It was a little over a month after the Battle of Gettysburg- August 8, 1863- General Robert E. Lee commander of the Army of Northern Virginia sent a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis- offering up his resignation. Davis of course refused General Lee’s resignation. Gettysburg was obviously not Lee’s finest moment but there were no real alternatives in replacing him. Below is his letter to President Davis-
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 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 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 & prosperity & believe me most truly yours
R. E. Lee