Thursday, April 9, 2015

Civil War Sesquicentennial

[From  Public Domain]
April is Confederate History Month. Today, April 9, 2015, is the 150th  anniversary of General Robert E. Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. While April 9, 1865, is generally being commemorated as the end of the Civil War, it was just the first of several surrenders.

Richmond had fallen on April 2, 1865. Confederate government officials had fled and many of the papers had been burned. There was no CSA government to negotiate a surrender so commanders in the field had to negotiate their own surrender terms as news from the East reached them.

Lincoln's assassination on April 15, 1865 and the accession of Andrew Johnson to the presidency further complicated the situation.

On April 26, 1865, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, commander of the Army of Tennessee, met with Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman in Greensborough, North Carolina, and came to an agreement of surrender. After much political wrangling, Gen. Grant wired his approval and Johnston's army laid down its arms on May 3, 1865.

The next day, May 4, 1865, Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor surrendered the army of the Departments of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana to Gen. E. R. S. Canby at Citronelle, Alabama, 40 miles north of Mobile. Taylor had previously met and negotiated a ceasefire with Gen. Canby on April 29, 1865 at Jacob Magee's farm in Kushla. Of interest to our family is the fact that Mrs. Magee was Benjamin Franklin Tisdale's sister, Mary Eliza Tisdale (1810-1882). Of further interest is the fact that Belle Tisdale's cousin, Nathan Tisdale, fought at the Siege of Mobile and was lying wounded at Taylor's headquarters in Meridian, Mississippi, by the time his general surrendered.

On May 10, 1865, at Tallahassee, Florida, Major General Samuel Jones surrendered the army of the Departments of South Georgia and Florida to Brig. Gen. Edward M. McCook.

On May 11, 1865, at Chalk Bluff, Arkansas, Brig. Gen. Merriwether Jeff Thompson surrendered the army of the Department of Missouri to Maj. Gen. Grenville M. Dodge.

On May 26, 1865, in New Orleans, Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner, acting for Lt. Gen. E. Kirby Smith, surrendered the Army of the Trans-Mississippi, which included West Louisiana and Texas, to Maj. Gen. Simon B. Osterhaus with Gen. Kirby Smith signing the agreement in Galveston, Texas, on June 2, 1865.

The last surrender was on June 23, 1865, when Brig. Gen. Stand Watie, who was also chief of the Cherokee Nation, surrendered his battalion of Creek, Seminole, Cherokee, and Osage Indians to Lt. Col. Asa C. Matthews near Fort Towson in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma.

The Federal Government declared the War to be officially over on August 20, 1865.

[Sources: Historical Times Encyclopedia of the Civil War, edited by Patricia L. Faust, posted on and “The Surrenders” by John Cook, posted on

The "Index of Civil War Information Available on the Internet" formerly maintained by the Louisiana State University Civil War Center is also available on the civilwarhome website.

The  Civil War Sesquicentennial website has a great time line of events for the entire war.

Strangely enough, one of the best papers I found while researching this part of the war was at  the American Civil War Round Table of Australia website . Yes, Australia! Their 2006 Conference Papers include John Cook's paper cited above.
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