Confederates surrendered before and after their commander met Grant at Wilmer McLean’s house. In so doing, she does nothing less than redefine the surrender. Instead of a single dramatic moment, we must begin to con- sider the capitulation of Lee’s army as a scattered, staggered, and confusing event that took place across much of Virginia in the chaotic netherworld of April 1865. Elizabeth R. Varon’s insightful final chapter examines the surrender from a different perspective, that of African Americans. Well into the Great Depression, many survivors of slavery maintained that it was the courage of African American soldiers in the final campaign that forced Lee’s subse - quent surrender to Grant and ended slavery. They celebrated “Surrender Day” as “a moment of liberation” for years to come, even as white supremacists across the reunited nation more successfully constructed at Appomattox a quite different kind of racial rapprochement (267, 278). One admittedly minor avenue that Varon does not explore beyond noting its existence is the widespread but now forgotten popular memory among African Americans of Lee surrendering to Grant under an apple tree. One wonders if the legend conflates the surrender at the McLean house with John C. Pemberton’s surrender
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Mar 1, 2019
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