Ending the Bloodshed: The Last Surrenders of the Civil War

The Surrender at Appomattox marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. The Confederate capital of Richmond fell on April 2, 1865, and the surrender at Appomattox took place a week later. After other confederate forces surrendered, President Andrew Johnson declared the Civil War officially over on August 20, 1866.

Lee's Last Campaign: Starved for Supplies Lee’s final campaign began on March 25, 1865, but his troops were outnumbered by Grant’s Army. Lee asked Grant to discuss his army’s surrender.

Lee's Men Get to Keep Horses: Rations Go to Confederate Soldiers Lee agreed that his men would surrender their rifles and return home after signing paroles. The formal surrender of arms took place on April 12, 1865. Lee left Appomattox and rode to Richmond to join his wife.

Lee's Wife Asserts That the General Did Not Surrender the Confederacy Lee’s wife’s assessment was correct—the Confederacy lived on with other armies and soldiers in the South that had not yet surrendered.

The "Gray Ghost" Gives Up Without Surrendering Not everyone wanted to surrender, but those who did not would be treated as prisoners of war. The “Gray Ghost” John Mosby chose to disband his unit on April 21, rather than surrender. Most of his officers and men chose to surrender and sign paroles. Mosby later accepted a parole.

Sherman Pursues Johnston but Overplays His Hand General Sherman marched through South Carolina, capturing the state capital, Columbia, in February. Upon receiving advice regarding peace talks from Governor Vance and Confederate President Davis, Johnston reached out to Sherman to discuss the terms of his surrender. Sherman and Johnston eventually met near Durham Station on April 17. Sherman offered Johnston the same terms as those given Lee.

Sherman, Johnston in Accord, but Washington Says "No" The agreement stipulated the surrender of Johnston’s army and that the troops would disband and return to their states. On April 26, the opposing army commanders met in Durham Station and worked out the military issues, approved by Grant. The federal government rejected the plan.

More Surrenders Follow General Johnston's Lead General Johnston surrendered his Army of Tennessee plus other forces in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Lt. Gen Richard Taylor surrendered on May 4. Additional units soon surrendered.

Fighting Continues West of the Mississippi River Two days after President Johnson declared the war "virtually at an end," Union Col. Theodore Barrett attacked a smaller Confederate force, half his size, at Palmito Ranch in Texas. The overconfident Barrett was soundly defeated in this last battle of the American Civil War.

The Final Surrender: Liverpool, England While Confederate land forces surrendered, the Confederate raider CSS Shenandoah continued to disrupt Union shipping. The last Confederate surrender occurred on November 6, 1865, when the Shenandoah arrived in Liverpool.

Source: Ending the Bloodshed: The Last Surrenders of the Civil War
The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

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