Little Bits of History

States United

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 9, 2011

The McLean house where Lee surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865. (Photo by Timothy H. O'Sullivan)

April 9, 1865: Robert E. Lee tells his troops, “After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources” and the United States Civil War ends. Ulysses S. Grant accepted Lee’s surrender at the Appomattox Court House  [McLean house] in Virginia.

Causes to the War between the States, War of Rebellion, War of Secession, or War for Southern Independence are varied and difficult to pin down. While slavery and the abolitionist movement played a role, state’s rights were also at issue. The political, social, economic, and psychological factors are varied. The southern plantation growing cotton with slave labor was vying against a growing economic gain of the industrialized north.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President on November 6, 1860. He had stated that a “government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free.” The southern states were distressed by this sentiment and on December 20, 1860 South Carolina seceded from the Union. Within two months Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas also left the Union. On February 9, 1861 The Confederate State of America formed with Jefferson Davis as President. Lincoln was sworn in on March 4, 1861.

On April 12, 1861 General Pierre Beauregard opened fired on the Union Fort Sumter off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. The fort fell and two days later, the Stars and Bars was raised. The war raged across the southern and border states for four years resulting in 620,000 American deaths, twice as many from disease as from wounds. After Lee, head of the CSA military forces, surrendered to Grant, head of the US military forces, the war was officially over. In a symbolic act, on April 14, 1865 the Stars and Bars came down over Fort Sumter and the Stars and Stripes was raised. Lincoln, finally able to relax, went to the theater. He was assassinated that night. The war was over, but the country was not healed. Reconstruction followed.

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” – Abraham Lincoln

“If the Confederacy fails, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.” – Jefferson Davis

“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.” – Ulysses S. Grant

“What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.” – Robert E. Lee in a letter to his wife, 1864

Also on this day:
Water, Water Everywhere – In 1829 the dike in Gdansk fails.
Windsor Wedding – In 2005, Prince Charles married Camilla.


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4 Responses

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  1. GYSC said, on April 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    If you like alternate history reads, Harry Turtledove has written plenty including “Guns of the South” which was pretty interesting. Have a great weekend.

  2. patriciahysell said, on April 9, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I will have to look him up. I love stuff like that.

  3. GYSC said, on April 9, 2011 at 11:20 pm


  4. CT NIGHAVEN said, on April 10, 2013 at 2:50 am

    “Back with my wife in Tennessee, when one day she called to me
    Said “Virgil, quick come see. There goes Robert E. Lee”
    Now, I don’t mind choppin’ wood, and I don’t care if the money’s no good
    Just take what you need and leave the rest, but they should never have taken the very best…”


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