(Kansas City, Missouri) - One hundred fifty years ago this month, surrounded by Union forces near the small Virginia village of Appomattox Court House, a somber Robert E. Lee sat down with Ulysses S. Grant and surrendered his remaining Confederate troops. It signaled the end of four years of Civil War bloodshed.
Ethan S. Rafuse of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth discusses that historic Palm Sunday afternoon and examines the factors and events leading to the South's defeat on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
The 6:30 p.m. presentation is the next-to-last installment of the Library's Civil War Sesquicentennial series.
A day after his surrender on April 9, 1865, Lee issued a farewell address to his troops. It was a moment few could have envisioned less than two years earlier, when the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia—on the cusp of one of the most remarkable tactical battlefield victories in American military history—rode amid wild cheers to a crossroads clearing in Virginia known as Chancellorsville. His brilliance and daring had just trumped the much larger numbers commanded by Union Gen. "Fighting Joe" Hooker.
But Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded there. "I have lost my right arm," Lee lamented. Less than two months later, the South lost 28,000 men in a pivotal defeat at Gettysburg. On July 4, 1863, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River fell when Vicksburg was surrendered to Grant after a six-week siege. The war had turned.
During the course of his talk, Rafuse examines Lee's legendary generalship in those last two years of the conflict.
Rafuse is a professor is professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He taught Civil War and military history at the U.S. Military Academy from 2001-2003 and is the author, editor, or co-editor of eight books and monographs on the Civil War and military history including Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy and Manassas: A Battlefield Guide.
The Civil War Sesquicentennial series is co-sponsored by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Foundation.
A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.