Sunday, April 9th. – Pleasant. Started early and marched till about 1 o’clock p.m. when Gen. Lee Surrendered at Appomattox Court House. When the news was announced to the soldiers there was the wildest enthusiasm manifested. Men cheered, cried, grasped each others hands; threw their caps high into the air, etc.; a hundred flags were thrown proudly to the breeze and waved in triumph there; numerous bands filled the air with strains of patriotic sweetness, while the artillery in a neighboring hill thundered forth the national salute. Thus ended one of the most remarkable and eventful campaigns the world ever saw.
The words above were written by my ancestor, Henry Freed, Company I, 184th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, II Corps, Army of the Potomac, as he spent time at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. Last year I was able to walk the Hallowed Ground that he trod. To say that the experience was life-changing would be to considerably understate it.
In these days of turmoil, it is comforting to remember that turmoil, even the kind that threatens to permanently disrupt our country, is not insurmountable. Rather it teaches us that challenges can make us stronger, adversity can bring us together. Thank you to Stephen Ambrose Tours for the life lessons.
Photo: McLean House, Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, Virginia