Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/471

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
439
Robert E. Lee.

trust. I think our policy should he purely on the defensive, to resist aggression, and allow time to allay the passions, and permit reason to resume her sway."

May 14, 1861, he was appointed brigadier general in the Confederate States Army, and on June 14, 1861, a full general; August 3rd, 1861, was given command of operations in the Trans-Alleghany region of Virginia; November 5, 1861, was placed in charge of the defenses on the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida; March 13, 1862, assigned to duty at Richmond, and charged with the conduct of all military operations of the Confederate States Army, under the direction of the President; June 1st, 1862, was placed in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, which position he held until the surrender of his army at Appomattox, April 9, 1865; January 31, 1865, was made general in chief, and on February 6, 1865, was assigned to the command of all of the armies of the Confederate States.

Not long subsequent to the closing of the war, he said, "All that the South has ever desired was that the Union as established by our fathers should be preserved, and that the Government as originally organized should be administered in purity and truth;" and later he said, "I had no other guide, nor had I any other object than the defense of those principles of American liberty upon which the constitutions of the several States were originally founded, and unless they are strictly observed, I fear there will be an end of Republican government in this country." He devoted his few years after the war to efforts to restore harmony to the people of the whole country, and to the education of young men. He became President of Washington and Lee University, and gave his entire time and talents to that institution. He died at his home, in Lexington, October 12, 1870. When he died, it was said of him: "The grave of this noble hero is bedewed with the most tender and sacred tears ever shed upon a human tomb. A whole nation has risen up in the spontaneity of its grief to render the tribute of its love." Benjamin H. Hill, of Georgia, said of him: "When the future historian shall come to survey the character of Lee, he will find it rising like a huge mountain above the undulating plain of humanity, and he must lift his eyes high toward Heaven to catch its summit. He possessed every virtue of other great commanders without their vices. He was a foe