Truce at Magee Farm, 1865 - Kushla, Alabama
Magee Farm
No longer open to the public, historic Magee Farm
is located in the town of Kushla just north of the
Gulf Coast city of Mobile, Alabama.
Magee Farm, Alabama
Confederate General Richard
Taylor met Union General
E.R.S. Canby at Magee Farm
in Kushla, Alabama.
Truce at Magee Farm, 1865 - Kushla, Alabama
Prelude to Surrender in Alabama
Copyright 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: April 29, 2014
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Civil War Sites in Alabama
Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, CSA
A son of President Zachary
Taylor, Richard Taylor was
one of the South's most
capable generals.
Maj. Gen. E.R.S. Canby, USA
A serious and competent
officer, General Canby later
had his throat cut during a
peace negotiation with the
Modoc Indians.
A truce at Magee Farm in Alabama brought
major fighting east of the Mississippi River to
an end on April 29, 1865. Five days later,
Confederate Lieutenant General Richard
Taylor would surrender twenty miles to the
north at
Citronelle, Alabama.

Following the surrender of General Robert E.
Lee at Appomattox Court House and the
surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston at
Bennett Place, Taylor fielded the last
Confederate army east of the Mississippi.
Although his officers and men were willing to
fight on, he knew that any hope of victory was
long gone.

Traveling north and south from their armies
by rail, Taylor and Major General E.R.S.
Canby met at the Magee Farm on April 29,
1865. Their objective was to negotiate a truce
that would give them both time to learn the
wishes of their governments.

Taylor left a detailed account of the meeting
at Magee Farm in his later autobiography,
Destruction and Reconstruction:

Intelligence of the Johnston-Sherman
convention reached us, and Canby and I
were requested by the officers making it to
conform to its terms until civil authorities
acted. A meeting was arranged to take place
a few miles north of Mobile, where the
appearance of the two parties contrasted the
fortunes of our respective causes.*

The Confederate general arrived at Magee
Farm on a handcar propelled by two African
Americans. A single officer, Colonel William
Levy, accompanied them.

General Canby, on the other hand, reached
the meeting place accompanied by his staff
in dress uniforms, a full brigade of Union
troops and a military band.

According to General Taylor, the business at
hand did not take long to complete:

...We retired to a room, and in a few moments
agreed upon a truce, terminable after forty-
eight hours' notice by either party. Then,
rejoining the throng of officers, introductions
and many pleasant civilities passed.

Among the officers that had accompanied
General Canby was Commodore James
Palmer of the U.S. Navy. Second in
command of the squadron in Mobile Bay, he
was an old friend of General Taylor and had
come to the meeting to see him again.

The business between the two generals
completed, the officers sat down to lunch
together:

...A bountiful luncheon was spread, of which
we partook, with joyous poppings of
champagne corks for accompaniment, the
first agreeable explosive sounds I had heard
in years. The air of "Hail Columbia," which
the band in attendance struck up, was
instantly changed by Canby's order to that of
"Dixie"; but I insisted on the first, and
expressed a hope that Columbia would be
again a happy land, a sentiment honored by
many libations.

The only hostility at the meeting came when
Taylor was insulted by a general who had
accompanied Canby.

Taylor did not identify the officer in question,
noting only that he had come from Germany
before becoming a citizen and soldier of the
United States:
...This person, with the strong accent and
idioms of the Fatherland, comforted me by
assurances that we of the South would
speedily recognize our ignorance and errors,
especially about slavery and the rights of
States, and rejoice in the results of the war. In
vain Canby and Palmer tried to suppress him.

After listening for a bit, Taylor used wit
instead of outrage to deal with the situation:

...I apologized meekly for my ignorance, on
the ground that my ancestors had come from
England to Virginia in 1608, and, in the short
intervening period of two hundred and fifty-
odd years, had found no time to transmit to
me correct ideas of the duties of American
citizenship.

He also pointed out, tongue in cheek, that his
grandfather had served in the 9th Virginia
during the American Revolution and that it
was one of the regiments involved in the
capture of the Hessians at Trenton, New
Jersey.

The Truce at Magee Farm was not, as some
like to claim, the "last Appomattox." It was not
a surrender but instead was an agreement to
cease hostilities while the two generals
waited to hear the outcome of the terms
negotiated by Generals Sherman and
Johnston at
Bennett Place in North Carolina.

After the meeting, both Canby and Taylor
returned to their armies. News soon arrived,
however, that the U.S. government had not
approved the terms reached by Sherman and
Johnston. Believing it useless to continue the
fight, Johnston had surrendered.

Canby accordingly notified Taylor that the
Magee Farm Truce would expire in 48 hours.
Taylor, however, suggested that they meet
again, this time at the nearby community of
Citronelle. The surrender of the last major
Confederate force east of the Mississippi
would take place there on May 4, 1865.

Restored and once open to the public,
Magee Farm is now closed and can no
longer be visited.
The property is for sale. A
distant view of the 1848 Magee House can
be seen from U.S. 45 at Kushla, Alabama.
Threatened Landmark
Efforts to save Magee Farm
as a public historic site have
failed and the property has
been listed for sale.
* Quotes in this article are from Lt. Gen. Richard
Taylor,
Destruction and Reconstruction, New York,
1879, pp. 224-225.