Lee's Farewell to the Army of Northern Virginia
by General Robert E. Lee
After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and
fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to
overwhelming numbers and resources.
I need not tell the survivors of so many hard-fought battles who have
remained steadfast to the last that I have consented to this result from
no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish
nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the
continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of
those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen. By the
terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and
remain until exchanged.
You may take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the
consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a
merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.
With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your
country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous
consideration of myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.