April 10, 1865: Grant and Lee Meet Again

In past years I have offered posts on this blog about the April 10 meeting between Grant and Lee near what is now called Surrender Triangle. One post covered images of the encounter; I have already discussed what happened (and didn’t happen) at the meeting.

It was not the only time Grant met Confederates that day, as this Dale Gallon image reminds us:

I prefer that to this recent rendering of Lee’s departure from the McLean house.

I doubt that Grant came all the way down to apologize to Lee for making the Confederate surrender. Maybe James Thurber inspired this image. But it’s not the first time someone’s suggested that Grant made such an effort to say goodbye.

Somehow I doubt it. Maybe Grant wanted to talk more about Mexico, and Lee just wanted to get out of there. They would not have been Facebook friends.

It must have been strange for the officers and men that day to wake up without worrying about being killed or getting ready to march somewhere. That must have been the real stillness at Appomattox.

6 thoughts on “April 10, 1865: Grant and Lee Meet Again

  1. Andy Hall April 10, 2015 / 12:04 pm

    There’s always been something about Kunstler’s use of colors that always seemed a bit “off” for me. What’s up with the taupe McLean House?

    • SF Walker April 10, 2015 / 2:57 pm

      I’ve always preferred Don Troiani’s works when it comes to contemporary Civil War art. He takes fidelity to the genuine article seriously, whether it’s the look of a particular building or a colorful homespun coverlet carried as a blanket by a random Confederate private. Ever notice how Kunstler’s Buford and Chamberlain look remarkably like the actors who portrayed them in “Gettysburg?”

  2. John Foskett April 10, 2015 / 12:32 pm

    For me, it’s always interesting to discard the standard assumptions about how two people brought together in a great historical event related to each other. Instead, I try to look at where each came from and how they might have realistically seen each other. In Mexico Lee was a “heavy”, holding an important staff position under Scott. Grant was a young subaltern performing largely quartermaster duties. Their post-Mexico careers were completely different in trajectory and conclusion. I have always imagined that it must have been virtually impossible for Lee to view Grant as anything like an equal, and i’ve always thought that played some part in his facially absurd.post-war assessment of McClellan as his most formidable opponent. McClellan, to be sure, was of a different, younger generation than was Lee but he had something of a “patrician” upbringing, he served on the Delafield Commission, and he had a successful business career in railroading before 1861. All of this is, of course, unvarnished speculation.

    • Will Hickox April 10, 2015 / 2:31 pm

      You make good points. I’ve long suspected McClellan’s frequent rudeness–sometimes verging on insubordination–toward his own commander-in-chief was partly due to the disparity in their social backgrounds.

    • SF Walker April 10, 2015 / 3:04 pm

      I think you may be onto something there. I’ve always been a bit puzzled by Lee’s high opinion of McClellan as an opponent. I’ve wondered if the fact that his and Mac’s forces were closer to parity in strength in 1862 may have influenced his assessment.

  3. Mark April 11, 2015 / 9:20 am

    Lee’s response isn’t necessarily puzzling. Let’s apply Occam’s razor here. Folks seem to struggle to reconcile a supposedly magnanimous man blinded to who Grant really was and did. I seriously doubt he didn’t think a quartermaster could be a good general, and Grant was a highly decorated veteran of the Mexican War, was he not? I’m not sure if Lee’s claim to have remembered Grant was true or just social courtesy, but I supposed he might actually have but I could be wrong.

    All the bleating by the usual suspects over his high valuation of duty and honor has obscured the fact that his concept of such things was highly personalized and warped. It seems so me that if we look at Lee’s life and actions, public and private (including reading his private letters), the comprehensive picture is of a man that was a self-absorbed, petty, and vindictive sore loser. Why would such a man admit to the greatness and/or skill of the one who outgeneraled him in the thing he cared about the most? That it pained him to speak–or even think of–the fact? Is it really more complicated than that?

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