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Primary Source: Articles of Agreement Relating to the Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

The Civil War came to a close when Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9th, 1865. They signed the treaty of surrender at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

End of the Civil War

By 1865, it became clear that the Confederacy could no longer win the Civil War. The Union had the far larger army and could much more easily replace its losses than the Confederacy. Additionally, the Union's tremendous advantage in supplies, horses, cannons, and railroads meant that the Confederacy would be both outnumbered and outgunned in any further engagements. Robert E. Lee had proven unable to overcome Ulysses S. Grant's strategy of winning the war via attrition. Grant finally trapped Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and Lee, realizing that the remnants of his forces would be totally wiped out, surrendered.

While the signing of the surrender at the Appomattox Court House is the traditional end date of the Civil War, there were other Confederate generals who had yet to surrender their forces. General Nathan Bedford Forrest had been tremendously successful using his own army in the western theater to harass the Union advance, but after hearing about Lee's surrender he too chose to give up the fight rather than have his own men wiped out. One month later, the Union captured Confederate president Jefferson Davis, whom many historians blame for mismanaging, or even losing, the Civil War.

Text of Articles of Agreement Relating to the Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia

Appomattox Court House Virginia

April 10, 1865

Agreement entered into this day in regard to the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to the United States Authorities.

1st The troops shall march by Brigades and Detachments to a designated point, stack their Arms, deposit their flags, Sabres, Pistols, etc. and from thence march to their homes under charge of their Officers, superintended by their respective Division and Corps Commanders, Officers, retaining their side Arms, and the authorized number of private horses.

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