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Lee’s Farewell Address to the Army of Northern Virginia

This 1866 lithograph by a Baltimore lithographer commemorated the occasion of Robert E. Lee’s farewell address to the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia, following its formal surrender April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House.

Text---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 that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance 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 the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from a consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a Merciful God will extend to you His blessings 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.

Ernest Crehen, active circa 1860–circa 1874, after photograph by Minnis and Cowell (active 1860–1865)
A. Hoen and Company lithograph company (active 1848–1981)
Lithograph, 1866
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution


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