Saturday, January 19, 2013

Robert E Lee

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
II Timothy 4:7

Family hagiography leads one to believe that my father's family left Virginia twice, each time hoping to make their fortune in the west.  My mother's tribe arrive 50 years later escaping civil war in their own back yard.  During our Civil War, Eastern Missourians celebrated whatever uniform was outside their door that day.  I truly have no dog in this fight, all I have is a fertile imagination.

General  Lee surrendered his troops on Sunday, April 9, 1865, Palm Sunday.  Late the following Saturday, Holy Saturday, along with his son and staff, through a driving, cold rain, while soaked to the skin, Lee arrived home in burned out Richmond.  Home was now the rented house where his crippled wife and his daughters waited. The war over, his future uncertain, Lincoln died earlier that morning.  Imagine Lee, arriving home from war and closing the door on the prior 4 years.

Easter services in Richmond were canceled that year.

Happy Birthday General.



M.Lane said...

Very nice. A Wisconsin boy, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the college where General Lee spent the rest of his days as President. The lessons I learned there from 1980 to 1983 will always be a part of me and are a direct result of his efforts and I will always be grateful to him for that.


Anonymous said...

There must be hundreds of Robert E. Lee High Schools all over the US, so graduating from one of them is as close to the man as I'll get [athletic teams "The Generals," yearbook "The Blue and the Gray," newspaper "The Traveller."], but to have attended W&L as ML did, well that's the real deal.


Janet said...

Lovely post. I'm a Virginian. My people came over from England and stayed put. I'm not sure if they lacked a sense of adventure or recognized a good thing we they saw it.

I have nothing but respect for Lee. After his father abandoned his wife (Anne Hill Carter Lee) and five children, Lee had a very hard row to hoe. He was never heard to complain about his lot.

When asked to become president of what was then Washington College, Lee was concerned that the animosity some people felt toward him would be transferred to the school. He created the first English department. He felt study of English would be an asset no matter what endeavor a student pursued after graduation.

Tomorrow I will sit in the pew Henry Lee selected for his family when Robert Edward was three. We sang Lee's favorite hymn last Sunday.

Brohammas said...

Just because I am a horrible person, and because I think it very useful to remember wholistic history, might I ad:
In late April 1865, while Lee returned "home" in horrible conditions and low spirits, thousands upon thousands of black people were also in sad, rainy and cold condition, yet thanks to Lee's loss, for the first time in American history now had hope.

Toad said...

One of the unintended consequences of the war was that slavery, instead of being gradually phased out, which was considered the most likely case by both sides, ended rather abruptly.

No one saw that coming, least of all President Davis.

old Polo said...

Ah Toad. I am fortunate to attend a church here in San Antonio, Tx (St. Marks Episcopal) where Gen. Lee, then of lesser rank, served on the vestry.

Anonymous said...

"In late April 1865, while Lee returned 'home' in horrible conditions and low spirits, thousands upon thousands of..."

B., you remind me that there are countless frames through which to view the end of the Civil War, the aftermath of slavery being one.

One of my great grandfathers fought for the North, another great grandfather fought for the South, somehow reconstruction happenstance placed these two gentlemen in the same town, face to face, when the daughter [my grandmother] of one became engaged to the son [my grandfather] of the other. Both refusing to "call upon" the other at the time of the engagement.

Not that it matters one historic bit but I am named for both of these opposing great grandfathers. So I carry that honored opposition around with me all the time, as well as their refusal to meet on common ground.

As for Toad's unintended consequences bit of genius, think how marvelous it is that we celebrate General Lee's birthday just a few hours short of Martin Luther King's birthday. Sometimes the calendar gets things right in spite of history. Or because of history. Either way, both these gentlemen deserve our deep thought.


Golf Tango Hotel said...

I attended W&L as well during the same time period as M. Lane (and in fact had the great pleasure of dining with him in Lexington this past fall). Lee's presence and influence are still palpable on campus. Lee also added the law school (it had existed as an institution not affiliated with the college previously), for which I am eternally grateful. I cherish my connection to him through W&L and am thankful for the providence that brought me there.

Toad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toad said...

Maybe I should hold a W&L alum brunch somewhere. I never realized that so many of my favorite people were molded by that illustrious university.

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