General Robert E. Lee's farewell to his troops of the Army of Northern Virginia

Source citation
Reprinted in Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field Book of the Civil War in the United States of America (Hartford, CT: T. Belnap, 1874), 560.
Recipient (to)
The Army of Northern Virginia
Type
Military record
Date Certainty
Exact
Transcriber
John Osborne
Transcription date
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
Headquarters Army Northern Virginia, Appomattox C.H., April 10, 1865. 
General Orders, No. 9.
 
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 to compensate for the loss that must have attended a continuation 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 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 all an affectionate farewell.
 
Robert E. Lee 
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