He decided to strike straight ahead, at Meade’s heavily fortified midsection. Has any one heard of a stonewall tank? American society is debating the Civil War again, and we are determining who Robert E. Lee truly is. “After four years of --Southern Partisan Walter Taylor was "first to last the closest" of all staff officers to General Robert E. Lee, and his intimate relationship with his commander gives Taylor's writings signal importance in any study of Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. What I learned was that Arlington was Lee’s home. I think Lee’s choice to fight for the Confederacy will always cloud the many accomplishments he made before and after the Civil War. It all seemed Olympian, in a Christian cavalier sort of way. At Gettysburg he was jittery, snappish. Five years ago, the show was benched by its previous home, TV Land, in the wake of the … Lee’s idolaters strained after the war to shift the blame, but the consensus today is that Lee managed the battle badly. Life goes on. He graduated from Princeton at 19 and joined the Continental Army at 20 as a captain of dragoons, and he rose in rank and independence to command Lee’s light cavalry and then Lee’s legion of cavalry and infantry. Neither a citizen of the Union he once loved nor of the Confederacy that ceased to exist, Lee publicly rejected the idea of a guerrilla struggle. Before I explain that, it is important to note while Kelly’s remarks are shocking today, they weren’t 30 or 40 years ago. Was Lee an honorable man? Excellent ground to defend from. Lee was excellent, but he did not have the manpower to outlast the Union's forces. Robert E Lee’s father Henry Lee III fought under generals George Washington and Nathaniel Greene in the American Revolution; served as the ninth governor of Virginia from 1791 to 1794; and was Major General in the US army from 1798 to 1800. that the soldier who kills the most men in battle, even in a bad cause, is the greatest Christian, and entitled to the highest place in heaven.” Two years later one of Lee’s ex-generals, Jubal A. Altogether at Gettysburg as many as 28,000 Confederates were killed, wounded, captured, or missing: more than a third of Lee’s whole army. For all his audacity on the battlefield, he accepted rather passively one raw deal after another, bending over backward for everyone from Jefferson Davis to James McNeill Whistler’s mother. The Dukes of Hazzard is an American action-comedy television series that was aired on CBS from January 26, 1979, to February 8, 1985. On July 1 a larger Confederate force returned, engaged Meade’s advance force, and pushed it back through the town—to the fishhook-shaped heights comprising Cemetery Hill, Cemetery Ridge, Little Round Top, and Round Top. DK General Lee is good and light weight but the color of it is just a little bit to strange for me. To efface the squalor and horror of the war, we have the image of Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves, and we have the image of Robert E. Lee’s gracious surrender. On Friday, President Trump called Lee “a great general” while defending his comments after the violence in Charlottesville in 2017. There are others these days that will look at his choice as everything that explains Lee. After Gettysburg, Lee never mounted another murderous head-on assault. Not one fried chicken or two—but unlimited fried chicken.” Just before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, one of his nephews found him in the field, “very grave and tired,” carrying around a fried chicken leg wrapped in a piece of bread, which a Virginia countrywoman had pressed upon him but for which he couldn’t muster any hunger. In the months after Gettysburg, as Lee stewed over his defeat, he repeatedly criticized the laxness of Stuart’s command, deeply hurting a man who prided himself on the sort of dashing freelance effectiveness by which Lee’s father, Maj. Gen. Light-Horse Harry, had defined himself. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: THAT the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” General Lee accepted all of the Bible without claiming to understand all of it. They looked at the site of Pickett’s charge and were baffled. He went on the defensive. The best general … From the Dukes of Hazzard.. Lee, whose devotion to white supremacy outshone his loyalty to his country, is the embodiment of everything they stand for. Without the medicines, elixirs, and food Harry Lee’s raiders captured from the enemy, George Washington’s army would not likely have survived the harrowing winter encampment of 1777-78 at Valley Forge. That does not mean that they fought for an honorable cause. |. Now, I think Lee is not an honorable man, but I do think he was a good man. After the war, Lee was not arrested or punished (although he was indicted  ), but he did lose the right to vote as well as some property. And it's uglier, too. Grant took over command of the eastern front and 118,700 men. He only wanted a Virginia farm—no end of cream and fresh butter—and fried chicken. He told Col. Edward Porter Alexander, his artillery commander, . The silence was then broken by a few voices calling for a speech, to which he paid no attention. In theaters of grinding, hellish human carnage he kept a pet hen for company. High class ranking entitled him to enter the Engineer Corps as a second lieutenant on July 1, 1829. “And, as for myself, you young fellows might go to bushwhacking, but the only dignified course for me would be, to go to Gen. Grant and surrender myself and take the consequences.” That is what he did on April 9, 1865, at a farmhouse in the village of Appomattox Court House, wearing a fulldress uniform and carrying a borrowed ceremonial sword which he did not surrender. That is all that makes life valuable.” All right. As a member of General Winfield Scott's staff, Lee distinguished himself, earning three brevets for gallantry, and emerging from the conflict with the rank of colonel. He had seen more than enough of governors who would be commanders, and he had no respect for ragtag guerrilladom. . “It’s all my fault,” he assured stunned privates and corporals. or The first … The statue has been one of two representing Virginia (every state gets two; Virginia’s second is of George Washington ) in the … OH! During these manifestations not a word was spoken, and when the ceremony was through, the General bowed and ascended his steps. That mission was not fulfilled. The Confederate artillery exhausted all its shells ineffectively, so was unable to support the assault—which has gone down in history as Pickett’s charge because Maj. Gen. George Pickett’s division absorbed the worst of the horrible bloodbath it turned into. . He may have had dysentery, though a scholar’s widely publicized assertion to that effect rests on tenuous evidence. When Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, in arguably one of the most moving scenes in American history, the military situation remained quite perilous. And why should Lee expect his imprudence to be any less unsettling to Meade than it had been to the other Union commanders? He didn’t beat Grant. Lee didn’t think much of Grant as a general, saying that McClellan was the superior foe. Cookie Policy Adam Serwer’s take on Lee charges that Lee that most historians know never existed. I knew this was a place where soldiers were buried, but I didn’t know it was something more. General Robert E Lee, born 1807, was an American general who commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. You left here with no word of your movement or movement of the enemy for several days. The engagements of the Civil War shape up more as bloody muddles than as commanders’ chess games. He wasn’t always gray. This at a time when there were still three Confederate armies, and hatreds between North and South were at their peak. That’s why there is an asterisk in the title of this essay; Lee probably was a good person, but the fact of his choice knocked him down a few pegs. Vote Now! In either case, after crossing the river, you must move on and feel the right of Ewell’s troops, collecting information, provisions, etc.” But he had not, in fact, been able to judge: he met several hindrances in the form of Union troops, a swollen river that he and his men managed only heroically to cross, and 150 Federal wagons that he captured before he crossed the river. ADVERTISEMENT. Had the South undertaken guerrilla warfare, it’s more than likely the U.S. would have broken up into two countries. Loving-son figure had failed loving-father figure and vice versa. Lee had actually advanced farther north than the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when he learned that Meade was south of him, threatening his supply lines. And wrong. (When he was superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, Lee acquiesced to Mrs. Whistler’s request on behalf of her cadet son, who was eventually dismissed in 1854.). Each supposed major blunder of his subordinates—Ewell’s failure to take the high ground of Cemetery Hill on July 1, Stuart’s getting out of touch and leaving Lee unapprised of what force he was facing, and the lateness of Longstreet’s attack on the second day—either wasn’t a blunder at all (if Longstreet had attacked earlier he would have encountered an even stronger Union position) or was caused by a lack of forcefulness and specificity in Lee’s orders. Good luck! HERE IS A TREAT FOR ALL OF YOU..This is Johnny Cash singing a song I wrote.. "The General Lee". Yes, President Trump, Robert E. Lee was a great “American” general, who attended West Point, led American soldiers to victory as a commander in the Mexican War and was beloved by his men Robert Edward Lee is having a moment. When Lee read the news that Virginia had joined the Confederacy, he said to his wife, “Well, Mary, the question is settled,” and resigned the U.S. Army commission he had held for 32 years. My own take is that at the end of the day, because of the history of racism, American history will always be messy. . After Lee “alighted from his horse, he immediately uncovered his head, thinly covered with silver hairs, as he had done in acknowledgment of the veneration of the people along the streets,” Chester wrote. I don’t feel comfortable saying that he is because of his choice to fight on the side of the Confederacy. In this regard, Lee showed himself to be a very good general. . The Union seized the property after he went to war and it became the place we know today. But I think he was a good man and that should be remembered. So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. And he had not sent word of what he was up to. Lee went to great pains to heal the bitterness that cleaved the country after Appomattox. Since Jeb Stuart’s scouting operation had been uncharacteristically out of touch, Lee wasn’t sure where Meade’s army was. No. But in even the most sympathetic versions of his life story he comes across as a bit of a stick—certainly compared with his scruffy nemesis, Ulysses S. Grant; his zany, ferocious “right arm,” Stonewall Jackson; and the dashing “eyes” of his army, J.E.B. Tribe and race over country is the core of white nationalism, and racists can embrace Lee in good conscience. When the usually repressed Lee felt an overpowering need for emotional release, and had an army at his disposal and another one in front of him, he couldn’t hold back. That evening Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, who commanded the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, urged Lee not to attack, but to swing around to the south, get between Meade and Washington, and find a strategically even better defensive position, against which the Federals might feel obliged to mount one of those frontal assaults that virtually always lost in this war. General Lee has much to admire He was a true gentleman—but i will never understand how such a good man could hold slaves and lead a government (militarily) who wished to continue human slavery— JoAnne Carter Jun 8, 2020 at 3:45 pm - Reply Lincoln and the Northern press were furious that this didn’t happen. One day after surrendering to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, Confederate General Robert E. Lee addresses his army for the last time. The Lost Cause ideology imagines Lee as a gifted military general who wasn’t fighting for slavery but was fighting for state’s rights. On the other hand, Lee beat McClellan. This is the real, complex, often ugly, untold truth of Robert E. Lee. He graduated second in his class at Westpoint and later became the superintendent at the military academy. In the past Lee had also granted Ewell and Longstreet wide discretion, and it had paid off. For these men, the Civil War was just the ticket. Longstreet speaks of responding to Lee at another critical moment by “receiving his anxious expressions really as appeals for reinforcement of his unexpressed wish.” When people obey you because they think you enable them to follow their own instincts, you need a keen instinct yourself for when they’re getting out of touch, as Stuart did, and when they are balking for good reason, as Longstreet did. Robert appears to have been too fine for his childhood, for his education, for his profession, for his marriage, and for the Confederacy. (Once, Dwight Eisenhower, who admired Lee’s generalship, took Field Marshal Montgomery to visit the Gettysburg battlefield. Still, for many contemporary Americans, Lee is at best the moral equivalent of Hitler’s brilliant field marshal Erwin Rommel (who, however, turned against Hitler, as Lee never did against Jefferson Davis, who, to be sure, was no Hitler). Robert E. Lee came to military prominence during the U.S. Civil War, commanding his home state's armed forces and becoming general-in-chief of the Confederate forces toward the end of the … A resident of New York City and western Massachusetts, he traces his interest in Lee to his boyhood in Georgia. Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president, was on the run, calling on Southerners to take to the hills and wage guerrilla warfare. “Jeb” Stuart. Before Gettysburg, Lee had seemed not only to read the minds of Union generals but almost to expect his subordinates to read his. He didn’t beat Grant. Lee’s critics have never come up with a logical explanation. . John Reeves, author of "The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee" wrote a post on some of the most popular myths attributed to the general — the first being Lee’s opposition to slavery. He laid him out gently on the ground, kissed him, and got back to advancing. On his father’s side, Lee’s family was among Virginia’s and therefore the nation’s most distinguished. He had done his best to act on Lee’s written instructions: “You will . . It was consistently among the top-rated television series in the late 1970s (at one point, ranking second only to Dallas, which immediately followed the show on CBS's Friday night schedule). At the beginning of Lee’s long, combative retreat by stages from Grant’s overpowering numbers, he had 64,000 men. When the Duke boys lose a cross country race to a better car, a discouraged Luke makes an offhanded remark about the General Lee possibly wearing out its usefulness. For many, that is all that they need to know. The reality of Robert E. Lee a bit more complex than the popular version. How good a general was he really? A Virginia convention that had voted 2 to 1 against secession, now voted 2 to 1 in favor. the colors on it should be white with orange or blue. To be sure, there were those in Lee’s army who proposed continuing the struggle as guerrillas or by reorganizing under the governors of the various Confederate states. He said something similar — that Lee was a “true great fighter” and a “great general” — at a rally in October 2018. . He has become a cultural icon in some respects, a sign of where you stand on our never stopping culture war which has metastisized since Donald Trump became President. the men would become mere bands of marauders, and the enemy’s cavalry would pursue them and overrun many wide sections they may never have occasion to visit. That no doubt suited the Confederate fighting man, who didn’t take kindly to being told what to do—but Lee’s only weakness as a commander, his otherwise reverent nephew Fitzhugh Lee would write, was his “reluctance to oppose the wishes of others, or to order them to do anything that would be disagreeable and to which they would not consent.” With men as well as with women, his authority derived from his sightliness, politeness, and unimpeachability. The only way to get inside Lee, perhaps, is by edging fractally around the record of his life to find spots where he comes through; by holding up next to him some of the fully realized characters—Grant, Jackson, Stuart, Light-Horse Harry Lee, John Brown—with whom he interacted; and by subjecting to contemporary skepticism certain concepts—honor, “gradual emancipation,” divine will—upon which he unreflectively founded his identity. No. The question is why anyone else would. Just under six feet (1.8 metres) tall, with black hair and brown eyes, Lee cut a striking figure. Keep up-to-date on: © 2021 Smithsonian Magazine. He did not see right and wrong in tones of gray, and yet his moralizing could generate a fog, as in a letter from the front to his invalid wife: “You must endeavour to enjoy the pleasure of doing good. He was not one to hide his looks under a bushel. In a new biography, Robert E. Lee, Roy Blount, Jr., treats Lee as a man of competing impulses, a “paragon of manliness” and “one of the greatest military commanders in … In 1799 he was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he famously eulogized Washington as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”. Although he served capably in the Mexican American War (and as superintendent of West Point, as well as the leader of the US Army expedition to capture John Brown), his performance in the US Civil War showed him to be a fully rounded, dynamic battlefield commander. Privacy Statement That’s plain from their articles of secession. His usually cheerful detachment patently covered solemn depths, depths faintly lit by glints of previous and potential rejection of self and others. On April 9, 1865, Lee finally had to admit that he was trapped. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. I believe … And he wrote no memoir. A Rundown on the Important News Topics of the Day. In 1785, he was elected to the Continental Congress, and in 1791 he was elected governor of Virginia. After midnight, he told a cavalry officer, “I never saw troops behave more magnificently than Pickett’s division of Virginians. His heart, on the other hand . The disgruntled Longstreet, never one to rush into anything, and confused to find the left flank farther left than expected, didn’t begin his assault until 3:30 that afternoon. As the Army of Northern Virginia was breaking camp in all deliberate speed for the withdrawal, Lee’s staff ran around anxiously crying, “Where is the hen?” Lee himself found her nestled in her accustomed spot on the wagon that transported his personal matériel. After Lee’s death in 1870, Frederick Douglass, the former fugitive slave who had become the nation’s most prominent African-American, wrote, “We can scarcely take up a newspaper . I plunged back into it for this book, and am relieved to have emerged alive.”, “Also,” he says, “Lee reminds me in some ways of my father.”, At the heart of Lee’s story is one of the monumental choices in American history: revered for his honor, Lee resigned his U.S. Army commission to defend Virginia and fight for the Confederacy, on the side of slavery. This was a place where soldiers were buried, but he did have. Lee, however, Harry decided he was in his element gossiping with about. 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