BRIGADE COPY OF ROBERT E. LEE’S "GENERAL ORDER--#9.”

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Item Code: 846-390

Dated “Headquarters of the Army N. VA / April 10 [1865].” Likely Brigade level copy--reverse endorsement reads: “General Orders –No. 9 / Headquarters /Army of Northern Virginia / April 10.” Handwritten in ink on lined paper, 7.75” x 10. Exhibits fold-marks and slight soiling, while remaining entirely legible.

On April 10, 1865, at the behest of General Robert E. Lee, Colonel Charles Marshall sat down to compose General Orders No. 9. As Marshall later told the story in 1887:General Lee’s order to the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House was written the day after the meeting at McLean’s house, at which the terms of the surrender were agreed upon. That night the general sat with several of us at a fire in front of his tent, and after some conversation about the army, and the events of the day, in which his feelings toward his men were strongly expressed, he told me to prepare an order to the troops.

The next day it was raining, and many persons were coming and going, so that I was unable to write without interruption until about 10 o’clock, when General Lee, finding that the order had not been prepared, directed me to get into his ambulance, which stood near his tent, and placed an orderly to prevent any one from approaching me.

I sat in the ambulance until I had written the order, the first draft of which (in pencil) contained an entire paragraph that was omitted by General Lee’s direction. He made one or two verbal changes, and I then made a copy of the order as corrected, and gave it to one of the clerks in the adjutant-general’s office to write in ink. I took the copy, when made by the clerk, to the general, who signed it, and other copies were then made for transmission to the corps commanders and the staff of the army.“

 

Lt. Col. Charles Marshall, a personal aide to General Lee during the Appomattox Campaign, was born in Warrenton, Virginia in 1831. He was the great-grand nephew John M. Marshall, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1801-1835). Charles Marshall himself studied law but resigned from his Baltimore law firm after the war began. He joined Lee's staff as an aide-de-camp in March 1862 when Lee was advisor to President Davis. Marshall's legal training proved useful in drafting military legislation for submission to the Confederate Congress.

After Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia, Marshall's duties included preparing drafts of Lee's dispatches. It was Marshall who penned Lee's first response to Grant's proposed terms for surrender. His letter requested the interview for that purpose.

Initially General Lee asked Colonels Marshall and Taylor to accompany him to the conference with Grant but Taylor declined. Consequently, with Lee for the meeting were Marshall, orderly Pvt. Joshua Johns, and members of Grant's staff Col. Babcock and his orderly Capt. William Dunn. Upon reaching the outskirts of the village, Marshall and Johns rode ahead to find a suitable place for the meeting. The first white citizen they encountered was Wilmer McLean.

At some point after the surrender meeting Lee directed Marshall to write a farewell letter to his army. Interrupted constantly, Marshall finally moved to General Lee's ambulance to complete the historic task on the morning of April 10th. General Lee only made minor edits to Marshall's eloquent text of General Order #9.

Text:

“After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield overwhelming numbers and resources. I need not tell the survivors of so many hard-fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them, but holding that valor and devotion could have accomplished nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the continuation of the contest, I have determined to avoid this useless sacrifice of those whose past valor has endeared them to their countrymen. By the terms of agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain there until exchanged. You will take with you this satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed and I constantly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.”

Magnificent Robert E. Lee, Army of Northern Virginia collectible. In protective sleeve.  [jp/bm] [PH:L]

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