6 Apr 2018

153rd Appomattox Anniversary, Charge Burnside Bridge, Park Day, The Battle of York, California in the Civil War, and More

153rd Appomattox Anniversary, Charge Burnside Bridge, Park Day, The Battle of York, California in the Civil War, and More

Some American Civil War stories can seem so outlandish and unbelievable that anyone could be forgiven for suspecting them to be the invention of a Hollywood screenwriter. Those who are passionate about American history, however, know that the most incredible thing about many of those stories is that they are true.

Few events from the period produced more remarkable stories than Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

There is, of course, the bizarre coincidence that Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in the home of one Wilmer McLean, a man who had moved to Appomattox to get away from the fighting after his previous house was damaged during the First Battle of Bull Run.

There is also the little known fact that two brigades of African-American soldiers, many of whom had been slaves when the war began, played a decisive role in blocking the escape of the Confederate army, forcing Lee to capitulate.

Perhaps most importantly, Appomattox gives us an inspiring story of exemplary conduct by two of the war’s towering figures. The magnanimity and compassion in victory demonstrated by Ulysses S. Grant and the humility in defeat shown by Robert E. Lee continue to serve as examples to people of all ages. Grant, for his part, later wrote that “I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.”

This April, take a moment to reflect on what happened at Appomattox Court House. If you’re a newcomer to this part of history, here are 10 quick facts about the final days of the Civil War in Virginia to get you started.

Help instill a lifelong passion for history and bring your son, granddaughter, or nephew to our free Generations event on April 7th. Join the Civil War Trust for this 1.5-mile hike as the story of Union Gen. Burnside and his bridge unfolds. Choose your side, outflank the enemy, and learn about what worked and what didn’t as outnumbered soldiers defended the bridge from a seemingly impregnable height. Kids will even get to don hats and uniforms. The event is free (although National Park Service admission fees apply) to all who bring a kid with them (ideal ages are 6-17, but all kids are welcome).

The events at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, were one of the most important moments in the history of the United States. Today, we are fighting to save 74 acres of sacred historic land, including a portion of the ground over which Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s men made their last charge of the war. If we don’t act, this hallowed ground could be lost forever.

Register Now: Park Day

Join us this Saturday, April 7, for Park Day, our annual hands-on preservation event to help battlefields and other historic sites take on maintenance projects large and small. Activities are chosen by each participating site and can range from raking leaves and hauling trash to painting signs and building trails. Find a site near you and register today.

California in the Civil War: Facebook Live

California may have been far from the deadliest battles of the of the Civil War, but its history is substantially woven into the fabric of the conflict. From April 12 through April 15, join us on our Facebook page where we will be live at key historic sites in the Golden State, alongside some of our great partners from the National Park Service, CBS Studios, the Huntington Library, and Facebook!

The War of 1812: The Battle of York

In April 1813, American forces captured York (present-day Toronto), the capital of Upper Canada. As the British retreated, they set fire to their stores to keep them out of enemy hands, setting off an explosion that killed or wounded 200 Americans, including Gen. Zebulon Pike. Enraged Americans responded by burning the city, an act the British would avenge a year later when the attacked Washington.

Enjoy Springtime History

As the weather warms, there is no better time to visit battlefields and other historic sites, which hold a variety of events this time of year, including anniversary celebrations, living history programs, reenactments, family activities, and more! Attending one of these events is a great way to get outside and understand the United States’ fascinating history. To get you started, we’ve prepared a list of 11 upcoming events at sites related to the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.


American Battlefield Trust

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