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[359]

Farewell.

Men, we have fought through the war together. I have done my best for you; my heart is too full to say more,’ was Lee's utterance to the ragged, battle-begrimed boys in gray, who, when the dread news of surrender spread among them, gathered around him to shake his hand and testify their undying confidence and love. In his published address he said to them: ‘You will carry with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection. With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration of myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.’

As Robert Lee rode from Appomattox toward Richmond, he carried with him the heart of every man that fought under him—linked to him with hooks of steel forever. When he reached the fallen Capital of the dead Confederacy, and rode through its ashes and paling fires to his home, a body of Federal soldiers there, catching a glimpse of his noble countenance, lifted their hats and cheered, and as the great actor in the bloody drama stepped behind the scenes, and the curtain fell upon the tragic stage of the secession war, the last sounds that greeted his ear were the generous salutations of respect from those against whom he had wielded his knightly sword.

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