SAY WHAT? - This weekend marked the surrender of the Confederate Army under "that genteel butcher Bobby Lee" to Ulysses S. Grant, and the end of a Civil War that in the sordid name of Southern white supremacy cost four years and 630,000 lives. On Sunday April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army of North Virginia, fighting for the unholy right to own other human beings as property, to General Ulysses S. Grant; the ceremony at the home of Wilmer and Virginia McLean in the town of Appomattox Court House, VA took an hour and a half.
Days before, Grant had ridden west to ask Lee's cornered band to surrender, declaring any "further effusion of blood" would be solely on Lee's traitorous hands. Lee declined, but did ask about a possible peace agreement; the gentlemanly Grant offered a possible military surrender instead. On that Sunday, writes Heather Cox Richardson, admirably bringing the historic down to human scale, Grant woke with a migraine, having spent the night treating it with mustard plasters that didn't work: "In the morning, Grant pulled on his dirty clothes and rode out to the head of his column with his head throbbing." Lee, ever the brutal but elegant plantation owner, had dressed grandly in dress uniform, expecting to be taken prisoner; instead, under the surrender's generous terms, his military leaders were spared criminal trials, and handsomely fed. Notes Thomas Levenson, "Looking forward, not back, is no new trope in American politics."