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[88] army of the United States was respectfully tendered to the War Department. His letter explanatory of his position at that time, though familiar to the public, is given here as the best expression of his feelings upon so momentous a subject:

Arlington, Va., April 20, 1861.
General: Since my interview with you on the 18th inst. I have felt that I ought no longer to retain my commission in the army. I therefore tender my resignation, which I request you will recommend for acceptance. It would have been presented at once but for the struggle it has cost me to separate myselt from a service to which I have devoted the best years of my life and all the ability I possessed. During the whole of that timemore than a quarter of a century — I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors and a most cordial friendship from my comrades. To no one, General, have I been as much indebted as to yourself for uniform kindness and consideration, and it has always been my ardent desire to merit your approbation. I shall carry to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration, and your name and fame shall always be dear to me. Save in the defense 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 and prosperity, and believe me, most truly yours,

(Signed) R. E. Lee.

To his sister in Baltimore, whose husband was a strong Union man, Colonel Lee wrote the same day, telling her that he had resigned; that he had decided the question whether he should take part for or against his native State, saying: “With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I know you will blame me, but you must think as kindly of me as you can, and believe I have endeavored to do what I thought right. May God guard and protect you and yours, and pour upon you every blessing, is the prayer of your devoted brother.”

He wrote still a third letter, upon this eventful day, to his brother, Sydney Smith Lee, at that time a commander in the United States Navy:

Arlington, Va., April 20, 1861.
my dear brother Smith:
The question which was the subject of my earnest consultation with you on the 18th inst. has


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