Appomattox Court House

From Academic Kids

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McLean house

Appomattox Court House is a historic village located three miles (5 km) east of Appomattox, Virginia, famous as the site of the Battle of Appomattox Court House and containing the house of Wilmer McLean, where the surrender of the Confederate Army under Robert E. Lee to Union commander Ulysses S. Grant took place on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the American Civil War. The site is now commemorated as Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park, a National Historical Park.


Many towns in Virginia are county seats whose names are formed by adding the two words "court house" to the name of the county. The "court house" town contains the courthouse building as well as many other buildings. In this case, one of those other buildings is the McLean house, a former tavern.

Ironically, because the First Battle of Bull Run, fought on July 21, 1861, took place on the McLean farm farther north in Virginia, it can be said that the Civil War started in McLean's backyard in 1861 and ended in his parlor in 1865 (neither event, however, marked the true beginning or ending of hostilities).

McLean was a retired Major in the Virginia militia, but was too old to enlist at the outbreak of the Civil War and decided to move to Appomattox Court House in order to get away from the Civil War. On April 9, 1865, ironically, the war came back to McLean when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant at his house. The house was also used on April 10 for the Surrender Commissioners' meeting, and over the next few days as the Headquarters of Major General John Gibbon of the U.S. Army.

The McLeans left Appomattox Court House and returned to Mrs. McLean's Prince William County, Virginia estate in the fall of 1867. When Wilmer McLean defaulted on repayment of loans, the banking house of "Harrison, Goddin, and Apperson" of Richmond, Virginia brought a judgment against him, and the "Surrender House" was sold at public auction on November 29, 1869. The house was purchased by John L. Pascoe and apparently rented to the Ragland family formerly of Richmond. In 1872 Nathaniel H. Ragland purchased the property for $1250.00.

On January 1, 1891, the property was sold by the Widow Ragland for the sum of $10,000 to Captain Myron Dunlap of Niagara Falls, New York. Myron Dunlap and fellow speculators went through two or three plans intending to capitalize on the notoriety of the property, one idea was to dismantle the home and move it to Chicago as an exhibit at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. Measured drawings including elevations and materials specifications lists were produced, the house was dismantled and packed for shipping, but due to cash flow and legal problems the plan was never brought to fruition. The home sat dismantled in piles, prey to vandals, collectors, and the environment for fifty years.

Federal soldiers at the courthouse, April 1865
Federal soldiers at the courthouse, April 1865

On April 10, 1940, Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument was created by the U.S. Congress to include approximately 970 acres (3.9 km²). In February 1941 archeological work was begun at the site, then overgrown with brush and honeysuckle. Historical data was collected, and architectural working plans were drawn up to begin the meticulous reconstruction process. The whole project was brought to a swift stop on December 7, 1941, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces causing the United States' entry into World War II.

After the war, the project soon became a high priorty again, however. On November 25, 1947, bids for the reconstruction of the McLean House were opened and on April 9, 1949, 84 years after the historic meeting reuniting the country, the McLean House was opened by the National Park Service for the first time to the public. Major General U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee IV cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony on April 16, 1950, after a speech by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Douglas Southall Freeman in front of a crowd of approximately 20,000.

External link

part of this article is from Appomattox Court House National Historic Park ( Court House pt:Appomattox Court House


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