Surrender at Citronelle - Citronelle, Alabama
|Surrender Site at Citronelle, Alabama
General Richard Taylor surrendered the last major
Confederate army east of the Mississippi River
at Citronelle on May 4, 1865.
The surrender site is now a
small park area facing Center
Street. A reenactment is held
there each Spring.
War east of the Mississippi
After four years of bloody
conflict, the War Between the
States east of the Mississippi
ended at Citronelle, Alabama.
Surrender at Citronelle - Citronelle, Alabama
End of the War in the East
|Copyright 2014 & 2015 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: May 1, 2015
Civil War Sites in Alabama
Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, CSA
The son of President Zachary
Taylor, General Taylor was
the hard-fighting Confederate
leader that drove back the
Union's Red River Campaign.
The last major Confederate army east of the
Mississippi ended its fight beneath an oak
tree at Citronelle, Alabama on May 4, 1865.
Realizing that all hope was lost, Confederate
Lieutenant General Richard Taylor came to
agreement with Union Major General E.R.S.
Canby. The surrender at Citronelle ended
significant combat east of the Mississippi
The site is commemorated today at a small
park. Exhibits on the surrender can be seen
at the nearby Citronelle Historical Museum.
Even after the surrender of General Robert E.
Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Appomatox
Court House, fighting continued as three
major campaigns went forward. In North
Carolina, General Joseph E. Johnston had
yet to surrender to Sherman at Bennett Place.
In Alabama and Georgia, Southern troops
resisted Wilson's Raid of 1865. On the Gulf
Coast, the fighting of the Mobile Campaign
continued to rage.
The key actions of the latter campaign took
place at Spanish Fort on April 8 and Fort
Blakeley on April 9. With these important East
Shore defenses in Union hands, Mobile was
evacuated by its Confederate defenders and
fell to Union troops on April 12, 1865.
Over the weeks that followed, the armies of
Generals Taylor and Canby continued to eye
each other as each commander absorbed
news of disasters coming in from other
fronts. Taylor was the hard-fighting son of
U.S. President Zachary Taylor while Canby
was a career army officer. Each man was
prepared to do his duty.
Taylor knew the Confederacy was about to
fall and was honest with his men about the
It was but right to tell these gallant, faithful
men the whole truth concerning our situation.
The surrender of Lee left us little hope of
success; but while Johnston remained in
arms we must be prepared to fight our way to
him. Again, the President and civil authorities
of our Government were on their way to the
south, and might need our protection.
Granting the cause for which we had fought to
be lost, we owed it to our own manhood, to
the memory of the dead, and to the honor of
our arms, to remain steadfast to the last. This
was received, not with noisy cheers, but
solemn murmurs of approval... - Lt. Gen.
Richard Taylor, CSA (Destruction and
Reconstruction, p. 222).
Inspired by Taylor and his subordinates -
Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and D.H.
Maury - the men of the Confederate army
remained steadfast. Then came news from
North Carolina that Generals Johnston and
Sherman had agreed to a truce.
Requested by those generals to negotiate a
similar ceasefire, Taylor and Canby agreed
to meet at the Magee Farm in the community
of Kushla north of Mobile. There on April 29
they agreed to a truce while they awaited the
decisions of their governments on the terms
agreed to by Sherman and Johnston.
Two days later they learned that the U.S.
government had disavowed the honorable
terms offered Johnston by Sherman. Canby
regretfully notified Taylor that their ceasefire
would end in 48 hours.
The fate of his men now rested on Taylor's
shoulders. Having learned of the capture of
President Jefferson Davis in Georgia and of
Johnston's final surrender to Sherman at
Bennett Place, he decided to bring the war
east of the Mississippi to an end:
...Bank stocks, bonds, all personal property,
all accumulated wealth, had disappeared.
Thousands of houses, farm-buildings, work-
animals, flocks and herds, had been
wantonly burned, killed, or carried off. The
land was filled with widows and orphans
crying for aid, which the universal destitution
prevented them from receiving. - Lt. Gen.
Richard Taylor, CSA (Destruction and Reconstruction
The two generals met at Citronelle in Mobile
County on May 4, 1865. The town takes its
name from the citronella plant and was
founded in 1811. It was selected as the
meeting point due to its location on the
railroad between Canby's headquarters at
Mobile and Taylor's in Meridian, Mississippi.
General Taylor wrote after the war that the
terms offered by General Canby were
"consistent with the honor of our arms." Men
with horses could keep them, officers would
retain their sidearms, the Confederate
soldiers would be paroled and Taylor would
retain control of railways and river steamers
to help them get home.
The agreement was reduced to writing and
Taylor signed it using a pen fashioned from a
steel point attached to a twig and dipped in
ink. The Confederacy was so destitute that
real pens could no longer be found.
The surrender at Citronelle brought the War
Between the States (or Civil War) east of the
Mississippi to its end. The Confederates
were paroled over the coming weeks and
General Canby helped his former enemy
reach his home in New Orleans.
Acting partially on advice from Taylor, General
Kirby Smith laid down his arms at Galveston,
Texas on June 2, 1865. His surrender ended
the possibility of a continuation of the war
west of the Mississippi, although it was not
until June 23 that Brigadier General Stand
Watie surrendered at Doaksville in what is
now Oklahoma. The last Southern general to
lay down his arms, Watie was the only
American Indian to achieve such rank in
His military career at an end, General Taylor
wrote his memoirs after the war and was
active in Democrat Party politics. He died in
New York on April 12, 1879, and was buried
in Metairie, Louisiana. General Nathan
Bedford Forrest said of him, "He's the
biggest man in the lot."
General Canby remained in the U.S. Army
after the war and was killed while trying to
reach a peace agreement with the Modoc
Indians of California. He was shot and his
throat was cut by Modoc chiefs on April 11,
1873. His body was returned home for burial
in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The site where Lieutenant General Richard
Taylor surrendered to Major General E.R.S.
Canby is now preserved as a small park in
Citronelle, Alabama. Located near the south
end of Centre Street, it offers no facilities but
features markers and picnic tables. Displays
on the surrender can be seen at the nearby
Citronelle Historical Museum.
The park is open to the public during daylight
hours. The surrender will be reenacted on
May 3 as part of Citronelle's Surrender Oak
Please click here for more information on
this year's event.
Maj. Gen. E.R.S. Canby, USA
General Canby was killed at a
peace conference by Modoc
Indian warriors seven years
after he negotiated Taylor's
surrender at Citronelle.
Historic Railroad Trail
The railroad by which the two
generals arrived at Citronelle
is now a walking and biking
path. It passes by the historic