There the two generals drew up the conditions of the surrender of Appomattox (April 9, 1865). Grant asked that Lee’s army should lay down their arms and promise not to fight again until properly exchanged. But he allowed the Southern soldiers to take their private horses with them, saying he knew the men “would need them for the spring plowing.”
When Grant noticed that General Lee wore a beautiful sword, which had been presented to him by his admirers, he also said that the officers might keep their side arms. This was both kind and thoughtful; and when Lee confessed that his men were starving,—having had little to eat but parched corn for several days,—Grant gave immediate orders to distribute rations among them.
The two greatest commanders of the Civil War then cordially shook hands; for, like–all true–hearted men, they bore each other no grudge. They had been on opposite sides, it is true, but they thoroughly respected each other, for they knew they had done nothing but what they believed right.
The interview over, Lee went back to his army, and, with tears in his eyes, sadly said: “Men, we have fought through the war together. I have done the best I could for you. My heart is too full to say more.” He then issued the necessary orders, and no sooner was it known in both armies that Lee had surrendered, than the men went to visit one another. Before many minutes, therefore, men in blue and in gray were sitting side by side, the Union soldiers sharing rations with their former foes in the friendliest way.
The very next day Lee made a farewell address to his men, who then went back to their homes, to work as hard as they had fought. Four years had now elapsed since the Civil War, or the “War for the Union,” had begun. This war cost our country untold suffering, nearly a million lives, and about ten thousand million dollars. But it settled two important questions: that no state can leave the Union, and that slavery is forever at an end in our country.
On the fourth anniversary of the surrender of Fort Sumter, Anderson again hoisted the United States flag over its ruins. The war was so plainly over that joy all over the country was great, and even those who mourned were thankful that no more blood would be shed.