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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

April 25, 1865

Diary Entry on Lee’s Surrender and Lincoln’s Death

A Columbus, Georgia man recorded in his diary the news of Lee’s surrender, the fall of Macon, his son being with the Confederate army in North Carolina, and Lincoln’s assassination. He mistakenly thought Secretary of State William Seward had been killed as well; he was wounded by a fellow conspirator with John Wilkes Booth, but Seward recovered.

“Now for a dark page. Have just received a dispatch that General Lee had been overpowered by General Grant’s army and had surrendered. Grant had about two hundred thousand men, while Lee had only about ten thousand fighting men. This is sad news to come just after the destruction of our town. All is uncertain about our fate. Wilson’s army that took Columbus, moved off in the direction of Macon. The surrender of General Lee has caused a cessation of fighting and Wilson’s troops have not gone into Macon. Hopes are now entertained that the war is at an end but the details not understood. None of my sons except Elbert in the field, have not heard from him for a long time but suppose he is somewhere in North Carolina and that he had not joined Lee’s army. “President Lincoln and Secretary Seward were killed in Washington City. We got news last week and no contradiction of it yet; it is generally believed. We have been overpowered and must now wind up on the best terms we can. We learn that [Alexander] Stephens and [John Archibald] Campbell are commissioned to arrange it.” Source: John Banks, Autobiography of John Banks, 1797 - 1870 (Austell, Ga.: privately printed by Elberta Leonard, 1936), p. 37.