Virginia farmer, born May 13, 1814 and died June 5, 1882. Summarised his experience during the American Civil War as, "The war started in my back yard and finished in my front room."
Before the war broke out, the McLean family had a farm in Manassas, near the tiny river of Bull Run. On July 21, 1861, the first major battle of the Civil War was fought near Manassas, partly on McLean land. The McLean house served as Confederate General Beauregard's headquarters. The South won the battle, which was known as Manassas in the Confederacy and Bull Run in the North. The brutality of the fighting shocked both sides.
August 29 and 30 of the same year saw Union and Confederate armies clashing at Manassas again. After that battle, McLean decided to move to somewhere quieter, where the war would not touch him. He selected the sleepy town of Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
In 1865, after the capture of Richmond, Ulysses S. Grant pursued Robert E. Lee's army to Appomattox Court House. On April 9, Grant offered Lee the chance to surrender. Lee sent one of his staff officers, Colonel Charles Marshall, to find a suitable place for the official surrender.
Marshall stopped the first civillian he saw in the street - Wilmer McLean, who offered his living room. The Surrender at Appomattox was signed there.