With his army surrounded, his men weak and exhausted, Robert E. Lee realized there was little choice but to consider the surrender of his Army to General Grant. After a series of notes between the two leaders, they agreed to meet on April 9, 1865, at the house of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Courthouse. The meeting lasted approximately two and one-half hours and at its conclusion the bloodliest conflict in the nation's history neared its end.
Prelude to Surrender
On April 3, Richmond fell to Union troops as Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia in retreat to the West pursued by Grant and the Army of the Potomac. A running battle ensued as each Army moved farther to the West in an effort to out flank, or prevent being out flanked by the enemy. Finally, on April 7, General Grant initiated a series of dispatches leading to a meeting between the two commanders.
"General R.E. Lee, Commanding C.S.A.:
5 P.M., April 7th, 1865.
The results of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.
U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General"