Thursday, May 5, 2016

Goodbye and Farewell

Dear Journal
When I issued my first order as Commander-and-Chief of the Confederate army, I knew it wouldn’t last long. In early April I lost control of both Petersburg and Richmond, and I knew hope for victory had all but vanished. Davis kept pushing the forces, claiming that the Confederacy was now free, not shackled guarding cities, and that victory was still on the horizon, but we all knew the truth. Even though I knew that The Confederate States of America wouldn’t triumph, I would not surrender. I would and still have rather died a thousand deaths if I could’ve avoided what had to be done. Sadly, God did not see to extend me the liberty of a choice. After the Battle of Saylor's Creek, I surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. I decided to look my best. Wearing the most appropriate attire I could find among my disselved clothing, I arrived at Wilmer Mclean's Parlor half-an-hour early. Grant arrived covered in dirt, coming from the midst of the battlefield. I held no grudge against Grant. The one thing we both held was sadness. Grant brought up the Mexican-American war, asking if I remembered him. I had not known we had met previously. I appreciated Grant’s attempt at shifting the conversation as if we were old friends, getting reacquainted. I had a feeling if the circumstances were different we could have been friends, and the thought saddened me even more. I reminded myself why I was there, and asked for Grant’s terms of surrender. They were more than generous. He even gave my men rations. As I took my leave of the parlor, Grant’s men started to cheer, but Grant proceeded to stop them. I believe we were both overwhelmed with the same feeling at that moment, surprisingly enough. A thought that haunted us both, “What was it all for?” My men, loyal as ever, lined up for their poor excuse for a General as I walked out the home. They cleared a way as they bid their farewells, treating me without resent, without anger, just sadness. I knew not what to say, what to do, so I told them the truth: that the war was lost, but if they dedicated the same effort to being a citizen as they did to being a soldier, they would help their home, their nation become whole once again. I told them the only thing I could, goodbye.
Robert E. Lee

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