Civil War Ends as Lee Surrenders to Grant in Wilmer McLean's House

American Minute with Bill Federer

Wilmer McLean’s farm in Manassas Junction, Virginia, was the location of the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861.

Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, who was using McLean’s house as his headquarters, wrote:

“…of this artillery fight was the destruction of the dinner of myself and staff by a Federal shell that fell into the fire-place of my headquarters at the McLean House.”

The Confederate victory was due in large part to Gen. Jackson holding his ground like a “stonewall,” resulting in his nickname, “Stonewall Jackson.”

With momentum on their side, the Confederate troops could have pursued the fleeing and exhausted Union army 20 miles to Washington and won the war, but that night an unusually heavy rain turned the roads into mud pits and the pursuit was called off.

Wilmer McLean moved to get away from the conflict, yet almost four years later his new home, near Appomattox Court House, Virginia, was the agreed location for General Robert E. Lee to surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant on Palm Sunday, APRIL 9, 1865.

Ken Burn’s documentary film of the Civil War stated that the war began in Wilmer McLean’s front yard and ended in his front parlor.

The Civil War resulted in approximately 258,000 Confederate deaths and 360,000 Union deaths.

In McLean’s house, General Robert E. Lee took off his sword and handed it to General Ulysses S. Grant. Grant handed it back.

Union General Philip Sheridan bought McLean’s table where Grant drafted the document, and gave it to Major General George Armstrong Custer to carry it away on his horse.

The next day, General Lee issued his final order:

“After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude…

I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen. By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes.”

Robert E. Lee concluded:

“I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you His blessing and protection.”


The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.


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