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Monday, November 14, 2005

21. Lee And Grant, The End - William E. Brooks

“Is Lee over there?” pointing up the road.
“Yes, he is in that brick house, waiting to surrender to you.”
...Lee had been waiting there, in a high-backed armchair by the window, for a half-hour before Grant came. He arose as Grant entered with extended hand, saying “General Lee.” They shook hands and began talking of the days when they had met before, in Mexico. The Memoirs go on with the story: “Our conversation grew so pleasant that I almost forgot the object of our meeting. After conversation had run on in this style for some time General Lee called my attention to the object of our meeting.”
Grant had stated his terms, that Lee’s army “should lay down their arms, not to take them up again”. Again the talk wandered off into other fields and again Lee had to interrupt with the suggestion that Grant write out the terms he proposed. Paroles were to be given that officers and men were not to take up arms against the United States until properly exchanged; all arms and public property were to be surrendered. “This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside”. As Grant finished writing Lee took from his pocket a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles, pushed some books aside on the table beside him, and carefully read what had been written. When he came to the last sentence he showed his appreciation and, with some degree of warmth in his manner, said: “This will have a very happy effect on my army.”
When Grant asked him for suggestions he pointed out that the horses of the calvary and artillery belonged to the men who used them, and he was immediately told that the parole officers would be instructed “to let all the men who claim to own a horse or mule take the animals home with them to work their little farms.”
Then Grant asked about his need of rations, remembering that Sheridan had the cars that should have reached Amelia, and when Lee told him of this situation he gave orders that sufficient should be turned over to answer all their need.
The letters containing the terms and their acceptance were signed, the last formalities were over, and Lee left the room. He signaled to his orderly to bridle his horse, and standing on the steps of the porch he looked out over the valley where his army lay, smiting the glove he carried in his right hand on his left, in an absent sort of way, and seeming to see nothing till his horse was led in front of him; then mounted and rode away. As he was going Grant came to the door and saluted him in silence.
.....And when the firing of salutes began to sound from his own lines he stopped them with words, “The war is over; the rebels are our countrymen again; and the best sign of rejoicing after the victory will be to abstain from all demonstrations in the field.”

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