Why Was Appomattox Courthouse Important?

Appomattox Courthouse is important because it is the site where Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, ending the Civil War. Appomattox Courthouse was a village in Virginia. Lee surrendered his 28,000 troops of the Army of Northern Virginia to the Union Army in the home of Wilmer McLean.

The Appomattox campaign had begun 11 days earlier with the Battle of Lewis's Farm. Lee had abandoned Richmond, Virginia, which was the Confederate capital, and was taking his army to North Carolina in the hopes of meeting up with additional soldiers to continue fighting. They were stopped in Virginia by the Union Army and eventually surrounded with no means of escaping. Lee sent a message to Grant agreeing to surrender, and officially did so in McLean's parlor. As part of the surrender terms, Grant paroled Lee's army and allowed them to return home.

While the surrender is typically considered the official end of the war, other troops remained in the field. The Army of Tennessee did not surrender until two weeks later, on April 26. The final battle occurred from May 11-12 at Palmito Ranch in Texas and final surrender by a Confederate Army general occurred on June 2.

McLean's home was sold in a public auction in 1869. The National Park Service opened it to the general public in 1949.