Today, the Grant Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers the events of 150 years ago on Sunday, April 9, 1865.
The day after the surrender, the Baltimore-American newspaper ran articles in their Monday edition describing the solemn nature of the surrender and the corresponding excitement of the people upon hearing the news:
The surrender of General Lee.
General Grant closed his magnificent campaign yesterday with the surrender of General Lee and all that remained of the Rebel Army of Northern Virginia.
The General whose military abilities and personal character have defended and upheld the rebellion is now a paroled prisoner.
The army which for four years has been the main strength of the rebellion, which has given and taken the fiercest blows of war, has laid down its arms, delivered up its artillery and war material, and men and officers have assumed an obligation not to again take up arms against the United States.
In the presence of such an august event, words are but insufficient mediums of the feelings and thoughts that crowd for utterance.
General Grant’s own simple dignity best suits the grandeur of the occasion: “General Lee surrendered the Army of Virginia this afternoon upon the terms proposed by myself.”
This brief sentence tells of the close of the war, proclaims the coming of peace, and pronounces the triumph and justification of the great principles for the vindication of which the war was accepted by the United States.
The official dispatches of General Grant explain the terms proposed by himself, on which the surrender was made.
They are sufficient for all the requirements of the situation, asserting the power of the conqueror and the dignity of the nation, whilst they impose no unnecessary humiliation on the defeated army.
The whole army was required to surrender, to give up all its arms, artillery and public property, the officers being allowed to retain their side arms, their private horses and baggage; rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate, the officers to give their individual parole not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company and regimental officer to sign a like parole for the men of his command.
On these terms the officers and men are allowed to return to their homes not to be disturbed by the United States authorities so long as they observe their parole and the laws in force where they may reside.
These terms were proposed by General Grant in a letter to General Lee on Saturday, in which he pointed out the hopelessness of further resistance, the responsibility which would rest upon the party causing a further effusion of blood, and demanded a surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
These terms were repeated in a second letter, dated yesterday, and were accepted without modification by General Lee.
General Grant, in his preliminary letter proposing the terms, stated that “Peace” being his first desire, there would be but one condition insisted upon, namely, that the men surrendered should be disqualified for taking up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged.
General Lee, without admitting his intention to surrender, desired to know whether General Grant’s proposals would tend to the restoration of Peace and proposed a meeting to discuss the subject.
General Grant states in reply that he had no authority to treat on the subject of Peace, and declines a meeting for that purpose.
He adds that the terms upon which Peace can be obtained are well understood, and that by the South laying down her arms they will hasten that desirable event, save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed.
This closed all reference to the subject of Peace, and General Grant, in his final letter more formally proposed the terms on which he would receive the surrender, which as already specified, were accepted by General Lee.
Secretary Stanton has addressed a congratulatory letter to General Grant, expressive of the thanks of the Department, the Government and the people to the General and the brave and gallant officers and soldiers of his army.
He has also issued an order directing a salute of two hundred guns to be fired at the headquarters of every army and department, and at every post and arsenal, in the United States on the day after the receipt of the order.
Rejoicing over the victory.
At midnight the bells of the fire department rang forth a merry peal, which was soon taken up by several of the church bells, and all chimed in the music of rejoicing over the surrender of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armies of the Rebellion with the finest and best army of which it boasted.
Despite the rain storm which was prevailing, thousands of our citizens left their beds and homes to ascertain the news.
The policemen proclaimed it on their several beats, and the jubilant wended their way to the American office where the tidings were displayed on our bulletin board.
The counting-room of the office was illuminated and the word “Union,” on the front of the building was displayed in jets of gas.
By one o’clock a very large and respectable assemblage had congregated in front of our office, who gave vent to their feelings in repeated cheers for “The Union,” “President Lincoln,” “Grant,” “Sheridan,” “The Army of the Union,” etc.
“Rally Round the Flag,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Yankee Doodle,” “Hail Columbia,” “We Are Coming Father Abraham,” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” and other patriotic songs, were sung, and the jubilation over the glad tidings was kept up to the small hours of the morning, and as we go to press there is no prospect of a dispersion of the multitude.
On Tuesday, the Adams Sentinel and General Advertiser published the following article in jubilation:
Lee Surrendered and His Whole Army!
The magnificent campaign of General Grant was closed on Sunday last with the surrender of General Lee, and all that remained of the Rebel Army of Northern Virginia.
An official dispatch from General Grant to the Secretary of War announces that General Lee on the 9th (Sunday) surrendered his whole Army on the terms proposed by General Grant—and officers were appointed to carry the stipulations into effect.
General Lee and all his officers and men, rolls of whom are to be made, surrender themselves prisoners of war, and give their paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and are allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by the U States authority so long as they observe their parole and the laws in force where they may reside.
All the arms, all the artillery and public property to be packed and stacked, and turned over to the officers appointed by General Grant to receive them. The side arms of the officers and their private baggage are not embraced.
This glorious event is the precursor of Peace, and a triumph of our principles, which will tell upon the future of this great Nation.
We look upon the War as now, in fact, ended, so far as destruction of life is concerned; and we have not a doubt that the whole Rebel South will lay down their arms at once, and yield to the majesty of our glorious, well tried, and now really triumphant Government.
The Secretary of War offers up thanks to Almighty God for the great victory and give also thanks of the Government to General Grant and his brave and gallant army; and ordered a salute of 200 guns to be fired at every military post in the Union.
The Grant Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows against a picture of rebel artillery surrendered to Union forces in Richmond in April 1865.