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With Burning Tears

THE
APPOMATTOX PAROLES
By D. A. Serrano

he old General didnt need to con

3pm April 9th, 1865 the formal surrender

template any longer. He had made

was concluded at the McLean House in the

his decision hours before, prior to this at-

village of Appomattox Court House. The

tack. Any failure at this critical point would confederate soldiers that had been previmean one thing, surrender. The fog that

ously captured on the retreat from Peters-

had hung low on the ground that morning

burg and at Sailors Creek were already

had lifted and General Gordon reported to

on their way to Fort Delaware and Point

Lee without mincing words, Ive fought

Lookout as prisoners. But Grant knew that

my corps to a frazzle the breakout assault with General Lees capitulation it would
had failed and the once magnificent Army

be the beginning of the end to organized

of Northern Virginia was outnumbered,

resistance in the South and there would

exhausted and almost entirely surrounded. be no need to accumulate more soldiers in


For the most part the Civil War was over.
That sunny afternoon at approximately

overcrowded Northern prisons. The Confederate army would be paroled and sent

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This typical parole master


list notes all the staff officers
of Mahones Division. The
surrender terms are attached
as a preamble to the signatures. In addition to the
individual paroles these lists
were produced in duplicate,
one for the Federals and one
for the Confederates. The
Confederate list was personally kept by Robert Ould the
Confederate officer in charge
of prisoner exchanges. Ould
later turned them over to the
Southern Historical Society.
The Confederate copies,
some 667 separate sheets of
various sizes now reside in
the Museum of the Confederacy. Image courtesy the
author.

home. There were still formidable armies

1863 and most had returned to the ranks

in the field who were not encompassed in

once released. But all the principals in

this surrender and hypothetically, if the

this Virginia drama from general to private

war continued these Army of Northern

knew that this surrender would be unique

Virginia troops could be exchanged for

and final.

their like Union counterparts and resume

The next morning General Lee was noti-

the fight. General Grant had paroled twen-

fied that Grant requested another meeting

ty three thousand soldiers at Vicksburg in

between the lines and Lee quickly com-

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John A. Pinnix was still a teenager when his unit the 11th North Carolina Infantry surrendered 8 officers and 74 men at Appomattox. He later became a physician and one of
the most respected men in Caswell County. His funeral was attended by over 2,000 of his
friends and neighbors. His obituary stated, Dr. Pinnix was a zealous Confederate. But
when the war was over he emulated Robert E. Lee and gave ardent and sincere devotion to
the Union. Image courtesy Caswell County Historical Society.
plied. Grants pretense was simple and to

These passes or more succinctly paroles

the point. Would Lee take the initiative to

would primarily have a twofold purpose. It

compel what was left of other Confederate

would not only allow the man on his way

government and armed forces to surren-

home unmolested passage through lines

der? Lees thoughts and ambitions were

held by different armies, but also could

never on that grand a scale and he was

be used to secure food and transportation

averse to stepping beyond the duties of

from some of those same armies that a

a soldier. This was a man that did not

few weeks prior they were trying to kill.

covet power and prestige but shied away

And lastly and infrequently discussed, it

from it. That morning his thoughts were

would compel the rebel soldiers to remain

only for his men and their safety. The issue with their commands and formally surrenof a safe pass to each individual soldier

der and stack arms before receiving the

that would differentiate his men as non-

pass.

combatants while traveling home through

Officers were designated from each

territory held by different armies whether

army to facilitate the details of surrender.

Federal or Confederate was agreed on.

On the Federal side Generals Griffin,

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Gibbon and Merritt were put to the task of

Appomattox. Gibbon was ordered to ar-

receiving the surrendered arms and equip- range for a small printing press to print
ment and the printing and issuing of the pa- blank parole forms. He wrote, My corps
roles. The parole documents would consist press was at once set to work to print off
of master lists made out in duplicate, one

the requisite number of blank paroles but it

set for each army with the name and rank

soon became apparent that our few print-

of the soldier and signed by his command-

ers would speedily break down at the task,

ing officer. The Confederate army would

some 30,000 blanks being required. The

produce approximately 677 individual unit

Adjutant General reported that the press

lists primarily broken down by division,

would have to be run all night and prob-

brigade and regiment. An additional paper ably all the next day. I, therefore, directed
pass signed by the commanding officer of

him to send out and make a detail of the

each unit would be given to each individual necessary numbers of printers to supply
attesting to their status as a paroled pris-

relays for the press until the job was fin-

oner.

ished. This was done; we obtained all the

U.S. General John Gibbon was given


command of the printing operation at

printers we wanted and the next day the


paroles were ready for distribution.
General George Sharpe supervised the
operation, which was carried out at the
Clover Hill Tavern. Printing began the afternoon of the 10th and continued from daylight to a late hour each night through the
15th. The total number of officers and men
paroled was 28,231.

An Adams Cottage Press was most likely


the device used to print the paroles at
the Clover Hill Tavern. The Adams press,
which breaks into two parts and can be
carried by one person, was patented and
advertised in 1861 as making every
man his own printer. The manufacturer
suggested merchants, druggists and all
business men could use the press. Image
courtesy NPS Appomattox Court House.
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James Mercer Garnett


started the war in the
Rockbridge Artillery
and later became an
ordinance officer. His
parole was signed by
General Bryan Grimes
(left) who was the
last Major General
appointed in the Confederate Army. Grimes
met a tragic end in
1880 at the hands of
an assassin who was
later lynched by an
angry mob of the
Generals friends.
Courtesy UNC Library
and Library of
Virginia.

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Confederate engineer Charles H. Dimmock was responsible for the fortifications around
Petersburg and was on the staff of General Lee. His parole is signed by Walter Taylor in
Lees name. After the war Dimmock was the city engineer of Richmond. He died in 1873.
Image courtesy Shem Library, College of William and Mary.

The parole pass of Sgt. Benjamin Holly Woodford is of a third variant style that is rarely
encountered and was never issued at Appomattox. It was produced by Union General
Winfield S. Hancock for paroling Confederate troops in the Shenandoah Valley and copied the format and design of the Appomattox paroles. Sgt. Woodford was from Pocahontas
County in present day West Virginia and served in the 62nd Virginia Mounted Infantry. He
surrendered at Staunton to General Issac H. Duval and possibly traveled to Winchester to
receive this parole. These Valley paroles are on unlined paper and have a wavy line
border on the left and the typeface has some slight variations but is identical in wording.
Image courtesy NPS Appomattox Court House.
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Typical of the many veterans of Lees army,


Samuel Gideon Marsh saved his parole
with honor and pride after the surrender. He participated in every battle
his company the Brown Rifles, 3rd
Georgia Infantry fought in, only
missing 24 days of service. After
the war Marsh wrote of the retreat, [We were] engaged every day for eight days fighting
more or less every day until the
surrender. The 3rd Georgia
participated in over 50 engagements during the war and surrendered 235 officers and men
at Appomattox, a remarkably
large number for a Confederate
unit at that time. The reverse of
Marshs parole shows one ration issued April 24th and a quartermasters
stamp in Columbia South Carolina on
the 28th. The proud veteran passed away
in 1920 at the Confederate Veterans Home in
Atlanta. Courtesy Duane Russell

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Surgeon John H. Stevens was the chief medical officer of the second corps under John
B. Gordon. In later years Gordon recounted, They carefully preserved their paroles,
and were as proud of them as a young graduate is of his diploma, because these strips
of paper furnished official proof of the fact that they were in the fight to the last. This
fact they transmit as a priceless legacy to their children. Image courtesy NPS Appomattox Court House.

These 8 1/2 by 3 1/2 parole passes

federate soldiers and most show signs of

were printed four to a sheet identical in

many folds and tears from constant use on

every way except the left hand borders

the way home, evidence of their necessity

which were of two distinct styles. The

for the drawing of rations and transporta-

paper used was common blue lined stock

tion from the Federals. And as the old vet-

much like childrens notebook paper of

erans aged, shown with pride to children

today. Some passes show irregular scissor

and grandchildren, proof of their valor and


loyalty to the very end.

cuts and others clean slices. Once printed,


they were distributed to individual Confederate units and filled out by the officer in

The author of this modest article wishes to

charge of that particular command. Many

thank Patrick Schroeder and Joseph

regiments were being led by mere captains

Williams of the NPS Appomattox Court

by this time and are reflected in the signa-

House for their advice and help.

tures.
The passes were coveted by the Con-

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EPILOUGE
General Grant has often been lauded for the
generous surrender terms he offered Lee.
Whether magnanimous or just practical, his
main purpose was to disarm the Army of Northern Virginia as quickly as possible. Many in the
Union believed the terms too liberal and that
the Confederates should be harshly punished.
The New York Times reported a few days later,
A large number of officers, together with thousands of the men of this army, express their
dissatisfaction not only at the unprecedented
liberality granted to the Army of Northern
Virginia, but at the manner in which they were
paroled and allowed to go their way, without
our men being permitted to enjoy the results of
their long struggle. Grant told a congressional
committee in 1867 that the surrender terms
were a purely military contention that protected the lives of the surrendered soldiers so long
as they observed their paroles. Image courtesy
Library of Congress.

References.
The Appomattox Paroles. Nine and Wilson. H.E. Howard Publishers.
The Appomattox Roster. R.A.Brook. Southern Historical Society Papers.
Appomattox, Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War. Elizabeth R.
Varon. Oxford Univ. Press.
We Are All To Be Paroled John M. Coski. Museum of the Confederacy Magazine,
Fall 2011.
War Talk of Confederate Veterans. Geo. S Bernard. Fenn and Owen Publishers.
Recollections of Appomattox. John Gibbon. Century Magazine, Vol. 62.

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