This Day in US History… 1865: General Robert E. Lee Surrenders, ending the Civil War

150 years ago today, on April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, ending the final battle of the Civil War.

Isabella C. Wunderly was only 19 in April 1865. She and her widowed mother were living with her uncle Joseph Carey, Chief Justice  of the Court of Claims in Washington, DC. Isabella would marry Wyoming Territorial Governor John A. Campbell in 1872, becoming Wyoming's first first lady.

Isabella C. Wunderly was only 19 in April 1865. She and her widowed mother were living with her uncle Joseph Carey, Chief Justice of the Court of Claims in Washington, DC. Isabella would marry Wyoming Territorial Governor John A. Campbell in 1872, becoming Wyoming’s first first lady.

Though Wyoming was not yet a territory, the young woman who would become our first territorial first lady, Isabella Wunderly, was living with her uncle in Washington, D.C. Her diaries from 1864 to 1868, just prior to her marriage to John A. Campbell, Wyoming’s first territorial governor, are now part of the Campbell Collection here at the Wyoming State Archives. These diaries recount her life as a young woman during the Civil War and the first years of Reconstruction. Throughout the rest of April, we will be sharing Isabella’s diary entries as part of the nation’s remembrance of the eventful month 150 years ago.

Cover and front endleaf of Isabella's 1865 diary. (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Cover and front endleaf of Isabella’s 1865 diary.
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Monday, April 3, 1865

Found it almost impossible to overrule Lumos this morning and fear I mad a bad beginning for Monday — but I did try at least to do better. Dustted the parlor before breakfast and then as usual  read until breakfast time. Aunt started to Alexandria about 10 o’clock and I prepared to make some calls. As I was about to start was electrified by Uncle’s coming home with the news of the fall of Richmond — Oh gracious Father, what an hour is this! The end of all our fears and sacrifices so near at hand, how can I realize the astounding fact. In the joy of the moment we almost forget the slain. Everybody seems crazed with joy. Oh what a day in the world’s history. I can only say Amen.

April 2-3, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 2-3, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Tuesday, April 4, 1865

The great excitement continues as furious as ever. People cannot get over, neither do I blame them. It is entirely too splendid to think of forgetting it. Oh how glad I am I cannot remember the sacrifice. The joy overruns it entirely. I am well nigh mad and am obliged to ask myself what to do or say. There as a grand illumination attended by speeches in the evening. Dr. R came over and invited me to go out with him. I was only too glad to go and mother and Mrs. Bonsall went also. Isaac treated me very shabbily, not coming home to go along and I do think he might have done so. He throws me entirely upon strangers for every attention.

April 4-5, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 4-5, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Wednesday, April 5, 1865

We expected to go to Giesboro but were disappointed. Isaac received orders to go to Richmond and had to have the horses. We of course thought no more of it and stayed at home. I have felt so depressed and sad all day. I cannot account for it at all. I fear some bad news but it may only be my foolish fancy. I wish that Uncle was at home. I want him here so much. I have had no letters today and although Mrs. B has been with us I have felt thus. Oh what would I give for one confiding friend into whose ears I might pour my sorrow.

Thursday, April 6, 1865

I have been quite sick all day and although I endeavored to assist a little in making Isaac ready for Richmond, I did not succeed very well and was obliged to go to bed. Aunt and mother have been busy all day — My cousin leaves tomorrow — it will not make much of a change in our family for he is so seldom with us. No one has called and I am heartily glad people have been so sensible for once. It has been cold and stormy the weather more appropriate to March than April. Mrs. Smith sent us each an apple. My dear Uncle surprised us in bed this morning. I was so very glad to see him — he heard of Isaac going and came home to see him off.

April 6-7, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 6-7, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Friday, April 7, 1865

A pretty morning but it began to rain about noon. I was not much better and not able to do anything more than yesterday. Isaac bade us Good bye at 2 pm. Uncle accompanied him to the boat. It was raining fast when they started. Mrs. Bonsall was down for a few minutes during the day. We had a splendid telegram from Sheridan. He has captured 7 generals and many guns and prisoners. I mustered strength and courage to throw the flag to the wind. The next news I trust may bring us the capture of Lee and the remnant of his army. Oh it is too splendid to think of after all our sufferings and trials and the many stricken hearts the war has made desolate.

Saturday, April 8, 1865

We are quite desolate. Our numbers are gradually thinning out and we this morning feel almost forlorn. I have felt a little better today and have succeeded in doing some sewing. Aunt went out riding but I thought I was not fit to ride. I wanted to go but I was obliged to succumb. I recieved a letter from Emma Mitchell a short business letter. I think if I do not hear from someone and a good letter I shall suffer from Ennui. I sent Hattie a note and she consented to go to the Mission School and teach my class for me. I am sorry I cannot go. I long to be with them.

April 8-9, 1865 (WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

April 8-9, 1865
(WSA Isabella C. Wunderly diary, Campbell Collection, C-1049)

Sunday, April 9, 1865

At home all day — how long the Sabbath seemed in the house and the day has been so beautiful out doors. Everyone appeared to be out. I almost envied them. I hope I shall be able to make a few calls tomorrow. I saw Mrs. Robbins and the Dr. going to the Hospital. I want to do something too for the poor, wounded heroes and I trust my health will permit me this coming week. Mr. Culp attended church and Dr. Gurley preached a splendid sermon. I am sorry to have missed it.

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