The War Comes to an End, 1864–1865

By late 1864, it was becoming clear that the South could not win the war. Atlanta fell to Union forces in September, and two months later Union General William Sherman began his “march to the sea,” with soldiers destroying supplies and tearing up railroads along the way. In March he reached North Carolina, and by then, Union forces had taken Wilmington and cut off the “lifeline of the Confederacy.” In April, General Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia, and on April 26, Confederate General Joseph Johnston surrendered his army to Sherman near present-day Durham.

In this chapter, we’ll examine the events of the war’s last year, why the South could no longer continue fighting, and the terms of Johnston’s surrender.

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