Experiencing History: Reliving the End of the Civil War, Moment by Moment: 4/12

92The terms of surrender were simple: They were to stay in Appomattox until they were paroled and have turned in their arms. Days after their surrender, Confederate soldiers publicly surrendered in the Laying Dow of Arms Ceremony. Solemnly and quietly, they paraded between two rows of Union men and one by one, surrendered. There were no shouts of joy like those that were heard days earlier, this was a solemn event for all that attended it. Those that surrendered were treated with great respect. Hear the account from two different eyewitnesses:

“General Longstreet’s entire corps marched from their camps and formed in line in front of the First Division of this corps and stacked their arms, flags, &c., when they slowly and sorrowfully returned to their camp. It is a sight that cannot be pictured properly to those who have not witnessed it. General Longstreet wore a smile on his face while General Gordon’s expression was very different. General Pendleton disliked to give up Lee’s artillery but did so.”

“The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply…Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured? Instructions had been given; and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier’s salutation, from the “order arms” to the old “carry”—the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual,—honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!”

— Joshua L. Chamberlain

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Sources: The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle


6 thoughts on “Experiencing History: Reliving the End of the Civil War, Moment by Moment: 4/12”

  1. It is so inspiring that the Confederate soldiers were treated with such respect by the Union. Straight from the Bible: Do good to your enemies. They were the living embodiment of that verse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They really were. I hadn’t thought about that. 🙂
      I love how they didn’t gloat, but recognized the solemn moment for what it was as if they put themselves in their shoes.
      Thanks again for sharing! Your entries are in.


  2. You and I have often talked about the gentleman-ness (yes, I’m making up a word- but you know what I mean!) that is often portrayed from back then. I can’t help but wonder how something like this would go today. It’s wonderful that the armies, though enemies, still maintained such respect for one another.

    Liked by 1 person

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