History24 Aug 2009 12:44 pm
In April 1865, General Robert E. Lee realized that his beleaguered army had no choice but to surrender his Army to the North. The South had reached the end of its rope: his men were weak, exhausted and surrounded by the Union Army to boot. After a series of letters exchanged between himself and General Ulysses S. Grant, the Commander of the Union Army, the two men agreed to meet on April 9, 1865 at the Appomattox Courthouse. After two-and-a half hours of hammering out the terms of the Confederate surrender, Lee signed off on Grant’s terms and the Civil War officially ended. According to eyewitness accounts, the two men remained remarkably cordial throughout the meeting, with Grant even commenting later that, “Our conversation grew so pleasant that I almost forgot the object of our meeting.”
The following day, Robert E. Lee issued his official Farewell Address to his Army at the Appomattox Court House as follows:
“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.”
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