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Unconditional surrender

Unconditional surrender

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Unconditional surrender is a surrender
Surrender (military)
Surrender is when soldiers, nations or other combatants stop fighting and eventually become prisoners of war, either as individuals or when ordered to by their officers. A white flag is a common symbol of surrender, as is the gesture of raising one's hands empty and open above one's head.When the...

 without conditions, in which no guarantees are given to the surrendering party. In modern times unconditional surrenders most often include guarantees provided by international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

. Announcing that only unconditional surrender is acceptable puts psychological pressure on a weaker adversary. Perhaps the most notable unconditional surrender was by the Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

American Civil War


The most famous early use of the phrase occurred during the 1862 Battle of Fort Donelson
Battle of Fort Donelson
The Battle of Fort Donelson was fought from February 11 to February 16, 1862, in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. The capture of the fort by Union forces opened the Cumberland River as an avenue for the invasion of the South. The success elevated Brig. Gen. Ulysses S...

 in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

 Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 of the Union Army
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 received a request for terms from the fort's commanding officer, Confederate Brigadier General Simon Bolivar Buckner
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.
Simon Bolivar Buckner fought in the United States Army in the Mexican–American War and in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He later served as the 30th Governor of Kentucky....

. Grant's reply was that "no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works." When news of Grant's victory—one of the Union's first in the Civil War—was received in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, newspapers remarked (and President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 endorsed) that Ulysses S. Grant's first two initials, "U.S.," stood for "Unconditional Surrender," which would later become his nickname.

However, subsequent surrenders to Grant were not unconditional. When Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

 surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 at Appomattox Court House
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
The Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is a National Historical Park of original and reconstructed nineteenth century buildings. It was signed into law August 3, 1935. The village was made a national monument in 1940 and a national historical park in 1954...

 in 1865, Grant agreed to allow the men under Lee's command to go home under parole and to keep sidearms and private horses. Generous terms were also offered to John C. Pemberton
John C. Pemberton
John Clifford Pemberton , was a career United States Army officer who fought in the Seminole Wars and with distinction during the Mexican–American War. He also served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, noted for his defeat and surrender in the critical Siege of Vicksburg in...

 at Vicksburg
Battle of Vicksburg
The Siege of Vicksburg was the final major military action in the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. In a series of maneuvers, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate army of Lt. Gen. John C...

 and (by Grant's subordinate, William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

) to Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

 in North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

.

Grant was not the first and only officer in the Civil War to use such a term. The first instance came when Brigadier General Lloyd Tilghman
Lloyd Tilghman
Lloyd Tilghman was a railroad construction engineer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War, killed at the Battle of Champion Hill...

 asked for terms of surrender during the Battle of Fort Henry
Battle of Fort Henry
The Battle of Fort Henry was fought on February 6, 1862, in western Tennessee, during the American Civil War. It was the first important victory for the Union and Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in the Western Theater....

. Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote replied, "no sir, your surrender will be unconditional". Even at Fort Donelson, when a Confederate messenger first approached Brig. Gen. Charles F. Smith, Grant's subordinate, for terms of surrender, Smith stated "I'll have no terms with Rebels with guns in their hands, my terms are unconditional and immediate surrender". The messenger was passed along to Grant but there is no evidence that either Foote or Smith influenced Grant's decision later on that day. In 1863 Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Everett Burnside was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island, serving as governor and a U.S. Senator...

 forced an unconditional surrender of the Cumberland Gap
Battle of the Cumberland Gap (1863)
The September 7–9, 1863 fall of the Cumberland Gap was a victory for Union forces under the command of Ambrose Burnside during his campaign for Knoxville...

 and 2,300 Confederate soldiers.

World War II


The use of the term was revived during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 at the Casablanca conference when American President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 sprang it on the other Allies
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 and the press as the objective of the war against the Axis Powers of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. The term was also used at the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 when Japan surrendered to the Allies
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

.
Both Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 disapproved of the demand for unconditional surrender, as did most senior U.S. officials (except General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

). It has been estimated that it helped prolong the war in Europe through its usefulness to German domestic propaganda that used it to encourage further resistance against the Allied armies, and its suppressive effect on the German resistance
German Resistance
The German resistance was the opposition by individuals and groups in Germany to Adolf Hitler or the National Socialist regime between 1933 and 1945. Some of these engaged in active plans to remove Adolf Hitler from power and overthrow his regime...

 movement since even after a coup against Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

:
It has also been argued that without the demand for unconditional surrender Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 might not have fallen behind the Iron curtain
Iron Curtain
The concept of the Iron Curtain symbolized the ideological fighting and physical boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1989...

.

Surrender at discretion


In siege warfare, the demand that the garrison unconditionally surrender to the besiegers is traditionally phrased as "surrender at discretion." For example, at the siege of Stirling
Stirling
Stirling is a city and former ancient burgh in Scotland, and is at the heart of the wider Stirling council area. The city is clustered around a large fortress and medieval old-town beside the River Forth...

 during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion:

It was also seen at the Battle of the Alamo
Battle of the Alamo
The Battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar . All but two of the Texian defenders were killed...

, when Santa Anna
Antonio López de Santa Anna
Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón , often known as Santa Anna or López de Santa Anna, known as "the Napoleon of the West," was a Mexican political leader, general, and president who greatly influenced early Mexican and Spanish politics and government...

 asked Jim Bowie
Jim Bowie
James "Jim" Bowie , a 19th-century American pioneer, slave trader, land speculator, and soldier, played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution, culminating in his death at the Battle of the Alamo...

 and William B. Travis
William B. Travis
William Barret Travis was a 19th-century American lawyer and soldier. At the age of 26, he was a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army...

 for unconditional surrender. Even though Bowie wished to surrender unconditionally, Travis refused, retaliated by firing a cannon at Santa Anna's army, and wrote in his final dispatches:
The phrase surrender at discretion is still used in treaties, for example the Rome Statute that entered into force on July 1, 2002, specifies under "Article 8 war crimes, Paragraph 2.b" that:


This wording in the Rome Statute is taken almost word for word from Article 23 of the 1907 IV Hague Convention The Laws and Customs of War on Land: "...it is especially forbidden - ... To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion", and is part of the customary laws of war
Laws of war
The law of war is a body of law concerning acceptable justifications to engage in war and the limits to acceptable wartime conduct...

.

See also

  • Conditional surrender
  • Strategic surrender
    Strategic surrender
    Strategic surrender is a strategy of attrition. What the loser avoids by offering to surrender is a last, chaotic round of fighting that would have the characteristics of a rout...

  • Debellatio
    Debellatio
    Debellatio designates the end of a war caused by complete destruction of a hostile state....

     designates the end of a war caused by complete destruction of a hostile state.
  • Military rule
    Military rule
    Military rule may mean:* Militarism or militarist ideology - the ideology of government as best served when under military control* Military occupation, when a country or area is occupied after invasion.** List of military occupations...

  • Suing for peace
    Suing for peace
    Suing for peace is an act by a warring nation to initiate a peace process in which the peace terms are more favorable than an unconditional surrender...

  • Criticism of Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Criticism of Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Both during and after his terms, and continuing today, there has been much criticism of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Critics have questioned not only his policies and positions, but also the general consolidation of power that occurred due to his responses to the crises of the Depression and World War II...


Further reading