The End of the Civil War

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This booklet describes the historical Civil War, highlighting the end of the mega war, depicting the survival of the soldiers, sailors, and guards, also denoting the formal declaration of “insurrection”.
1. For It’s About Time Column, written by Susan Parsons
The End of the Civil War
This year, 2015, marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. At last it was over. A war that
both the North and the South thought would end quickly dragged on for four years. The last of the
soldiers, sailors and guards that survived eventually were on their way home to Sterling and other
places. About 324 residents of the Sterling area had served, including 275 soldiers and sailors, 36 from
the National Guard and 13 Elmira prison guards. (Elmira Prison was sometimes called the North’s
Andersonville, where many Northern soldiers died from overcrowding, starvation and poor sanitation.)
General Lee had surrendered. Did that mean that the troops would be right home?
After a battle in which General Robert E. Lee’s troops had been spread too thin, he had surrendered his
Army of Northern Virginia at noon on April 9, 1865, at the Village of Appomattox Court House, VA, to
Union General Ulysses S. Grant. We might think our soldiers and sailors would return home soon after
that surrender, but that was not the case. Though some historians consider the surrender the end of
the war, others think it only the beginning of the end. (Five days later President Lincoln was shot. He
died the next morning, April 15, 1865.) As Confederate forces heard about the surrender, most began
the same process. However, much of the South was in in dire straits, and communication was difficult-
- telegraph lines had been destroyed and it would be another ten years before Alexander Graham Bell’s
telephone would be patented.
On April 2-9 1865, forces on both sides engaged in the Battle of Fort Blakely, Alabama, considered to be
the last “combined forces” battle of the Civil War. The last portion of this battle was fought several
hours after Lee’s surrender in VA. Confederate General Richardson Liddle’s troops surrendered after the
general was captured.
Another “last battle” was fought at Columbus, GA and Girard, AL, across the Chattahoochee River, on
April 16, 1865, where “Wilson’s Raiders” defeated the Confederates. Losing Confederate General John
Stith Pemberton received a painful chest injury in this battle. He gained fame later for inventing Coca
Cola as he was fixated on finding a pain-killing recipe to treat his pain. The result was the first formula
for this popular drink.
Ten days after the Columbus, GA battle, the last major Confederate Army force, under Joseph H.
Johnston surrendered at Bennett House, North Carolina. After several skirmishes Johnston agreed to
an armistice on April 18, and formally surrendered on April 26 th near Durham, NC to General William T.
In May, 1865, several Confederate departments in southern states surrendered—AL, MI, East LA on May
4th, and South GA and FL on May 10th, the day Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured.
2. The last Civil War “battle,” perhaps more aptly described as a “skirmish,” occurred at Palmito Ranch,
Texas. Some historians claim that Union Colonel Theodore Barrett ordered an attack because he felt he
had little time to make a name for himself at the end of the war—there might never be another
opportunity. He went against orders and engaged in battle. Ironically, it became a Confederate
Cherokee Confederate General Stand Watie had refused to surrender when most Confederate Indians
agreed to, but on June 23, 75 days after Lee’s surrender, Watie finally signed a ceasefire agreement in
what was Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. His were the last active forces of the War.
The last Confederate surrender occurred on November 6, 1865. Captain James Waddell, commander of
the Confederate warship CSS Shenandoah had been targeting mostly Union whaling ships, eventually
destroying several, to the tune of more than one-and-a-half million dollars of damage. The crew had
heard rumors that the war was over, but Captain Waddell refused to believe it for a time. He fired the
last shot of the War on June 22, 1865, at a New Bedford whaling ship. After continuing to damage
American ships, he began to fear court martial, and sailed to Liverpool, England where he surrendered in
On April 2, 1866 Andrew Johnson declared the “insurrection” over except in Texas where the new state
government was being formed. He made a formal declaration that the “insurrection” was concluded on
August 20, 1866.
And so, the members of the Union forces from Sterling did not necessarily arrive home right after Lee
surrendered on April 9, 1865. Some did not come home at all. For example, Private Alexander McGilvra
was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg and is buried there. Some died during the War but their remains
were brought home. John Sant of Fair Haven died of disease in 1863. His father took the train to Camp
Douglas in Chicago to bring him home. Peter Blowers of Sterling was taken prisoner and died of
exposure and starvation in North Carolina. George Brown of Fair Haven enlisted in May, 1861 for three
months. He was held for two years. Moses Corsier enlisted twice and deserted twice. He moved to
Canada. George Acker of Sterling was wounded at Gettysburg. Horace Acker was killed at Harpers
Ferry. Henry DeMass of Sterling was wounded three times—at Gettysburg, Bristol Station and the
Wilderness. Eugene Forman of Sterling enlisted in August, 1864. He was discharged in June of 1865,
two months after Lee’s surrender. Charles Garner of Sterling died at Andersonville Prison in 1864. Levi
Lyon of Martiville enlisted with the Artillery in 1864. He drowned in NC. William Morrell of Sterling
Valley was discharged not in April but in June of 1865. Frederick Nisler of Fair Haven enlisted in 1862
and was discharged at New Orleans due to poor health. Percival Whitmore, Fair Haven, enlisted in
August of 1864 and died four months later from wounds received in action in the Shenandoah Valley.
Calvin Pierson of Sterling enlisted as a substitute in December of 1863, for a person who paid $300. He
was actually too old to serve and received a discharge.
At this point in our history, Americans now stood at a crossroads between an old era and a new age.
3. Official document showing the purchase of a substitute to carry out military duties during the Civil War.
Wealthier men were able to buy their way out of the War.
4. Last surviving members of the Grand Army of the Republic, a local group of Civil War Veterans. These
included (back row from left) D. Garner, H. Brace, S. Brown, W. Butler, A. Campbell; (front row from left)
F. Turner, C. Howland, M. Dakin.