Posts Tagged With: Robert E. Lee

“IN DEFENSE OF GENERAL LEE….


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“IN DEFENSE OF GENERAL LEE

By Edward C. Smith
Saturday, August 21, 1999
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Let me begin on a personal note. I am a 56-year-old, third-generation, African American Washingtonian who is a graduate of the D.C. public schools and who happens also to be a great admirer of Robert E. Lee’s.

Today, Lee, who surrendered his troops to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House 134 years ago, is under attack by people — black and white — who have incorrectly characterized him as a traitorous, slaveholding racist. He was recently besieged in Richmond by those opposed to having his portrait displayed prominently in a new park.

My first visit to Lee’s former home, now Arlington National Cemetery, came when I was 12 years old, and it had a profound and lasting effect on me. Since then I have visited the cemetery hundreds of times searching for grave sites and conducting study tours for the Smithsonian Institution and various other groups interested in learning more about Lee and his family as well as many others buried at Arlington.

Lee’s life story is in some ways the story of early America. He was born in 1807 to a loving mother, whom he adored. His relationship with his father, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, (who was George Washington’s chief of staff during the Revolutionary War) was strained at best. Thus, as he matured in years, Lee adopted Washington (who had died in 1799) as a father figure and patterned his life after him. Two of Lee’s ancestors signed the Declaration of Independence, and his wife, Mary Custis, was George Washington’s foster great-granddaughter.

Lee was a top-of-the-class graduate of West Point, a Mexican War hero and superintendent of West Point. I can think of no family for which the Union meant as much as it did for his.

But it is important to remember that the 13 colonies that became 13 states reserved for themselves a tremendous amount of political autonomy. In pre-Civil War America, most citizens’ first loyalty went to their state and the local community in which they lived. Referring to the United States of America in the singular is a purely post-Civil War phenomenon.

All this should help explain why Lee declined command of the Union forces — by Abraham Lincoln — after the firing on Fort Sumter. After much agonizing, he resigned his commission in the Union army and became a Confederate commander, fighting in defense of Virginia, which at the outbreak of the war possessed the largest population of free blacks (more than 60,000) of any Southern state.

Lee never owned a single slave, because he felt that slavery was morally reprehensible. He even opposed secession. (His slaveholding was confined to the period when he managed the estate of his late father-in-law, who had willed eventual freedom for all of his slaves.)

Regarding the institution, it’s useful to remember that slavery was not abolished in the nation’s capital until April 1862, when the country was in the second year of the war. The final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was not written until September 1862, to take effect the following Jan. 1, and it was intended to apply only to those slave states that had left the Union.

Lincoln’s preeminent ally, Frederick Douglass, was deeply disturbed by these limitations but determined that it was necessary to suppress his disappointment and “take what we can get now and go for the rest later.” The “rest” came after the war.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the few civil rights leaders who clearly understood that the era of the 1960s was a distant echo of the 1860s, and thus he read deeply into Civil War literature. He came to admire and respect Lee, and to this day, no member of his family, former associate or fellow activist that I know of has protested the fact that in Virginia Dr. King’s birthday — a federal holiday — is officially celebrated as “Robert E. Lee-Stonewall Jackson-Martin Luther King Day.”

Lee is memorialized with a statue in the U.S. Capitol and in stained glass in the Washington Cathedral.

It is indeed ironic that he has long been embraced by the city he fought against and yet has now encountered some degree of rejection in the city he fought for.

In any event, his most fitting memorial is in Lexington, Va.: a living institution where he spent his final five years. There the much-esteemed general metamorphosed into a teacher, becoming the president of small, debt-ridden Washington College, which now stands as the well-endowed Washington and Lee University.

It was in Lexington that he made a most poignant remark a few months before his death. “Before and during the War Between the States I was a Virginian,” he said. “After the war I became an American.”

I have been teaching college students for 30 years, and learned early in my career that the twin maladies of ignorance and misinformation are not incurable diseases. The antidote for them is simply to make a lifelong commitment to reading widely and deeply. I recommend it for anyone who would make judgment on figures from the past, including Robert E. Lee.

[Dr. Smith is co-director of the Civil War Institute at American University in Washington, D.C.]”

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Categories: Civil War, Confederate, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Confederate gold treasure may be in Lake Michigan…..


ROOTS TO A CIVIL WAR MYSTERY – CONFEDERATE GOLD TREASURE – MAY BE IN WEST MICHIGAN

http://www.wzzm13.com/longform/news/local/lakeshore/2015/01/22/civil-war-mystery-confederate-gold-bullion-kevin-dykstra-frederick-monroe-muskegon-michigan/22163545/

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This Week in the Civil War…..


Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee wrote this week 150 years ago in the Civil War to the president of the Confederacy as his battered army continued its recovery from defeat at Gettysburg. Both North and South had experienced heavy bloodletting in the fight and were bidding to regroup after what would turn out to be the pivotal battle of the war. In a letter dated July 31, 1863, Lee told Confederate President Jefferson Davis that the adverse turn of events at Gettysburg for the South cannot be blamed on anyone but himself. “No blame can be attached to the army for its failure to accomplish what was projected by me, nor should it be censured for the unreasonable expectations of the public. I am alone to blame, in perhaps expecting too much of its prowess & valour,” Lee wrote Davis. In the same letter, Lee added: “Our loss has been heavy, that of the enemy’s proportionally so.” And he concluded that his plan could have worked if all the elements of his war strategy had come together as expected: I still think if all things could have worked together it would have been accomplished.” Many letters were going back and forth between Davis and Lee at this point in the war, with Davis at the time promising to rapidly furnish more fighters for the badly depleted Army of Northern Virginia.

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This Week in the Civil War….05 May…..


This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, May 5: More fighting in Virginia, Death of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
The Second Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., was fought 150 years ago in May 1863 in and around Fredericksburg, Va. Thousands of Confederate forces clashed with Union foes anxious to press onward to the gates of Richmond, capital of the Confederacy. Union troops overran and captured Marye’s Heights at Fredericksburg in fierce combat that included hand-to-hand fighting with Southern rivals, many of whom were killed or fled on foot. But Lee countered May 4 with a fierce assault of his own, retaking that strategic high ground and forcing a Union withdrawal. The chaotic series of days would close out with the death May 10, 1863, of the mortally wounded Confederate Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. He had contracted pneumonia after having his left arm amputated after being mistakenly shot by his own men May 2, 1863. Confederate Robert E. Lee was famously quoted as saying of Jackson’s wounding: “He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm.” Jackson, gradually growing weaker at a house where he was taken, was with his wife and their infant daughter at his bedside when he died. Jackson would be buried in Lexington, Va., mourned throughout the Confederacy.

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Robert E. Lee’s Farewell Address to the Army of Northern Virginia…..1865


1869-04-10-lee
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Robert E. Lee
April 10, 1865
General Orders No. 9, Robert E. Lee, Farewell Address to the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House

Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, 10th April 1865.

After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.

I need not tell the survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them.

But feeling that valour and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.

With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

— R. E. Lee, General, General Order No. 9

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Civil War….Bloody Antietam: 150 Years Ago Today


Sept. 17, 2012 –Today marks the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest single day in American history – the battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Md., that killed 23,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

Bodies were stacked three and four deep, according to James I. Robertson, Jr., professor emeritus of history at Virginia Tech. The reason: a small battlefield and stubborn generals who knew the outcome of the Civil War was at stake. General Robert E. Lee was invading North, while Gen. George B. McLellan was trying to halt Lee’s successes.

“It was a key turning point,” Robertson said. “It took the military momentum out of the South.”

A week after the battle, President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves throughout the United States.

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Robert E. Lee – Army of Northern Virginia commanding general


The Robert E Lee Gettysburg Battle Report is as generic a report as one will find about a battle considering he was the commanding general, and his losses were great.

July 4, 1863

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, Near Gettysburg, PA., July 4, 1863

Mr. President:

After the rear of the army had crossed the Potomac, the leading corps, under General Ewell, pushed on to Carlisle and York, passing through Chambersburg. The other two corps closed up at the latter place, and soon afterward intelligence was received that the army of General Hooker was advancing. Our whole force was directed to concentrate at Gettysburg, and the corps of Generals Ewell and A. P. Hill reached that place on the 1st July, the former advancing from Carlisle and the latter from Chambersburg.

The two leading divisions of these corps, upon reaching the vicinity of Gettysburg, found the enemy, and attacked him, driving him from the town, which was occupied by our troops. The enemy’s loss was heavy, including more than 4,000 prisoners. He took up a strong position in rear of the town, which he immediately began to fortify, and where his re-enforcements joined him.

On the 2d July, Longstreet’s corps, with the exception of one division, having arrived, we attempted to dislodge the enemy, and, though we gained some ground, we were unable to get possession of his position. The next day, the third division of General Longstreet having come up, a more extensive attack was made. The works on the enemy’s extreme right and left were taken, but his numbers were so great and his position so commanding, that our troops were compelled to relinquish their advantage and retire.

It is believed that the enemy suffered severely in these operations, but our own loss has not been light.

General Barksdale is killed. Generals Garnett and Armistead are missing, and it is feared that the former is killed and the latter wounded and a prisoner. Generals Pender and Trimble are wounded in the leg, General Hood in the arm, and General Heth slightly in the head. General Kemper, it is feared, is mortally wounded. Our losses embrace many other valuable officers and men.

General Wade Hampton was severely wounded in a different action in which the cavalry was engaged yesterday.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E. Lee,General

His Excellency President Davis

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