The Civil War was unimaginably, off-the-charts bloody. Take the amount of blood you're picturing right now and double it. Now, triple that. We hope no one is sitting down to dinner right about now. It gets a lot worse.
Fought all over the country from the Mississippi to Pennsylvania and throughout the South, the battles of the Civil War were massive affairs involving tens of thousands of soldiers and horrific casualties. At places like Antietam Creek, Gettysburg, Kennesaw Mountain, and Shiloh, troops on both sides were killed and wounded in staggering numbers. Most of those who weren'tkilled did some staggering of their own, and often with newly missing limbs. We imagine the PTSD was as severe as the blood loss.
Of the survivors, many later died of disease, starvation and brutality in notorious Prisoner of War (POW) camps like Andersonville. By the end, over 600,000 people, about one out of every fifty Americans alive in 1860 before it all started, was dead. It was a census-taker's worst nightmare.
One major factor in the death toll of this war was the recent development of modern guns and artillery. The Enfield and Springfield rifles used by the infantry on both sides had far greater accuracy than the previous smoothbore weapons of the Mexican-American War. Going back even further, they also had much better accuracy than the chunks of woolly mammoth meat that cave men used to hurl at one another to resolve disputes. Talk about rudimentary.
There was also the development of grapeshot, which was an ammunition shell filled with small metal balls used for close range attacks. They had a scatter blast effect, and the result was never pretty. They also had nothing to do with actual grapes or juice boxes, sadly.
In battles like Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, commanders still used tactics that weren't totally brand-spanking new. Instead, they were based on an eighteenth-century European model in which armies compensated for unreliable weaponry by firing more shots at a closer range. At times, troop lines were so close that they could have reached out and slapped the other side, but why slap when you've got a rifle locked and loaded, right? Old school, man-to-man combat tactics like these combined with the newer and better artillery to kill thousands.
In addition to outdated battle tactics, both sides did their best to supply field hospitals with as many enemy bodies as they could shoot. Winning the war was paramount to preserving life. In Union commander Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 offensive in Virginia, hundreds of thousands of casualties of his own troops did little to slow his advance on Richmond, and later Petersburg.
Grant was determined to mow down as many Confederates as he could, regardless of the cost. He was nicknamed "The Butcher" because of it. They actually tried out the name "The Mower" at first, but it didn't catch on. Plus, he was getting a ton of voice mails from people wanting him to do their landscaping.
Many of the over 600,000 deaths during the Civil War were the result of poor medical care. The germ theory was still unknown at the time, and battlefield aid stations were horrific. Surgeons didn't bother to clean instruments after surgeries or amputations—hey, they were in a hurry—and they often did not, or could not, use any anesthesia. Their policy? Find a sturdy branch nearby, friend, shove it between your chompers, and bite. We're guessing these cross-contamination-loving docs were dangerous in the kitchen, too.
Many of the patients infected by dirty knives, saws or bandages died, as one does without antibiotics. With no real method to stop nasty stuff like gangrene anyway, doctors routinely cut off infected arms and legs, or what was left of them, rather than let patients die. (And you thought your doctor cost an arm and a leg.) It was a vicious cycle of infection, disease, and limb-loss.
When the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 14, 1861, neither the North nor the South had an official army. They lookedlike armies, and they smelled like armies, but they weren't armies per se.
As it happened, the largest military force on the continent was already out west protecting the frontier, not to mention the backtier, in case anyone tried sneaking in the other side. With most of the nation's army supply busy elsewhere, both President Lincoln in the North and President Jefferson Davis in the South immediately called for volunteers. This was a chance for the average Joe to stand up and be counted, and then to probably be shot and fall back down again. Still, there were plenty of people who did volunteer.
Sensing quickly that the war might be longer than he first anticipated, Lincoln convinced Congress to authorize the conscription of half a million additional volunteers in June of 1861. These troops would serve three-year terms, far longer than the standard three-month stint. On the upside, they each got a term that was nearly as long as the President's. Now, there'ssomething to brag to Mom and Pop about.
The armies met for the first time on July 21, 1861, forty miles west of Washington at the Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). Hoping for some excitement, and maybe to escape the blistering heat of a Washington summer, thousands of Washingtonians followed the Union Army with picnic baskets to watch their Union heroes clobber some Confederates and seize Manassas. The army was probably annoyed, but maybe they got a bologna sandwich or two out of the deal.
What those Washingtonians witnessed turned out to be the rout of their army by a smaller, underdog Confederate force. It put a kink in the picnic atmosphere. Thomas Jackson, the Confederate general, received the nickname "Stonewall" after his brigade of Virginians stood "like a stone wall" against the repeated Union assaults. No one is really sure how he got his other nickname, "Pitstains," but it probably had something to do with the availability of deodorant.
The ensuing Union retreat back to Washington was chaotic, and Jackson complained that if he had had 10,000 men, he could have been in Washington in two days. Instead, both sides realized that the war would be long and painful, and maybe even as long as it takes Keanu Reeves to spit out a line of dialogue.
The year 1862 was one of confusion and delay, at least for the Union. General George B. McClellan, Lincoln's lucky pick to boss the Union armies, developed a complicated plan to attack the Confederate capital of Richmond. (Take the capital, win the war. It was like a really intense game of capture the flag.)
Crossing overland was too easy for McClellan and wasn't his style. Instead, he decided to sail his 80,000-strong army down the Potomac River, through the Chesapeake, and up the peninsula created by the James and York Rivers to get to Richmond and attack from the water. It wasn't necessarily that he thought this tactic gave the North a better chance to win the war, but rather that he had a bunch of frequent sailor miles he wanted to cash in.
The so-called Peninsular Campaign was a complete disaster. It wasn't like a Rihanna-and-Chris-Brown-disaster, but it was still pretty bad. Robert E. Lee, newly elevated to commander of the Army of Northern Virginia after Joseph Johnston was injured, succeeded in frustrating McClellan at every turn. McClellan, cautious as always, decided to retreat at the Battle of the Seven Days (June 25 to July 1), and not just because he'd gone seven days without a shower. A fresh bar of soap and a loofah must have sounded awfully nice to him right about then, though.
Lincoln was furious and sacked (the firing kind, not the tackling him behind the line of scrimmage kind) McClellan, placing himself in the role of chief of the army. McClellan then retreated back down the peninsula to Washington. Man, that guy was really good at retreating. It's a wonder he didn't major in it at college.
In the West, things for the Union weren't any more rainbows and daffodils. In April, a surprise attack by a large Confederate force against Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee led to the two-day Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing). Grant tried to rally his troops, but his army suffered a whopping 13,000 casualties. Combined with the 10,000 casualties on the Confederate side, more men were lost at Shiloh than in all previous American wars combined. It's an interesting statistic, perhaps, but definitely not one to brag about.
Grant retreated up the Tennessee River, and Lincoln was pressured to fire him. Lincoln was just getting into the swing of the whole "firing" thing, but Grant had showed a trait hard to find in the northern armies: he was willing to fight. McClellan and McDowell before him had shaken like leaves when it came war time, but Grant, a hard-drinking Ohioan, was anything but timid. It saved his job and would eventually make him the hero of the Union Army.
Essentially, Grant was the difference between sending an army out commanded by a furiously rabid dog or a cutely mewing kitten. While the latter might momentarily distract the opposition with cuteness and sad kitten eyes, in the long run, you want the one with rabies.
On April 24, only a few days after Grant's retreat, David Farragut, commander of a Union naval squadron, scored big. He and his troops attacked and captured New Orleans and, more importantly, blockaded New Orleans' port. It was the largest city in the Confederacy and, from that point on, the South could no longer ship cotton down the Mississippi and out to customers, dealing the Confederacy a huge financial blow. It was a perfect example of the North being given blocks and making…blockade. Heh.
Back in the East, Lee moved north and, in what must have felt like déjà-vu, defeated the Union again at the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas). Don't try telling him that the sequel is never as good as the original.
The battlefield was a grisly sight for the soldiers since the year-old bodies of men killed at First Bull Run were still hanging about unburied and whatnot. Having to step on your deceased brother's skeleton in order to gain solid footing does not exactly make for ideal working conditions.
After his victory, Lee took his army of 55,000, marched north into Maryland, and invaded Union territory for the first time. McClellan, still somehow in charge of the Army of the Potomac, followed him, and on September 17, 1862, the armies met at a small town named Sharpsburg, near Antietam Creek. Well, maybe "met" isn't the best word. There wasn't a ton of hand-shaking going on at this little "meeting."
The ensuing Battle of Antietam still ranks as the bloodiest day in American history: 23,000 men were killed or wounded during the all-day battle. It ended Lee's advance into Maryland but was something of a draw militarily since the two generals refused to settle the matter via arm wrestling. McClellan refused to follow Lee and his retreating troops to beat them back further as per protocol, at which point Lincoln had finally had enough. Lincoln fired McClellan and, at long last, he was free to retreat his way to the unemployment line.
Lee returned to Virginia followed, finally, by the new Union commander, Ambrose Burnside. Late to the party but not to our hearts, the new guy unfortunately led his troops straight into a disaster at Fredericksburg on December 13. With the Confederates entrenched on Marye's Heights (Marye's Depths were unavailable), Burnside ordered the Union Army to attack an astonishing fourteen separate times. Over 12,000 of them were killed or wounded.
Eventually, some Confederate soldiers stopped shooting out of pity, but the quickly thinning northern units came at them again and again while they sheltered behind the famous Sunken Road. We're not sure if the road carried that name before they got there, but some of those soldiers could have chilled out on the Rolos, if you know what we mean.
There's no debate about the astonishing bravery of the Union soldiers, but there is one about their general's skill. The problem was that he didn't have any. He should have gotten the hint after unsuccessful charge, oh, say, five or six, instead of 14. Just like that, Burnside found himself out of a job. In the North, sad faces abounded. In the South, there were hopes that the Union might just give up. They craned their ears, hoping to catch a whisper of the Union crying "uncle," but they were disappointed. The Union hung in there with tenacity. We like that about them.
With the arrival of winter, the fighting slowed. There was more "sleet" than "fleet," and both sides did a kind of year end performance review of 1862. The assessment was that the South, with its limited manpower and small economy but brilliant generals, was inexplicably beating the pants off the Union. Northerners were understandably concerned. This had not beenin the brochure.
The election of 1862 had also been a great setback for Lincoln's Republican Party. It lost a number of congressional seats, and the value of Union "greenback" paper currency fell dramatically. Responding to the mood of his people and understanding that the northern cause was suffering due to military setbacks, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on New Year's Day 1863. That guy sure knew when to pull a real winner out of his sleeves. The war suddenly became much more than a conflict about rebellious states and was now a war about slavery. Get us this man's publicist.
After a year and a half of warfare, nothing had been decided. Sounds like just another day on the floor of the House of Representatives, doesn't it?
In Washington, Lincoln ordered a two-prong attack on the Confederates. Grant was told to take Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. In the East, General "Fighting" Joe Hooker (calm down, it was the man's name) was sent off to make another attempt to take Richmond by engaging Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville in early May. It turns out it wasn't a very long engagement. They couldn't agree on the subject of kids.
Despite facing a larger force in two different places, Lee did what you are never supposed to do and divided his army in order to attack both Union forces. This daring and unorthodox strategy paid off for about the first time in history, and Lee crushed Hooker's troops at Chancellorsville, maintaining control of Richmond in a three-day battle. He might have shouted an "in your face!" or two, but we can't be sure.
Over 30,000 casualties mounted on both sides, but Lee was able to use his victory to invade Pennsylvania. The South suffered a massive loss, however, when Stonewall Jackson was mistakenly shot and killed by one of his own soldiers during the battle. You'd better believe the guy who did that wasn't invited to join in any more reindeer games. Lee waxed poetic about the loss of Jackson, claiming that he had "lost his right arm." Point taken, guy, but a little insulting to all the guys who had just lost their actual right arms.
High-ranking officers were dropping like the flies loitering on the battlefield those days. The losses of generals and colonels were much harder on the South, which counted on brilliant leadership to make up for deficiencies in other areas. Unfortunately for them, Stonewall Jackson had been irreplaceable. He was their Michael Jordan, and he took an early retirement. Just as unfortunately, there didn't seem to be any "Stonewall Smiths" or "Stonewall Bernsteins" on the horizon.
In the North, high ranking officers had shorter and shorter life expectancies. In their case, northern generalship was so bad that it was almost a good thing since it provided opportunities for younger, more talented officers to move up.
Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania after Chancellorsville was a turning point in the war. Many in Washington and the North were now scared they might actually lose. They started hollering for peace before the entire war was lost, Washington captured, and the living got tougher. Guess they weren't really into sad endings. Remind them never to watch Bette Midler in Beaches.
In the West, James Longstreet and other Confederate leaders were making life difficult for the Union armies of Tennessee and the Cumberland. As Lee made his way north, General George Meade—yep, that guy from the picture!—was put in charge of the Army of the Potomac and ordered to stay between Washington and Lee's army stationed in Pennsylvania.
On July 1, a detachment of Confederate soldiers entered the town of Gettysburg searching for supplies, especially shoes, which were always in short supply. Trust us when we say that those shoe parties of theirs were always getting out of control. It's like they thought the things grew on trees. A unit of Meade's Union army met them and a small skirmish broke out.
As is sometimes necessary when footwear is involved, reinforcements were called in and from there, things escalated. Although planned by no one, over the next three days, the tide of the war would start to turn at the Battle of—you guessed it—Gettysburg. But would you really want to plan a thing like that anyway? Sometimes the best things in life are complete surprises. (Our birthday is coming up. Hint hint.)
Of all the many battles in American history, none was quite as important or has been as extensively studied as Gettysburg. This one was for all the chips in play, to decisively tip the scales back to the Union side. During three incomparably bloody days, men fought and died everywhere: in thickets, in fields, in the Bloody Stream, and in a hellish ditch known as Devil's Den. (It was adjacent to Devil's Dining Room, but you wouldn't want to eat there.)
They fought hand to hand, with bayonets, fists, and even teeth. You really had to watch out for those biters. Units ran straight uphill into enemy fire to capture a strategic point, only to be thrown off by an equally brave charge from the enemy.
Smoke obscured everything until the third day when, out of the smoke and trees, Confederate soldiers charged across a field of blood and gore into the waiting guns of the Union Army. Pickett's Charge, as it came to be known, was Lee's biggest blunder, of which he never made all that many in the first place. The 12,000 men of General George Pickett's division walking slowly across the 3/4 mile of eerily empty field were the Confederacy's last best hope. Only 5,000 ever made it back to the Confederate lines, and Lee was forced to turn and flee. There were at least 7,000 formerly-living soldiers who were wondering why he hadn't decided to do that earlier.
On July 4 (boy, that date just keeps popping up, right?), after three days of fighting, telegrams arrived in Washington to announce a great victory. Casualties were appalling: 23,000 men were killed, captured, or missing on the Union side (not the victory part), and the Confederacy had lost another 28,000 (still not the victory part), but Lee's progress north was stopped. The South cried uncle, tapped out, rang the bell. The tide had turned against them, and they knew it. Also, probably no one had any soldiers left.
Meanwhile, over in Vicksburg, Mississippi, General Grant had put the Confederacy in a stranglehold by landing an army below and encircling the city. The old swoop and encircle, he called it. (Okay, we call it that, but it's catchy.) A long, drawn-out siege had left the town in ruins, and the starving inhabitants finally surrendered on July 4, the same day Union victory at Gettysburg was announced. The victory at Vicksburg meant that the Union now controlled the entire Mississippi, which happened to cut right down the middle of Confederate territory. We get the feeling the Union charged hefty river crossing fees. Ouch.
In the North, it was an Independence Day for the history books, literally. In the South, it was more like one to forget. Fortunately, they had plenty of moonshine.
Even with the twin defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg and the tide turned back toward the Union, the war was far from over. In September, the Confederate Army under General Braxton Bragg won a smashing victory over William Rosecrans' larger Union force at Chickamauga. We won't tell you what Bragg did after he won, but here's a hint: he immediately started texting his cousins, Emmanuel Boast and Irving Gloat.
The Union army, embarrassed and a little worse for wear, retreated to Chattanooga, but the Confederates weren't finished. By November, the Union Army found itself trapped and under siege in Chattanooga, which happened to be an ultra-important railroad junction. (You take our river, we'll take your railroad. What is this, Monopoly?)
For over two months, the northern soldiers suffered under the siege guns of the South until the North's only real rock star general, Ulysses S. Grant, saddled up with his Army of Tennessee and broke the siege on November 23. During the battle, the Union troops avenged their defeat at Chickamauga and stormed the heights of Missionary Ridge yelling "Chickamauga! Chickamauga!" We admit it wasn't the most creative cry of all time, but cut them some slack. These fellas were pumped.
With Chattanooga now firmly in Union hands, the road to Atlanta and the Deep South was open. For the Confederacy, the strategic situation looked dire. As it tends to do, winter set in just then and slowed the war for several months. Don't judge them for the change of pace. It's hard to fire your rifle when you're holding a mug of hot cocoa in the other hand.
The year 1864 dawned with a new resolve in the North. Of course, who doesn't make New Year's Resolutions? It's sticking tothem that's the tricky part.
Nearly three years of warfare had failed to defeat the South. By now, patience was running out, not to mention artillery, ammunition, and peoplewho could fire a weapon. Lincoln decided in March that the time for half-measures was past. He promoted Grant to commander of all Union armies and put him in direct charge of the Army of the Potomac. He even gave him a spare key to his house. We're talking mad trust.
William Tecumsah Sherman, another general with a fighting reputation, was placed at the head of the Union Army in the West. On May 4, a coordinated assault by both armies began aiming for the complete destruction of the South. Well, maybe they'd leave some of Louisiana, if they behaved themselves. The jury was out.
Grant was a soldier's soldier, and he began what would come to be called the Overland Campaign by brutally smashing into Lee's army in what came to be known as the Battle of the Wilderness. The Wilderness became the site of some of the most ferocious fighting of the war, and this area of woods, marsh and rough terrain sadly became the grave of thousands. It wasn't the type of place you want to die in, either. The mosquitoes were terrible, and you can't exactly swat them away when you're dead.
During the second day of the battle, the woods themselves caught on fire, burning to death injured men from both sides. It was a real roller coaster of fun for everyone. Despite heavy casualties, Grant pressed down the rail line heading for Richmond. He and what was left of his crew met Lee again at Spotsylvania, which was, of course, heavily populated by vampires with chicken pox.
Again, Grant's larger army pounded Lee's men. Casualties were high on both sides, but Grant and Lincoln had agreed that Richmond had to be taken, regardless of price. As with anything Lincoln took, he swore to eventually put it back where he found it. Replacements flowed from the northern states to fill the holes in the Union lines, but the Confederates weren't so lucky. Few men came to aid the devastated South since the region had already been depleted of its white men. You can bet your bottom dollar that their slaves weren't chomping at the bit to jump into military action.
After years of timid generals and missed opportunities, Grant's move on Richmond wasn't elegant, and it wasn't pretty, but it was effective. At least, it was effective until Cold Harbor. In yet another flanking movement east, Grant's men encountered Lee's at Cold Harbor, Virginia on June 1. Three days later, more than 13,000 Union soldiers were lost, while Lee lost only 2,500. It's hard to ever consider the loss of 2,500 lives as a win, but we can almost guarantee that Lee did a jump-double-heel-click at the close of that one nevertheless.
While in theory the nearly inexhaustible manpower reserves of the North could fill in the now-thinner ranks, the public was shocked and appalled by the carnage. They liked their war like they liked their coffee: with very few dead bodies.
Grant was also horrified, writing years later in his memoirs that Cold Harbor was a huge mistake. The battle took place only ten miles from Richmond, but with the losses at Cold Harbor and an entrenched Confederate army between him and Richmond, Grant was forced to change plans. He moved south toward Petersburg, Virginia, hoping to take the transportation hub city in order to cut off supply lines to all-important Richmond.
Failing to flat out capture the city on June 15, Grant finally learned his lesson about frontal assaults on fortified positions. He began encircling Petersburg for a long siege, hoping to slowly wear down the other side. The siege lasted nine months, much like the nine-month siege Grant had previously waged on his mother's womb.
There were several large battles during the siege, including the Battle of the Crater on July 30, in which a huge mine exploded under the Confederate line. Though it managed to blow a hole in the defenses, poor planning and execution by the Union troops resulted in Confederates firing into the Crater filled with Union soldiers, killing 5,300 of them. It was like shooting 5,300 fish in a barrel, except it was Union soldiers in a crater.
The siege went on for another eight months, but eventually, Grant's offensive succeeded and Petersburg fell to the Union. Richmond was cut off from its supply lines. It was doomed.
In the West, Sherman began the campaign by attacking south from Chattanooga toward Atlanta, which he took in September after Confederate General Joe Johnston's delaying campaign had frustrated him for most of the summer. Sherman did not like to be frustrated. In fact, he was often heard to say, "You wouldn't like me when I'm frustrated" just before turning green and slamming his giant fist down on an antique writing desk.
On September 2, Sherman telegraphed Lincoln, "Atlanta is ours and fairly won." Coming close to the 1864 election, this was welcomed news in Washington, where the general population was already pretty psyched about finally, maybe, taking Richmond.
After nearly two months of gloating in Atlanta, Sherman ordered it burned to the ground. He then promptly began his famous March to the Sea on November 15 because whenever you set an entire city on fire, it's not a bad idea to head for water. Just in case.
A column of Union troops sixty miles wide soon carved a path of destruction, burning farms, livestock, plantations and pretty much anything else they could get their lit matches on. They lived off the land, which is also known as pillaging, and it meant that the army had no supplies of its own. Instead, they ate what they found. After the fire, that was mostly a lot of barbecue.
Sherman's march, one of the more famous episodes of the war, fit with his view that "all war is hell," meaning that there was no point in sparing the enemy population the horrors of the war. Sherman liked to keep it real. This isn't the type of guy who would tell his kids to "close their eyes at the scary parts." By the time Sherman reached Savannah on December 21, he had brought the war home to Georgia in a big way. His march didn't include a marching band, either, which would have been truly horrifying.
Sherman was not in Savannah for a triumphant spa vacation, however. His rampage was far from over. Sherman turned his army north and marched through South Carolina, the first state to secede in 1860. The man had marching fever,and he just couldn't stop. He ordered his army to destroy everything it encountered. He burned the city of Charleston to the ground, not even stopping to avoid all of the people who were dancing early forms of the Charleston.
By the end of the war, Sherman and his men were approaching a rendezvous with Grant's men outside Petersburg, with only Johnston's Confederate army in North Carolina between them. It was about to be on like Donkey Kong, or like some other video game character that was around at the time.
For all intents and purposes, the war was over by the beginning of 1865. Alexander Stephens, the Confederate vice president, and Lincoln held a peace conference in February hoping to finally end all the war business, but it was unsuccessful. Negotiations crumbled as soon as one of them brought up the whole Bears/Packers rivalry.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis insisted on fighting to the bitter end, which meant that more men had to die. The main fighting took place at the end of March near Petersburg, where Lee ordered a final attack on Grant's line. With supply lines to Richmond now cut, many of Lee's men were sick and dying of starvation and disease. You know how you've seen big tough football players sit out a game because of a bruised pinky finger? This was significantly worse. Just imagine trying to fight while you've got consumption.
On April 3, Grant smashed through Lee's line of sickies and moved quickly to finally capture Richmond. With the Confederate capital in Union hands and the Army of Northern Virginia quite literally limping to the West, the end was at hand. Everyone knew it, but most of them were too feverish to do much about it.
On April 9, at a small village called Appomattox Court House, Virginia (yes, that's the name of the town) a few miles west of Richmond, Grant met Lee in Wilmer McLean's house. Lee wore his best gray uniform, stars shining on his shoulders as he contemplated surrendering his army and all he had fought for. It was not his brightest or most shining moment. This one was not going into the scrapbook.
Grant, on the other hand, wore a private's uniform, dirty and torn from wear, with only his general's stars to denote his rank. It was no surprise, really. The dude wore pajamas to the opera, after all.
The two men chatted aimlessly for a while before Lee got tired of discussing the weather and brought the subject back to the elephant in the room. Grant offered generous terms: the Confederate Army would disband and all their property would be turned over to the United States Government. He expressly noted that this did not include the officers' personal guns, an honorable gesture that won him respect and admiration from all sides. Besides that, he didn't really want Clint Eastwood breathing down his neck about it.
Grant also agreed that all members of the Confederate Army who took an oath not to fight against the government again could return to their homes and be left alone without such annoying follow-ups as being tried for treason. Lee accepted the terms even though he really, really, really wanted to fight against the government again.
But hold onto your sack coat because the war was still not completely over. Johnston's army remained in the field in North Carolina. It was, however, captured by May, resistance ended, and the war was really and for truly over. Phew. You may now let go of your sack coat.
In the end, the North had won, but the costs were tragic on both sides. The South had lost 280,000 men, and the North counted 320,000 casualties of its own. The Union that fights together, stays together, it seems, but it all came at a terrible price.