|Surrender Site at Citronelle
General Richard Taylor surrendered the
last major Confederate army east of the
Mississippi River at Citronelle, Alabama.
The surrender site is now a small
park area facing Center Street.
The war east of the Mississippi
ended here, not at Appomattox.
War east of the Mississippi
Lt. Gen. RIchard Taylor (CSA), son
of President Zachary Taylor, gave
up the fight at this site on May 4,
SURRENDER AT CITRONELLE
End of the War in the East
|Copyright 2014 & 2017 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: May 4, 2017
Civil War Sites in Alabama
Lt. Gen. Richard Taylor, CSA
General Taylor was the hard-
fighting Confederate leader who
drove back the Union's Red River
The last major Confederate army
east of the Mississippi surrendered
beneath an oak tree north of Mobile,
Alabama, on May 4, 1865.
Confederate Lt. Gen Richard Taylor
came to agreement with Union Major
General E.R.S. Canby by the railroad
tracks in Citronelle, Alabama. His
surrender ended significant combat
east of the Mississipi. The last shots
were still to be fired, but the war was
over in the East.
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 situation:
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
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 p. 236).
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
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
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 either army.
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.
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
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 surrender
The Mobile Campaign
Taylor's surrender came after a
bitter and hard fought campaign
in which Union forces captured
Spanish Fort and Fort Blakeley
(above) before marching into