previous next
[422] beyond what he could hope for by siding with the Confederates, he went immediately to his friend, General Scott, and told him all about it. The last interview between Scott and Lee was a very affecting one. The veteran begged Lee to accept the offer of Mr. Lincoln, and not to ‘throw away such brilliant prospects,’ and ‘make the great mistake of his life.’ Lee expressed the highest respect for General Scott and for his opinions, repeated what he had said to Mr. Blair, that while he recognized no necessity for the state of things then existing, and would gladly liberate the slaves of the South, if they were his, to avert the war, yet he could not take up arms against his native State, his home, his kindred, his children. They parted with expressions of warmest mutual friendship, and General Lee returned to Arlington.

The night before his letter of resignation was written, he asked to be alone, and while his noble wife watched and prayed below he was heard pacing the floor of the chamber above, or pouring forth his soul in prayer for Divine guidance. About three o'clock in the morning he came down, calm and composed, and said to his wife:

‘Well, Mary, the path of duty is now plain before me. I have decided on my course. I will at once send my resignation to General Scott.’

Accordingly he penned the following letter:

Arlington, Va., 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 acceptance. 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 the best years of my life and all the ability I possessed.

During the whole of that time—more than a quarter of a century —I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors and the most cordial friendship from my comrades. To no one, General, have I been, much indebted as to yourself for uniform kindness and consideration, and it has always been my desire to merit your approbation. I shall carry to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration, and your name and fame will always be dear to me.

Save in defence of my native State, I never again desire to draw

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Arlington (Virginia, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Winfield Scott (4)
R. E. Lee (4)
Lincoln (1)
Francis Preston Blair (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 20th, 1861 AD (1)
18th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: