Lee was appointed general in chief of the Southern armies in February. Grant continued to extend his lines around Petersburg through the winter and spring, until Lee's smaller army was stretched so thin it could no longer hold. The Confederate line was broken when Sheridan's troops flanked the defenders at Five Forks, on April 1; Petersburg and Richmond were given up two days later. Lee moved westward in the hope of joining Johnston, but was cut off at Appomattox Court House, where he surrendered to Grant on April 9.

Lee surrendersLee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.

Sherman, who had captured Savannah in December, moved northward in February and took Columbia, South Carolina. As he entered North Carolina, he was opposed at Averasboro and Bentonville by an army assembled by Johnston. After Lee's surrender, Johnston asked for terms, and surrendered his army on April 26 at Durham Station. Smaller Confederate forces surrendered during April and May. Northern rejoicing brought on by the end of the war was cut short on April 14, when Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, an emotionally unstable Southern sympathizer.