Head Quarters Army of No. Virginia
10th April 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 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 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 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 perform, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you His blessing and protection.
With an unceasing admiration of your constaincy 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
Brig. Genl. W. H. Stevens
Chief Engr. A NoVa.
Source: Facsimile of original, vertical files, Jessie Ball DuPont Library, Stratford Hall
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 February 3