Robert E. Lee chose General John B. Gordon… to officially surrender the Army of Northern Virginia to the Union on April 12, 1865. Gordon was an amateur soldier who proved to be the consummate warrior. Through the course of the conflict Gordon was badly wounded seven times, with five minnie balls hitting him at the battle of Antietam in 1862. Lee often praised Gordon’s actions in battle, “characterized by splendid audacity.”
US Grant selected General Joshua L. Chamberlain… to accept the Confederate surrender. Chamberlain was a college professor (of rhetoric) who enlisted in the 20th Maine Vols. He served with distinction from Fredericksburg to Petersburg, winning the Medal of Honor for his defense of Little Round Top during the Gettysburg campaign. Chamberlain was wounded six times (nearly dying at Petersburg in 1864) and cited for bravery four times during his service.
As Gordon led the Confederate army past… the Army of the Potomac, Chamberlain ordered the men to “Carry Arms”, the snap of the leather and metal signaled a marching salute. Gordon, surprised by the gesture, ordered the Confederates to respond. Chamberlain described Gordon’s performance, “At the sound of that machine like snap of arms, however, General Gordon started, caught in a moment its significance, and instantly assumed the finest attitude of a soldier. He wheeled his horse facing me, touching him gently with the spur, so that the animal slightly reared, and as he wheeled, horse and rider made one motion, the horse’s head swung down with a graceful bow, and General Gordon dropped his sword point to his toe in salutation.” Gordon truly understood the significance of the gesture, “Chamberlain called his men into line and as the Confederate soldiers marched in front of them, the veterans in blue gave a soldierly salute to those vanquished heroes—a token of respect from Americans to Americans.”