May 1865 saw the final moments of the American Civil War even if the Confederacy had surrendered in April. Jefferson Davis had yet to hand himself in and a hefty reward was put up for him. A few groups of Confederates had yet to surrender and lay down their weapons but for the first time since April 1861 most of the American people could think in terms of peace.

May 1st:


A military commission made up of eight army officers was established by President Johnson to try the people arrested over Lincoln’s assassination.


May 2nd:


Johnson offered a reward of $100,000 for Jefferson Davis. Johnson, along with many other people in the North, believed that Davis had something to do with Lincoln’s assassination.


Davis himself met the army commanders he had left and told them that the fight could go on, as Southerners would rally around him. They told him bluntly that it could not.


May 4th:


President Lincoln was buried in Springfield, Illinois.


42,000 Confederate troops surrendered at Citronelle, Alabama. This was the remaining force for Alabama, Mississippi and eastern Louisiana.


May 9th:


Davis disbanded the large retinue of troops protecting him and chose to travel in a much smaller group. Those soldiers who had been protecting Davis were told to go home.


May 10th:


President Johnson declared that resistance “may be regarded as virtually at an end.”


Jefferson Davis was captured at Irwinsville, Georgia, by men from the 4th Michigan Cavalry.  


May 12th:


Those accused of being involved in the assassination of Lincoln were put on trial. All pleaded not guilty. However, the mood of the people was barely forgiving and this was resonated by those in charge of the military commission. Mercy was not expected. Even the lady, Mary Surratt, who owned the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth stayed, was on trial for her life. All eight arrested were found guilty and four, including Surratt, were sentenced to death. These four were hanged on July 7th – despite many calls for clemency for Surratt. The other four received prison sentences; one died in prison but by 1869 the other three had all been pardoned.



May 22nd:


Johnson announced that all trade restrictions with Southern ports would be lifted from July 1st, with the exception of Galveston, La Salle, Brazos Santiago and Brownsville.


Jefferson Davis was held in irons at Fort Monroe, Virginia.


May 23rd:


The Army of the Potomac paraded through the streets of Washington DC.


May 24th:


Sherman’s army, which had done so much to weaken the military ability of the South, paraded through the capital. Sherman was still not popular with some political figures in the government, primarily Secretary of War Stanton, and many in the South hated his name. However, his military achievements in the field were considerable in that he achieved what he set out to achieve, regardless of the method.


May 27th:


Johnson ordered the release of many of those held as prisoners of war.


May 29th:


Johnson issued a general amnesty for those who had fought against the North. All property was restored except for slave ownership. However, there were exceptions. Senior political and military figures had to personally apply for a pardon, as did those who had left a military or judicial position in the North to join the Confederate Army. However, Johnson was generous in this and by the end of 1865, he had granted 13,000 pardons.