In an event that is generaly regarded as marking the end to the Civil War, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi River, signed the surrender terms offered by Union negotiators. With Smith’s surrender, the last Confederate army ceased to exist, bringing a formal end to the bloodiest four years in United States history. It happened on this day in history – June 2, 1865.
The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate shore batteries under General Pierre G. T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. Following the battle, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to help quell the Southern “insurrection.” Four long years later, the Confederacy was defeated at the cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate lives.
Most of you are thinking, that’s not how the war ended! It ended with General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, two months earlier. For all practical purposes that would be true. But despite the end of the War, some kept fighting.
When Jesus hung on the cross, breathing his last breaths and speaking his last words, he whispered, “Tetelestai,” meaning It is finished. Jesus’ death finished what he came to do – provide for the salvation of all mankind for all times. But many of us are like that last Confederate troop. Like Gen. Kirby Smith, we keep fighting as though the war had not already been won.
What an affront to Christ! He did all that needed to be done. The price has been paid and the war has been won. It’s time to lay down our weapons, quit fighting, and rest in His victory.