Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan in the Appomattox Campaign 150 Years Ago
April 9, 2015 § 1 Comment
Orange ellipse, lower right: Location of the 20th Michigan at Sutherland Station, Virginia in a support position for the troops that pursued and trapped Lee’s army at Appomattox. Click on map for larger image.
Public domain image from the United States Military Academy (West Point) History Department’s American Civil War Atlas
150 years ago over the night of April 2-3, 1865 Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia retreated from Richmond to link up with General Johnson’s Army of Tennessee just to south in North Carolina.
Pursuing Union troops blocked every road south so Lee’s army was forced to retreat to the west.
The IXth Corps which included the 20th Michigan supported the pursuit by protecting the Union’s southern flank. The IXth Corps was also quickly repairing the South Side Railroad to supply the pursuing troops by rail.
Anson Croman and the 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment were in a support position at the Sutherland Station southwest of Richmond and west of Petersburg.
On April 9, the Union trapped General Lee at Appomattox finally forcing him to surrender to General Grant.
That is considered the symbolic end of the Civil War.
The last of the Confederate forces west of the Mississippi River surrendered in June marking the actual end of the Civil War.
Why Lee May Not Have Surrendered Earlier
After President Lincoln’s reelection in November, 1864, any hope of winning Confederate independence through war or negotiations ended.
Several times earlier in the war, Confederate generals surrendered without their troops being completely trapped and on the verge of total destruction as were General Lee’s forces at Appomattox.
As did those other Confederate generals, General Lee had the authority and opportunity to surrender.
University of Virginia historian Elizabeth R. Varnon suggests that General Lee knew independence was no longer possible and slavery was over.
Professor Varnon’s analysis is that General Lee held out as long as he did in order to place the Southern aristocracy in the strongest position possible to preserve as many of their privileges as possible including in race relations.
Links, sources, and more information:
Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War by Elizabeth R. Varon
If Anson Croman wrote letters home, none have survived. Therefore the best way to preserve the story of his service is by sharing the history of his regiment
Records document that Anson Croman was with his regiment from his 1862 enlistment until the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia in 1865.
The Musbachs and Robinsons are direct line descendants of Anson Croman and he is my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.