General Kirby Smith Surrenders the Trans-Mississippi Forces

June 2, 1865

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General Edmund Kirby Smith. (Library of Congress)

As the piecemeal surrender of Confederate armies dragged on for weeks following the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s army in Virginia, the last sizeable Confederate Army left in the field was that of the Trans-Mississippi Department commanded by Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith. Smith’s main area of operation was west of the Mississippi in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, present day Oklahoma, and as far west as the New Mexico Territory. Upon hearing the news of the crippling major surrenders in the Eastern Theater – Lee surrendering the Army of Northern Virginia on the 12th of April and Gen. Johnston the Army of the Tennessee on the 26th – Smith, nevertheless, desired to continue his fight for Confederate Independence. He remained resolute even as his relatively small 20,000 man force began to melt away into Texas brush. In a last ditch effort to morale, Smith took a stagecoach on the 18th of May bound for Houston in hopes of mustering more men. Along the way however, the remnants of his army further dissolved when Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner, acting in Smith’s name, surrendered the Trans-Mississippi Department on the 26th of May. Finally reaching Houston on the 27th and realizing that he had virtually no troops left to command, Smith reluctantly agreed to surrender his forces and did so officially on June 2nd in Galveston Harbor aboard the Fort Jackson. Thus ended all major and organized Confederate military resistance in North America.


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