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 valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that would 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 may 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 of myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.
General Robert E. Lee
Who whipped whom?
As the Confederates were taking leave of Appomattox, and about to begin their long and dreary tramp homeward, many of the Union men bade them cordial farewell. One of Grant’s men said good-naturedly to one of Lee’s veterans:
“Well, Johnny, I guess you fellows will go home now to stay.”
The tired and tried Confederate, who did not clearly understand the spirit in which these playful words were spoken, and who was not at the moment in the best mood for badinage, replied:
“Look here, Yank; you guess, do you, that we fellows are going home to stay? Maybe we are. But don’t be giving us any of your impudence. If you do, we’ll come back and lick you again.” — Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon, CS