Buku Raising the White Flag by Silkenat David;

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Raising the White Flag by Silkenat David;

Author:Silkenat, David;

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press

Published: 2019-06-13T16:00:00+00:00

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Raising the White Flag by Silkenat David;

7: A Convulsion at Appomattox

Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and the Uneasy Peace

Historian Bruce Catton titled the 1953 Pulitzer Prize–winning final volume of his Army of the Potomac trilogy A Stillness at Appomattox. Catton’s choice of title reflected his belief that something singular and sacred transpired in Wilmer McLean’s parlor between Union general Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Yet despite its prominence in the title, Catton devoted only the book’s two final pages to events in Appomattox Courthouse. In Catton’s recounting, once flags of truce appeared on April 9, 1865, “no one could doubt that Lee was going to surrender.” Both armies fell under the spell of “the enormous silence,” a phrase Catton also used as the title of the book’s culminating chapter. As a final image, Catton described Grant arriving at the McLean house, asking if Lee had arrived, and ascending the porch steps. Everything afterward—the surrender negotiations themselves, the stacking of arms, and the distribution of paroles—Catton left to the reader’s imagination.1

 

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Raising the White Flag by Silkenat David;

Author:Silkenat, David; , Date: June 14, 2019

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Author:Silkenat, David;

Language: eng

Format: epub

Publisher: University of North Carolina Press

Published: 2019-06-13T16:00:00+00:00
7: A Convulsion at Appomattox

Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and the Uneasy Peace

Historian Bruce Catton titled the 1953 Pulitzer Prize–winning final volume of his Army of the Potomac trilogy A Stillness at Appomattox. Catton’s choice of title reflected his belief that something singular and sacred transpired in Wilmer McLean’s parlor between Union general Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Yet despite its prominence in the title, Catton devoted only the book’s two final pages to events in Appomattox Courthouse. In Catton’s recounting, once flags of truce appeared on April 9, 1865, “no one could doubt that Lee was going to surrender.” Both armies fell under the spell of “the enormous silence,” a phrase Catton also used as the title of the book’s culminating chapter. As a final image, Catton described Grant arriving at the McLean house, asking if Lee had arrived, and ascending the porch steps. Everything afterward—the surrender negotiations themselves, the stacking of arms, and the distribution of paroles—Catton left to the reader’s imagination.1

Bruce Catton’s retelling of Lee’s surrender drew upon and reinforced one of the central myths of Appomattox: that it was a unique event, without parallel or precedent during the Civil War or even in American history. Yet Appomattox was the product of four years of conflict in which surrender had often played a prominent role and was the first in series of surrenders that would signify Confederate defeat. Far from an isolated event, Appomattox reflected the experience of earlier surrenders and shaped those that came later. Placing Appomattox within the long history of Civil War surrenders reveals an event more complex and contentious than popular memory suggests. Far from a stillness, Lee’s surrender at Appomattox created a tumultuous thunder that reverberated throughout his army and across the Confederacy.

Many of the participants at Appomattox drew on their prior experiences with surrender. Union general Ulysses S. Grant had secured surrenders at Fort Donelson and Vicksburg, victories that had made him famous and had prompted his promotion. While Grant brought his experience accepting Confederate surrenders to Appomattox, many of his officers could sympathize with the surrendering enemy, having themselves been forced to raise the white flag. Indeed, among the highest ranks of Grant’s army were veterans of the major Union surrenders, including Fort Sumter (Samuel Wylie Crawford and Truman Seymour), San Augustin Springs (Alfred Gibbs), and Harpers Ferry (Samuel Armstrong). Deeper in the ranks, one could find hundreds of Union soldiers who had surrendered and spent time in Confederate prisons, including many who had only recently returned to arms after the reopening of prisoner exchange. Lee’s army drew on a similar wealth of experience. Lee himself had witnessed the aftermath of Twiggs’s surrender at San Antonio. More importantly, one of every five soldiers in Lee’s army had spent time in a Union prison, and they brought these memories with them to Appomattox. Some former prisoners, captured at the height of the exchange regime in 1862 and early 1863, had experienced only brief confinement. However, many

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