Ends of War

The Unfinished Fight of Lee's Army after Appomattox

By Caroline E. Janney

344 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 23 halftones, 5 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6337-1
    Published: September 2021
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6338-8
    Published: September 2021

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The Army of Northern Virginia’s chaotic dispersal began even before Lee and Grant met at Appomattox Court House. As the Confederates had pushed west at a relentless pace for nearly a week, thousands of wounded and exhausted men fell out of the ranks. When word spread that Lee planned to surrender, most remaining troops stacked their arms and accepted paroles allowing them to return home, even as they lamented the loss of their country and cause. But others broke south and west, hoping to continue the fight.  Fearing a guerrilla war, Grant extended the generous Appomattox terms to every rebel who would surrender himself. Provost marshals fanned out across Virginia and beyond, seeking nearly 18,000 of Lee’s men who had yet to surrender. But the shock of Lincoln’s assassination led Northern authorities to see threats of new rebellion in every rail depot and harbor where Confederates gathered for transport, even among those already paroled. While Federal troops struggled to keep order and sustain a fragile peace, their newly surrendered adversaries seethed with anger and confusion at the sight of Union troops occupying their towns and former slaves celebrating freedom. 


In this dramatic new history of the weeks and months after Appomattox, Caroline E. Janney reveals that Lee’s surrender was less an ending than the start of an interregnum marked by military and political uncertainty, legal and logistical confusion, and continued outbursts of violence. Janney takes readers from the deliberations of government and military authorities to the ground-level experiences of common soldiers. Ultimately, what unfolds is the messy birth narrative of the Lost Cause, laying the groundwork for the defiant resilience of rebellion in the years that followed.

About the Author

Caroline E. Janney is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War and Director of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia.
For more information about Caroline E. Janney, visit the Author Page.


"Janney expertly explains the complications of these ambiguous terms and their inconsistent application. The author also makes an excellent case that Grant should have specified terms more clearly, although she also acknowledges that he had to act quickly as circumstances on the ground shifted from day to day...this detailed military history will find an eager audience among Civil War enthusiasts."--Library Journal

"A visceral, immediate, emotional depiction of Lee's men as they navigated the stages of their forced reintegration as loyal citizens of the United States. Janney helps modern readers comprehend the enormous costs of the war and the extraordinary difficulties forging peace."—Joan Waugh, author of U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth

“Weaving together the words of people caught up in the tangled dramas of emancipation, surrender, and victory, Caroline Janney presents an unforgettable tapestry of a defining moment in American history.  This is a work of rare humanity, insight, and skill.”—Edward L. Ayers, author of The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America

"In this fascinating new book, Caroline E. Janney tells a rich, detailed, and heartrending story of how the Civil War did not end in Wilmer McLean's parlor at Appomattox Court House. Through the lives of soldiers, politicians, and African Americans, she vividly recounts the months of chaos, violence, and defiance that followed Robert E. Lee's surrender. As Janney shows, it was a period that imperiled Reconstruction before it could begin." —T. J. Stiles, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America and Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War