Wilmer McLean was a wholesale grocer from Virginia. It is said that the American Civil War started in his front yard and ended in his front parlor!
Wilmer McLean stood on the front porch of his two-story brick house awaiting the arrival of General Robert E Lee. In the early afternoon on that day, General Lee, accompanied by Colonel Charles Marshall, arrived on horseback.
At about 1:30 PM, a group of Union officers arrived on horseback. Several Union officers entered the parlor where General Lee was waiting. For the next hour and a half, General Lee and General Grant discussed and came to agreement on the terms of surrender of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, which, for all practical purposes, ended the long, bloody war.
The war struck close to home early on and McLean moved his family from northern to central Virginia out of concern for their safety, settling eventually in the home at Appomattox Court House. The First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) took place on Wilmer McLean’s farm on July 21, 1861 and inspired the move. So, in a most unusual twist of fate, the Civil War started in McLean’s backyard in 1861 and ended in his parlor in 1865.