Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter VIII: The Surrender: His reception in Richmond after the surrender

The Document

A day or two after the surrender, General Lee started for Richmond, riding Traveller, who had carried him so well all through the war. He was accompanied by some of his staff. On the way, he stopped at the house of his eldest brother, Charles Carter Lee, who lived on the Upper James in Powhatan County. He spent the evening in talking with his brother, but when bedtime came, though begged by his host to take the room and bed prepared for him, he insisted on going to his old tent, pitched by the roadside, and passed the night in the quarters he was accustomed to. On April 15th he arrived in Richmond. The people there soon recognised him; men, women, and children crowded around him, cheering and waving hats and handkerchiefs. It was more like the welcome to a conqueror than to a defeated prisoner on parole. He raised his hat in response to their greetings, and rode quietly to his home on Franklin Street, where my mother and sisters were anxiously awaiting him. Thus he returned to that private family life for which he had always longed, and become what he always desired to be--a peaceful citizen in a peaceful land.

In attempting to describe these last days of the Army of Northern Virginia, I have quoted largely from Long, Jones, Taylor, and Fitz Lee, all of whom have given more or less full accounts of the movements of both armies.

It so happened that shortly after we left our lines, April 2d or 3d, in one of the innumerable contests, my horse was shot, and in getting him and myself off the field, having no choice of routes, the pursuing Federal cavalry intervened between men and the rest of our command, so I had to make my way around the head of Sheridan's advance squadrons before I could rejoin our forces. This I did not succeed in accomplishing until April 9th, the day of the surrender, for my wounded horse had to be left with a farmer, who kindly gave me one in exchange, saying I could send him back when I was able, or, if I was prevented, that I could keep him and he would replace him with mine when he got well.

Next: President Davis hears the news

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How to cite this article

Lee, Robert E. jr., The Recollections & Letters of Robert E. Lee,, webpage created by Rickard, J (8 June 2006),

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