On April 12 the Army of Northern Virginia stacked arms, furled flags, and formally completed surrendering. Much has been made of this ceremony, largely by Joshua Chamberlain and John B. Gordon, two gifted writers with vivid imaginations and healthy egos whose stories improved with age. Yet neither Grant nor Lee was present (Lee waited until after the ceremony to head back to Richmond, where his wife remained), and in fact several Confederate units had already stacked arms and signed paroles. Gordon had attempted to have his men stack arms on April 11, avoiding the ceremony, but John Gibbon and Charles Griffin, in charge of arranging the surrender, insisted upon a more formal process that would take place the next day: otherwise Gibbon would not issue paroles. Nor did everyone have arms to stack: what remained of George Pickett’s division left a mere fifty-three rifled muskets at the surrender.
There was another surrender elsewhere, as US forces occupied Mobile, Alabama. This time it was Dabney Maury who set fire to the cotton in town before he left, although Mobile fared better than did Columbia, South Carolina. To the north James H. Wilson’s horsemen entered Montgomery; back in North Carolina William T. Sherman’s forces were closing in on Raleigh. Aware of what might happen next, Joseph Johnston recommended opening negotiations with his Yankee counterpart, but Jefferson Davis demurred. Only after extensive discussion did Johnston get his way when members of Davis’s cabinet sided with the general.
In the aftermath of his speech on Reconstruction policy, Abraham Lincoln pulled the plug on any notion of gathering the members of Virginia’s Confederate legislature together to help remove the Old Dominion from the conflict. After all, events at Appomattox had gone far to achieve that end. Meanwhile, Ulysses and Julia Grant left City Point and made their way to Washington. That city continued to celebrate the news of victory with anticipation of greater things to come.