Ending the Bloodshed: The Last Surrenders of the Civil War

The Surrender at Appomattox marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. The dominoes began to fall after the fall of the Confederate capital of Richmond, on April 2, 1865. The surrender at Appomattox took place a week later on April 9. While it was the most significant surrender to take place, several other confederate forces had to surrender before President Andrew Johnson could declare 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, and bore no fruits; they were outnumbered by Grant’s Army. Lee asked Grant for a meeting that would discuss his army’s surrender. Lee set forth to find a place for his army to surrender.

Lee's Men Get to Keep Horses: Rations Go to Confederate Soldiers Lee’s men were asked to surrender their rifles, and return home after signing paroles. Lee agreed with Grant’s terms. 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 assessment was correct as 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. It was advised that those who did not surrender 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 several hundred of his men chose to surrender themselves and sign paroles. Mosby later accepts a parole June 16.

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 at Appomattox.

Sherman, Johnston in Accord, But Washington Says "No" Sherman agreed to seven principal provisions. The agreement stipulated the surrender of Johnston’s army and that the troops would disband and return to their capital states. On April 26, the opposing army commanders met in Durham Station and worked out an agreement limited to military issues; Grant, who was sent to make sure Sherman got it right this time, quickly gave his approval, thus accepting the surrender of the largest Confederate force still in existence.

More Surrenders Follow General Johnston's Lead General Johnston surrendered his Army of Tennessee as well as various forces under his command in North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Lt. Gen Richard Taylor surrenders on May 4; other units follow suit.

Fighting Continued 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, commanded by Col. John S. Ford at Palmito Ranch in Texas, May 12, 1865. The overconfident Barrett was soundly defeated in what became the last engagement of the American Civil War.

The Final Surrender: Liverpool, England While Confederate land forces surrendered throughout the late spring and summer of 1865, 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.

Epilogue On August 20, 1866, President Johnson issued a proclamation announcing the end of the American Civil War: "And I do further proclaim that the said insurrection is at an end and that peace, order, tranquility, and civil authority now exists in and throughout the whole of the United States of America."

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

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