It is a long distance from the planetary fact of the obliquity of the equator, which gave the earth its alternation of seasons, and rendered the history, if not the existence of man and of civilization a possibility, to the surrender of General Lee under the apple-tree at Appomattox Court-House.
To this Grant responded on the 9th, having set his army in motion to Appomattox Court House, that he had no authority to treat for peace; but added some plain words to the effect that the shortest road to peace would be surrender. Lee immediately asked for an interview.
It is well remembered that in his speech placing Grant in nomination he quoted Miles O'Reilly: If asked what State he hails from, Our sole reply shall be He comes from Appomattox And the famous apple tree.
He said that the general occupied a place between the James and Appomattox rivers which was of great strength, and where with an inferior force he could hold it for an indefinite length of time against a superior; but that he could do nothing offensively.
Crawford and Merritt engaged the enemy lightly just before night, but his main column, retreating along the river road south of the Appomattox, had got across Namozine Creek, and the darkness prevented our doing more than to pick up some stragglers.
The command of Major-General Gibbon, the 5th army corps under Griffin, and Mackenzie's cavalry, were designated to remain at Appomattox Court-House until the paroling of the surrendered army was completed, and to take charge of the public property. The remainder of the army immediately returned to the vicinity of Burkesville.
Barclay heard from Miss Lucy and through her kept track of Philemon Ward, who was transferred to another regiment after he was made major. And when he was made a colonel at Shiloh, there were tear blots on Miss Lucy's letter that told of it, and after Appomattox he was brevetted a general. As for Captain Culpepper, he came home a colonel, and Jake Dolan came home a first lieutenant.
Under the circumstances, my disappointment at not being permitted to participate in the review had to be submitted to, and I left Washington without an opportunity of seeing again in a body the men who, while under my command, had gone through so many trials and unremittingly pursued and, assailed the enemy, from the beginning of the campaign of 1864 till the white flag came into their hands at Appomattox Court House.
Answer! winter of '64, bleak spring of '65, terrible days of the great retreat when hunted down and driven to bay like wild animals, they fought from Five Forks to Appomattox Court-House fought staggering, and starving, and falling but defiant to the last! Bearded men were seen crying on the ninth of April, 1865. But it was surrender which wrung their hearts, and brought tears to the grim faces.
But Grant would not listen to anything of this sort, and directing that he be at once conducted to General Lee, followed an orderly who led him toward a comfortable two-story, brick dwelling in Appomattox village owned by a Mr. McLean who had placed it at the disposal of the Confederate commander.