Thursday, April 10, 2008

Robert E. Lee Farewell

The photograph above shows General Robert E. Lee on Traveler. It was on April 9, 1865 that Lee Surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. It was on this day, April 10, that Lee addressed the Army of Northern Virginia for the last time. His words are presented below:

Farewell to the Army of Northern Virginia

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.


  1. Although I do not personally agree with the CSA decision to seceed from the Union, I cannot help but admire such a man as Robert E Lee. Even in defeat, he was the embodiment of a gentleman, and a true Victorian man. Not many men would commend the efforts of their troops in an attempt to build up their self esteem when they had been defeated so soundly.

  2. Norkio,
    Well said . . . thanks for your post.

  3. as an englishman I think Lee and the CSA were right to stand up for states' rights.

    surely the Army of Northern Virginia was not "soundly beaten". the point was that Lee, who had pulled off so much by tactical daring and boldness, knew he could not win. his military goal was to sap the north's resolve to fight. in the ned that goal became unachievable through the north's greater numbers and industrialisation. lee, who was sound on war as an extension of politics, had the sense to see the political goal could not be reached so militarily defeat being inevitable he wisely surrendered.

    that is the measure of a gentleman not a butcher. truly a great man and over here we published a book by Brian Holden Read which shows the strategic and tactical genius of the man