April 13, 1865: Grant in Washington

Ulysses S. Grant arrived in Washington, DC on April 13. He intended to start cutting costs: although the war was not over, it was now clearly winding down, and it was time to look toward the future. Lincoln congratulated his general, then begged off seeing the nighttime illuminations, leaving Grant to ride in the presidential carriage with the first lady. It was not a pleasant experience. Mrs. Lincoln’s feelings were ruffled when she realized that the people cheering as the carriage passed by were celebrating the general, not saluting the presidential carriage. Uncomfortable, Grant would have no stomach for a possible repeat performance, something he thought about as he contemplated the president’s invitation to the Grants to accompany the First Couple to the theater the next evening. As the general would attend the cabinet meeting the next day, there would be plenty of time to figure out what to do.

William T. Sherman’s men entered Raleigh, North Carolina. Sherman knew the war was coming to an end in the Tar Heel State. Learning of Lee’s surrender the previous day, he told Grant that the Appomattox terms “are magnanimous and liberal. Should Johnston follow Lee’s example I shall of course grant the same.” However, when he told the people of Raleigh what had happened in Virginia, they did not believe it.

The end was near.

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.

Dimitri Rotov Wants To Know

From Dimitri Rotov’s blog Civil War Bookshelf, which is starting to show some signs of life again …

The passing

A friend writes,

Just saw news of Pfanz’s death, and was thinking about Civil War history and generations of historians:

I guess you saw Harry W. Pfanz just died (age 93). Albert Castel died in November (age 86).

Stephen Sears is 82. McPherson is 78. James I. “Bud” Robertson is 84 or 85. Ed Bearss is 91. William C. Davis is a spritely 68, but just retired.

Are we now, fully and finally, in the age of Simpson, Rafuse, Grimsley, Symonds, Woodworth, Carmichael, Hess, et al.? And if so, what will they do as they seize the wheel? With their power to shape history? Will we see new and powerful analyses of battles and leaders and logistics and politics, or just blog posts about social history and latter-day “controversies” like the Confederate flag? How many of those guys are working on major books at this point? Do we have anything to look forward to?

(Then there’s the threat of Michael Korda and the like. Don’t get me started.)

Your thoughts, dear reader?

Of course, as Dimitri’s blog has no comments section, there’s no place to put answers to his question. But that doesn’t mean you can’t share your thoughts here.

As for me, certainly I’m working on various projects, but they aren’t all limited to the period of 1861-65. As to what those projects are, I like keeping some things a surprise.

I didn’t know that I was entitled to have an age named after me, individually or with others. Well, as Taylor Swift says, some people love the players, while I love the game.