"To draw my sword"

Robert E. Lee (1807–1870) to Roger Jones April 20, 1861. Custis-Lee Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (017.00.00)

Sympathizing with you in the troubles that are pressing so heavily upon our beloved country, & entirely agreeing with you in your notions of allegiance, I have been unable to make up my mind to raise my hand against my native state, my relatives, my children & my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army & never desire again to draw my sword save in defence of my state. I consider it useless to go into the reasons that influenced me. I can give you no advice. I merely tell you what I have done that you may do better.

This blog complements the Library of Congress exhibition, “The Civil War in America.” This series of posts chronicles the sacrifices and accomplishments of those—from both the North and South—whose lives were lost or affected by the events of 1861–1865. To learn more about the object featured in this blog entry, visit the online exhibition.

One Comment

  1. History Teller
    November 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    “Virginia is my mother, I cannot fight my mother, can I?” – a young lawyer from Virginia uttered these words to a journalist friend upon Virginia’s secession. This attorney had no prior military experience, and like most who would participate in the war, he would be shocked, horrified and forever changed by the experience.
    At the conclusion of hostilities, he never surrendered, was imprisoned as a war criminal and eventually pardoned by U. S. Grant. He served the U.S. government in a variety of positions in the decades that followed, though some in the south never forgave his post-war “treason”.
    John Singleton Mosby was a ferocious fighter, an undefeated enemy of the occupying forces of Virginia and a true patriot to his state and nation.