On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia to Grant, effectively ending the Civil War.
With the Confederacy cut into pieces, it was only a matter of time before the South had to give in. Although Grant knew this, Sherman still applied pressure in the South, marching up through North Carolina, continuing to wreak havoc.
Away form the battlefields, things began to take a turn. In January, Tennessee adopted anti-slavery amendments to their Constitution, and in February the 13th Amendment was proposed by Congress. Two days later, on February 3, a peace conference is held, but talks break down when the South demands autonomy. Although the Southern cause is essentially hopeless, Jefferson Davis puts Robert E. Lee in command of all Confederate armies on February 4.
Back on the battlefield, Columbia, South Carolina is almost completely destroyed by fire on February 17. On February 18, Sherman occupies Charleston. Five days later, the last Confederate port, Wilmington, North Carolina, is taken over by Union forces. On March 2, Lee requests negotiations with Lincoln. The request is rejected. Lincoln demands that the South surrender first. Two days later, Lincoln’s second inauguration is held. On the 13th, in an effort to hold on, Jefferson Davis signs a bill that allows slaves to serve in the Confederate army. Anyone that does will earn their freedom.
On March 25, in an effort to break Grant’s stranglehold on Petersburg, the Confederates attempt a nighttime assault on Fort Steadman, along the line outside of the city. The assault failes, the Union soldiers are simply too many, have too many guns and too much ammunition. Two days later, President Lincoln meets with Grant and Sherman to discuss what the Confederate terms of surrender should be.
Philip Sheridan continues to rout Confederate forces throughout Virginia, culminating in the last important battle of the war at Five Forks, Virginia, on April 1. The next day, Lee withdraws his troops from Petersburg and advises Jefferson Davis to move the government out of Richmond. On April 3, Union troops march into Petersburg and Richmond.
With the Confederacy army surrounded, Grant asks Lee to surrender and Lee asks for the terms of surrender. Then, on April 9, 1863, Grant and Lee met at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia at the home of Wilmer and Virginia McLean, shortly after 1:30 in the afternoon. The meeting lasted roughly 90 minutes and culminated in Lee’s surrender. Although there was brief fighting afterward, for all intents and purposes, the Civil War was over. The terms of the surrender were generous. Officers and men were free to return to their homes with their own horses and firearms. All other military equipment was surrendered. The terms were given to Lee by Grant in a letter, although modified somewhat during their discussions, and were intended to be generous and to leave the Confederates with the idea that they had been treated with dignity and respect. Grant also arranged for rations to be given to the hungry Confederates.
On April 11, President Lincoln gives his last public address. Three days later, while watching the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington, he is shot in the head by John Wilkes Booth. He dies the next day. Three hours later, Andrew Johnson is sworn in as President. On April 18, Joe Johnston surrenders to Sherman in North Carolina. Then, on the 26th, Booth is cornered in a barn in Bowling Green, Virginia and shot.