Thursday, June 02, 2005

BLOGBALL THIS DAY IN HISTORY

June 2nd 1865: AMERICAN CIVIL WAR ENDS

NOTE: I think the end of the Civil War was pretty much of a done deal several weeks before this. I believe June 2nd might be the official date of the last surrender.

Anyone that has done some reading or watched Ken Burns Documentary about the Civil War knows what an extraordinary event is US history this was.

I am always surprised when I hear how many casualties this war brought over the 4 years. I always heard growing up that more Americans died in the Civil war than in WW I and WW II combined. I remember thinking to myself “no way” Sure you have Americans dieing on both sides but when you think about the fact that there was no sophisticated weaponry, no airplanes, long-range missiles etc. this is still a staggering statistic to me.

Any way, I decided to look up the numbers and sure enough, according to the The American War Library website that is an accurate statement.

1917-1918 World War I
Total: 116,708

1941-1945 World War II
Total: 408,306

World War I & World War II Combined Total: 525,014

1861-1865 Civil War,
363,020 from the North
199,110 from the South

Total: 562,130

Here is more information on the very end of the Civil War (140 years ago today)

June 2nd 1865: Confederate forces west of the Mississippi, signs the surrender terms offered by Union negotiators. With Smith's surrender, the last Confederate army ceased to exist, bringing a formal end to the bloodiest four years in U.S. history.

When I was looking for more information on the end of the Civil war I came upon how the Surrender went between Grant and Lee (Several weeks earlier) described by General Horace Porter (One of Grant’s confidants)
This is a little lengthy but I think well worth the read:

"We entered, and found General Grant sitting at a marble-topped table in the center of the room, and Lee sitting beside a small oval table near the front window, in the corner opposite to the door by which we entered, and facing General Grant. We walked in softly and ranged ourselves quietly about the sides of the room, very much as people enter a sick-chamber when they expect to find the patient dangerously ill.
The contrast between the two commanders was striking, and could not fail to attract marked attention they sat ten feet apart facing each other. General Grant, then nearly forty-three years of age, was five feet eight inches in height, with shoulders slightly stooped. His hair and full beard were a nut-brown, without a trace of gray in them. He had on a single-breasted blouse, made of dark-blue flannel, unbuttoned in front, and showing a waistcoat underneath. He wore an ordinary pair of top-boots, with his trousers inside, and was without spurs. The boots and portions of his clothes were spattered with mud. He had no sword, and a pair of shoulder-straps was all there was about him to designate his rank. In fact, aside from these, his uniform was that of a private soldier.
Lee, on the other hand, was fully six feet in height, and quite erect for one of his age, for he was Grant's senior by sixteen years. His hair and full beard were silver-gray, and quite thick, except that the hair had become a little thin in the front. He wore a new uniform of Confederate gray, buttoned up to the throat, and at his side he carried a long sword of exceedingly fine workmanship, the hilt studded with jewels. His top-boots were comparatively new, and seemed to have on them some ornamental stitching of red silk. Like his uniform, they were singularly clean, and but little travel-stained. On the boots were handsome spurs, with large rowels. A felt hat, which in color matched pretty closely that of his uniform, and a pair of long buckskin gauntlets lay beside him on the table.
General Grant began the conversation by saying 'I met you once before, General Lee, while we were serving in Mexico, when you came over from General Scott's headquarters to visit Garland's brigade, to which I then belonged. I have always remembered your appearance, and I think I should have recognized you anywhere.'
'Yes,' replied General Lee, 'I know I met you on that occasion, and I have often thought of it and tried to recollect how you looked, but I have never been able to recall a single feature.'"
The two generals talked a bit more about Mexico and moved on to a discussion of the terms of the surrender when Lee asked Grant to commit the terms to paper:
"'Very well,' replied General Grant, 'I will write them out.' And calling for his manifold order-book, he opened it on the table before him and proceeded to write the terms. The leaves had been so prepared that three impressions of the writing were made. He wrote very rapidly, and did not pause until he had finished the sentence ending with 'officers appointed by me to receive them.' Then he looked toward Lee, and his eyes seemed to be resting on the handsome sword that hung at that officer's side. He said afterward that this set him to thinking that it would be an unnecessary humiliation to require officers to surrender their swords, and a great hardship to deprive them of their personal baggage and horses, and after a short pause he wrote the sentence: 'This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage.'
Grant handed the document to Lee. After reviewing it, Lee informed Grant that the Cavalry men and Artillery men in the Confederate Army owned their horses and asked that they keep them. Grant agreed and Lee wrote a letter formally accepting the surrender. Lee then made his exit:
"At a little before 4 o'clock General Lee shook hands with General Grant, bowed to the other officers, and with Colonel Marshall left the room. One after another we followed, and passed out to the porch. Lee signaled to his orderly to bring up his horse, and while the animal was being bridled the general stood on the lowest step and gazed sadly in the direction of the valley beyond where his army lay - now an army of prisoners. He smote his hands together a number of times in an absent sort of way; seemed not to see the group of Union officers in the yard who rose respectfully at his approach, and appeared unconscious of everything about him. All appreciated the sadness that overwhelmed him, and he had the personal sympathy of every one who beheld him at this supreme moment of trial. The approach of his horse seemed to recall him from his reverie, and he at once mounted. General Grant now stepped down from the porch, and, moving toward him, saluted him by raising his hat. He was followed in this act of courtesy by all our officers present; Lee raised his hat respectfully, and rode off to break the sad news to the brave fellows whom he had so long commanded."

2 comments:

unca said...

Every time I read about this event I am moved by it. What an extraordinary time. I recently read a book titled, "April, 1865, the month that saved America." It recounts how things could have gone much worse with the possibility of no real surrender and guerilla warfare breaking out in the south. It was to Lee's credit that he spoke to this issue directly by ordering his men to go back to their famrs and to be good citizens.
Am am also amazed at the sheer number of dead. Most of them died from disease or infection rather than battle wounds per se -- that was true of most wars until the Spanish American War. I think that the KB video also pointed out that the weapons were more advanced than the tactics. By this time both sides had rifles rather than muskets which were far more accuracte and powerful. However, they used the same tactics of charging through open fields (Pickett's Charge, e.g.) and simply got mowed down by the enemy.
Thanks for this post.

mamacita said...

I had never read this account before, Blogball. Thanks for posting it. I always think of the fact that Lincoln first offered Lee the job of heading the Union Army, which he declined. Rumor has it that you have two great grandfathers that fought in the Civil War (Union side). The same is true for me. Thanks again for a good post.