Delaware Public Media

Bells will ring across country Thursday to commemorate the close of the Civil War

Apr 6, 2015

At 3pm Thursday bells at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia will ring, along with some in the First State. It’s part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant that marked the end of the  Civil War, the bloodiest conflict ever fought on US soil.

Jim Yurasek of the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs says the bell ringing brings to a close four years of sesquicentennial Civil War celebrations - as the surrender 150 years ago signaled the closing of conflict.

"It did go on for several months after that," Yurasek said, "but without Robert E Lee's army there was very little left they could do in terms of resistance. So it's kind of looked at as the symbolic end to the war."

As part of Bells Across the Land: A Nation Remembers Appomattox,  organizations around the country and in Delaware will ring their bells for four minutes - one minute for each year of the war.

At the Court House Museum in New Castle Russ Smith - the retired superintendent of the First State National Park - will ring the bell.

Smith’s great-great grandfather Joseph Jackson - a blacksmith from Brandywine Village - served as private in the Army of the Potomac for the 8th Delaware regiment.

"That regiment took part in the pursuit of Lee's army from Petersburg to Appomattox in 1865 and I believe that the 8th Delaware was probably there at Appomattox at the time of the surrender," Smith said.

And Kim Burgmuller will toll the bell at the New Castle United Methodist Church in honor of her great-great grandfather Sgt. Robert Howard, who served in Lee's army and was in Appomattox at the time of the surrender. Follwing Lee's meeting with Grant, Howard walked from Appomattox to his home in Fayetteville, N.C.

The Appomatox bells are scheduled to ring at 3 pm and those around the country will follow, including locations in Wilmington, Dover, Wyoming and Lewes.