Appomattox Court House Audio Tour, Beta Version
On April 9, 1865, in the village of Appomattox Court House, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant. And America's Civil War would come to an end, the promise of emancipation became a reality for this region, and later, the nation. This audio tour will guide you through much of the restored village. The app includes photographs of the buildings, information on each and an audio description of the image.
The tour starts in the lower parking lot at the flagpole.
Start your walking tour
You are standing near the flagpole of Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. At the base of the flagpole is a display showing a map of the Village and information about the park. Extending north of the flagpole is the gravel Market Lane. Follow this path approximately 130 yards uphill to the historic Appomattox Courthouse on your right at the top of the hill. Along the way stop at the display for the Isbell House on your right. The McLean House, site of the surrender, will be on your left. To the right of the flagpole is a large grass field with picnic tables under a grove of cedar trees. In front of you an unpainted four board fence runs along the right (east) side of Market Lane. A large grass field separates Market Lane from the Isbell House on your right. The left side of Market Lane is flanked with a white picket fence with a large mowed field with another picket fence and the McLean House behind that.
The Visitor Center is in the reconstructed Appomattox County Courthouse at the top of Market Lane. There you will find park information and maps, the park museum, a theater showing the park movie “With Malice Toward None” and restrooms. Tactile maps, braille brochures and large-print handouts are available in the Visitor Center. Wheelchairs are also available. Those needing assistance in reaching the Visitor Center may call 434.352.8287, extension 226. Your first stop will be at the wayside panel for the Isbell House, on your right, about 30 yards north of the flagpole and across the pathway “Back Lane.”
There is a black banner across the top of the display labeled "Appomattox Court House." (Note that "Court House" is spelled with two words signifying the reference to a village, not a building.) There are two color images within the banner depicting U. S. Grant on the left, and Robert E. Lee on the right. The images face each other.
The text below the banner reads: Here, amidst the once quiet streets and lanes of Appomattox Court House, Lee, Grant, and their tired armies enacted one of the great dramas in American History.
Appomattox was first called Clover Hill - just a stage coach stop along the Stage Road linking Richmond and Lynchburg. In 1845 the village became the Appomattox County seat - home to the courthouse and about 100 people. Then, in 1865, it became one of the most famous places in the world.
Today the village of Appomattox Court House has been partially restored. Its lanes and lots look much as they did in April 1865. Some of the village's historic buildings reman, while others have been rebuilt. Together they comprise one of America's most vivid historic landscapes.
Text quotation: " ‘General, this is deeply humiliating; but I console myself with the thought that the whole country will rejoice at this day's business.’ A Confederate during the surrender ceremony April 12, 1865. “
This concludes the text at the top of the panel. Below is a map of the village showing the existing buildings and outlines of the footprints of buildings no longer standing.
Map Description: The map is rotated about fifteen degrees to the west of a true north-south orientation. The parking lot and flagpole are at the bottom. The “Back Lane” runs east-west across the lower portion of the map. The Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road runs east-west through the middle of the village. Market Lane runs north from the flagpole to the intersection with the stage road in the center of the village. The restored Courthouse, now housing the park Visitor Center is in the center of the map with the Stage Road circling the building. The McClean House and its outbuildings are at the west end of the village. The Meeks General Store and Woodson law Office are just west of the Courthouse and face the Stage road. The Clover Hill Tavern, the guest house, kitchen (now housing the bookstore) and enslaved quarters (now housing accessible restrooms) are on the north side of the circle. East of the Courthouse are the jail, Isbell house, Wright House and Kelley house all on the south side of the Stage Road. The Stage Road bends slightly left (northeast) to the Lee-Grant meeting site and site of Chamberlain’s salute. The Old Prince Edward Courthouse Road runs south to north and intersects with the Stage Road at the east end of the village. The Peers House overlooks that intersection.
Below the map is a block of text on the left, a sepia historic photo of the McLean House in the center, and a color painting representing the signing of the surrender terms on the right.
The text follows: “The central event of the Appomattox Campaign was the meeting between Lee and Grant at the McLean House on April 9 (right). But in fact, the final chapter of the war spanned several days and involved the entire village and surrounding fields. Start your visit at the reconstructed courthouse, about 130 yards in front of you.” Note: The panel states the distance as “100 yards.”
Description of the images: The image immediately left of the text is a black and white (sepia) photograph of the front of the McLean house. Trunks of large trees run across the photograph from left to right. The top two stories of the brick house are visible. A set of stairs leads to the wide verandah that runs across the front. Seated at the top of the stairs are four people. Two more are seated on a bench behind the four. From left to right the people are identified as: (in front) Lula McLean, seven years old, Virginia McLean, two years old, and Mrs. McLean dressed in black. On the bench are the photographer Timothy O'Sullivan and an unidentified woman. Another unidentified woman stands at the far-right end of the porch. The two are presumed to be the older McLean daughters who were 18 and 20 years old at the time.
The image on the right is a color painting purporting to represent the signing of the surrender terms. Robert E. Lee is seated on the left at a marble topped table signing a document. Looking over his shoulder and holding a sheaf of papers is Confederate Lt. Col. Charles Marshal, Lee’s aide and the only other Confederate officer in the room. Across from Lee, Ulysses S. Grant is seated at a small oval table looking intently at Lee. Behind Grant are eight Federal officers. They are identified from left to right as: General Philip Sheridan, Lt. Col. Orville Babcock, Lt. Col. Horace Porter, General E.O. Ord, General Seth Rawlins. Captain Robert Todd Lincoln (seated) Col. Ely Parker and General George Custer (who was not actually in the meeting.)
At the bottom of the panel is a black and white sketch of the village. Left of the image is this text: “The village (below) as it appeared just after the surrender. The McLean House is at right, the courthouse in the center. In 1892 the courthouse burned and the old town died. "New" Appomattox grew up along the railroad a few miles south of here.”
Your first stop will be at the wayside panel for the Isbell House, on your right, about 30 yards north of the flagpole and across the pathway “Back Lane.”
Built 1848 Restored 1949
Wood Frame. White
Two Stories over basement.
32’ x 16’
On your right is the large two-story Isbell House. Two brothers built what we know refer to as the Isbell House in 1848. One of them, Thomas Bocock, was then a US Congressman. He later served as the only speaker of the Confederate Congress. Lewis Isbell, Bocock's law partner, bought the house in 1861 and lived there with an enslaved woman named Kitty and her four children, all fathered by Isbell. Bocock lobbied against secession warning that it would lead to a "collision ... that would drench the continent in blood." Isbell was an ardent secessionist and as the Appomattox representative to Virginia's secession commission voted twice for Virginia to secede.
Not open to the public.
Continue up the hill about 130 yards to the Courthouse (now the Visitor Center) on your right. The gravel path is bordered on the left by a white picket fence and on the right by an unpainted board fence. A hayfield is on the right. The lot on the left is mowed grass.
The photograph shows the front and right side of this white frame three-story building. A red brick chimney is on the right side and the top of the left chimney is visible above the wood shingle roof. Stairs lead up to a porch on main floor. The top floor has a door leading to a flat porch roof. The house is surrounded with a white picket fence and green grass. A white frame outbuilding is visible to the right of the house. Large hardwood trees frame the house. Not visible is the barn which is behind and east of the house. In the background white cumulus clouds reflect the setting sun.
A wayside exhibit is on the fence in front of the Isbell House.
Isbell House Wayside Panel
.A wayside panel is fixed to the fence in front of the Isbell House.
Description: At the top of the panel is a block of text on the left and an historic black and white photograph to the right. The text follows: “Henry and Thomas Bocock built this house in 1848. Henry was the County Clerk (1845-1860.) Thomas served as US Congressman from 1847 to March, 1861 when he became to only Speaker of the Confederate House of Representatives. Prior to 1860, Thomas moved four miles northeast to a house he dubbed 'Wildway.' Lewis D. Isbell then occupied the house. Isbell, Commonwealth's Attorney (1847-1867) represented Appomattox at both secession conventions in March and April, 1861, where he voted for secession. A bachelor, Isbell had four sons with an enslaved woman, his housekeeper Louisa 'Kitty' (Patterson) Isbell. Following the war be became the local Freedmen's Bureau agent following the departure of the Federal Provost Guard. Isbell served as a judge from 1868-1872 before moving to Missouri where he died in 1889.”
Photo description: In the upper right-hand corner is a black and white photograph dated 1901. It shows the front of the Isbell house shaded by large hardwood trees on either side. Three unidentified children, dressed in white dresses, are standing at the base of the house's steps. Below that photograph are 4 historic black and white photos in oval frames. The people in the photo are identified (left to right) as: Henry Bocock, Thomas Bocock, Lewis Daniel Isbell and Louisa "Kitty" Isbell. All three men are white, and the woman is Black.
Henry Bocock is mustachioed and wears a suit jacket with a ceremonial sash about his neck. Two medals are pinned on his left chest. Thomas Bocock wears a dark jacket and high cleric's collar. His dark beard extends over the collar. Lewis Isbell wears a full beard and mustache and dark vest under his coat. "Kitty" looks straight ahead and at us. Her white hair is pulled back in a bun. She wears a large white ruffled lace collar over a dark dress.
In the lower left-hand corner is a black and white historic photo identified as Lt. Col Augustus Root. He has a short dark mustache and his dark hair is neatly brushed back. He wears a federal officer's tunic buttoned to the neck. The silver oak leaf clusters on his right shoulder epaulets identify his rank as a lieutenant colonel. A campaign ribbon is pinned to his left chest. To the right of Root's photograph is the following text:
“After being killed along the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road on the night of April 8, 1865, Lt. Col Augustus Root of the 15th New York Cavalry was buried in front of the house. Disinterred in December, 1865, his family reburied him in Syracuse, New York.”
At the bottom of the panel is the following text: “The house serves as Park Headquarters and is not open to the public. You are welcome to explore outside the house.”
Continue up the hill about 100 yards to the Courthouse (now the Visitor Center) on your right. The gravel path is bordered on the left by a white picket fence and on the right by an unpainted board fence. A hayfield is on the right. The lot on the left is mowed grass.
The Historic Appomattox County Courthouse
Appomattox County Courthouse
Built 1846 Reconstructed 1964
Brick. 2 story.
48’ x 48’
This large two-story building was built in 1846 and was destroyed by fire in 1892. The Courthouse was reconstructed for the 1965 Centennial Commemoration of the end of the Civil War. The building houses the park Visitor Center, museum exhibits, a movie theater and restrooms. Visitors can pick up maps and brochures and get information on daily activities from park staff. The entrance to the Visitor Center is on the ground floor beneath the stairs. Wheelchairs are available for loan. Tactile maps, Braille brochures and large print handouts are available. The second-floor museum and theatre are accessed by interior stairs. The park movie may also be screened in the lower level lobby.
Upon leaving the Courthouse head west on the old Stage Road toward the McLean House. You will pass the Meeks General Store on your right. The brick walkway to the front of Meeks Store is about 15 yards from the Courthouse gate.
The photograph is of the front of the Courthouse looking east from the Stage Road. The two-story red brick building has a metal roof painted red. Stairs lead to the second story which is not accessible from the exterior. A gable roof extends over the second story porch. A wood rail fence surrounds the building. Two large hardwood trees frame the front of the building. The gravel Stage Road circles the Courthouse. The county jail is visible in the background to the right. Not visible in the photograph is the white lattice enclosed wellhouse on the right. Also not visible, the Clover Hill Tavern complex is across the Stage Road to the left.
Meeks Store (Original
Built circa1850 , Restored 1964
Wood Frame, two story with stone and brick foundation. Wood siding is painted light green.
At the time of the surrender Francis Meeks operated a general store and post office here. The Meeks' son, Lafayette, enlisted in the Confederate Army in May 1861 and soon died of Typhoid. He is buried in the field behind the store. The store is open through the front and left side doors. The Woodson law office is visible to the right of the store.
The photograph shows the front and left side of the two-story structure. A gable roof extends over the front porch which extends across the width the building. A side porch and door is at the left rear. A brick chimney rises through the center of the wood shingled roof. The building is painted a light green with dark green shutters on the first floor windows.
The four front steps to Meeks Store are about 15 yards north of the gravel Stage Road along a brick walkway. The Woodson Law Office is about 25 yards beyond along the brick walkway.
The front doors open to a glass enclosed vestibule. The contents of the store can be seen through the security glass. Shelves line both walls. There is fireplace in the middle of the room. To the left of the door there is a tall glass box with a white porcelain basin and jug displayed. The shelves on the left wall are filled with various items – round wooden boxes, metal cannisters and ceramic bowls of various sizes and colors. A rifle hangs above the fireplace. The shelves to the right contain several serving items, teacups and porcelain bowls of various sizes. At the far right are the open mailboxes for the “Appomattox Post Office.”
A counter in front of the shelves display bowls of various sizes with root vegetables and other items displayed.
After visiting the Woodson Law Office return to the Stage Road and continue west about 15 yds to the side entrance to Meeks Store. Four steps lead to a small uncovered porch. A gravel path leads to the stairs. A small glass enclosed vestibule allows visitors visual access to the rear of the store. Various items are on display: barrels containing flour and other commodities, a large wheel of cheese and boxes of gunpowder. All, of course, simulated to show what the store might have presented in 1865.
When leaving Meeks Store continue west for 70 yards on the Stage Road to the McLean House gate. White picket fences line each side of the Stage Road. A large grass field is on the left. A grass lawn shaded with hardwood tress is on the right.
Woodson Law Office
Woodson Law Office (Original)
Built 1856 Restored 1959
12’ x 15’
John Woodson bought this office in 1856 and practiced law here until he joined the Confederate Army and died of disease in 1864. This small 12’ by 15’ office is typical of the several law offices that surrounded the Courthouse. Most offices were single practitioners. As Court Day was only one day each month most of the lawyers rode the “circuit” and were only in the Village when they had business with the Court. This is indicative of the transient nature of the Village.
Return to the Stage Road and continue west about 15 yards to the side entrance to Meeks Store. Four steps lead to a small uncovered porch. A gravel path leads to the stairs.
When leaving Meeks Store continue west for 70 yards on the Stage Road to the McLean House gate. White picket fences line each side of the Stage Road. A large grass field is on the left. A grass lawn shaded with hardwood tress is on the right.
[I thought at one point that it made sense to visit Woodson after the McLean House. But after walking the route it seems to best to go first to Woodson, then the side door to Meeks, then to McLean. I’ve made that change in order on the “Front Page.”
The photograph shows the front and left side of this small single room building. The front door is centered and a single window with a dark green shutter is centered on the left side wall. The wood siding is painted a pumpkin color. A brick path and white picket fence are in front. A single chimney rises in the back over a dark metal roof. The Meeks stable is visible in the background. Large hardwood trees in full leaf shade the office and lawn behind.
The interior of the office is white plaster. A candelabra with four bare candles hangs from the middle of the ceiling. A safe sits to the left of the entrance door with an antique print “The First Trial by Jury” above. A small round wooden table sits under the window on the left with a single wooden chair. A glass front secretary is on the right of the table. A fireplace with a black wood mantle is in the center of the back wall. Brass candlesticks sit on each end of the mantle. A portrait of a woman hangs above the mantle. She is wearing a white bonnet and scarf and a plain dark dress.
The McLean House
McLean House (Reconstructed)
Brick, 3 stories Built 1848, Reconstructed 1948
You are standing near the gate to the McLean House, the largest house in the Village. A brick walkway leads past the well house to the front porch stairs. Rangers are on site to help you explore the house and assist with accessibility options.
On April 9, 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in the parlor of this house. Lee’s aide Lt. Col. Charles Marshall chose this site. The house, built in 1848, survived under several owners until 1893, when speculators dismantled it in a failed money-making venture. In the 1940s, using the speculators’ plans and specifications, and archeological evidence, the National Park Service rebuilt the house on its 1848 foundation.
Behind the house are the Summer Kitchen and Enslaved Cabin. Both are open to the public.
The color photograph shows the top two stories of the brick McLean House taken from the left, or east side. A grass field slopes slightly down to the McLean house and outbuildings. The roof of the underground log icehouse is visible in the foreground. The white log buildings of the summer kitchen and enslaved cabin are visible in the rear of the house. Large hardwood trees line the background. A white picket fence surrounds the house. The front of the McLean House has a wide veranda across the front with white square columns and a white railing around the flat roof of the veranda. Wide steps lead to the front door. There are chimneys on each side of the house. All of the buildings are roofed with wood shingles. The sky is pale blue.
McLean Wayside Panel
There is a wayside panel affixed to the picket fence in front of the McLean House. In the top half of the panel is a historic pencil sketch of the McLean House and Raine Tavern. Another black and white sketch of General Lee riding away on his horse Traveler is superimposed in the upper right-hand corner. The following text is at the top left-hand corner: This sketch by Eustace Collett was made in April 1865. Collett was an engineer by training and was attached to Grant’s staff as an artist to document battles and other events. The building at left - no longer standing - was at that time an abandoned tavern.
Text extends across the bottom of the panel: “At midday on April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee rode into this yard, dismounted, and disappeared into the McLean House. Grant, surrounded by generals and staff officers, soon followed. Dozens of officers, horses, and onlookers waited outside. After 90 minutes, Lee and Grant emerged. To the silent salutes of Union soldiers, Lee rode back through the village - to his defeated army.
The home that hosted the surrender meeting was one of the best in Appomattox. Built in 1848, it had since 1862 been owned by businessman Wilmer McLean. The house became a sensation after the surrender. Union officers took some mementos, and in 1893 it was dismantled for display in Washington, D.C. But that display never happened and the National Park Service reconstructed the building on its original site in the 1940s.”
When leaving the McLean House by the front gate, turn right and walk past the Meeks Store and turn left on the Stage Road to the Clover Hill Tavern.
Clover Hill Tavern
Clover Hill Tavern (Original)
Built 1819 Restored 1954
2 and one-half stories.
48’ x 24’
You are standing at the gravel path leading to the Clover Hill Tavern, the oldest building in the park. The gate to the Tavern yard is about 7 yds in front of you. Built by the Pateson family in 1819 the Tavern served as a main stagecoach stop along the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road. The Tavern played a significant role in the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. This is where the Federal army printed 30,000 parole passes for the Confederates. The passes identified each Confederate soldier as a “paroled prisoner . . .with permission to go to his home and there be left undisturbed.” A gate in the white picket fence opens to a brick walkway leading to the porch steps.
The room on the left as you enter the Tavern displays how those passes were printed. Some original passes and artifacts are displayed in the room on the right. Behind the Tavern is the historic brick kitchen, now the bookstore and gift shop. To the right of the kitchen the enslaved quarters now house accessible restrooms. To the left of the Tavern is the restored brick Guest House. (Not open to the public.)
A wide center hallway extends through the building to stairs on the left. Those stairs lead to the top floors and are not open to the public. Along the right wall of the hallway photos are displayed of men from both Confederate and Federal armies who served at Appomattox – the “Wall of Honor.” They are in uniform and identified by name, rank and unit.
The room to the left is where the parole passes were printed. There are two large hand cranked presses in the room. Overhead, lines are strung for the passes to be dried after printing. Various items used in the printing process are displayed: An historic wooden box of moveable type, a marble table on which ink was spread prior to being applied to the presses are along the back wall. A large horsehair covered couch is on the right wall under a window.
The walls are painted in a pale blue overlaid with a green and red vine pattern. A wood paneled wall above the entrance door has some of the original paint and pattern.
The room to the right has historic items on display that are rotated at times. Some original parole passes are on display in a glass counter. The passes were given to the surrendered Confederate soldiers to guarantee safe passage as they passed through active battle areas on their way home. The accompanying notes tell that some passes were used for transportation on Federal military trains or were stamped with receipts for food and supplies provided to the Confederates. Those notes indicate how valuable the parole passes were to those men.
There is wayside panel affixed to the fence left of the gate.
When leaving the Tavern turn left and follow the Stage Road east 65 yds to the County jail. On your left you will pass the four corner foundation stones on the County’s original jail that burned down 1864.
The photograph depicts the front of the two and one half story brick tavern. Bare hardwood trees frame the building. A white picket fence runs across the front of the tavern. A covered porch extends across the front of the building. There are 4 windows with green shutters on the second floor and three windows and the entrance door on the porch. The two-story brick kitchen - now the bookstore - is to the left and rear of the Tavern. Not visible is the enslaved quarters, now housing accessible restrooms. All of the buildings are roofed with wood shingles.
Clover Hill Tavern Wayside Panel
A black banner across the top of the panel identifies the Clover Hill Tavern. A historic black and white photo is below. In the upper left of the photo the text reads: “The tavern as it appeared in 1865. The wing to the left housed the dining room, the structure to the right, the bar. Both no longer stand.”
The black and white photo below the text shows the 2 and one-half story tavern shaded by large hardwoods in front. A white picket extends across the front yard. A wide veranda with white posts extends across the front of the building. There is a large crowd of people standing on both sides of the fence. The person at the far left is George Peers with his son and two young daughters. The stable, no longer standing, is visible to the right.
Below the photograph the text reads: “Built in 1819, this was the first building in what would become the village of Appomattox Court House. The Clover Hill Tavern served travelers along the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road. For several decades, it offered the village's only restaurant, only overnight lodging and only bar. Its presence helped prompt the Virginia legislature to locate the Appomattox County Seat here. In 1846 the courthouse was built across the street.
By 1865, the tavern had come on hard times - a "bare and cheerless place," according to one Union general. It was one of only two buildings in town used by the Federal army during the surrender process. Here, on the evening of April 10, 1865, Union soldiers set up printing presses and started producing paroles for the surrendered Confederates. The Federals printed more than 30,000 documents here.”
When leaving the Tavern turn left and follow the Stage Road east 65 yds to the County jail. On your left you will pass the four corner foundation stones of the County’s original jail that burned down 1864.
Appomattox County Jail (Original)
Built 1867 Restored 1964
Three stories. Brick. Black Metal roof.
36’ x 18’
A gravel and asphalt path leads about 22 yards to the Jail door.
Completed by 1867, this “new” county jail replaced the first jail, which burned in December 1864. The construction was stopped during the war and restarted later. That may account for the variation in brick color and pattern. The jail is open to the public. Very steep stairs lead to the cells on the second and third floor. An audio program is available on the third level.
Continue east on the stage road 120 yards past the Isbell House to Bocock Lane. As you walk along the stage road you will pass unpainted board rail fences on each side. Signs on the left side identify the sites of buildings no longer standing. These included the Rosser family store, a blacksmith shop and livery stable. A large field extends downhill to a woodline to the north. The field on your right slopes gently down to the Isbell House.
The photograph shows a three story brick building with a black metal roof. There is a single door in the middle of the ground floor flanked by two 12-paned white framed windows. A white framed window is on each of the upper two floors above the door. The windows to the second and third floor to the left and right of the middle window are barred with chiseled stone sills at the top and bottom. The Isbell house is visible to the left behind the jail.
A brick floored hallway leads from the front door to the very steep stairs leading to the upper levels. Doors on each side of the hallway open to brick floored rooms with white plaster walls.
The room on the left is a sparsely furnished bedroom with windows on the right and left walls. A fireplace opens on the wall opposite. There are two glass candle lanterns, and three bottles of various sizes with candles on the shelf above the fireplace. A set of fireplace tools is on the right and a small ladder-back chair on the left. Below the chair is a black cast iron kettle. A small wooden cabinet holds a white porcelain basin. A small wood framed mirror is propped behind the basin. There is a wood chest in the corner to the right of the fireplace. A single wooden bed with spindled head and foot boards is below the right-hand window. On the floor by the bed is 24” by 60” rug. A pair of black ankle high boots are on the rug.
The room on the right is displayed as an office, also with windows on the right and left walls and fireplace on the wall opposite the door. Two candle lanterns are the shelf above the fireplace. A small wooden table with four chairs sits below the window to the left of the fireplace. There is secretary desk with books and papers to the right of the fireplace. On the wall to the left of the desk is a deerhorn gun rack holding a muzzle loading rifle. Below the rifle hang a pair of leg shackles and handcuffs. On the wall to the right of the right-hand window hang an animal trap, leg shackles and a rope noose.
The rooms on the second and third floors are jail cells with brick floors and barred doors and windows.
The gravel path in front of you – Bocock Lane - leads past the Isbell House, approximately 75 yards away, and to the Mariah Wright House, another 75 yds away on a grass path. Board fences line each side of the lane. On the right is the grass field in front of the Isbell House. Cedar trees line the left side of the Lane with a mowed grass field beyond. On the way to the Wright House you will pass the reconstructed white frame stable for the Isabell House on your right. (Not open to the public)
Maria Wright House
Built 1823 Restored 1965
Wood frame. Stone foundation.
One and one-half story over basement.
Not open to the Public
. This one and a half story frame house, built in the mid-1820s, is the oldest residence in the village. The stone and brick chimneys on each end are typical of this region.
The house marks the area where the Confederate’s surrender flag first appeared. On the morning of April 9, 1865, Brigadier General Joshua Chamberlain and his brigade advanced toward Appomattox Court House from the ridge to the south in some of the war’s last combat. Artillery fire killed one man and took off another’s foot. As Chamberlain’s men crossed Plain Run (across Route 24 in front of you), they saw Lieutenant Thomas Jones carrying a white towel as a truce flag. Truce flags stopped the fighting, and Chamberlain’s brigade halted here at Mariah Wright’s house. Three days later, Chamberlain and his command accepted the Confederate infantry’s arms in formal surrender.
Chamberlain later wrote of receiving the truce flag: “Now I see the white flag earnestly borne, and its possible purport sweeps before my inner vision like a wraith of morning mist. He comes steadily on, the mysterious form in gray, my mood whimsically sensitive that I could even smile at the material of the flag,--wondering where in the army was found a towel, and one so white.”
The photograph shows the south side and west front - left side - of this unpainted frame cabin. A large stone and brick chimney is centered on the south side and the top of the north side chimney is visible above the wood shingle roof. A covered porch runs across the west front. Small windows flank the chimney on the main level and in the loft. Yellow daffodils are blooming in the uncut grass in front of the cabin. A large hardwood tree is visible behind the cabin. It has no leaves. That and the daffodils indicate the photo was taken in early spring. The light blue sky is overcast with wispy clouds.
Return to the Old Stage Road and continue east to the Kelley House.
Kelley Robinson House
Kelley House (Original)
Built 1855 Restored 1963
Frame. 1 story.
18’ x 18’
As you walk towards the Kelley House the board fence on your right has a panel identifying the site of the Willis Inge cabin. The grass triangular field on your left is known as the “Surrender Triangle” in recognition of the final Stacking of Arms ceremony that took place along the Stage Road on April 12, 1865. From the porch of the Kelley House the residents may have watched Lee’s Confederates lay down their arms on that day.
The fence changes to an unpainted wood picket fence in front of the Kelley property. The well house is on your right.
On your right the unpainted picket fence opens to a gravel path to the steps of the Kelley house. The 18 foot square house was occupied by the Kelley family at the time of Lee's surrender. The house was subsequently leased by John Robinson. Mr. Robinson, his wife and two children had been enslaved but were now freed. He moved his family into the small cabin and began a business as a cobbler in the basement, repairing shoes, saddles, harnesses and any other leather goods. Within five years he was able to purchase the house and the two acre lot on which it sat. He and his family had made the progression from being somebody else's property to property owners.
The house is open to the public.
Description: The photograph shows a small wood frame building with unpainted wood siding and wood shingle roof. A gravel road runs across the front of the house A gravel path leads through an unpainted picket fence to the steps of the house’s small porch in the center at the front. A stone and brick chimney stands on the right side of the house. The porch has a gable roof under which is the door leading inside. The single 12-paned window to the right of the door shows a curtain pulled back at either side. The interior is left unfinished exposing the rough framing of the building. Nail holes are visible where lath strips would have been attached to the studs and ceiling beams. An open fireplace is on the right and a single window on the left wall. In the far-left corner is a simple single bed. The thin mattress is covered with a hand stitched white and red quilt. A wooden table with simple wood chairs is in front of the fireplace. A bench, shoe forms and other tools of a cobbler are placed around the room. A ladder on the left leads to the loft above.
There are two wayside panels affixed to the fence.
Kelley Wayside Panel
There are two panels affixed to the fence in front of the house. The Kelley panel is on the left. The panel is tan and yellow with a look of parchment. There are several photographs on the right side of the panel. The text to the left reads:
“This circa 1855 house was built by Lorenzo Dow "Whig" Kelley, a local carpenter and one of a family of wheelwrights and carriage builders. His widowed mother, Elizabeth "Widow" Kelley and his grandmother Pricilla (Baugh) Staples also lived here. The family patriarch, Neil Charles Kelley, died in December 1855 shortly after completion of the house. Lorenzo also purchased the one quarter acre triangle formed by the intersection of the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road and the Prince Edward Courthouse Road in front of the house in that same year.”
The historic black and white photograph to the left is of Neil Charles Kelley. He is seated with crossed legs in an ornate armchair looking straight ahead at us. His upturned collar has a crossed cravat. He is wearing a dark jacket or suit coat over a dark vest. What appears to be a watch fob hangs from his vest. His dark hair and mustache are neatly trimmed. The caption below the photograph reads: “Neal Charles Kelley.”
The text continues: “Lorenzo's younger brothers Leonard and Charles mustered into service in the summer of 1861 but Leonard died of typhoid fever in May 1862. Perhaps motivated by their brother's death, that same month, Lorenzo and his younger brother Lawson, joined Company A of the 44th Virginia Infantry which became Company A of the 20th Virginia Heavy Artillery.
Their brother Lawrence was the last to enlist but deserted after four months.
Lorenzo died eight months after enlisting while home on a medical furlough on December 18, 1862. His brother Lawson survived the war and was present for the surrender.
Charles received leave from the Confederate hospital in Farmville, VA on April 4, 1865 and may have made it home to his mother and two sisters to witness the April 12, 1865 “stacking of arms" in front of the house.
The house was left unfinished during the restoration process to show the rural building techniques used in the area.”
To the right of the text is a black and white historical photograph of four people and to the right of that a service card. Below these two images is a parole card to the left and ta black and white historical photograph of a man to the right.
In the upper photograph featuring four people, A young man dressed in a dark suit with a white shirt and tie stands at the left. Next to him is a woman seated in a dark dress. She is wearing a white bonnet and has a white lace collar. Her hands are folded in her lap and she is holding a white fan. Next to her ia taller young man stands in a dark suit wearing a white shirt and black tie. His right hand is held to his chest. Seated to the right is a grown man with his left leg crossed over the right. He wears a dark suit with a white shirt and black bow tie. His right hand is raised to his chest below which hangs a watch fob.
Right of the photograph is a rectangular service card with "Confederate" printed at the top. Below that is handwritten " “K (20th Battery, Heavy Artillery, Virginia. Lorenzo D. Kelley, Company A, 20th Battery Virginia Heavy Artillery.”
The caption below reads: “Top left to bottom right: Charles, Priscilla, Lawrence and Lorenzo Kelley, Service Card showing death of Lorenzo, Parole Card of Lawson Kelley.”
Robinson Wayside Panel
The 24 inch square panel is a pale yellow parchment color with a background black and white photo of a church. In the top right-hand corner is a photograph of a brown wooden shoe form. The label identifies it as “A last, or form used for making shoes belonging to John Robinson.” In the middle left is a wooden plane identified as a “Planer belonging to John Robinson.” In the lower middle is a copy of a portion of the county land records titled “Table of Tracts of Land for the Year 1877.” It is identified as “A list of property owners in Appomattox County for 1877 and shows John Robinson as owner of three and one-half acres and the buildings upon them valued at $325.”
Under the title “The Robinson Family” the text reads:
“…to wish that the Yankees would come and set us free, that is what we were all looking for and praying for.”
The text continues: “Lieutenant General Grant’s armies made freedom a reality for the enslaved people of Appomattox. For John Robinson freedom meant purchasing this home in 1871. The shoemaker lived here and ran his business from the basement for over 50 years. He died in 1933 and is among those buried in the cemetery behind this house.
Robinson was one of 30 African American members of Liberty Baptist Church granted “letters of dismission to form an African Baptist Church” that became Galilee Baptist Church just west of Grant’s headquarters. The generosity of Philadelphia Quakers Francis and Ana Cope enabled church treasurer Robinson and other church trustees to purchase the church property for one dollar in 1872. Philadelphia Quakers also founded the Freedmen’s Bureau School at Galilee. Robinson’s children were among the 100 male and female students enrolled by1866.”
Text at the bottom of the panel reads:
“There were 18 children living in this house at one time, all but two of them born here.” Robinson’s daughters Fanny Steven and Lucy Robinson in a 1959 National Park Service interview.”
Behind a large portion of the images and text is a faintly superimposed image on the parchment paper background of the Galilee Baptist Church, which includes a steeple and a bare tree behind it.
As you leave the Robinson House continue 24 yards to the asphalt Old Prince Edward Courthouse Road and turn left (North) towards the Peers House. You will pass 3 panels. Beyond the panels you will come to the Peers House.
As you walk north towards the Peers House you will pass 3 exhibits. These exhibits tell the story of the final surrender ceremony of Lee's Army and the last artillery shots fired by the Army of Northern Virginia in the closing moments of the Battle of Appomattox Court house.
The Surrender Ceremony Wayside Panel
The first panel, “The Surrender Ceremony” is on your left.
The 3’ x 2’ panel describes the final surrender ceremony of the infantry of the Army of Northern Virginia. A black border along the top reads “The Surrender Ceremony” and has color images of General U.S. Gant on the left facing General Robert E. Lee. Grant’s right shoulder epaulets show 3 stars indicating his rank as Lt. General. The three stars on Lee’s collar, in the Confederate Army, indicate the rank of Colonel, though Lee was a general. He wore that symbol of rank throughout the war.
There is a pencil sketch across the bottom two-thirds of the panel and a black and white sketch on the lower left. The caption below the larger sketch reads: “This contemporary sketch (above) is perhaps the most accurate representation of the surrender ceremony. Brig. Gen. Joshua Chamberlain – commander of US tro receiving the surrender – is on horseback at upper left.”
The larger sketch is contemporary. Figures of men and men on horseback are shown in outline form. A long line of soldiers, facing to the left, extends from the bottom of the panel over a low ridge in the distance. The soldiers in the foreground are shown stacking their rifles and furling their battle flags. Behind that line to the right other soldiers are depicted directing another line of soldiers away from the viewer. A large number of soldiers and officers – indicated by the style of their hats and shoulder insignia – are to the left. In the distance are 3 mounted officers, one of whom is identified as Genral Joshua Chamberlain.
The text above the sketch reads: “As my decimated and ragged band with their bullet torn banner marched into its place, someone in the blue line . . .called for three cheers for the last brigade to surrender . . . [F]or us this soldierly generosity was more than we could bear. Many of the grizzled veterans wept like women and my own eyes were as blind as my voice was numb.’
Major Henry Kyle Douglas, CSA”
The text continues: “Throughout the day on April 12, 1865, shattered Confederate divisions marched into the village to surrender their weapons and flags. Union troops lined the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road to beyond the McLean House. Confederates, many of them wracked with tears, marched between the two Union lines to lay down their arms.
By day’s end about 22,000 Confederate troops had marched into the Village and stacked arms. Hundreds refused to do so and simply left their weapons in camp. April 10 through April 15 Confederates received their paroles. The long road home and the difficult journey to reconciliation began.”
A more detailed black and white sketch is inserted in the lower left corner of the panel. This sketch shows 2 lines of soldiers facing each other. The lines recede into the distance. The soldiers in the right hand line are Federal troops standing at attention. A federal officer looks at the line of Confederate soldiers on the left. A group of Confederates is furling a battle flag. Between the lines of soldiers a long line of rifles, stacked like the poles of a teepee, extend into the distance.
Final Combat Wayside Panel
There is another wayside panel, titled “Final Combat” on the east – right - side of the road.
The 3’ by 2’ panel has a black and white drawing that covers two-thirds of the lower left of the panel. The drawing depicts a line of Federal soldiers receding in the distance. In the foreground a soldier is lying on the ground attended by a soldier whose shoulder epaulets indicate an officer. Three other soldiers look on, one with his hat held over his heart.
Right of that drawing is a colored painting depicting a frame house with cannons firing below it. Superimposed over the painting is a period black and white photograph of a young soldier dressed in the “Zouaves” uniform. His baggy pantaloons are tucked into white leggings. His short jacket is open and he is wearing a soft cap. A single stripe on each sleeve indicates the rank of private. A canteen is strapped over his right shoulder. He is holding a long muzzle loading rifle with its butt on the ground. The Zouave uniform was patterned after the French Foreign Legion. It was an honor for regiments to be awarded the right to wear the uniform.
The text at the top of the panel starts with a quotation: “’It seemed to me everyone was more scared than ever from the fact that we knew the war was nearly over, and we did not want to be killed at the end of the war.’ Private John L. Smith 118th Pennsylvania.”
The text continues: “Late on the morning of April 9, 1865, the Army of Northern Virginia engaged in its final combat. Before the flags of truce passed before the entire line – and as the Confederates withdrew through the village – the two sides exchanged scattered last shots. Some of the last cannons discharged were fired from the yard of the Peers’ house, to your left.
The cannon in the Peers’ yard caused some of the last casualties of the war in Virginia. The Confederate gums fired at Union infantry advancing towards you, across the distant ridge. The identity of the last men killed in the fighting here is not known, but all of the men died during the final battle at Appomattox Court House suffered a cruel and ironic fate.”
Captions below the color painting read: “A gun of the Richmond Howitzers offers final defiance from the yard of the Peers House (above.) The howitzers had been in the first major land battle in Manassas, Virginia in 1861.On April 9,1865, they fired some of the last shots here at Appomattox Court House.”
“The death of Lieutenant Hiram Clark of the 185th New York during the last minutes of fighting Appomattox Court House (Left.) Clark was killed while his regiment advanced toward you from the distant ridge beyond the Wright House.”
“Private William Montgomery of the 155th Pennsylvania (right) was just 19 years old when struck by a cannonball in the morning of April 9, 1865.”
Next to this panel is a 24” by 24” iron marker noting that the last artillery shots of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia were fired from this location. The marker is one 8 markers placed in and around the Village by the War Department in the 1890’s. The marker misspells the word artillery as a r t i l l a r y.
Continue left 30 yards to the gate to the Peers House.
Peers House (Original)
Built 1856 Restored 1954 Frame
18’ x 36’
Two stories with partial basement exposed.
Not open to the public
George Peers, clerk of Appomattox County court for 40 years, lived in this frame house, built in the early 1850s. The cannon (not visible in the photograph) and caisson displayed on the front lawn represent the Confederate artillery that fired from the Peers' front yard during the final moments of the Battle of Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. That was the last artillery shot fired by the Army of Northern Virginia.
The photograph shows a 2 1/2 story frame house with red brick chimneys on either end. The house is painted blue-gray with white trim. The exposed brick foundation is painted white. Steps lead up to the main floor and gable roofed front porch. In the foreground, stand a caisson. A caisson is a two wheeled cart with a dark green ammunition box. It attached to the cannon and was pulled in tandem by a team of horses or mules. The caisson was detached when the cannon was placed into firing position. There is a cannon, not visible, to the right of the caisson. The two pieces of artillery represent that Confederate artillery fired from Peers’ front yard.
Turn left and continue on the Stage Road to the sites of Chamberlain's Salute and the site of Grant’s and Lee’s second meeting. Follow the gravel and asphalt road about 80 yards to a dirt and grass path on your left. The wayside panels are about 50 yards away.
Lee Grant Meeting and Chamberlain's Salute
There are two panels here. One describes the meeting on April 10, 1865 between Generals Lee and Grant. The other describes how General Joshua Chamberlain greeted the surrendering Confederate troops and the final Stacking of Arms Ceremony. On the morning of April 10, 1865, Generals Grant and Lee met for the second time.
Lee and Grant Meet Wayside Panel
Lee and Grant and Chamberlain’s Salute.
There are two wayside panels, an audio program and a metal 1890’s era War Department marker here. The Lee and Grant Meet panel is on your left.
This 36” by 24” panel describes the April 10th, 1865 meeting between the two generals. In his memoires Grant said he wanted to talk again with Lee and rode to the picket lines to meet him. Grant described the meeting as a “pleasant conversation of about 45 minutes on horseback in the middle of the old Stage Road.”
There is a black banner across the top of the panel with color images of Grant, on the left, and Lee looking at each other. The bottom two thirds of the panel contain a black and white photograph of the distant landscape view from this site. A color painting of the meeting is inserted at the bottom left.
The photograph shows open rolling fields with wooded ridges in the distance. The foreground is patchy grass with small rocks scattered about. There is a white metal panel in the right middle of the photograph.
The caption reads: “This 1890s photograph shows the landscape here much as it appeared in 1865. Lee’s army spent its final days bivouacked on the ridge in the distance. The white sign marks the spot of the Lee Grant meeting of April 10, 1865.”
The text above the photograph reads:
“On the knoll before you, Lee and Grant held the second of their two meetings at Appomattox Court House. They met on the morning of April 10. Grant hoped to enlist Lee’s support in urging surrender of other Confederate armies and Lee was intent in working out the final details of the surrender.
Lee refused Grant’s request to exert his influence with other armies. But the two officers did resolve details of the surrender. Grant agreed to provide the Confederates with individual parole passes to safeguard their journey home. He would also allow soldiers to pass free on all government transportation on their way home.
During the two meetings at Appomattox not a harsh word passed between Lee and Grant. Wrote one Confederate: “General Grant and his men treated us nobly, more nobly than was ever a conquered army treated before or since.” The process of reconciliation had already begun.”
Below the black and white photograph is a color painting. The black banner at the top of the painting reads: “The First Day of Peace.”
In the center of the painting are generals Lee and Grant mounted on horseback facing each other. Grant is on the right in the foreground. He is mounted on a bay horse with a large blue saddle blanket trimmed with a double gold band. The horse’s head and ears are erect. Grant is dressed in blue federal officer’s uniform with knee high black boots showing some mud on his heels. His officers’ epaulets are visible on his left shoulder. His jacket is unbuttoned over a white shirt and bow tie. He is wearing a dark blue flat brimmed hat and holds the horses reins loosely in his left hand. His right hand appears to hold a cigar.
Lee is mounted on a light grey horse whose head is partially obscured by Grant’s horse. Lee is dressed in a long grey confederate officer’s coat that drapes over the horse’s rear quarter. A blue, gold trimmed saddle blanket is visible under the coat which covers the top of his riding boots. He is wearing light yellow riding gloves, a bow tie and slightly curled grey brim hat.
Soldiers of both armies are pictured on the left looking at the generals. A Federal soldier on a white horse is holding a white flag. This represents the flag of truce under which Grant would have approached the Confederate picket lines. In the foreground are the backs of two soldiers looking the generals. The soldier on the left is dressed in a blue jacket of the Federal army with three stripes on his right sleeve indicating his rank as sergeant. The man to his right wears the “butternut” grey jacket and hat of a confederate soldier. No rank is visible. Soldiers are visible in the distance under a large hardwood tree bare of leaves. A line of soldiers, including three drummers, recedes into the background on the right. A wagon with white canvas cover is visible. At the bottom right two young boys look on. One White and one Black. The caption reads: “A 1922 Painting of the April 10 meeting of Lee and Grant.”
Turn to your right for the “Salute of Arms” panel.
Salute of Arms Wayside Panel
This panel describes the final surrender of the Confederate Infantry on April 12, 1865. To the left of the panel is a post with an audio program that also describes, in General Chamberlain’s words, the surrender ceremony. There is a small button in the middle of the post to press for the audio program.
The 36” by 24” panel has a black banner across the top titled “Salute of Arms.” On the right side of the banner are color portraits of Generals Grant and Lee facing each other. A color painting fills the bottom two-thirds of the panel. Text above the painting reads: “On April 12, 1865, Union Brigadier General Joshua Chamberlain watched the distant ridge as the Confederates prepared to surrender. They formed into column, marched into the valley, and then up the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road toward the village. As the column approached this knoll, Chamberlain ordered his men to honor them. The Federals snapped to “carry arms” – the “marching salute.”
The surprised Major General John B. Gordon instantly ordered his men to return the salute. Until now the drama at Appomattox had been carried out by major figures. But here was a profound expression of respect by the armies’ common soldiers. They, more than anyone else, would blaze the path to reconciliation in the years that followed.”
The painting depicts two groups of soldiers in the foreground – Confederate in grey on the left, and Federals in blue on the right. Soldiers are visible in the distance, some behind a badly damaged white picket fence. The sky is pale blue with wispy clouds. Confederate General Gordon is on the left, mounted on a black horse and identified by his double-breasted grey officer’s tunic with brass buttons and collar insignia – 3 stars within an oak leaf cluster. A sword in his right hand is pointed to the toe of his black riding boots. He is wearing a black, brimmed hat with officer’s braided hat band, and yellow gloves. His tunic is fastened with a wide gold belt. His hair is neatly trimmed, and he has a full brown mustache and goatee. He is looking at Federal General Chamberlain on the right.
General Chamberlain is mounted on a reddish-brown horse. He is identified by the stars on his left shoulder epaulet indicating the rank of general. He is wearing a double-breasted officer’s tunic with brass buttons, white riding gloves and thigh-high polished black riding boots. His brown flat brimmed hat has officer’s braid and a red Maltese cross, the badge of the 5th Corps. His blue saddle blanket is edged with a wide double band of gold trim.
Behind him are four soldiers on horseback. The first is an officer, indicated by his shoulder epaulets, double breasted tunic and red sash. Only his horse’s white head is visible. Next to him is a private in a plain blue jacket with no insignia holding a tricornered white pennant rimmed in blue with the red Maltese corps badge. His horse’s ears and top of his head appear to be that of a bay horse. The next two men are musicians. The first is holding a bugle at his shoulder and is dressed in an officer’s single-breasted tunic with shoulder epaulets. He is wearing a curled brim hat. The man to his left is wearing the tunic of a musician with a diamond shaped gold border and gold parallel bands across his chest. A line of soldiers starts at Chamberlain’s left side and runs out of the picture frame to the right. The first soldier is identified as an officer by his white shirt and tie beneath a blue tunic and barley visible shoulder epaulets. The top of his forage cap has the red Corps badge. He is looking sharply to his left at the line of enlisted men wearing plain blue tunics without insignia, indicating their rank as privates. The men are standing at attention with the bayonets of their rifles extending above their heads. From that we can deduce that they are in the “Carry Arms” position which means they are holding the rifles at their shoulder by the butt. All are wearing silver Corps badges on their left chest.
The audio program to the left of the panel describes the event in Chamberlain’s words.
The end of the walking tour
Your walking tour of the Village is completed. You can return west on the Stage Road to the Village. If you continue east downhill on the Stage Road you will come to the Appomattox River and trailheads that explore the east end of the Park. Please note, the footbridge over the river is currently washed out and there is no direct access to the trail heads from the west bank of the river.