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Civil War

Lee's Surrender

After the fall of Atlanta, which had contributed to Lincoln's victory, Sherman's troops made their destructive march through Georgia. Hood had failed to draw Sherman back by invading Union-held Tennessee, and after the battle of Franklin (Nov. 30) Hood's army was almost completely annihilated by Thomas at Nashville (Dec. 15–16, 1864). Sherman presented Lincoln with the Christmas gift of Savannah, Ga., and then moved north through the Carolinas. Farragut's victory at Mobile Bay (Aug. 5, 1864) had effectively closed that port, and on Jan. 15, 1865, Wilmington, N.C., was also cut off (see Fort Fisher).

After Sheridan's victory at Five Forks (Apr. 1), the Petersburg lines were breached and the Confederates evacuated Richmond (Apr. 3). With his retreat blocked by Sheridan, Lee, wisely giving up the futile contest, surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse (see under Appomattox) on Apr. 9, 1865. The surviving Confederate armies also yielded when they heard of Lee's capitulation, thus ending the conflict that resulted in some 620,000 casualties (with more recent estimates suggesting the number could be 750,000 or more).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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