It had rained again the night before, so the hard roof was a good thing. It also meant I was shaved, showered, and all my travel electronics were fully charged up when I got on the road in the morning. I was headed for Appomattox Courthouse. It was the one thing I’d wanted to do last year when I was here for the HU meet, but I didn’t get there. Actually, that’s not true – I had been there but with a group of people, and the group had been universally against going in to the event. So, I stuck with the group and also didn’t get to see the 150th anniversary event. I am still upset about it, and it highlights why I prefer to travel alone.
Appomattox Courthouse isn’t a building, exactly. Courthouses where what they called county seats at the time, so it actually meant the small town – it sat on the wagon trail – not a specific building. Few of the buildings are left, but in truth it probably looks much the same. Perhaps in better condition.
I went into the visitor center and paid my fee. I was given a receipt, which I had to show to get into one other building. Other than that, it seemed like you could walk around as much as you wanted, whether you paid or not.
Of course, the building in question was the McLean residence, where Lee and Grant worked out the details of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Lee got there first, and took the table on the left. Grant got the one on the right.
Other than that moment in history which passed here, there is nothing else magical or special about the house. It’s extremely well appointed and large, but the McLeans were a wealthy family and could afford it.
Since this is Virginia, and it was the mid-1800s, the slave quarters were out back.
Little less posh.
I walked around the grounds some more, since I wasn’t in a rush, and looked at other things. There were people, workers I suppose, in costume, but it was early and dreary and none of them seemed all that excited to engage with me. The general store looked like it might have been cool, but it was encased in glass like a museum piece.
There was an inn/tavern too, but that had been converted to more exhibits.
At that point I could have used a drink.
The hardest thing to find was, oddly, the gift shop. I got a sticker (I have hard cases now, so I get to shop for stickers) and talk to the lady working the counter. We talked about how different the grounds were from the year before. She’d been excited for the anniversary and all the buzz around the park and it’s bit of history, but admitted most of the time it was like it had been that morning – completely empty.
A few more people arrived as I was getting ready to leave, and there were, perhaps, a dozen other visitors on the grounds. I suppose it was a Thursday, and the weather wasn’t the best.
I got back on the bike and headed for HU.