Wilmer McLean owned a home near Bull Run. His house was seriously damaged during the opening battle of the Civil War, and so, falsely believing he would be safer from future conflicts, he rebuilt his home — only to have it destroyed during the second battle of Bull Run.
Disgusted, he moved to a part of the country where he felt he could escape the ravages of war — a small, obscure Virginia community called Appomattox. When Lee surrendered to Grant, it was McLean’s house that was used by the two generals to sign the historic terms of surrender.
Their aides de camp were so moved by the signing they desired a memento of the occasion — a souvenir to remember what had taken place in this house. So they all walked off with a piece of furniture from McLean’s house.
(Jim Thomason, Getting Real About Success)
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