Key Commanders at Appomattox
George G. Meade
Meade, a 49-year-old Pennsylvanian, commanded the Army of the Potomac during the Appomattox Campaign as he had since June 1863. He was largely over-shadowed, however, by Grant’s presence.
Edward O. C. Ord
Ord, a 46-year-old Marylander, took command of the Army of James in January of 1865 after recovering from a wound received in the previous year’s fighting near Richmond.
Philip H. Sheridan
Sheridan commanded four cavalry divisions in addition to supporting infantry during the campaign. He was one of Grant’s favorite officers. After the Battle of Sailor’s Creek he advised Grant saying, “If the thing is pressed I think Lee will surrender.” Learning this, Lincoln telegraphed Grant saying, “Let the thing be pressed.”
Vol. 4 Photo. History of The Civil War
George Armstrong Custer
Colorful and impetuous, Custer’s cavalry advanced on Appomattox Station late in the afternoon of April 8, 1865, capturing several trains containing Lee’s desperately needed supplies and engaging Confederates in the direction of Appomattox Court House also capturing 25 pieces of artillery and taking almost a thousand prisoners.
A former college professor from Maine turned soldier, Chamberlain's men received the Confederate stacking of arms on April 12, 1865. He was noted as saying, “We received them with honor due to troops, at the shoulder and in silence. They came to a shoulder on passing my flag and preserved perfect order.”
Lee’s senior lieutenant, 44-year-old Longstreet commanded the 1st and 3rd Corps. He has been called a superb battlefield commander with great tactical skills and led the advance units of Lee’s retreating army.
John B. Gordon
A 33-year-old Georgian, Gordon commanded the 2nd Corps and the remnants of Richard Anderson’s Corps after the Battle at Sailor’s Creek. His troops acted as the army’s rear guard during most of the campaign and made the final assault at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, in an attempt to open an escape route to the west.
The Army of Northern Virginia’s chief cavalry officer, Fitzhugh Lee was the 29-year-old nephew of General Lee. He and much of his cavalry eluded the tightening Federal noose on April 9, 1865, reached Lynchburg and disbanded. He surrendered a few days later.
Did You Know?
Robert E. Lee's father, "Light Horse Harry" Lee, present at the surrender at Yorktown in 1781, wrote that General Cornwallis had shirked his responsibility by sending junior officers to meet with General Washington. Lee chose to meet personally with Grant at Appomattox.