Agonizing like so many Americans did, to join the Union or the Confederacy, weighing family ties, loyalty, and devotion, Robert E. Lee stayed with the country his family help found. He explains his bond with Virginia to his cousin.
Sympathizing with you in the troubles that are pressing so heavily upon our beloved country, and entirely agreeing with you in your notions of allegiance, I have been unable to make up my mind to rise my hand against my native state, my relatives, my children and my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army and never desire again to draw my sword save in defense of my state. I consider it useless.
Portrait of Gen. Robert E.Lee, officer of the Confederate Army Date 1863 Source The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. And LOC.gov