Robert E. Lee's Farewell Address to the Army of Northern Virginia
From the winning fields of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville to the fateful showdown at Gettysburg, the desperate trenches of Petersburg, and many more of the American Civil War’s most significant battlegrounds, General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia forged one of the most sacred bonds in military history. Regardless of the hardships they faced over years of fighting, nothing seemed capable of diminishing the reverence that Lee and his soldiers held for one another. Together, they proved their mettle time and time again, but after a climactic final year of warfare, Lee’s army was ultimately ground down by the Union Army of the Potomac as the rest of the Confederacy unraveled around them. Outnumbered, lacking effective supplies, and cut off from escape, Lee painfully surrendered his beloved Army of Northern Virginia to Union General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant in the rural town of Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865. The following day, he issued General Order No. 9, his farewell address to the soldiers who had faithfully stood by him for so long.
Transcription of General Robert E. Lee’s farewell address to the Army of Northern Virginia
Hd Qurs Army Northern Virginia
10th April 1865
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 brave 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 will 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.
R E Lee
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