The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

Lee’s Surrender

Who signed first?

Grant signed first, and Lee—after examining the document at length—did the same. The two men rose, and their aides made some brief conversation. Grant would almost surely have wished to continue the conversation, but Lee was eager to get away, to avoid the specter of humiliation. Perhaps two hours after he rode up to the McLean house, Lee rode off again.

The thing was done. No one could truly claim that the war was over because Joseph Johnston still had a small army in the field and there were Confederate forces in Texas. The mainstay of the Confederate cause had given way, however, and there was not the slightest doubt of the Union triumph. What did Grant say as Lee rode away? Neither he nor the members of his staff ever revealed that. Knowing Grant, he may well have taken some puffs from his cigar, nodded his head, and simply ridden back to his own encampment.


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