Appomattox

Overview

Introduction

The village that was known as Appomattox Court House is where the Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant and his Union forces. The surrender effectively ended the Civil War. What is surprising to us is that there are only a couple of monuments that commemorate the place where one of the country's most painful conflicts ceased. There are no souvenir shops or theme restaurants. The result is highly affecting in its austerity—in fact, it's one of our favorite Civil War sites.

Today the village is known simply as Appomattox, but the courthouse and more than a dozen other buildings have been restored and incorporated into the National Historic Park. Standing in the park and looking out over the fields, you can see what Lee and Grant would have seen in 1865. Stop in the visitors center (housed in the reconstructed courthouse) to see an excellent film on the surrender, then walk through its small museum. Afterward, walk through the McLean House, where Lee and Grant finally met face to face to sign the armistice. Allow several hours to visit the area.

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