General R. F. Hoke's last address [from the Richmond, Va., times, April 9, 1893.]
To his division near Greensboro, N. C., May 1, 1865.
As the 9th will be the anniversary of Lee's surrender, it will be in order to publish everything of historical interest pertaining to the closing scenes of the ‘war between the States.’ I enclose you the farewell address of General R. F. Hoke, a gallant North Carolinian, and an uncle of the Secretary of the Interior, Hoke Smith, of whom the Northern papers wished to know something a short time since. General Lee sent General Hoke, with his division, to relieve Pickett's division, near Plymouth, N. C., where he (Hoke) covered himself with glory by storming the Federal works, and capturing almost three thousand prisoners. His gallant division took part in the battle of Brentonsville, under Joe Johnston, and distinguished themselves as they had done before on so many sanguinary fields in Virginia. The address is as follows:
R. S. B. Findowrie, N. C.
headquarters of Hoke's division, Near Greensboro, N. C., May 1, 1865.On the eve of a long, perhaps a final separation, I address to you the last sad words of parting. The fortunes of war have turned the scale against us. The proud banners, which you have waved so gloriously over many a field, are to be furled at last. But they are not disgraced, my comrades. Your indomitable courage, your heroic fortitude, your patience under sufferings, have surrounded them with a halo which future years can never dim. History will bear witness to your valor, and succeeding generations will point with admiration to your grand struggle for constitutional freedom. Soldiers, your past is full of glory, Treasure it in your hearts. Remember each gory battle-field, each day of victory, each bleeding comrade! Think, then, of your home.
Soldiers of my Division.
Soldiers of my Division.
Freedom's battle, once begun,You have yielded to overwhelming forces, not to superior valor. You are paroled prisoners, not slaves. The love of liberty which led you into the contest burns as brightly in your hearts as ever. Cherish it. Associate it with the history of the past. Transmit it to your children. Teach them the rights of freedom, and teach them to maintain them. Teach them the proudest day in all your career was that on which you enlisted as Southern soldiers, entering that holy brotherhood whose ties are now sealed by the blood of your compatriots who have fallen, and whose history is coeval with the brilliant record of the past four years. Soldiers, amid the imperishable laurels that surround your brows, no brighter leaf adorns them than your connection with the late Army of Northern Virginia! The star that shone with splendor over its oft-repeated fields of victory, over the two deadly struggles of Manassas Plains, over Richmond, Chancellorsville, and Fredericksburg, has sent its rays and been reflected where true courage is admired, or wherever freedom  has a friend. That star has set in blood, but yet in glory. That army is now of the past. The banners trail, but not with ignominy. No stain blots their escutcheons. No blush can tinge your cheeks, as you proudly announce that you have a part in the history of the Army of Northern Virginia. My comrades, we have borne together the same hardships; we have shared the same dangers; we have rejoiced over the same victories. Your trials, your patience have excited sympathy and admiration, and I have borne willing witness to your bravery, and it is with a heart full of grateful emotions for your services and ready obedience that I take leave of you. May the future of each one be as happy as your past career has been brilliant, and may no cloud ever dim the brightness of your fame. The past rises before me in its illimitable grandeur. Its memories are part of the life of each one of us. But it is all over now. Yet, though the sad dark veil of defeat is over us, fear not the future, but meet it with manly hearts. You carry to your homes the heartfelt wishes of your General for your prosperity. My comrades, farewell!
Bequeathed from bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft is ever won.
R. F. Hoke, Major General.