The Trophies of Victory and the Relics of Defeat: Returning Home in the Spring of 1865

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Book Chapter

Publication Date


Department 1


Department 2

Civil War Institute


The remains of a lone apple tree, cut down and carved into small pieces by Confederate soldiers, lay along a rutted dirt road that led to the village of Appomattox Court House. Earlier on 9 April 1865, Robert E. Lee had waited under the shade of the apple tree, anxious to hear from Ulysses S.Grant about surrendering his army. Messages between the generals eventually led to a brief meeting between Lee and two Union staff offices who then secured the parlor in Wilmer McLean's house, where Grant dictated the surrender terms to Lee. As soon as the agreement was signed and Lee walked out the door, Union officers "decluttered" the parlor with Yankee efficiency, cutting strips of upholstery from plush sofas, breaking chair legs into small keepsakes, and "appropriating" candleholders and chairs until the room was left barren. [excerpt]



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