Saturday, May 4, 2013

General Richard Taylor Surrenders in Alabama
May 4, 1865

At the war's end, Confederate General Richard Taylor, son of President Zachery Taylor, held command of the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana, with some 12,000 troops.  By the end of April 1865, Mobile, Alabama had fallen and news had reached Taylor of the meetings between General  Joseph E. Johnston and General William T. Sherman. 

E.R.S. Canby
Taylor agreed to meet General E.R.S. Canby for a conference a few miles north of Mobile.  

On April 30th, the two officers established a truce, terminable after 48 hours' notice by either party, then partook of a "bountiful luncheon....with joyous poppings of champagne corks...the first agreeable explosive sounds," Taylor wrote, "I had heard for years." A band played "Hail Columbia" and a few bars of "Dixie."

Canby went to Mobile and Taylor to his headquarters at Meridian, Mississippi.  Two days later, Taylor received news of Johnston's surrender, and of Canby's insistence that the truce terminate. 

Taylor elected to surrender, which he did on May 4th at Citronelle, Alabama, some 40 miles north of Mobile. This surrender included all existing Confederate forces east of the Mississippi River. "At the time, no doubts as to the propriety of my course entered my mind," Taylor later asserted, "but such have since crept in." He grew to regret not having tried a last-ditch guerrilla struggle.

These forces included that of Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose troops surrendered on May 9  at Gainesville, Alabama.

Under the terms, officers retained their sidearms, mounted men their horses. All property and equipment was to be turned over to the Federals, but receipts were issued. The men were paroled. Taylor retained control of the railways and river steamers to transport the troops as near as possible to their homes. He stayed with several staff officers at Meridian until the last man was gone, then went to Mobile, joining Canby, who took Taylor by boat to the latter's home in New Orleans.

Edmund Kirby Smith 
Canby accepted the surrender of the Confederate forces under General Edmund Kirby Smith west of the Mississippi River on May 26, 1865.  Kirby Smith signed the terms of surrender in Galveston, Texas, on June 2, then fled to Mexico, and later to Cuba, to escape potential prosecution for treason.  He returned to take an oath of amnesty at Lynchburg, Virginia, on November 14, 1865.

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