Alleluia! Today is Easter Thursday, the Fifth Day in the Octave of Easter. With no Saints to honor, we note that on this date in 1865 the Commander of the Army of Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to the Commander of the Union Army, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Today is also the birthday of my Aunt Dee-Dee in Jacksonville (1919; I presume she is still with us, as I have not heard anything otherwise).
The Battle of Appomattox Court House was fought on the morning of April 9, 1865; Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer’s division blocked Lee’s retreat on its final day and received the first flag of truce from the Confederate force. Lee sent a letter to Grant indicating his desire to surrender his army; Grant’s response was remarkable in that it let the defeated Lee choose the place of his surrender. Lee received the reply within an hour and dispatched an aide, Charles Marshall, to find a suitable location for the occasion. Marshall scrutinized Appomattox Court House, a small village of roughly twenty buildings that served as a waystation for travelers on the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road; Marshall rejected the first house he saw as too dilapidated, instead settling on the 1848 brick home of Wilmer McLean. McLean had lived near Manassas Junction during the First Battle of Bull Run and had retired to Appomattox to escape the war. At 8:00 am Lee rode out to meet Grant, accompanied by three of his aides. Dressed in an immaculate uniform, Lee waited for Grant to arrive. Grant, whose migraine headache that day had ended when he received Lee’s note, arrived in a mud-spattered uniform—a government-issue flannel shirt with trousers tucked into muddy boots, no sidearms, and with only his tarnished shoulder straps showing his rank. It was the first time the two men had seen each other face-to-face in almost two decades. Suddenly overcome with sadness, Grant found it hard to get to the point of the meeting and instead the two generals briefly discussed a previous encounter during the Mexican-American War. Lee brought the attention back to the issue at hand. The terms of surrender were as generous as Lee could hope for; his men would not be imprisoned or prosecuted for treason. In addition to his terms, Grant also allowed the defeated men to take home their horses and mules to carry out the spring planting and provided Lee with a supply of food rations for his starving army; Lee said it would have a very happy effect among the men and do much toward reconciling the country. As Lee left the house and rode away, Grant’s men began cheering in celebration, but Grant ordered an immediate stop. Once the surrender was over, members of the Army of the Potomac began taking the tables, chairs, and various other furnishings in the house – essentially, anything that wasn’t tied down – as souvenirs. They simply handed the protesting McLean money as they made off with his property. (In what might be poetic justice for having two separate houses largely destroyed by agents of the Government, McLean later worked for the Internal Revenue Service.) Custer was present at the surrender at Appomattox Court House, and the table upon which the surrender was signed was presented to him as a gift for his wife by his commander, General Sheridan, who included a note to her praising Custer’s gallantry. There were several more small battles after the surrender, with the Battle of Palmito Ranch commonly regarded as the final military action of the Confederacy. Brigadier General Stand Watie, who at the time was also Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, surrendered the last sizable organized Confederate force on June 23, 1865. Today is also the birthday of my Aunt Dee-Dee in Jacksonville; alas, I did not send her a birthday card this year (1919; I presume she is still with us, as I have not heard anything otherwise; I do have a Google Alert set up for her name on the Internet).
Richard went to his 9:30 am dental appointment in Mamou, and I woke up at 10:00 am. I started my laundry and did my Bathroom Devotional Reading. Richard came back to report that his next dental appointment will be on October 15th. I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Seventh Day of my Divine Mercy Novena. I then finished my laundry, and started washing the sheets on our bed.
At 1:00 pm I left the house on my own. At the Hit-n-Run I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing, and at Wal-Mart I purchased my salad supplies. I arrived home at 1:45 pm, and Richard left soon afterwards to go to the ATM (more anon). I finished washing the sheets on our bed, finished my laundry, ironed my Casino pants, apron, and shirts, and made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Sunday. While watching Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm I sewed a button on one of my casino shirts. I then made myself grilled cheese sandwiches, which I ate with some Chicken in a Biscuit© crackers while doing today’s Daily Update. After I finish with the Internet and this Daily Update, I will take a cool bath (it has been very hot today, and I feel the need for some refreshment), then head to bed.
Tomorrow is Easter Friday (Alleluia!), and the Sixth Day in the Octave of Easter. Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor, but I personally honor Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (died 1955). Richard and I will head to the casino for the start of our work week (at least, I hope Richard will be able to go to work; he has been eating very lightly lately). On my breaks at work I will start reading The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White for my Sci-Fi Fantasy Book Club meeting on Tuesday night. Our current yard work guys will be coming over to the house at some point tomorrow to pressure wash the outside of the house (which is why Richard had to go to the ATM, to get cash to pay them with). And tomorrow evening our New Orleans Pelicans will play a home game with the Phoenix Suns, and our #3 ranked LSU Baseball team will play the first of a three-game home series with Auburn.
On this Easter Thursday (Alleluia!) afternoon our Parting Quote comes to us from Egon Bondy, Czech philosopher, writer, and poet. Born as Zbyněk Fišer in 1930 in Prague, in the late 1940s he was active in a surrealistic group. “Bondy” is a name from the 1936 short story War with the Newts by the great Czech writer Karel Čapek; Fišer selected the Jewish pseudonym “Egon Bondy” for a surrealistic anthology he prepared in 1949. From 1957 to 1961 he studied philosophy and psychology at Charles University in Prague. From the 1960s he was one of the main figures of the Prague underground, writing texts for The Plastic People of the Universe. His non-conformism brought him into conflict with the communist regime in occupied Czechoslovakia. His works were circulated only as Samizdat, with individuals reproducing his censored publications by hand and passing the documents from reader to reader. Bondy was always interested in the study of Karl Marx and in the criticism of both contemporary capitalism and totalitarian socialism. His philosophical work concerned ontological and related ethical problems. He attempted to show the relevance of ontology without any substance or grounding. The scope of his works was exceptionally broad: he published about thirty books of poetry, ranging from epic poems in early 1950s to meditative philosophical works in the 1980s. He also published about twenty novels, most of them dealing with the topic of a society or an individual in crisis, or a crisis in the relationship between an individual and his or her community. Despite the deep, existential background of his work, the texts were fresh and entertaining. He himself most valued his philosophical works, including a history of philosophy (died 2007): “For us in Eastern Europe one of the greatest dangers is this: that we could, by demagogy, become involved in this struggle on the side of “white civilization.” This is what I fear most. … I fear that under the cover of the “struggle for freedom,” we will be only mercenaries in the struggle for so-called white civilization, although we shall remain only as a reservoir of cheap labor. A tragicomical situation.”