The Battle of Appomattox Court House, fought on the morning of April 9, 1865, was the final engagement of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia before it surrendered to the Union Army under Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant near the end of the American Civil War. Lee, having abandoned Richmond after the Siege of Petersburg, retreated to the west, hoping to join his army with the Confederate forces in North Carolina. His final stand was at Appomattox Court House, where he launched an attack to break through the Union force to his front, which he assumed consisted entirely of cavalry. When he realized that the cavalry was backed up by two corps of Union infantry, he had no choice but to surrender.
The signing of the surrender documents occurred in the parlor of the house owned by Wilmer McLean on the afternoon of April 9. On April 12, a formal ceremony marked the disbandment of the Army of Northern Virginia and the parole of its officers and men, effectively ending the Civil War.
On April 1, 1865, Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan's cavalry turned Lee's flank at the Battle of Five Forks. The next day Grant's army achieved a decisive breakthrough, effectively ending the Siege of Petersburg. Lee abandoned Petersburg and Richmond and headed west to Appomattox Station, where a supply train awaited him. From there he hoped to move south to join with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army in North Carolina; an alternative possibility was to escape to the mountains and conduct a guerilla campaign there. On April 8, 1865, Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer captured and burned three supply trains waiting for Lee's army at the Battle of Appomattox Station. Now both the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James were converging on Appomattox.
With his supplies at Appomattox destroyed, Lee now looked west, to the railway at Lynchburg, where more supplies awaited him. While the Union Army was closing in on Lee, all that lay between ...