Captain Robert Lee, son of the General, described his father's response to the surrender of his army.
"The General then with head bare, and tears flowing freely down his manly cheeks, bade adieu to the army.
In a few words: "Men, we have fought through the war together; I have done my best for you; my heart is too full to say more,"
he bade them good-bye and told them to return to their homes and become good citizens.
The next day he issued his farewell address, the
last order published to the army."
GENERAL ORDERS No. 9
HDQRS. 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 brave 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 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 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
considerations for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.
R. E. LEE,
With great sadness, General Lee would
write to President Jefferson Davis of the Army of Northern Virginia's last days.
NEAR APPOMATTOX COURT-HOUSE, VA.,
April 12, 1865.
Mr. PRESIDENT: It is with pain that I announce to Your Excellency the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. The operations which
preceded this result will be reported in full. I will therefore only now state that, upon arriving at Amelia Court-House on the morning
of the 4th with the advance of the army, on the retreat from the lines in front of Richmond and Petersburg, and not finding the
supplies ordered to be placed there, nearly twenty-four hours were lost in endeavoring to collect in the country subsistence for
men and horses. This delay was fatal, and could not be retrieved. The troops, wearied by continual fighting and marching for several
days and nights, obtained neither rest nor refreshment; and on moving, on the 5th, on the Richmond and Danville Railroad, I found at
Jetersville the enemy's cavalry, and learned the approach of his infantry and the general advance of his army toward Burkeville. This
deprived us of the use of the railroad, and rendered it impracticable to procure from Danville the supplies ordered to meet us at
points of our march. Nothing could be obtained from the adjacent country. Our route to the Roanoke was therefore changed, and the
march directed upon Farmville, where supplies were ordered from Lynchburg. The change of route threw the troops over the roads pursued
by the artillery and wagon trains west of the railroad, which impeded our advance and embarrassed our movements.
On the morning of the 6th General Longstreet's corps reached Rice's Station, on the Lynchburg railroad. It was followed by the commands
of Generals R. H. Anderson, Ewell, and Gordon, with orders to close upon it as fast as the progress of the trains would permit or as
they could be directed on roads farther west. General Anderson, commanding Pickett's and B. R. Johnson's divisions, became disconnected
with Mahone's division, forming the rear of Longstreet. The enemy's cavalry penetrated the line of march through the interval thus left
and attacked the wagon train moving toward Farmville. This caused serious delay in the march of the center and rear of the column, and
enabled the enemy to mass upon their flank. After successive attacks Anderson's and Ewell's corps were captured or driven from their
position. The latter general, with both of his division commanders, Kershaw and Custis Lee, and his brigadiers, were taken prisoners.
Gordon, who all the morning, aided by General W. H. F. Lee's cavalry, had checked the advance of the enemy on the road from Amelia
Springs and protected the trains, became exposed to his combined assaults, which he bravely resisted and twice repulsed; but the
cavalry having been withdrawn to another part of the line of march, and the enemy massing heavily on his front and both flanks,
renewed the attack about 6 p.m., and drove him from the field in much confusion.
The army continued its march during the night, and every effort was made to reorganize the divisions which had been shattered by the
day's operations; but the men being depressed by fatigue and hunger, many threw away their arms, while others followed the wagon trains
and embarrassed their progress.
On the morning of the 7th rations were issued to the troops as they passed Farmville, but the safety of the trains requiring their
removal upon the approach of the enemy all could not be supplied. The army, reduced to two corps, under Longstreet and Gordon, moved
steadily on the road to Appomattox Court-House; thence its march was ordered by Campbell Court-House, through Pittsylvania, toward
Danville. The roads were wretched and the progress slow. By great efforts the head of the column reached Appomattox Court-House on
the evening of the 8th, and the troops were halted for rest. The march was ordered to be resumed at 1 a.m. on the 9th. Fitz Lee, with
the cavalry, supported by Gordon, was ordered to drive the enemy from his front, wheel to the left, and cover the passage of the
trains; while Longstreet, who from Rice's Station had formed the rear guard, should close up and hold the position. Two battalions of
artillery and the ammunition wagons were directed to accompany the army, the rest of he artillery and wagons to move toward Lynchburg.
In the early part of the night the enemy attacked Walker's artillery train near Appomattox Station, on the Lynchburg railroad, and were
repelled. Shortly afterward their cavalry dashed toward the Court-House, till halted by our line. During the night there were
indications of a large force massing on our left and front. Fitz Lee was directed to ascertain its strength, and to suspend his advance
till daylight if necessary.
About 5 a.m. on the 9th, with Gordon on his left, he moved forward and opened the way. A heavy force of the enemy was discovered
opposite Gordon's right, which, moving in the direction of Appomattox Court-House, drove back the left of the cavalry and threatened to
cut off Gordon from Longstreet, his cavalry at the same time threatening to envelop his left flank. Gordon withdrew across the
Appomattox River, and the cavalry advanced on the Lynchburg road and became separated from the army.
Learning the condition of affairs on the lines, where I had gone under the expectation of meeting General Grant to learn definitely
the terms he proposed in a communication received from him on the 8th, in the event of the surrender of the army, I requested a
suspension of hostilities until these terms could be arranged.
In the interview which occurred with General Grant in compliance with my request, terms having been agreed on, I surrendered that
portion of the Army of Northern Virginia which was on the field, with its arms, artillery, and wagon trains, the officers and men to
be paroled, retaining their side-arms and private effects. I deemed this course the best under all the circumstances by which we were
surrounded. On the morning of the 9th, according to the reports of the ordnance officers, there were 7,892 organized infantry with
arms, with an average of seventy-five rounds of ammunition per man. The artillery, though reduced to sixty-three pieces, with
ninety-three rounds of ammunition, was sufficient. These comprised all the supplies of ordnance that could be relied on in the
State of Virginia. I have no accurate report of the cavalry, but believe it did not exceed 2,100 effective men. The enemy were more
than five times our numbers. If we could have forced our way one day longer it would have been at a great sacrifice of life, and at
its end I did not see how a surrender could have been avoided. We had no subsistence for man or horse, and it could not be gathered
in the country. The supplies ordered to Pamplin's Station from Lynchburg could not reach us, and the men, deprived of food and sleep
for many days, were worn out and exhausted.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,