DOINews: National Park Service Commemorates 150th Anniversary of Surrender at Appomattox

Last edited 09/05/2019

Some of the many photos of the event on the park's Facebook page.
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox draws more than 20,000 visitors. View these and additional photos on the park's Facebook page.history demonstrations, and more. These and other photos of the event on the park's Facebook page.
Secretary Sally Jewell touring Appomattox National Historical Park
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell looks at a map during her visit to Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park to promote the Land and Water Conservation Fund and to speak about land at Appomattox that has been preserved using LWCF funds. (From left, park historian Ernie Price, Jewell, park historian Patrick Schroeder, and President of the Civil War Trust James Lighthizer, Photo by Tami Heilemann, appears on DOI's Flickr page.

Between Wednesday, April 8, and Sunday, April 12, more than 20,000 visitors came to Appomattox Court House National Historical Park to attend events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the surrender at Appomattox and the effective end of the Civil War. Programs included commemorative ceremonies, interpretive programs, living history demonstrations, and more.

Appomattox Court House NHP preserves, protects and interprets the historic structures, grounds and collections associated with the place where on April 9, 1865, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, overall commander of all Union forces. The surrender symbolically ended the American Civil War and began the reunification process between North and South.

The national park encompasses nearly 1,800 acres of rolling hills in rural central Virginia and includes the McLean home where the surrender was negotiated and the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia, the former county seat for Appomattox County.

Park staff planned and presented “real-time” interpretive programs over the course of the five-day event, drawing hundreds of participants for each. Union and Confederate living history encampments with nearly 1,000 participants provided infantry, cavalry, and the artillery demonstrations, including surrender ceremonies for each. Activities also included a youth and education station, the printing of parole passes, wet plate photography, first day of issue for a new postal stamp, the Virginia Civil War Historymobile, and stage ceremonies.

The surrender ceremony program on Thursday attracted thousands and ended with a national “Bells Across the Land” to mark the anniversary of the war's end; bells rang hundreds of locations, from Hawaii to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Saturday culminated with a ceremony representing a funeral for Hannah Reynolds, an enslaved woman, mortally wounded at Appomattox just hours before her emancipation. The “Footsteps to Freedom” program eulogized her life and the institution of slavery that died with her. The program ended with the lighting of 4,600 luminaries representing each person in Appomattox County who was emancipated as a result of the surrender.

Speakers throughout the commemorations included, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe; U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine; Dr. James Robertson, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech University and executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission; Dr. David Blight of Yale University, Dr. Edward Ayres, president of the University of Richmond; and others. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell kicked off the commemoration with a visit to the park on Tuesday, April 7, to promote the Land and Water Conservation Fund and to speak about land at Appomattox that has been preserved using LWCF.

The event was managed by the Eastern Incident Management Team to provide support for public and employee transportation to the events; law enforcement and security; and the array of interpretive programs. More than 130 National Park Service employees from 33 different parks and offices were part of the team. There were no citations or arrests during the event.

National and local media interest was high, with stories about the surrender and anniversary events playing on C-SPAN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, Voice of America Radio, the Associated Press, and the front page of USA Today, among others.

By: Katie Lawhon and Mike Litterst, information officers, NPS

April 13, 2015

Related Links:

NPS-Appomattox NHP
The Morning Report

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