Proclamation to All Ranks of the Republican Forces
Soldiers of the Republic, Legion of the Rearguard:
The Republic can no longer be defended successfully by your arms. Further sacrifice of life would now be vain and continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the national interest and prejudicial to the future of our cause. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic. Other means must be sought to safeguard the nation's right.
Do not let sorrow overwhelm you. Your efforts and the sacrifices of your dead comrades in this forlorn hope will surely bear fruit. They have even already borne fruit. Much that you set out to accomplish is achieved. You have saved the nation's honour, preserved the sacred national tradition, and kept open the road of independence. You have demonstrated in a way there is no mistaking that we are not a nation of willing bondslaves.
Seven years of intense effort have exhausted our people. Their sacrifices and their sorrows have been many. If they have turned aside and have not given you the active support which alone could bring you victory in this last year, it is because they saw overwhelming forces against them, and they are weary and need a rest. A little time and you will see them recover and rally again to the standard. They will then quickly discover who have been selfless and who selfish — who have spoken truth and who falsehood. When they are ready, you will be, and your place will be again as of old with the vanguard.
The sufferings which you must now face unarmed you will bear in a manner worthy of men who were ready to give their lives for their cause. The thought that you have still to suffer for your devotion will lighten your present sorrow and what you endure will keep you in communion with your dead comrades who gave their lives, and all these lives promised, for Ireland.
May God guard every one of you and give to our country in all times of need sons who will love her as dearly and devotedly as you.
Eamon de Valera
May 24th 1923