This past April 9th was the 150th anniversary of the signing of the surrender to end the Civil War.

This date brought to mind the unluckiest civilian in the Civil War.


Wilmer McLean lived with his family in Bull Run, Virginia with his wife and his two daughters. Life was peaceful on the large plantation, until the start of the Civil War.

manassass house

Wilmer was a retired military man, and he was a Southern sympathizer. He invited P.G.T. Beauregard to stay at his house and to use it as as a headquarters.

Then came the 1st Battle of Bull Run. Wilmer’s property sat right in the middle of the battlefield. His home was used as a Confederate hospital, and a prison for captured Union soldiers.

When the 2nd Battle of Bull Run started in 1862, McLean decided it was time to get his family out of the area. He wanted to be as away from the war as possible.

He left his home in Bull Run, which was basically in ruins.

He moved his family to Southern Virginia, and he chose a small out of the way town named Appomattox Courthouse.


His family lived in peace for four years.

Imagine his surprise when a messenger asked if his home could be used for the surrender. On the afternoon of April 9th, General Lee and General Grant sat in his parlor  to officially sign the terms of surrender.


This time, his house wasn’t in danger in the middle of the battle field.

Instead, Union soldiers took his furniture and household items to have a souvenir of the surrender. His home was in ruins.  He was compensated for the damage to his home with Confederate money, which was now useless.

Wilmer eventually lost his home. He took his family to Alexandria, Virginia, where he lived out his life in peace.

Wilmer was quoted as saying, “The war began in my front yard and ended in my parlor.