Drafted by an aide on the night of April 9-10, 1865, a few hours after Lee had surrendered, General Order No. 9 is among the best-known documents of the War Between the States.
“No other words, spoken or written, had a more heartening effect on the veterans of the proud but weary Army of Northern Virginia,” according to author Joseph E. Fields.
In the hours following the surrender, Lee and his aide-de-camp, Lt. Col. Charles Marshall, discussed what the Confederate leader wished to say in his farewell message to his men.
Marshall produced a draft the following morning and Lee edited it, making a few minor changes and striking out a paragraph that he felt was inappropriate.
Marshall then gave it to one of the clerks in the adjutant-general’s office to rewrite in ink. Afterward, Marshall took the copy to Lee, who signed it.