Episode One - Bitter April: Lee's Retreat Across Virginia
General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, forced out of its defensive positions around Petersburg, began retreating westward in an effort to join other Confederate forces in North Carolina. Pursued by an implacable enemy sensing victory at last, Lee's ranks were savaged by hunger, battle and utter weariness. Bloody and proud, this once vaunted and feared army stumbled on, until finally at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia, on April 9, 1865, it surrendered to the overwhelming strength of Union forces led by Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant.
See the grim story of this Bitter April unfold through the eyes of Professor James I. Robertson, Jr., Alumni Distinguished Professor in History at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, noted Civil War historian, author and lecturer. Join him as he retraces Lee's westward march, stopping at the places where history was made; Five Forks where the Confederate line was broken, Namozine Church, where on the floor bloodstains from the wounded on both sides are still visible; Sailor's Creek, where Lee lost 8,000 men, and finally Appomattox Courthouse. Bitter April visits these and other locations along the Route and is further illustrated with Civil War photographs and drawings. In Dr. Robertson's words, Generals Lee and Grant did more than end the Civil War... "They signed the birth certificate of a new nation."