Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/224

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Southern Historical Society Papers.


sented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that would compensate for the loss that must have attended a 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 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.

R. E. Lee.

This grand farewell from the man who had in the past personfied the glory of his army and now bore its grief in his own great heart, was the signal for tearful partings. Comrades wept as they gazed upon each other, and with choking voices said, farewell! And so,—they parted. Little groups of two or three or four, without food, without money, but with "the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed," were soon plodding their way homeward.