On this day in history, April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, Ulysses Grant wrote the following:

General R. E. LEE:

GENERAL: In accordance with the substance of my letter to you of the 8th instant, I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate, one copy to be given to an officer to be designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged; and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery, and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officers appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by U. S. authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.


It is one of the great myths of American history, and thus a suitable answer to Eric’s question, that Appomattox ended the Civil War. It certainly surrendered the Confederacy’s most notable army and commander, but even after April 9th, Confederate armies remained in the field, fighting the Union. President Andrew Johnson’s announcement of the end of the Civil War would not come until August 20, 1865, and even then, the Confederate commerce raider Shenandoah held out until early November. But Lee’s surrender has become the de facto end of the Civil War, as it plays powerfully into the personality cult surrounding the Confederate General, and serves usefully as the founding tragedy of Lost Cause mythology.