The last phrase has been recognized as one of the finest statements in American history by historian Bruce Catton. Grant stated that Lee "would not have surrendered his army and gave up all their weaponry if he had expected to be prosecuted for treason and hung after the surrender." There was also another factor to consider. After Appomattox Court House was occupied by Federal troops, General Lee was ordered to leave his headquarters and go home. When Lee refused, his second-in-command, Lieutenant General Gordon, was given permission to stay behind while Lee went home.
Here is what Ulysses S. Grant said about Robert E. Lee: "I cannot help feeling that there is a higher wisdom than my own in regard to this whole matter. I am unwilling to believe that God intended for man to be man degraded. I believe that no earthly power can defeat an army which does its duty; and I believe that the Army of Northern Virginia has done its full duty so far as it has been able to perform those duties. I therefore claim that God is on our side, now as always when and where His people fight for justice and righteousness. I further claim that no force on earth can withstand such an army united and motivated by a common purpose."
And here is what President Lincoln said about Robert E. Lee: "General Lee has done much to carry out his ideas of how a military organization should be conducted. He has shown himself to be a great commander by fighting a great battle.
Lee chose capitulation in part to rescue the South from unneeded damage. When it became evident that the Confederates were stretched too thin to break through the Union lines, Lee declared, "There is nothing left for me to do but go and visit Gen. Grant and see what can be done about ending this war."
The meeting between Lee and Grant was set for April 10 at Appomattox Court House. However, due to various factors including the need to protect Washington D.C. from further invasion, Lee decided to submit his resignation instead. He sent a letter to President Davis explaining his decision. In the letter, he said: "It has been my fortune to be employed by the country for several years past, without any compensation except my commission as a major-general in the army. I feel obliged to return whatever may be left of such property as I may possess."
With his military career over, Lee went home to Virginia where he lived out the rest of his life in poverty.
For more information on this topic, check out these articles:
Surrendering General Lee Visited By Many Well Wishers Who Gather Around His Carriage To Shake His Hand Or Give Him A Kiss Goodbye
Why did Lee strike Grant in the middle of nowhere? Grant would be unable to utilize all of his soldiers. Lee was eager to put the conflict behind him. He wanted to get back to his home and family, who were suffering during this time away from them.
Grant had promised to let him go if he surrendered, but once in command, he didn't want any part of it. He knew that accepting surrender would break faith with his men. If he allowed himself to be taken prisoner, they might turn on him. This is why Lee attacked first.
It's also possible that Lee wanted to deliver a death blow. At the time of the attack, many people believed that war was an ugly business and nobody should have to see their leader get hurt. By killing Grant, Lee could have ended the war then and there, but this isn't clear from history books.
What's clear is that after their victory, the South mourned the loss of their commander-in-chief. His death left them vulnerable, so Ulysses S. Grant took full advantage of this opportunity. He marched his army down south and surrounded the city of Richmond, Virginia. When Lee's council of war couldn't come up with a plan for their defense, his generals were dismissed.
Grant, according to Lee, was the greatest commander in history. It's not a literal quotation, but it conveys the meaning. "Grant was the greatest Union commander, who had outperformed all the other more notable names" in the civil war, Lee added.
It's a brief comment made during a conversation between them when Lee was asked what he thought of General Grant. The remark has been interpreted by some historians as an indication that Grant was beginning to suffer from depression after being turned down for promotion to general-in-chief. If so, it seems he resolved the problem by doing something about it.
In any case, it's clear that they were close friends and colleagues. After the war, they even stayed in touch with each other through letters. Grant wrote to Lee several times a year until his death in 1885. They also met once again after the war, when Lee came to Washington to be honored by Congress. This is probably where the comment above comes from: Lee was asked by a reporter what he thought of General Grant, who was now president. His answer has been interpreted as an endorsement of Grant's ability as a commander.
Robert E. Lee surrenders his 28,000 Confederate forces to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, officially ending the American Civil War. Desertions were increasing on a regular basis, and by April 8, the Confederates were besieged and had no way out. Lee decided to surrender anyway. He knew that if he refused, he would be court-martialed for treason and executed. Grant agreed to let him go free if the soldiers surrendered without bloodshed.
Grant ordered all prisoners released and the war ends. Lee then went home to Virginia where he lived in poverty until his death in 1870.
Ulysses S. Grant became the first presidential candidate to be nominated at a national convention when he was chosen by the Liberal Republican Party in June 1868. The party wanted someone who was not tied down to political issues or candidates before they voted on their platform. They chose Grant because of his reputation as a great military man and because of his support for civil rights. Lincoln had died in 1865, so there was no one available to run for president this time around. The Liberal Republicans also hoped that with Grant at the head of the government, there would be less chance of another civil war since he could not be impeached like Lincoln had been.
In July 1868, Grant accepted the nomination at the Liberal Republican Convention in Cincinnati.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders his 28,000 men to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, officially ending the American Civil War. They accepted an offer by Union General William T. Sherman to surrender.
This was not the end of the war, however. The Confederate government would continue to operate from Montgomery, Alabama until May 2 when it moved back to Richmond, Virginia. In addition, there would be more battles to come, including one very famous battle called Battle of Cold Harbor. This battle took place around Petersburg, Virginia and it was the final battle of the Petersburg Campaign which was part of the larger Shenandoah Valley Campaign. This campaign was conducted by Union General Philip Sheridan to cut off supply lines to southern cities like Richmond and Atlanta but also to harass the Confederate army while they remained in Virginia. The campaign ended with a decisive victory for Sheridan's forces.
In conclusion, this is what happened when General Robert E. Lee met General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House: Lee surrendered his army on April 9, 1865. The war was over. Grant offered generous terms to Lee's men, providing that they lay down their arms and go home. Most of them did so without a fight, but some officers held out until their soldiers found other ways to resist.