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April 2015

Confederate soldiers surrender

April 8, 1865

"Stragglers are found scattered all along the line of march, and as the troops pass they come in and surrender themselves, expressing their determination to fight no longer, as they consider the rebellion as good as over. Four guns were brought in this morning, besides a long train of ambulances, many containing wounded, who were placed in hospital and cared for."

From the Associated Press and ABC News

Lee's last gambit

April 7, 1865

"Lee had intended to fall back to Danville, but being cut off ... he changed his course and started toward Lynchburg. Part of his force passed through Farmville on the morning of the 7th. After crossing the Appomattox the bridges were burned, and before our troops could get over the enemy had taken a position a mile from the river, where they erected works and made a stand in order to allow their wagon train to get out of the way ... The (Union's) 2d division, under General Crook, attacked them vigorously, driving them back some distance. But they had a force dismounted, lying in ambush, which poured a severe fire into our men as they advanced to the second attack, and they were compelled to fall back on their supports. The rebels soon after departed from this place, not being disposed to await another charge ... "

From the Associated Press and ABC News

The end of the war: Associated Press

When Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in a farmhouse parlor in Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, standing with other war correspondents in the front yard was William Downs MacGregor of The Associated Press.

The names of many AP Civil War correspondents, along with their original manuscript reports, have been lost. But those like MacGregor, whose names were occasionally printed beneath their dispatches, are remembered for delivering disciplined and restrained accounts in an era when reporting was often laced with shrill and sectarian opinion.

The Associated Press had been organized as a newspaper cooperative in 1846, just two years after the first successful telegraph message had been sent. During the war, the AP and most big city papers utilized the thousands of miles of ever-expanding telegraph lines to revolutionize war reporting. For the first time, battlefield victories and defeats could be transmitted and even printed within a day.

Competition was often fierce: When Washington officially confirmed Lee's surrender, one northern paper boasted it beat AP's telegraphic report by 15 minutes. News of the Union victory spread within hours to most major cities in the North and was published there the following day. (Southern papers, for the most part, had by this time been taken over by Union loyalists, had their presses destroyed, or could no longer publish for want of ink and paper.)

But telegraph lines were wildly unreliable too, subject to storms and constant cutting by the combatants. Longer and more fully detailed accounts of the moment most associated with the end of the war didn't appear until April 14, the day Abraham Lincoln was shot and Union troops re-entered Fort Sumter, South Carolina, the place where the war began.

From the Associated Press and ABC News 

There is no country

Wise (top row, second from right) with Robert E. Lee and Confederate officers, 1869.

April 7, 1865, Confederate General Henry Wise met up with Robert E. Lee. 

Wise, who helmed a division in Lee’s army, implored his commander: “my poor brave men are lying on yonder hill more dead than alive. For more than a week they have been fighting day and night, without food, and, by God sir, they shall not move another step until somebody gives them something to eat.”

To this, Lee assured him that they would soon have something to eat. When Wise was more or less pacified, Lee asked him for his thoughts on their situation. 

“Situation?” spat Wise, “There is no situation. Nothing remains, General Lee, but to put your poor men on your poor mules and send them home in time for the spring ploughing. This army is hopelessly whipped, and is fast becoming demoralized. These men have already endured more than I believed flesh and blood could stand, and I say to you, sir, emphatically, that to prolong the struggle is murder, and the blood of ‘every man who is killed from this time forth is on your head, General Lee.”

“Oh, General,” Lee replied with anger, “do not talk so wildly! My burdens are heavy enough! What would the country think of me, if I did what you suggest?”

“Country be damned,” snapped Wise. “There is no country. There has been no country, General, for a year or more. You are the country to these men. They have fought for you. They have shivered through a long winter for you. Without pay or clothes or care of any sort, their devotion to you and faith in you have been the only things that have held this army together. If you demand the sacrifice, there are still left thousands of us who will die for you. You know the game is desperate beyond redemption, and that, if you so announce, no man, or government, or people, will gainsay your decision. That is why I repeat that the blood of any man killed hereafter is on your head.”


Lee, by the word of Wise’s son, made no reply.

From Civil War Daily Gazette

The Grand Army of the Republic: founded April 6, 1866

From The Arlington National Cemetery on Face Book

Today I remember...

Today we remember the first Veterans Service Organization, the "Grand Army of the Republic" (G.A.R.), which was founded on, April 6, 1866 in Decatur, Illinois. 

It was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army (U.S. Army), Union Navy (U.S. Navy), Marines and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, who served in the American Civil War for the Northern/Federal forces. Linking men through their experience of the war, the G.A.R. became among the first organized advocacy groups in American politics, supporting voting rights for black veterans, promoting patriotic education, helping to make Memorial Day a national holiday, and lobbying the United States Congress to establish regular veterans' pensions. 

At its peak membership in 1890, G.A.R. had more than 490,000 members. 

It was dissolved in 1956, when its last member died and is succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. 

The Sons of Union Veterans, hold an annual Decoration Day/Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery. Who are you remembering today?


This week in the Civil War for April 5, 1865

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered this week 150 years ago in the Civil War, after four years of bloodshed that had claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. After days of fighting and fleeing had left his forces haggard, hungry and surrounded, Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, to the Union's Ulysses S. Grant at the McLean House at Appomattox Court House. Grant allowed for the parole of the Confederate officers and enlisted men but said all weapons and war equipment would be surrendered. The end of Lee's fighting force came after federal troops had relentlessly pursued and pummeled Lee's troops westward across the Virginia countryside. The Associated Press reported the details of the surrender, noting Lee had crossed the Appomattox River and burned bridges, seeking a position away from the river. But Union forces "attacked them vigorously" in the hours before the end, convincing Lee the fight was over. AP cited accounts as saying "the road for miles was strewn with broken down wagons, caissons, and baggage of all kinds, presenting a scene seldom witnessed on the part of Lee's army." AP reported that "the rank and file of Lee's army are said to be well satisfied to give up the struggle, believing that they have no hope of success." And AP added that the formal surrender came later at the country home, leaving the Confederates forces 'at liberty to proceed to their homes or elsewhere, as they chose."

From the Associated Press

Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color The March to War

Photo by: civilwarincolor, source:

History Channel
TUE APRIL 7, 8:00 PM Central

The Civil War, one of the most defining moments in American history, tore the nation apart, pitting North against South--brother against brother.

Over the course of four years, more than 750,000 military and civilian lives were sacrificed to make the United States a more perfect union, where the human rights of every person are guaranteed. BLOOD AND GLORY: THE CIVIL WAR IN COLOR brings this important historical event to life in a two-part documentary special as never seen before.

With unprecedented access to government and private archives and using state-of-the-art technology, over 500 rare and compelling black and white photographs have been painstakingly colorized to illustrate the story of the Civil War in breathtaking detail.

(This is Part 1 of 2.)


Colt 1860 revolver found at Gettysburg

On exhibit at The Gettysburg Museum of History.

A Civil War Colt Army Revolver left on the kitchen table of the Pfeffer Farm during the battle of Gettysburg. The Pfeffer family fled with their animals like many farmers in Gettysburg to keep the horses from being taken by the Confederates. When they returned they found their farm looted and ransacked. On their table was this working pistol left by the fleeing soldiers. This gun has been in the hands of the Pfeffer decedents ever since. The curator of The Gettysburg Museum of History Erik Dorr is a Pfeffer descendant.

Coughs up bullet 58 years later


Photo courtesy of the Kilburn familyFor 58 years, the Civil War-era bullet that took the right eye of Confederate soldier Willis Meadows, left, was lodged near his brain. Fired in 1863 at the siege of Vicksburg by Union soldier Peter Knapp, right, the bullet reappeared in 1921 when Meadows was stricken with a violent coughing spell. The one-time mortal enemies were reunited as friends.

Updated Apr 12, 2012 

Willis Meadows grasped his throat and began to choke.
Whatever was stuck in there wouldn't come out, and with coughing spasms growing violent, the 78-year old couldn't breathe. Just when he thought it was his time to die, something flew from his mouth, bounced on the wooden kitchen table and tumbled to a stop.
Trapped in Meadows' head for nearly 58 years, here was the Civil War bullet, a one-ounce slug that had taken out the Confederate veteran's right eye when he was just a boy.
"Coughs Up Bullet" was a national newspaper story in 1921. Eleven years later, in a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" cartoon, it was published around the world in 42 countries and 17 different languages.
Ripley missed the most unbelievable part of the story. After 58 years, Meadows would meet the Union soldier who shot him.
Read the full story: The Mail Tribune


Rare Civil War photos now at the Smithsonian

March 27, 2015: Texas stereoscopic photography collector Robin Stanford poses for a photograph next to some of her rare Civil War-era stereoscopic photographs at the Library of Congress in Washington. (AP)

WASHINGTON –  A Houston housewife who has quietly collected rare Civil War images for 50 years has sold more than 500 early photographs to the Library of Congress.

The library announced the acquisition Sunday and is placing the first 77 images online. On Friday, 87-year-old Robin Stanford delivered the historic stereograph images from her collection to the library.

Some scenes offer a rare glimpse of slave life in the South from images made by Confederate photographers. Most previous photos showed slaves who were recently freed in the North.

Other parts of Stanford's collection show images of South Carolina at the start of the war. Another set depicts President Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession in 1865.

Stanford says the images are like ghosts from the past that reflect part of American history.

From Fox News