Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert E. Lee's birthday

Today marks the 203rd birthday of General Robert E. Lee.

Lee is a man who I feel like is too often unfairly used as a symbol of racism and the supposed ignorance of the South, and as a result, becomes known simply as the leader of the "bad" army in the Civil War. Unfortunately, this takes away from the fact that he was one of the greatest military leaders in the history of the United States, and also a great patriot. A fact that rarely seems to be brought up is that on the verge of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln approached Lee, a West Point graduate, with the offer to be the head of the Union Army. Lee, after much debating, finally made the decision that he had to be loyal to his home state, Virginia, who had entered the war on the side of the Confederacy.

Lee was a man of honor, courage, and principle, and someone who deserves a better legacy than the one that is widely given to him. Read more about his life on Wikipedia.

15 comments:

cdmemphis said...

Great post, I feel the same way.
Thanks

Mom on the Run said...

I was house chair this year at the Pilgrimage in a house owned by a descendant of Lee and he named his library The Lee Room, where he displayed his collection quite tastefully. He had some great stuff. And lots of guns. Very cool house.

WerewolfinExile said...

Well put! There is considerable ignorance about the confederacy, and of Lee in particular. He was a gentleman, scholar, soldier and American of the highest order. Understanding the complexities and nuances of the Civil War are lost on most people these days, and it is truly tragic. That being said, great post and here's to General Lee on his birthday.

RHW said...

Agreed, a gentleman of the highest order. Having spent most of my college career studying American History, I can tell you that Lee was very complex for his time. His memoirs and letters during the war are a must read for any Southerner. Happy Birthday General Lee, sir.

CZ said...

Well said!

James said...

It was to his great credit that after what was done to him after the war,(Arlington Cemetery,e.g.) he remained a good man. He continued to serve as President of Washington University. As you know I'm sure its Washington and Lee.It is a shame that many people think the war was about slavery.

M.Lane said...

I admire him greatly. I am a beneficiary of his educational legacy at W&L. And I am a Yankee. Thanks for the post.

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

Main Line Sportsman said...

Lee was a great general and an icon of US miltary tradition. His one huge blunder was not following Longstreet advice at Gettysburg and ceasing the engagement with a strategic retreat. Great post! Please check my Blog as I think you will like it.

RHW said...

Very true. Historian and Lee scholar Shelby Foote once said of the Confederate Army, "it would be far harder for a soldier to say 'No marse' Robert, I ain't going across that field' than it would have been to actually go." That's command and control of an Army.

S. Belden said...

Great post. Lee: The Last Years by Charles Bracelen Flood is a fantastic book about his later years at Washington College (later W&L). The man was pure class and the definition of a gentleman.

Death Bredon said...

Marse Robert--memory be eternal!

Dan DeCoste said...

As a member of Kappa Alpha Order I congratulate you on being educated on the subject.

ADG said...

Strike the tent! Happy Birthday Uncle Bob.

Anonymous said...

The Civil War was about slavery. Every major event leading up to the war revolved around that issue. Whigs, Democrates, Republicans, Missouri, etc. Save the talk about states rights - those in power in the south needed free labor to make the largest profit possible for themselves. Slavery was what they needed, not freedom from an overly powerful federal government.

Lee was a gentleman but he picked the wrong side.

brado said...

as a member of kappa alpha i also have great pleasure in reading this. it is nice to see that someone is educated on general lee. also i have just come to find your blog and am very pleased in general on the topics of your post