1865 – Robert E. Lee surrenders

In Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrenders his 28,000 Confederate troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. Forced to abandon the Confederate capital of Richmond, blocked from joining the surviving Confederate force in North Carolina, and harassed constantly by Union cavalry, Lee had no other option.

In retreating from the Union army’s Appomattox Campaign, the Army of Northern Virginia had stumbled through the Virginia countryside stripped of food and supplies. At one point, Union cavalry forces under General Philip Sheridan had actually outrun Lee’s army, blocking their retreat and taking 6,000 prisoners at Sayler’s Creek. Desertions were mounting daily, and by April 8 the Confederates were surrounded with no possibility of escape. On April 9, Lee sent a message to Grant announcing his willingness to surrender. The two generals met in the parlor of the Wilmer McLean home at one o’clock in the afternoon.

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Citation Information

Article TitleRobert E. Lee surrendersAuthorHistory.com EditorsWebsite NameHISTORYURLhttps://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/robert-e-lee-surrendersDateApril 9, 2023PublisherA&E Television NetworksLast UpdatedApril 6, 2022Original Published DateNovember 24, 2009