General Lee’s Farewell to His Army
HEAD QUARTERS ARMY NORTHERN VA
April 10, 1865
General Order — 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 to 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 service have endeared them to their countrymen. By the terms of agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray a merciful God will extend to you blessing and protection. With an increasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance or your kind and generous consideration of myself. I bid you an affectionate FAREWELL.
R E LEE, General
Lee’s farewell appears in the Alexandria Gazette on April 17, 1865