M55-MAY 1865

Negotiations began for the surrender of the two remaining major Confederate armies in the field. Jefferson Davis sought to escape westward and continue the fight. Those accused of conspiring with John Wilkes Booth were put on trial. Radical Republicans pushed new President Andrew Johnson to punish the South, while Johnson sought to continue Lincoln’s moderate policy of reconciliation.

The Grand Review at Washington | Image Credit: Flickr.com

The Booth Conspirators on Trial

1 May – Andrew Johnson appointed “nine competent military officers” to form a commission and try suspects accused of conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Those seeking retribution for Lincoln’s murder disregarded the questionable constitutionality of Johnson’s order.

Jefferson Davis Stops at Abbeville

2 May – Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his dwindling government-in-exile held what turned out to be their last council of war in their southward flight to avoid Federal capture.

Lincoln Returns to Springfield

4 May – Abraham Lincoln and his son Willie were laid to rest at Oak Ridge Cemetery in their hometown of Springfield, Illinois, nearly three weeks after Lincoln had been assassinated.

Jefferson Davis Reaches Sandersville

6 May – Jefferson Davis and his dwindling government-in-exile reached Sandersville, Georgia in their southward flight to avoid Federal capture.

The Davis Family Reunites

7 May – President Jefferson Davis reunited with his family at Dublin, Georgia, after responding to rumors that they were under attack by desperate Confederate troops.

Taylor Surrenders to Canby

8 May – Federal forces accepted the paroles of Confederate soldiers from the Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana, thereby disbanding the last major Confederate force east of the Mississippi River.

Reconstruction Efforts of May 1865

9 May – Andrew Johnson continued efforts to quickly restore the Union by approving the installment of Virginia’s new pro-U.S. government.

The Capture of Jefferson Davis

10 May – Federal cavalry seized Confederate President Jefferson Davis and members of his party near Irwinville, Georgia.

Battle Looms in South Texas

11 May – In distant Texas, a Federal expedition threatened to break an informal truce before news arrived that the war was over.

The Booth Conspiracy Trial Begins

12 May – The eight people accused of conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln finally received legal counsel and pleaded not guilty to the military commission trying them.

The Battle of Palmito Ranch

13 May – A skirmish that took place in south Texas after the war ended ironically resulted in Confederate victory.

Jefferson Davis Escorted to the Coast

14 May – Jefferson Davis and what was left of the Confederate government-in-exile was sent under Federal guard to Augusta, Georgia, from which they would be shipped by water to the coast.

Jefferson Davis Arrives off Virginia

19 May – The ocean vessel conveying former Confederate President Jefferson Davis and other captured members of his government arrived at Fortress Monroe, on the tip of Virginia’s York-James Peninsula.

The Triumphant Grand Review

23 May – The “Grand Armies of the Republic” staged a triumphant review through Washington to celebrate the Federal victory and end of the war.

The Trans-Mississippi Surrender

26 May – Federal commanders accepted the surrender of the last major organized Confederate force still in the field,

Andrew Johnson’s Presidential Restoration Plan

29 May – Andrew Johnson issued two proclamations designed to continue Abraham Lincoln’s plan to restore the Confederates states to the U.S. This began what would ultimately become a bitter feud between the president and the Radical Republicans in Congress.


The war is over.


Last Updated: 5/23/2020