting and the ringing of bells would penetrate to our ears through the closed doors and windows, he would pause and exclaim, ‘Poor fools! They may ring their bells now, but they will wring their hands – yes, and their hearts, too – before they are done with it.'”
It’s also amazing to note that neither account was given on the 9th. The first account received the news on the 10th and the second on the 19th.
*The towel in the picture was used by the Confederates as a flag of surrender at Appomattox.
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Sources: The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle by Robert E. Denney
The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl 1864-1865 written by Eliza Frances Andrews
7 thoughts on “Experiencing History: Reliving the End of the Civil War, Moment by Moment: 4/11”
It really breaks my heart, knowing that what was a happy celebration for many was a heart-wrenching misery for so many others. It just shows that there are always two sides to every story, and we can’t forget the second side.
Thanks, Kim! It was actually really hard to find a Confederate account. I found TONS of Union accounts and Union newspapers talking about the surrender, but had to dig much deeper to find her account. I think it’s really interesting that as she reflects on hearing the news of the surrender, her mind travels back to the night it all began and the wise words of her father.
One of the things that I always find so fascinating about the CW is the reactions of people as the states were seceding. While many of the Southerners were so passionate about their cause and excited at the prospect of it, it seems that many suspected that the war would not end well.
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It’s amazing how many people, especially within in the same family, that didn’t agree on the war. This man, in particular, was faithful to the Union and yet all of his children were loyal to the Confederacy. Even his sons fought for the Confederate army.
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