On April 18, 1861. Colonel Robert E. Lee meets with Francis Blair on behalf of President Lincoln and is offered a Major Generals commision to put down the Southern rebellion. Lee declines. Lee meets with General Winfield Scott. Lee does not want to fight in this conflict against Virginia and the other Southern States. General Scott says he has no room in his army for equivocal men.

Robert E. Lee stays up all night April 19, 1861 wrestling with his concious at Arlington and in the morning writes the following letter to General Scott.


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
He will leave Arlington in a few days to travel to Richmond. He will never return to his home.