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Events and battles

Appomattox Court House

Federal soldiers at the Appomattox Courthouse.

After his stunning victory at Vicksburg - and Chattanooga a couple of months later - Gen. Ulysses S. Grant is appointed commander of the Union armies in March 1864.

Grant believed in the idea of total war, which included war against armies as well as a people's resources and will to fight. Grant led the Army of the Potomac south to capture Richmond, while Gen. Sherman invaded Georgia and marched to the sea.

Gen. Grant began his campaign in Virginia at the Battle of the Wilderness and continued south to Spotsylvania Court House.

Both were costly battles and Grant lost many men, but he kept moving south, and Lee was forced to follow. Lee made a stand outside of Richmond at Petersburg, and the Union army laid siege around the city for several months. The Federal army finally broke through on April 1, 1865, and Richmond was captured days later. The capital city was burned.

Lee's army retreated westward across Virginia to a small village called Appomattox Court House, where he realized he could not continue the fight.

He surrendered his army to Grant on April 9, 1865. The other Confederate armies surrendered shortly after, and Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, was captured on May 10.

The Civil War was over.


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1. A Nation Divided

2. Events and Battles

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