Saturday, December 21, 2013

General Robert E. Lee's General Orders, No. 59


May 7, 1863.

With heartfelt gratification the general commanding expresses to the army his sense of the heroic conduct displayed by officers and men during the arduous operations in which they have just been engaged. Under trying vicissitudes of heat and storm, you attacked the enemy, strongly intrenched in the depths of a tangled wilderness, and again on the hills of Fredericksburg, 15 miles distant, and, by the valor that has triumphed on so many fields, forced him once more to seek safety beyond the Rappahannock. While this glorious victory entitles you to the praise and gratitude of the nation, we are especially called upon to return our grateful thanks to the only Giver of victory for the signal deliverance He has wrought. It is, therefore, earnestly recommended that the troops unite on Sunday next in ascribing to the Lord of Hosts the glory due unto His name.

Let us not forget in our rejoicing the brave soldiers who have fallen in defense of their country; and, while we mourn their loss, let us resolve to emulate their noble example.

The army and the country alike lament the absence for a time of one to whose bravery, energy, and skill they are so much indebted for Success.

The following letter from the President of the Confederate States is communicated to the army as an expression of his appreciation of its success:

[General LEE :]

I have received your dispatch, and reverently unite with you in giving praise to God for the success with which He has crowned our arms.

In the name of the people, I offer my cordial thanks to yourself and the troops under your command for this addition to the unprecedented series of great victories which your army has achieved.

The universal rejoicing produced by this happy result will be mingled with a general regret for the good and the brave who are numbered among the killed and the wounded.


SOURCES: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 25, Part 1 (Serial No. 39), p. 805; John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 243-4

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