Robert E. Lee
Arlington, Washington City P.O.
April 20, 1861
Since my interview with you on the 18th instant
I have felt that I ought not longer to retain my commission in the Army.
I therefore tender my resignation, which I request you will recommend for
It would have been presented at once, but for
the struggle it has cost me to separate myself from a service to which
I have devoted all the best years of my life & all the ability I possessed.
During the whole of that time, more than 30 years,
I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors, & the most
cordial friendship from my companions. To no one Genl have
I been as much indebted as to yourself for uniform kindness & consideration,
& it has always been my ardent desire to merit your approbation.
I shall carry with me to the grave the most grateful
recollections of your kind consideration, & your name & fame will
always be dear to me. Save in the defence of my native State,
I never desire again to draw my sword.
Be pleased to accept my most earnest wishes for
the continuance of your happiness & prosperity & believe me most
R. E. Lee
SOURCE: Reprinted in Clifford Dowdey,
editor, The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee (New York: Bramhall House,
1961), pages 8-9.
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