April 1865

John Wilkes
Box in
Ford's Theater
Maj. Gen.
U. S. Grant
Court House


  • April 1865 was a tumultuous month that saw the end of the American Civil War.

  • The month witnessed the fall of Richmond, Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, President Lincoln’s assassination, and pursuit of John Wilkes Booth.

  • This four-session class examines Lee’s desperate escape from Petersburg, the near-successful plot to decapitate the Union government, and the eventual surrender of Rebel forces.

  • The class is based on Jay Wink’s book April 1865 - The Month That Saved America.


Campaign: Appomattox Campaign [March-April 1865]  



  • Class 1 - Part I – Richmond Falls – April 1-7, 1865 - It is the last days of the Confederacy as Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia tries desperately to link up with Johnston’s Army. Lee abandons Petersburg and Richmond falls. Grant’s Union forces are in hot pursuit as he tries to cut off the retreat.

  • Class 2 - Part II – Lee Surrenders and Lincoln Assassinated – April 8-14, 1865 - Confederate generals debate guerrilla warfare. Lee surrenders at Appomattox. Washington celebrates Union victory. The Lincolns go to the theater.

  • Class 3 - Part III – Hunt for Booth Begins, Davis Escapes, Johnston Surrenders – April 15-21, 1865 - Lincoln dies and body is taken to Springfield. Hunt for conspirators begins. 

  • Class 4 - Part IV – Booth Killed, Johnston Surrenders and Sultana Disaster, Lincoln’s Funeral Train, and Aftermath – April 21-30, 1865 - Booth is captured and killed, Lincoln’s funeral train leaves Washington, Johnston surrenders at Bennett Place, Sultana disaster claims 1,800, Conspirators hang but John Surratt escapes, Aftermath. 



  • Jay Winik, April 1865 - The Month that Saved America

  • Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, Killing Lincoln - The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

  • John C. Waugh, Lincoln and the War's End

  • Edward Steers, Jr., Lincoln's Assassination

  • Michael Schein, John Surratt - The Lincoln Assassin Who Got Away


Class Evaluations

  • Instructor was incredibly well prepared

  • Great course

  • One of the best classes I've taken at SAIL

  • The instructor presented little known facts. He had definitely done his research. Good visuals.

  • Mr. Mesch knows his stuff!




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Revised 05/17/2015