In early April 1865, Union General William T. Sherman was relentlessly pursuing Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston through North Carolina. When news of Lee’s surrender to Grant reached Johnston on April 14th, he sent a message to Sherman asking for a meeting to discuss terms of his army’s surrender.
With the Battle of Petersburg lost, Confederate General Robert E. Lee abandoned Richmond on April 2nd, 1865, and began a slow retreat westward under continuous pressure from Union General Ulysses S. Grant. The last major engagement between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac took place at Sayler’s Creek on April 6th. Following this action, Grant sent a letter to Lee seeking to end further bloodshed by requesting the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.