Robert E. Lee's Farewell Address to the Army of Northern Virginia
Robert E. Lee
April 10, 1865
General Orders No. 9, Robert E. Lee, Farewell Address to the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House
Headquarters, Army of 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 survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them.
But feeling that valour and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I have 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 for myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
— R. E. Lee, General, General Order No. 9
During the twilight years of his life, Union Major General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain would say of Robert Edward Lee, "As to personal qualities, Lee's utter unselfishness, in fact his whole moral constitution, appeared to us singularly fine. In his high characteristics as a man he compelled admiration among those who knew him, - even as we did, - and he will command it for all the future."