Contrary to common assumption, the American Civil War (War Between the States, War of the Rebellion, War for Southern Independence, War of Northern/Southern Aggression, War for the Union, or, to most other countries, War of the Secession) did not come to a screeching halt after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. The Army and Navy of the Confederate States of America did not surrender all at one time, but rather in a piecemeal fashion over a widely dispersed geographic distribution, including one unit overseas. Some units, in fact, never surrendered at all.
The Confederate Navy was composed of ironclads, submarines, gunboats, torpedo boats, various supports ships, and a number of blockade-runners and commissioned privateers.
For most of the war, the Confederate Army was composed of three major field commands (Army of Northern Virginia, Army of Tennessee, and Army of the Trans-Mississippi), with a number of smaller independent field units such as Forrest’s Cavalry Corps (in the latter stages of the war), the Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders, and Mosby’s Partisan Rangers, and of geographic units (Division, Department, District, in decreasing order of size).
The three field commands mentioned above were the most enduring, but several other short-lived commands designated as armies were formed at times, particularly early in the war.
For instance, the earliest field army in the western theater was Gen. Sidney Johnson’s Army of Mississippi, which later combined with the Central Army of Kentucky (originally under Maj. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner) to become the Army of Tennessee. Two other commands were also named Army of Mississippi, one formed around what had been Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn’s Army of West Tennessee, the other, under Maj. Gen. John C. Pemberton, later merged into the Army of Tennessee, or at least its remnants did so.
There was also an Army of Middle Tennessee under Maj. Gen. John C. Breckenridge which became a division of Hardee’s Corps in the Army of Tennessee. The Army of East Tennessee formed under Maj. Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith became the Army of Kentucky before merging into the Army of Tennessee after Kirby-Smith’s promotion and transfer to head the Army and Department of the Trans-Mississippi.
None of these Confederate armies of Tennessee should be confused with Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee, which was named for the river.
The surrenders of Confederate forces
The first attempt by a large field army or geographic section to try to surrender took place in the southwest. On 11 March 1865, Brig. Gen. James Slaughter and Col. John Salmon “Rip” Ford met with Union Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace and agreed to terms of surrender for all forces in the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona that included an amnesty for former Confederates and the gradual emancipation of slaves. Slaughter’s and Ford’s superior, Maj. Gen. John G. Walker, temporarily commanding the District in the absence of Maj. Gen. Bankhead Magruder, refused the terms, however.
On 9 April 1865, General-in-chief Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army and Department of Northern Virginia to General-of-the-Army Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.
On 12 April 1865, Brig. Gen. John Echols disbanded the Department of East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia at Christiansburg, Virginia, upon learning of Lee’s surrender through a telegram waiting for him when he mustered his forces in Christiansburg. The command’s sixteen artillery piece carriages were cut apart, the gun barrels were spiked, and the ammunition was destroyed. All who wished were allowed to return home.
After Echols dissolved the Department, Brig. Gen. George Cosby took his the remainder of his brigade west into Kentucky to surrender to federal authorities. Echols led the remaining troops of Brig. Gen. Vaughn’s Brigade and Brig. Gen. Basil Duke’s Brigade, toward North Carolina hoping to link up with Gen Joe Johnston and the Army of Tennessee. The former Department’s District of Western North Carolina remained unaffected and intact.
On 16 April 1865, the remnant force from East Tennessee-Southwest Virginia split, with some few following Brig. Gen. Echols toward the Army of Tennessee and the remaining majority, under the overall command of Brig. Gen. Vaughn, hoping to meet up with Gen. Joe Wheeler’s cavalry.
The two brigades under Echols joined the bodyguard of President Jefferson Davis on 19 April 1865, under command of Gen. John C. Breckenridge made up of Brig. Gen. George Dibrell’s Brigade, Brig. Gen. Samuel Ferguson’s Brigade. and Col. William Breckenridge’s Brigade.
On 20 April 1865, Maj. Gen. Howell Cobb surrendered the District of Georgia and Florida to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at Macon, Georgia.
On 21 April 1865, Col. John S. Mosby disbanded Mosby’s Partisan Rangers, (also known as 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry) at Salem, Virginia.
On 26 April 1865, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the Division of the West under himself, the Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg, the Department of North Carolina under Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, and the Department of Tennessee and Georgia under Lt. Gen. William Hardee to Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman at Durham Station, North Carolina. Brig. Gen. Echols, formerly of the Department of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, was by this time with Johnston, having left the column of Vaughn’s and Duke’s brigades on 16 April.
On 27 April 1865, Confederate Secret Service operative Robert Louden used a coal torpedo (a bomb made to look like a lump of coal) to sink the SS Sultana on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee, killing 1600-1800 of its 2400 passengers, most of them former POW’s from the Union Army. It remains the biggest maritime disaster in U.S. history and arguably the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil prior to 9/11/2001.
On 4 May 1865, Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor surrendered the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at Citronelle, Alabama.
On 5 May 1865, Maj. Gen. Dabney Maury surrendered the District of the Gulf to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at Citronelle, Alabama.
Also on 5 May 1865, Pres. Jefferson Davis met with his Cabinet for the last time in Washington, Georgia (Wilkes County), to dissolve the government of the Confederate States of America. The next day Pres. Davis continued on with a small bodyguard under Capt. Given Campbell.
On 6 May 1865, Brig. Gen. Joseph Lewis surrendered the Kentucky Orphan Brigade along with the remnants of Ferguson’s and Breckinridge’s brigades to Capt. Lot Abraham of the 4th Iowa Cavalry in Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson’s cavalry corps at Washington, Georgia.
On 8 May 1865, Capt. Jesse McNeill surrendered McNeill’s Partisan Rangers to Maj. Gen. (and future U.S. President) Rutherford B. Hayes at Sycamore Dale, West Virginia.
On 9 May 1865, Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest surrendered Forrest’s Cavalry Corps to Maj. Gen. James H. Wilson at Gainesville, Alabama.
Also on 9 May 1865, Brig. Gen. James Martin surrendered the District of Western North Carolina and Col. Will Thomas the Thomas Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders to Col. William C. Bartlett at Waynesville, North Carolina, after the Thomas Legion surrounded and captured Bartlett’s entire command the previous day. The units of the Legion present included the Cherokee Battalion, Love’s Regiment, and Barr’s Battery.
Again on 9 May 1865, Maj. S. G. Spann surrendered his mostly Choctaw Battalion of Independent Scouts at Meridian, Mississippi.
Yet again on 9 May 1865, Brig. Gen. John C. Vaughn surrendered his remnant brigade to Capt. Lot Abraham of the 4th Iowa Cavalry at Washington, Georgia.
On 10 May 1865, Maj. Gen. Samuel Jones surrendered the Department of South Carolina, Florida, and South Georgia to Brig. Gen. Edward M. McCook at Tallahassee, Florida.
Also on 10 May 1865, COMO Ebenezer Farrand surrendered the CSS Nashville, CSS Baltic, CSS Morgan, and several other vessels, nearly all the remaining warships in the Confederate Navy, to RADM Henry Thatcher at Nanna Hubba, Alabama.
Again on 10 May 1865, Brig. Gen. Basil Duke surrendered his remnant brigade Capt. Lot Abraham of the 4th Iowa Cavalry at Washington, Georgia.
Finally on 10 May 1865, former Pres. Davis and his party were captured in Irwinsville, Georgia, by the troops of Lt. Col. Henry Haruden from Gen. James Wilson’s command.
On 11 May 1965, Brig. Gen. George Dibrell surrendered his remnant brigade to Capt. Lot Abraham of the 4th Iowa Cavalry at Washington, Georgia.
On 12 May 1865, Brig. Gen. William T. Wofford surrendered the Department of North Georgia to Brig. Gen. Henry M. Judah at Kingston, Georgia (Bartow County).
Also on 12 May 1865, Capt. Stephen Whitaker surrendered Walker’s Battalion of the former Thomas Legion, detached from the rest of the command, to Col. George W. Kirk at Franklin, North Carolina, upon hearing of the surrenders of Thomas and Martin. This was the last surrender of Confederate troops east of the Mississippi River.
On 13 May 1865, the last land battle of the war was fought at Palmito Ranch in Texas, near Brownsville, with Confederate forces under Col. Rip Ford (incl. his own 2nd Texas Cavalry) defeating decisively the Union forces under Col. Theodore Barrett.
On 26 May 1865, Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner surrendered the Army of the Trans-Mississippi to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at New Orleans, Louisiana. Buckner was in direct field command of the army at the time it was surrounded by Union forces.
On 30 May 1865, Brig. Gen. Slaughter and Col. Ford disbanded the remaining field forces of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona at Brownsville, Texas.
On 2 June 1865, Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith surrendered the Department of the Trans-Mississippi to Maj. Gen. Edward Canby at Galveston, Texas.
On 3 June 1865, CAPT Jonathan H. Carter surrendered the CSS Missouri to LCDR William E. Fitzhugh at Alexandria, Louisiana.
On 23 June 1865, Brig. Gen. Stand Watie, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, surrendered the First Indian Brigade of the Army of the Trans-Mississippi to Lt. Col. Asa C. Matthews at Doaksville, Choctaw Nation (Indian Territory).
On 6 November 1865, CMDR James Waddell surrendered the privateer vessel CSS Shenandoah and its crew to CAPT R.N Paynter of the HMS Donegal at Liverpool, England. It was the only Confederate Navy ship to circumvent the globe. The crew remained in Europe for several years afterward, for the most part, and eventually returned home. The Shenandoah was sold to the Sultan of Zanzibar.
On 20 August 1866, President Andrew Johnson declared the War Between the States officially over and peace restored.
Non-surrenderees, exiles and expatriates
On 4 July 1865, Maj. Gen. Joseph Shelby led his Iron Brigade and other troops in his Missouri Division across the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass, Texas, into Piedas Negras, Empire of Mexico, to avoid surrender.
Accompanying Shelby’s column were former Confederate governors Pendelton Murrah (Texas), Henry Allen (Louisiana), Thomas Reynolds (Missouri), and Isham Harris (Tennessee), as well as ex-generals Edmund Kirby-Smith, Sterling Price, Bankhead Magruder, Alexander W. Terrell, and other officers of the former Trans-Mississippi Department and their families.
Under the direction of former COMO Matthew Fontaine Maury of the Confederate Navy, the ex-officers and troops who had crossed into the Empire of Mexico established the New Virginia Colony in the state of Veracruz at the invitation of Emperor Maximilian. Its central city was Carlota, named for Maximilian’s empress. Slaves were not allowed, slavery still being against Mexican law. When the republican Juaristas (supporters of Pres. Benito Juarez, whom the French ousted in 1864) overthrew Maximilian’s government in 1867, these former Confederates returned north, many becoming prominent citizens.
Interestingly, in 1851 Maury had once formulated a plan to both eradicate slavery from within the borders of the U.S. and slow or end Brasil’s slave trade with Africa.
Between ten and twenty thousand former Confederates emigrated to the Empire of Brasil at the invitation of Dom Pedro II, who wanted to encourage the growth of cotton. The now multi-racial Los Confederados are extremely proud of their history and send young people to the American South every year to see the former homeland. The original settlers included an ancestor of former First Lady Rosalyn Carter.
A large number of Los Confederados stayed in Rio de Janero. Led by Col. William H. Norris of Alabama, others founded Norris Colony near Santa Barbara (now Americana); Col. Charles Gunter founded Gunter Colony on Lake Jurapaña and Rio Doce; Dr. James McFadden Gaston of South Carolina founded Gaston Colony near Xiririca; the Rev. Ballard S. Dunn founded Lizzieland on the Juquia River; Frank McMullen established New Texas on the Sao Lourenco River; Col. M. S. Swain founded Parangua on the Assunguy River; and Lansford Warren Hastings organized Santarem at the confluence of the Amazon River and Rio Tapaj.
Other former Confederates settled in what was then British Honduras (now Belize), a group of Virginians under the Rev. B. R. Duval establishing New Richmond near San Pedro, the seat of the community, as well as Toledo, Manattee, and eight others on the New River south of Orange Walk Town (most of these being Louisianans) and around the town of Punta Gorda, in addition to the majority of the former Confederate expatriates who remained in Belize City. Within a few decades, these groups had assimilated and lost their distinctiveness.
Former Confederate cavalry Major Abednago Greenberry Malcolm led another group of mostly Kentuckians to establish a colony they called Medina in Spanish Honduras.
Ex-RADM John Tucker led a group of former Confederate expatriates into Peru to establish New Manasses and wound up being assigned to chart the Amazon River.
Dr. Henry Price, former major in the Confederate medical corps, took another group into Venezuela to occupy large areas of the state of Guyana called the Price Grant, where they set up the short-lived settlements of Orinoco City, Las Tablas, Santa Cruz, Caroni, Paragua, Carratel, and Pattisonville.
Other smaller groups of Confederate became expatriates in Costa Rica, Cuba, and Ontario, the latter community including former Secretary of War John C. Breckenridge and several former Confederate generals.
Of all these, Los Confederados de Brasil is the only former community whose descendants still survive as a distinctive ethnic group. The best account I have seen of these expatriate groups is the 2007 master’s thesis of Justin Horton at the East Tennessee State University: “The Second Lost Cause: Post-National Confederate Imperialism in the Americas”; it is online.
Brasil abolished slavery in 1888. Former slave owners, backed by the military, overthrew the imperial government in 1889. A military dictatorship ruled the country till civilian republicans came to power in 1894.
The Reconstruction of the former Confederate states lasted from the end of the war until the Great Compromise of 1877, which is also called the Corrupt Bargain. The so-called Redemption Era of the South (which brought us Jim Crow, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and drastic historical revisionism) lasted from that time until the civil rights legislation of the mid-1960’s.