Willie McLean and the Civil War Surrender

Not only is it the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the Civil War, April 9 also marked 146 years since General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to General Ulysses S. Grant. How much do you know about the surrender?

Until I read Willie McLean and the Civil War Surrender, I completely misunderstood one part of the surrender. I thought it took place at a courthouse in Appomattox, Virginia. Wrong! It actually took place in the village of Appomattox Court House. The house in which the surrender took place belonged to the McLean Family. Willie McLean was eleven years old in 1865 and his sister Lula was seven.

McLean home 1865 photo of the McLean family home

We don’t know exactly what the McLean family, which supported the Confederacy, experienced on that momentous day, but author Candice Ransom skillfully imagines what might have happened. In her version, a soldier looking for a memento of the historic surrender takes young Lula’s rag doll. This is based in fact—Union officer Thomas Moore did take her doll, and it stayed in the Moore family for many years. In 1992, the doll was returned to Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, where visitors can still see it. Here is more information about Lula’s doll from the National Park Service.

photo credit: Library of Congress (LC-DIG-cwpb-03957)

One thought on “Willie McLean and the Civil War Surrender

  1. Dana

    I'm honoring the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with @LernerBooks on the Lerner Books Blog. Thanks for the great resources! They are a great resource to me as I teach historical fiction writing!

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