It was not the end of the world. The end of their part in the drama, perhaps, but at least a momentary cessation of the hostility of hunger and decimation which had dogged them these past months.
The General rode erect on Traveler, looking more like the victor than the vanquished, exhibiting no outward sense his feelings of betrayal. The man riding beside him tried to emulate his commander though the weight of the crushing defeat and resultant humiliation made such outward display difficult.
"What do you suppose will become of us now?" Col. Marshall spoke after they had ridden in silence for some distance from the small grouping of buildings called the town of Appomattox Court House.
Lee grunted. "The war is not over yet, Colonel, except for our small part in it."
"But," the Colonel's anguish got the better of him, "they will claim Grant was a better general than you, sir."
The distinguished gray beard turned toward the younger man and a smile slowly creased the ancient face. "Charles, is that what bothers you so? Never mind what history will tell about it. History has a way of changing to match the tenor of the society. Caesar and Bonaparte both have been viewed as tyrants and then saviors as the years progressed and I can see the same happening for us as well, regardless of the outcome of this conflict.
"As for that man being a better general, it depends on the school of thought. Many will say that a general's task is to win battles – and that he has done often enough – but I believe the general's task is to win intelligently and spare the lives of his men. This is something Grant has missed in his education."
The Colonel nodded. "Yes, he usually has lost two to one in most the battles."
"At least two to one! And that did not matter if he won or lost. It is a barbarian's attitude: throw as much brute force against the enemy as you can until you are victorious." He shook his head and stared at Traveler's ears. "By simple attrition he could lose three for every one of us until the Confederacy was depopulated and there would still be five million Yankees left standing. You can win a war in that manner, but that is not generalship. Any student of war could see as much."