years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and
fortitude, the Army of Norther Virginia has been compelled
to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.
I need not tell
the brave survivors of some 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