The Palmetto Sharpshooters
encamped on the Williamsburg Road until the 24 February
the Palmetto's now took up position at Fort Gilmer, 5 miles away.
31 March. They enter the inner defense lines.
Some time after 1630,1 April, Longstreet orders Benning's and Bratton's Brigades, who are on the Richmond front, north of the James River, to reinforce Petersburg
3rd Petersburg, 2 April. Having been on the move since early morning sometime about 1400 hours Benning's Brigade arrived, with Bratton's a little later, and move into position on the old Dimmock Line along Old Town Creek (Indian Town Creek and known today as Rohoic Creek), Petersburg's original defense lines. Here Wright's VI Corps who have made the original breakthrough stop as 'Finding us not inclined to give way to him, contented himself with forming line of battle in front of us, but out of range'. This prevents the Federal assault in the south west from taking the city itself.
2-3 April. Leaving Petersburg in the evening, with Longstreet's Corps, they crossed the Appomattox river on a pontoon bridge marching via Matoaca. By evening Field's and Cadmus Wilcox's Divisions crossed the river at Goode's Bridge, more than 30 miles from Petersburg, and camp on its west side. They now cover the crossing of the remaining First and Third Corps troops, the crossing is not completed until the next morning.
4 April. With the remainder of the Corps across they now marched to Amelia Court House. On arrival they find that four Regiments of Federal cavalry, under Ranald Mackenzie are across the road on the far side of the town. Longstreet now deploys Field's, Wilcox's and Heth's Divisions in the hope that they will be attacked while awaiting the remainder of the army to come up.
Here they await the supplies that are being gathered in. Leaving at midday, on the 5th, they marched towards Jetersville. Near the town they find Sheridan's cavalry block the road along with V Corps, and with II Corps coming up. Leaving Field's and Wilcox's Divisions in 'line of battle' to cover the withdrawal the First and Third Corps marched north through the night via Amelia/Sulpher Springs, Deatonville.
They started to arrive midmorning at the Rice's Station/Depot, 6th, with Field's and Wilcox's soon joining them. The Federal the 6th II, V and VI Corps are just behind. At 1800 they assault the entrenchments, only to find them deserted. There were very few casualties.
With Field's Division leading First and Third Corps had set off reaching Farmville in the early hours of the 7th. At Farmville the early arrivals were lucky enough to draw rations from the waiting railroad cars before Federal troops force a further withdrawal. For some reason, possibly they are rear guard, the Brigade are unable to cross with the remainder of the Corps as the bridges had been burnt so they are forced to cross at a ford further up river. They rejoin the Corps who are drawn up in 'line of battle' on Cumberland Heights. With no immediate pursue the two Corps march three miles to Cumberland Church. Here the dug in at about 1300.
Humphrey's II Corps come across Longstreet's and Gordon's Corps at the Cumberland Church (Farmville), 7 April. Hearing gunfire from the Confederate rear Humphrey's, thinking he was supported by VI Corps, attack the Confederate left wing at about 1615. The Brigade, which are the army reserve, are sent as reinforcements to support Gordon who's flank is being turned but arrived after the attack has been contained. The Federal loses were around 650 men, with the Confederate about 250.
Field and Wilcox hold the position while what remains of the other Corps starts to retire. Ordered to be rear guard Field's Division are now pulled back to the high ground on the Lynchfield Road to a new defensive line so that Wilcox and the artillery can retire. That night at midnight they again embarked on a night march, Longstreet's Corps going via Curdsville and New Store.
It was a quiet days march on the 8th and some time late in the day the Division encamp somewhere near Holliday's Creek. At midnight they are awoken and move off finally catching up with the rear of the army, only a couple of miles, north east, of Appomattox Court House. Bivouacking there for the night.
Appomattox Court House, 9 April. Longstreet has dug in where the troops stand, at New Hope Church. With Gordon needing help Longstreet dispatch's Wilcox and Mahone to him thus leaving Field with the what remained of Heth's and Pickett's Divisions. At about 0800 Humphrey's II Corps, with VI Corps in support, resume their march and arrive at Field's position. At 0830 with II and VI about to attack Robert E.Lee' dressed in a suit of new uniform, sword and sash, a handsomely embroidered belt, boots, and a pair of gold spurs' rides through Field's lines with a courier and a couple of staff officers and requested a meeting with Grant to discus surrendering the army.
The surrender was signed about 1500. As Lee rode back to his lines 'a burst of salutations greeted him....the road was packed by standing troops as he approached, the men with hats off, heads and hearts bowed down.....the shock was most severe upon Field's division. Seasoned by four years of battle triumphant.....surrender had not had time to enter their minds until it was announced accomplished!'
Grant arranged the issue of rations to the starving Confederate troops. Also the Federal troops 'shared their provender with their foemen, until every haversack was empty'; they relaxed 'guard duty that night...resembled a picnic rather than a picket line'; with total intermingling between both sides 'the Johnnies had the privilege of strolling into our camps and were received as though they had been old-time comrades.'
In a display of friendship and respect the 16th Michigan shook hands and shared their rations with the Palmetto Sharpshooters, ironically the very Regiment that had surrendered to them at Gaines' Mill back in June 1862.
A formal laying down of arms was organized 'The troops shall march by Brigades, and detachments to a designated point, stack their arms, depot their flags, sabers, pistols etc.... and from their march to their homes under charge of their officers....'.
So on the 10th the cavalry went first, due to the shortage of fodder for the horses, and on the 11th the artillery. Joshua L. Chamberlain was given the honour of receiving the surrender of the infantry and he lined the three brigades of V Corps, 1st Division, on both sides of the road.
At 0600, on the 12th, Major General John B. Gordon marched the silent Confederate troops from their final bivouac across the northern branch of the Appomattox River along Stage Road and up the hill to the waiting Federal lines. 'On they come, with the old swinging route step and swaying battle-flags .... crowded so thick, by thinning out of men, that the whole column seemed crowned with red ....This occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms .... our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldiers salutation, from the 'order arms' to the old 'carry'--the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column ....catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning ....he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual,--honour answering honour ....(halting) the men face inward towards us across the road, twelve feet away; then carefully 'dress' their line, each captain taking pains for the good appearance of his company, worn and half starved as they were ....They fix bayonets, stack arms; then, hesitatingly, remove cartridge-boxes and lay them down. Lastly,-- reluctantly, with agony of expression,--they tenderly fold their flags, battle-worn and torn, blood-stained, heart-holding colors, and lay them down; some frenziedly rushing from the ranks, kneeling over them, clinging to them, pressing them to their lips with burning tears.'
(The quotation above was by Joshua L. Chamberlain. although a recently published book feels that the salute 'was a product of Chamberlain's post-reconstruction memory' and that Gordon 'found the fable too appealing to refute.' There is also a recent article that also disputes this ever happened.)
When the Division formed Bratton's Brigade was at its head and leading the Brigade were the Palmetto Sharpshooters. In this formation they marched the three miles to Appomattox Court House and stacked arms in front of the 118th Pennsylvania.
The ceremony finished at 1600 but only 71 battle flags were surrendered with many being secreted and carried away. In total 28,356 officers and men had surrendered over the three days:
Lee and Staff
At the ceremony the Palmetto Sharpshooters, under the command Captain Alfred H. Foster, surrenders 356 men, of which 284 still had weapons, and 29 officers, and was 'the only one which left the field as an organized unit.' This was the largest number of men still following their Regimental colours in the Army of Northern Virginia. (Bratton's Brigade was also the largest Brigade surrendering.)
That night the infantry began to leave for their distant homes and by the next evening many had left. In the morning men could be seen singly, or in squads, making their way home. By nightfall that day only Federal troops were still camped at Appomattox Courthouse.
The Palmetto's stayed together (possibly with many of the Brigade) and on 13 April marched 24 miles on bad rain rutted roads; on the 14th they marched as far as Campbell Court House, were they rested midday before carrying on and camped at 1500 having marched 15 miles; on the 15th they were awake before light, due to rain, crossing Staunton River at McIver's Ferry covering only 12 miles; on the 16th marching 22 miles through part of Halifax County before passing into Pittsylvania County; the 17th took them through Pittsylvania Court House until stopping at 2030 having done 26 miles; on the 18th carrying on to Danville where the Brigade 'marched through in perfect order' camping three miles beyond the town; (here Colonel Asbury Coward, of the 5th S.C.V. had 'secured 1300 rations and railroad transportation'; on the 19th they march eight miles down the railroad track leaving Virginia and entering North Carolina and at Pelham Station they boarded a train which took them at least to Greensboro. Over the next few days they continued back to South Carolina, their homes and families.
9 April. General Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia.
14 April. John Wilkes Booth assassinates President Abraham Lincoln at Fords Theatre, Washington.
26 April. General Joseph E. Johnson surrenders the Army of the Tennessee.
4 May. Lieutenant General Richard Taylor surrenders the Department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana
5 May Major General Dabney H. Maury surrenders the District of the Gulf.
10 May. The naval raider C.S.S. Florida surrenders.
Jefferson Davis captured near, Irwinville, Georgia.
13 May. Confederate troops win the action at Palmito Ranch, Texas.
26 May. Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith surrenders the Trans-Mississippi Department.
29 May. President Andrew Jackson issues a 'Proclamation of Amnesty'.
23 June. Brigadier General Stand Watie surrenders the Confederate Indians.
6 November. The naval raider C.S.S. Shenandoah surrenders to British authorities.
2 April With State governments that meet Federal directives installed President Andrew Jackson proclaims 'that the insurrection...is at an end and is henceforth to be so re-guarded.'
13 May Jefferson Davis released from imprisonment.
1872 President Grant signs The Amnesty Act, re-franchising all in the South except for a few who had been prominent as leaders of the Confederacy.
1877 The last military governments are removed from the ex-Confederate States and home rule at State level is restored