St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Dear Mary, The War is Over

Can you imagine the scene when General Lee made the decision to surrender on April 9, 1865, to General Grant?  Can you imagine the heartache, the despair?  General Lee was surrounded after the fall of Richmond and Petersburg.  All he had was a tired, starving army and lots of Union soldiers between him and the supplies so badly needed.


It took great courage to surrender.  The terms he requested of General Grant included immediate pardons for his army.  Grant honored that request and also supplied some food to the starving Confederates.  It took most of the day as the two generals sat and talked in Appomattox. By all accounts, they had not seen each other in over 20 years.  Reports tell us they talked some of the past before they settled down to the business at hand.

The war was over.  Can you imagine how much relief was felt by the men wearing their uniforms of blue and gray that day!  The struggle was over.  No longer would brother take arms up against his brother. They could go home.  They could back to life. 

With time, the Union would truly reunite.  A note of interest is that after the Civil War, the United States of America becomes a single entity when referring to it.


What was it like on that fateful day?  The following letter provides only a quick mention of Lee's surrender.  More fighting would be in the future for other soldiers that day and many more to come.
The letter below was written by George LEMMON, of Co. F, 139th PA Infantry, at the end of the Civil War, to his cousin, Mary Shoop.  The family of Mary Shoop has preserved the letters sent to her by her brother, George SHOOP,  and plans to have the collection published. 

A special thanks to her 2g-grandson, John Snowden, for giving me permission to publish this one letter of the collection on my genealogy blog.  



Camp Near Burks Station, Va. April 30 {1865}

    Cousin Mary,

    Your welcome letter came to hand this morning. I was very glad to hear
    from you. I am in good health at the present time. I hope these few lines
    may find you all the same. We have been moving Camp today and building
    summer quarters. We have gay quarters built but I donât think we will stay
    here very long. I think we are going back to Richmond or Petersburg closer
    to our base of supplies. The 5^th and 2^nd Corps moved in that direction
    this morning. The report is that we will remain here a few days yet.

    Well Mary, I did not get time to finish this letter last evening. I was
    called on to draw rations. I will do as well as I can this morning. We had
    some rain here in the night and looks as if it will rain more today. I
    hope we will not have such a flood as you had the day I started to the
    Regât.

    I suppose you have heard all the news about the last battle. I got through
    safe and was there when Lee surrendered to Grant. I was talking to your
    brother George when the news came that he had surrendered. I tell you
    there was a happy set of boys. The cheering went from one end of the line
    to the other, and our caps was flying in the air and all the brass bands
    was playing The Star Spangled Banner.

    Well Mary, we got good news this morning that the rebel General Johnston
    has surrendered to Sherman. If this story is true, we will soon get home.
    I think the last battle has been fought. I donât want to hear another
    cannon fired.

    We got some very unwelcome news the other day about the assassination of
    the President. It created great excitement in our camps for several days.

    Well Mary I think I will close. Your brother George is well. I send my
    best wishes to all the family. I will wait very patiently for an answer.

    I remain, your cousin,

    George Lemmon



Ahh, genealogy. Reading letters of the past can open our eyes.  Perhaps you have some letters buried deep in your family? 


©2010 AS Eldredge

1 comment:

CMPointer said...

What a delightful insight and thank you for sharing it. I have some correspondence on my husband's side of the family from relatives who had been WW2 soldiers. Their beautiful simplicity speaks volumes.

~Caroline Pointer
Family Stories