Appomattox Court House, Virginia

In early 1865, the Union Army began marching through the state of Virginia, pushing back the Confederate forces. In hopes of uniting with more Confederate troops in North Carolina, General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army abandoned the capital of Richmond and retreated. However, the Union Army soon cut off their retreat and they were forced to stop at Appomattox, Virginia. General Grant and the Union Army had the Confederates surrounded. The Confederates were low on supplies, many soldiers were deserting, and they were greatly outnumbered. Upon looking at the conditions and the odds, General Lee felt he had no choice but to surrender.

The Surrender of Gen. Lee to Gen. Grant

Wilburn McClean and his family sitting on the front steps of their home located in Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

The McClean family home as it looks today.

Civil War Curiosity

In summer 1861, Wilmer McLean and his family lived in Manassas, Virginia. His house was on the outskirts of the battlefield, and was used as Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard’s headquarters.  After the battle, McLean began selling sugar to the Confederate Army, and moved to Appomattox Court House where he believed he would be able to avoid the fighting and the Union occupation, which impeded his work. After the war, McLean would famously observe that “The war began in my front yard and ended in my front parlor.”

  • Union soldiers assembled and waiting for the surrender of Robert E. Lee. The courthouse (of Appomattox Courthouse) is in the back of the photo.

  • Closeup of soldiers and how rifles were stacked when not needed.