On March 29, Grant opened the Appomattox campaign, informing Sheridan that “I now feel like ending the matter.”
Despite pleas to cancel the offensive because of adverse weather, Grant pressed ahead. Sheridan won the battle of Five Forks on April 1, and the next day Grant overran Lee’s lines at Petersburg, forcing the evacuation of Richmond. Grant’s mastery was never more apparent than during his last battle. “I shall press the pursuit to the end,” he wrote to Sherman, and by April 19 Lee had to choose between capitulation or annihilation. With the surrender at Appomattox, Grant demonstrated his capacity for making peace as well as for waging war.
In the frantic aftermath of Lincoln’s death, Grant maintained his customary levelheadedness despite clamor for vengeance. He hoped that in President Andrew Johnson “we will find a man disposed and capable of conducting the government in its old channel.”