General Lee ever felt kindly toward Union soldiers. He never called them “the enemy,” but always spoke of them as “those people.” Once, he remarked about the Northern troops, “Now, I wish all those people would go home and leave us to do the same.”
A lady, who had lost her husband in the war, spoke in sharp terms of the North, one day, to General Lee. He said gently, “Madam, do not train up your children as foes of the Government of the United States. We are one country now. Bring them up to be Americans.”
Terms of his surrender to Grant…
“It is understood that the men of Lee’s army are to be paroled and allowed to return to their homes. They gave up everything in their hands, but last night they destroyed large amounts of property in the shape of wagons, gun carriages, baggage, papers … The number of Lee’s forces is put down at about twenty thousand men. Very few guns are in their possession, as they have abandoned nearly all they did not lose in action … The rank and file of Lee’s army are said to be well satisfied to give up the struggle, believing that they have no hope of success, but say that if Gen. Lee had refused to surrender, they would have stuck to him to the last. … to-day they are at liberty to proceed to their homes or elsewhere as they chose …”
Throughout his life, he had but one purpose, and that was to do his duty. He often said, “Duty is the sublimest word in the English language,” and, in accordance with this belief, he regulated his great life upon what seemed to him to be the only course he ought to pursue at the time.