There was a small stream that ran through Wilmer McLean’s land. Probably one he would often walk to some mornings and fish out of. It was a modest plot of land in Manassas Junction, Virginia. But during that time it was known as a plantation and that small stream that ran through it, was known as Bull Run.
On July 18th 1861, a Union shell hit Wilmer McLean’s house, tearing through the fireplace in his family’s kitchen. It was three days later that the first encounter between Confederate and Union troops occurred at Bull Run- notably the beginning of the American Civil War.
In 1863, McLean moved his family 120 miles southwest of Manassas Junction in an effort to distance themselves from the battles that were taking place. But as fate would have it, on April 9th, 1865 Colonel Charles Marshal of the Confederate army rode into Appomattox Court House and asked the first man he saw if he knew of a home that could host Union and Confederate commanders. The man he spoke to was Wilmer McLean, who two years before had moved his family to Appomattox Court House.
The purpose of this meeting we now know was to discuss the surrender of the Confederate army. Initially McLean took him to a dilapidated home that was disregarded and he then reluctantly offered up his home where General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant discussed the treaty between the two armies.
In some strange act of providence, Wilmer McLean and his family found themselves at both the beginning and the end of the Civil War.
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