The Civil War, 1861-1865

Author: Robert E. Lee  | Date: 1865

Lee’s Farewell to His Army

Army of Northern Virginia,
April 10, 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 this result from no distrust of them: but, feeling that valour and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the continuation 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 there 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 increasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration of myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

"R. E. LEE, General."


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Chicago: Robert E. Lee, "Lee’s Farewell to His Army," The Civil War, 1861-1865 in Harvard Classics, Vol.43, P.449 Original Sources, accessed September 24, 2021,

MLA: Lee, Robert E. "Lee’s Farewell to His Army." The Civil War, 1861-1865, in Harvard Classics, Vol.43, P.449, Original Sources. 24 Sep. 2021.

Harvard: Lee, RE, 'Lee’s Farewell to His Army' in The Civil War, 1861-1865. cited in , Harvard Classics, Vol.43, P.449. Original Sources, retrieved 24 September 2021, from