Appomattox Court House: African-American Troops

Historical Significance

On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, a small village in south central Virginia. Lee's surrender effectively ended the Civil War, and led to the reunification of a divided nation. The McLean House, a large three-story brick residence located near the courthouse, was used as the Surrender Meeting house. There, Grant and Lee agreed to the terms of surrender which individually paroled soldiers of the Confederate Army and allowed them to return home with their horses and side arms. Grant drafted the surrender agreement as a letter to himself from General Lee. At the time of Lee's surrender, the Civil War had been four years underway, with deaths numbering about 625,000 and total casualties over one million.

African-American soldiers played a key role in General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. On April 9, 1865, seventeen Union regiments advanced to the village of Appomattox Court House to prevent Confederate forces from escaping westward. Three of these were United States Colored Infantry Regiments from the 25th U.S. Army Corps (the 29th, 31st, and 116th). They were among the first units to come into the city from the west, and a number of Confederates surrendered to these regiments. The 8th, 41st, and 45th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiments were assigned to positions at the rear.

Physical Description

In 1940, Congress created the Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument, and historical, archeological and cultural data was collected to begin reconstruction. The site was opened to the public on April 9, 1949, 84 years after Lee's surrender. The Appomattox Court House became a National Historical Park in 1954. 

The Appomattox Court House has been restored to its 1865 appearance. The 1,700 acre park includes thirteen original buildings and nine structures that have been reconstructed on their original sites. The McLean house parlor where the surrender meeting took place is furnished with original and reproduction items. Outbuildings, including slave quarters, an exterior kitchen, ice house and outhouse, are also open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to walk the six-mile history trail, and visit the 70-seat theater where 15-minute slide programs are shown on an hourly schedule.

Geographical and Contact Information

Visitor Center, Hwy. 24
Appomattox, Virginia
Phone: 434-352-8987x226