An Aide-De-Camp of Lee
Charles Marshall

[Notes: Chapter 12]

1 At Sailor’s Creek, a small affluent of the Appomattox, Ewell’s corps was surrounded on April 6th and surrendered.

2 Among these was Lee himself. General Long (Memories of R. E. Lee, p. 416) describes what happened on April 7th before Grant’s first letter arrived:—

Perceiving the difficulties that surrounded the army and believing its extrication hopeless, a number of the principal officers from a feeling of affection and sympathy for the Commander-in-Chief and with a wish to lighten his responsibility and soften the pain of defeat, volunteered to inform him that in their opinion the struggle had reached a point when further resistance was hopeless, and that the contest should be terminated and negotiations opened for a surrender of the army. The delivery of this opinion was confided to General Pendleton, who by his character and devotion to General Lee was well qualified for such an office. The names of Longstreet and some others who did not coincide in opinion with their associates did not appear in the list presented by Pendleton. The interview that succeeded is thus described by General Pendleton:

“General Lee was lying on the ground. No others heard the conversation between him and myself. He received my communication with the reply, ‘Oh! no! I trust it has not come to that,’ and added: ‘General, we have yet too many bold men to think of laying down our arms. The enemy do not fight with spirit, while our boys still do. Besides, if I were to say a word to the Federal Commander, he would regard it as such a confession of weakness as to make it the condition of demanding an unconditional surrender—a proposal to which I will never listen.’ ”

3 In fairness to Cornwallis it must be said that the circumstances in 1781 and 1865 were somewhat different. Historians are agreed that Cornwallis at Yorktown behaved with dignity and good feeling. He took an early opportunity of meeting Washington and at a dinner given by the French and American officers to the British officers proposed Washington’s health in very happy terms.

4 A. P. Hill was killed on April 2, 1865, during the battle of Five Forks. He rode unexpectedly into a party of stragglers, who shot him down.

5 Lee caused Gordon to send a flag of truce simultaneously to Sheridan, who was blocking the Confederate front. Both Meade and Sheridan were at first suspicious that the request for a suspension of hostilities was a ruse to gain time; both, however, eventually agreed.

6 This little conversation is of peculiar interest because Lee first met Grant when he was a captain on General Scott’s staff in the Mexican war, and Grant was a lieutenant of infantry. General Scott had issued an order that officers coming to headquarters were to do so in full dress. Grant had been making a reconnaissance and came to headquarters to report the result in his field dress, plentifully covered with the dust of Mexico, evidently thinking in 1847, as he did in 1865, that time was of more importance than appearance. Lee had to tell Grant to go back to his tent and return in full dress. One wonders whether, when apologizing to Lee a second time for his informal costume, Grant remembered what had happened eighteen years before.