Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

The Robert E. Lee myth

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Editorials & Other Articles Donate to DU
 
Faygo Kid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:24 PM
Original message
The Robert E. Lee myth
By Richard Cohen, Monday, April 25

It has taken a while, but its about time Robert E. Lee lost the Civil War. The South, of course, was defeated on the battlefield in 1865, yet the Lee legend swaddled in myth, kitsch and racism has endured even past the civil rights era when it became both urgent and right to finally tell the Lost Cause to get lost. Now it should be Lees turn. He was loyal to slavery and disloyal to his country not worthy, even he might now admit, of the honors accorded him.

I confess to always being puzzled by the cult of Lee. Whatever his personal or military virtues, he offered himself and his sword to the cause of slavery. He owned slaves himself and fought tenaciously in the courts to keep them. He commanded a vast army that, had it won, would have secured the independence of a nation dedicated to the proposition that white people could own black people and sell them off, husband from wife, child from parent, as the owner saw fit. Such a man cannot be admired.

But he is. All over the South, particularly in his native Virginia, the cult of Lee is manifested in streets, highways and schools named for him. When I first moved to the Washington area, I used to marvel at these homages to the man. What was being honored? Slavery? Treason? Or maybe, for this is how I perceive him, no sense of humor? (Often, that is mistaken for wisdom.) I also wondered what a black person was supposed to think or, maybe more to the point, feel. Chagrin or rage would be perfectly appropriate.

Still, even I was not immune to the cult of Lee. I kept thinking I must be missing something. I imagined all sorts of virtues in his face. He is always dignified in all those photos of him, dour, a perfect pill of a man yet somehow adored by his men. They cheered him when he left Appomattox Court House, having just surrendered to the far more admirable U.S. Grant. They shouted, Hooray for Lee! Hooray for what? . . . http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dispelling-the-m...

He is right, of course; whatever Lee's personal virtues, Grant put it best, in his Memoirs:

I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
arcane1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:35 PM
Response to Original message
1. Amen. As a native of Richmond, Virginia...
I never understood Lee's celebrity. He has roads and schools named after him. When the Feds declared MLK's birthday a holiday, we had to make it Lee/Jackson/King day. It seemed like it took a near-civil war just to grant Aurthr Freakin' Ashe, a damned tennis player a spot on Monument Avenue.

There is definitely a "rebel" spirit in the South. If we could reach it, and let them know that WE are the rebels, we might have some luck. But sadly, the "rebel spirit" has been co-opted into support for radical "free trade" agreements, and the kissing of corporate ass. If they only knew the ass we really wish to kick, there would be only the divide between Rich and Poor to go to war over.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Ikonoklast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:40 PM
Response to Original message
2. Lee's reputation was secured because he fought lousy Union generals for adversaries.
Until he ran into one that wasn't lousy, and got his ass kicked.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Drale Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 08:51 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Lee was a genius at military tactics
By the time Grant came along The Army of Northern Virgina was undermanned and under supplied and yet Lee went Toe to toe with Grant for quite a while before he finally had to surrender.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
theblasmo Donating Member (221 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:26 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. True, but...
...Lee fought extremely well against commanders who used tactical combat. Grant understood this, and so dropped tactics for blunt force. Lee couldn't fight the same way, and essentially staged a 14 month Holding Pattern. This allowed Sherman the chance to get to Atlanta, ending any ideas of Confederate legitimacy.

And Lee's own hubris lost the fight at Gettysburg. Well, that and the amazing Elijah Hunt Rhodes.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Drale Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:27 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Rhodes was amazing
fighting and writing all those letters at the same time. :rofl:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:03 AM
Response to Reply #3
20. Grant made the intellectual and moral pivot to modern warfare; Lee never did
It took until Petersburg fell for Lee to realize that Grant's target was Lee's army, not the cities it was protecting. And despite his reputation, Grant was a very good general; southern troops were known to salute him when he reviewed union troops across the field.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
yellowcanine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:29 PM
Response to Reply #3
32. If Lee had faced Grant at Antietem instead of McClellan his army likely would have been destroyed.
McClellen failed to take advantage of Lee's vulnerability and allowed Lee's army to escape across the Potomac. It is unlikely that Grant would have made the same mistake.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Dan Donating Member (595 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-29-11 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #32
57. I agree
and the fields would still be leaking blood...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Chisox08 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-29-11 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #3
58. He wasn't a military genius he just faced incompetent Generals
He got has ass hand to him at the battle Gettysburg. Pickett's Charge was a failure. He pretty much got all of Pickett's men killed. His artillery barrage was ineffective at best at worst it was a waste of ammo. His Calvary was defeated by Gen. Custer, yes that Gen. George A. Custer. The Union could have won the war if Gen. Meade wasn't too chickenshit to pursue Lee's army. Even Lincoln was dismayed with Meade's refusal to go after Lee's army. Prompting him to put Gen. Grant in charge.

He wasn't a military genius. I believe that "Stonewall" Jackson was a better tactician the Lee. After Jackson died Lee didn't have a major victory.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Pterodactyl Donating Member (415 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:32 PM
Response to Original message
6. I don't get it, either.
No matter how skilled a general he was, he sided with a gang of treasonous racists.

I don't get this whole sympathy for the Confederacy thing, either. Whenever I see rebel flags on cars, I just think of it a way for stupid losers to identify themselves.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
yurbud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 12:45 AM
Response to Reply #6
12. when I see it, I figure it's a racist too chicken shit to put the swastika on
the rebel flag gives them plausible deniability:

''It ain't racist, it's culture.''
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
beardown Donating Member (193 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 09:34 PM
Response to Original message
7. Lee's military genius is no myth
I'm no Civil War expert, but I have read a bit on the Civil War and he was the real deal.

He was a highly respected commander before the Civil War and had proved himself in the Mexican-American war. He was at the top of the list to head the Union army, but as did many other southerners he went with his state over the Union. 21st century Americans have little concept of the ties Americans had to their states in the 1800s.

He was faced with overwhelming odds during the war and rather than hunker down and hope to survive, he attempted risky counter measures which generally proved to be brilliant military moves.

Grant was the first Union general that realized that he could lose more men in every battle and still strategically defeat Lee which he did. Grant probably saved tens of thousands of lives by his constant combat approach. Like the Russians used to say, quantity has a quality of it's own.

Lee supported a nation that had some horrible ideas, but Grant general'ed for a nation that exterminated native Americans and denied woman the vote at the time of the war.MacArthur suppressed the Phillipines and ruthlessly forced WW I vets away from their protest camps in Washington DC. Regardless of why the fighting starts, much of the continuing fighting is for your buddy or your troops or your general that is fighting next to you. The current crop of tea party racists running confederate flags on their monster trucks have little in common with Bobby Lee.

But like I said, I'm not a big fan of the Civil War. Americans killing Americans.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Rageneau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 10:29 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Neither is his integrity or sense of honor.
Only people who do not know what Lee's contemporaries ALL said about him can assert that he was anything less than one of the finest men of his time.

Lots of people said bad things about Lincoln or Grant or Jeff Davis or others, but there is no record of anyone who ever really KNEW him saying anything critical of Robert Lee. That includes his enemies.

Can Richard Cohen say that about himself? Can anyone on this board?

If he was the scoundrel some history revisionists claim he was, why is there no record of anyone criticizing him when he was alive?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Keith Bee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:13 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. If he owned slaves and fought for slavery in general.....
...how on God's Green Earth can he be called "honorable?"
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 07:07 PM
Response to Reply #10
31. Because he wasn't fighting for slavery so much as fighting to defend his family, friends, neighbors
and state from invasion.

Lee didn't want Virgina to leave the union, but when it did he was forced in to a Sofie's Choice decision.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
comtec Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #31
45. You DO KNOW it was the SOUTH that STARTED the Civil War ... right?
oh dear god tell me you are not one of those fucking morans who thinks the north started the war?
It was the rebels who attacked fort sumpner not the north, as it was a UNION BASE!!!!!

assuming you didn't mean to come off as an idiot on that point, everything i've read about Lee indicates he was a decent person and that, while clear, deciding to join the rebels was a hard choice for him.

Much fun as it is to poke at the south for their backwardness in some areas (to this day) and determination to remain "dumb hicks", The southern army was superior.

They had better guns (those Kentucky riffles) and eyes behind those guns. Being agrarian for the most part, you had more people by raw percentage, let alone numbers, who knew how to fire a riffle since they could walk. They had fire, and the need to defend their home from perceived invaders (again incorrect, but between propaganda, and their easy perception that they were being invaded) , whereas the northern soldiers had to be trained to kill and shoot.

Also alot in the North really didn't care for the south, but since they were the current bread basket of the US, they were still kinda needed for mutual survival as a single, strong country.

its easy to say we should nuke the south, or we should have let them go (especially with morans like palin around) but we would not have survived the century. we would not have been strong enough to fight WWI and certainly NOT WWII

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 04:29 PM
Response to Reply #45
46. Yes I do know that it officially kicked off when Fort Sumter in South Carolina was fired upon by
Edited on Wed Apr-27-11 04:56 PM by Uncle Joe
the South, why did you believe I thought otherwise?

The South did have its' advantages, knowledge of terrain and such but numbers of troops certainly weren't it, the South was outnumbered if you just count the white population over 4 to 1, they also lacked anything resembling the North's manufacturing base, Navy and railroad track mileage.

Any advantages in regards to marksmanship and horse riding ability due to living in a more agrarian society were quickly overcome after the first year or so, not mention the sheer number of quality horses available to each side.

To be honest had we become and remained two separate nations, I don't know as if we would have entered WWI, and had we done so not to the determining impact that we did.

Now if Germany had won or at least come out better after the so called "Great War," Hitler may never have rose to power, everything would've changed.

Here's a piece of trivia, when Woodrow Wilson was a boy standing beside the road with his father in Georgia, he saw Jefferson Davis being led away in chains. Wilson's experience of witnessing first hand the devastation to the South by that war turned him in to a pacifist and he was reluctant about entering WWI so much so that Teddy Roosevelt repeatedly questioned Wilson's basic courage and manhood on this.

Supposedly secret German attempts at persuading Mexico against us tilted the scales in influencing Wilson to declare war on Germany.

I have no doubt that Wilson's early exposure to the devastation of the Civil War led to his strong belief in promoting the ill fated League of Nations which then in turn led to the concept of creating the more successful United Nations.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
winston65 Donating Member (45 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-29-11 07:49 AM
Response to Reply #31
53. sorry no sale-
He made the wrong decision. What part of treason do Lee fans not understand?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-29-11 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #53
56. What part of my post or the post that I was responding too, didn't you understand?
Edited on Fri Apr-29-11 04:40 PM by Uncle Joe
Treason wasn't even the subject, the subject was Lee's motivation did Lee fight for slavery or did he did fight to defend his family, friends, neighbors, community and state?

But to your point of treason, no one was ever tried or convicted on that charge, Jefferson Davis even wanted a trial but it was never granted to him.

So as no one was ever tried or convicted of treason, you have no basis for your charge.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #10
34. Because "honor" depends crucially on culture.
If you can't see past your own culture and get over the idea that only your culture is eternally good and to be admired by all, then you can't understand.

I'm not a southerner. But I've spent a large portion of my life "getting inside" various cultures in learning the languages used by bearers of those cultures and learning to understand their literatures and traditions. It doesn't mean I think their cultures are superior. I still prefer my own. I often think theirs is silly. But it's enabled me to understand where some peoples are coming from, what ticks them off, how they'll respond in various situations.

Lots of people say "multiculturalism" and "nuance" and have no idea what the phonetic strings actually entail.

It also helps to understand that "honor" in this sense isn't just abiding by an external code dictated by others (although there are cultures where that's very nearly the case); nor is it abiding by an internal code sharply at variance with the codes of others around them (although that seems to be the stated standard for many, as long as that internal code matches that of the person doing the judging). In Lee's case he sharply upheld and believed in values that his compatriots--not you, not Augustus Caesar, not Ashurbanipal--thought right. He gave up a lot in defending those values. In defending them, he also defended slavery. But asserting some hubristic idea of false consciousness, where we know what he *really* meant better than he ever could, is insane.

(Even though there's a nifty study showing that often we do exactly that. It's more an educated-liberal than a conservative conceit.)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Keith Bee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 01:20 AM
Response to Reply #34
40. Excuse me: NON-SLAVERY is BETTER than SLAVERY!
Freedom is right, slavery is wrong. Case fucking closed!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
winston65 Donating Member (45 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-29-11 07:53 AM
Response to Reply #34
54. Honor, my foot--
didn't Falstaff say 'honor is air'?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jberryhill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 12:56 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. Admiral Yamamato was a pretty nice guy, too

Let's put up some statues to honor him.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Hoyt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 04:36 AM
Response to Reply #8
15. Apparently no one interviewed his slaves?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jberryhill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:08 AM
Response to Reply #15
21. Lol
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
winston65 Donating Member (45 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 07:56 AM
Response to Reply #8
18. the last time I looked
I had not committed treason and fought to destroy the nation.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
The Second Stone Donating Member (603 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:10 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. This is the post I agree most with as to Lee's abilities
Edited on Mon Apr-25-11 11:10 PM by The Second Stone
He was very damn good, but occasionally made costly mistakes. The Gettysburg campaign was one of them. Even if he had pulled it off, it would have been a matter of days before the Union recovered. As it was, Lee ordered Pickett's charge when it was idiotic to do a frontal charge to a prepared position.

As for his cause, I agree with Grant. Lee's was the worst, stupidest and meanest cause ever fought for.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
1620rock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-25-11 11:30 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Amen.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MannyGoldstein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 07:15 PM
Response to Reply #9
49. Was there any justification for Pickett's Charge?
It seems like the kind of thing that's so incredibly stupid that there must have been some far-out justification, like "if God is on our side, we have nothing to fear". Or maybe it wasn't so incredibly stupid as I understand it to be?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
thucythucy Donating Member (182 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:56 AM
Response to Reply #7
23. I can't agree that Lee
was any kind of military genius.

As has been pointed out, his victories were all won against generals the like of McClellan, Pope, Burnsides. He was defeated, not only by Grant, but by Meade at Gettysburg--this after Meade had only had command of the Army of the Potomac for a few days.

Lee may have been outnumbered and outgunned, but so were the Vietcong, the American revolutionaries, the French/British on the field in 1914. All his victories were won on "home" soil, where he had the advantage of local support (providing intelligence as well as provision), and vastly greater knowledge of the local terrain. Whenever he was without these advantages -- Antietam, Gettysburg -- he lost, and only the timidity of McClellan and Meade kept those defeats from ending the war entirely.

Furthermore, as has also been pointed out, he seemed to have little or no concept of grand strategy, particularly in a defensive war. Gettysburg was the result not only of a tactical mistake (Picket's charge) but a huge strategic blunder. Longstreet, recognizing that the war would ultimately be won or lost in the west, suggested sending a corps from Lee's army to relieve the siege of Vicksburg. Lee opted for an invasion of the north instead.

By contrast, George Washington, who faced far longer odds than Lee, always had a clear vision of what he needed to win: namely, not to lose. His strategy during the revolution was that of a classic (albeit pre-industrial) insurgency. Avoid pitched battles in which your army might be destroyed. Avoid being trapped and besieged. Break your forces down when possible for quick, sharp attacks on favored terrain (i.e., Trenton) to keep the enemy off balance. At all costs, keep your army in being, and keep it mobile. Yes, it's less "glorious" than winning set piece battles like Chancellorsvile (in which Lee's casualties were staggering--making his decision to invade the north even more foolhardy), but at the end of the day you wear your opponent down.

Finally, one of the most important (and unlearned) lessons of the American revolution was that, even with Washington's brilliance, it might well have failed without foreign intervention. Southerners understood this--they fully expected the British and French to intervene. The Emancipation Proclamation didn't necessarily end that hope. All that southerners had to do to win foreign invention in January 1863 was issue their own emancipation proclamation. For me this is irrefutable proof that slavery and racism were at the heart of the confederate cause--no matter what revisionists today might claim. When faced with the choice of ending slavery or losing he war, they chose to lose the war. Not even the argument made by some of the top military command (not Lee, though) that win or lose slavery was dead, swayed southern politicians. Ditto the proposal to offer slaves who would fight for the south their freedom. As one southern newspaper put it , "If slaves can make good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong." Precisely.

The cult of Lee masks all this, and more. Which is why it is so important that 150 years after the war began we still need to debunk it.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
wizstars Donating Member (792 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 09:36 PM
Response to Reply #7
33. Rommel was a hell of a general, too. So was Julius Caesar.
Do we honor them for their skills, or do we revile them for what they fought for???

the $64,000 question....
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
orangeapple Donating Member (167 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 10:24 PM
Response to Reply #7
35. Patton understood that too
"I wish Ike were more of a gambler, but he is certainly a lion compared to Montgomery, and Bradley is better than Ike as far as nerve is concerned. Monty is a tired little fart. War requires the taking of risks and he won't take them."
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 01:25 AM
Response to Original message
14. His old home, Arlington, is a memorial to the cost of his choices, being now the
national cemetery for a century and a half

I don't know how anyone, who thought, as he did, that slavery should be abolished, could delay freeing slaves he inherited, under a last testament that freed them, nor do I understand how he could feel a patriotic duty to Virginia stronger than his sworn allegiance to the United States and stronger than his stated moral opposition to slavery, but that is who he was. He was not alone in his stunning hypocrisy: Jefferson, a much greater man, was hypocritical in some quite similar ways

I do not admire Lee, and I would quite happily pull down all the monuments to him, but he has been dead a century and a half
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
a la izquierda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 06:44 AM
Response to Original message
16. Weirdest thing...
when I was a kid growing up in NJ, my grandma and parents used to love eating at this restaurant called the Robert E. Lee. How weird! It burned down sometime in the early 80s...I vaguely remember eating there.

I never quite figured out why a restaurant in suburban NJ had that name.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
winston65 Donating Member (45 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 07:54 AM
Response to Original message
17. treason is treason
What Lee deserved was the hanging rope. He and all the other 'noble' confederates. Why there were not mass hangings I do not understand. Their noble cause was the perpetuation of slavery and the destruction on the nation. How does treason not fit?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Recursion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:01 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. If they had hung, Reconstruction would have been like Iraq (nt)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 08:56 AM
Response to Reply #17
22. If the British had defeated the American colonies, George Washington would have been

considered a traitor, as well as Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, and others.

And Benedict Arnold's birthday might be a national holiday.

History is written by the victors.



Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 01:58 PM
Response to Reply #17
28. "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us
to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." -- Lincoln, 1865

Enough people died; everyone was finally sick of killing. It was all finally ended better than it began


... Presiding over the Confederate surrender was General John B. Gordon .. wounded five times during the war and a frequent adversary of Chamberlain. As the .. columns of Lees .. army .. approached, Chamberlain .. he suddenly gave the order for Federal troops to carry arms ... A bugle called and .. the .. Union soldiers raised their muskets to their shoulders, the salute of honor ... http://www.virginiawestern.edu/faculty/vwhansd/his269/D...



... After the surrender, Sherman issued rations and supplies to Johnstons men, an act that Johnston never forgot ...

... Johnston attended Sherman's funeral in New York in 1891, stood in the rain to watch the cortege pass ... http://www.history.com/topics/william-t-sherman

... during the procession .. he kept his hat off as a sign of respect in the cold, rainy weather. Someone with concern for the old general's health asked him to put on his hat, to which Johnston replied "If I were in his place and he standing here in mine, he would not put on his hat." He caught a cold that day, which developed into pneumonia, and he died several weeks later ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_E._Johnston
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Ex Lurker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 11:56 PM
Response to Reply #28
38. interesting fact: Johnston's daughter Mary became a noted pacifist and woman's suffragist nt
Edited on Tue Apr-26-11 11:56 PM by Ex Lurker
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 02:56 AM
Response to Reply #38
41. Perhaps not his daughter but the daughter of his cousin?

Novelist Mary Johnston was born .. to Major John William Johnston and Elizabeth Alexander Johnston ... Major Johnson, who practiced law in nearby Lexington and later served as state legislator and railroad president, had fought for the Confederacy under his cousin, General Joseph E. Johnston ...
Mary Johnston, 1870-1936
http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/johnstonm/summary.html

The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia .. an organization of white women dedicated to securing for women the right to vote ... worked for more than ten years lobbying the public and the General Assembly alike, until its efforts paid off when three-fourths of the United States state legislatures ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920. The league failed, however, to persuade the Virginia General Assembly, which did not vote to ratify until 1952 ... The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia ... included writers Ellen Glasgow and Mary Johnston ...
Equal Suffrage League of Virginia (19091920)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Ex Lurker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 05:57 AM
Response to Reply #41
42. good catch, thanks for the correction nt
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
SacoMaine61 Donating Member (59 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 09:22 AM
Response to Original message
24. K&R but why is there a picture of Sam Elliott ?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
jimmil Donating Member (235 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 09:57 AM
Response to Original message
25. Lee sucked as a general...
Lee wasn't half the general as Grant. Any student of military tactics knows that in order to attack another army that is entrenched you need 3 times the men and Lee never had that. Do not confuse Lee possessing great battlefield tactics with his men having great bravery. Lee's men are the ones mainly responsible for his reputation on the battlefield, that and the north had some really terrible generals at first. Grant learned that attacking was not the best way to fight an enemy. After Shiloh where Grant took terrible losses and Vicksburg where after two unsuccessful attacks he then laid siege to the Confederate works creating a new battlefield strategy for Grant. Grant also learned a lot in the Mexican War. As a supply officer he understood that logistics can win a battle. In the Civil War (was there anything civil about it?) he used his past experience with his new battlefield experiences to see the whole battle. It was not only the actual fighting but it is what backs the troops up that can carry the day. This can mean not only replacement troops held in reserve but also ammunition, food, water, everything a troop needs to carry on the mission.

No, Lee wasn't a great general. He was good at sacrificing men and material.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
beardown Donating Member (193 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 04:23 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. So Cold Harbor must have occurred before Shiloh.
At Cold Harbor, Grant not only attacked entrenched positions, but he did so repeatedly. After the slaughter of June 1st Grant delayed followup attacks until June 3rd which gave "Spade" Lee (from the start of the war, Lee was known for having his troops dig in) another day and a half to prepare advanced fortifications. June 3rd attacks resulted in mass slaughter of Union troops and then the only thing that prevented another series of suicidal attacks from three Union corps was that Smith refused to advance and Wright's men stayed in their trenches. Estimates of Grant's losses on just the morning of June 3 run to 4-7,000 men.

This all occurred after the series of battles starting in early May when Grant's 100,000 men crossed the Rapidan River and fought Lee's 60,000 men all the way down to just a few miles outside of Richmond. After Cold Harbor battle wound down, Grant had lost over 50,000 men to just over 30,000 for Lee for the campaign and in the Union newspapers Grant became known as the "fumbling butcher".

However, his strategic advances had worn down Lee's army and forced Lee into a static position around Richmond. Grant was smart enough to know that he could win the war by losing 50,000 to Lee's 30,000.

Grant was very capable and a great strategic general, but Grant virtually always had superior operational forces as well as vast superior strategic forces and logistics. But never let history get in the way of a good rant.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Atypical Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 11:10 AM
Response to Original message
26. On Lee.
I am not going to defend the cause of the Confederacy. It seems to me the American Civil War was much like every other war, even unto this day - a war instigated to protect the financial interests of the wealthy elite and fought by poor people with no real interest at stake but caught up in nationalistic pride and "freedom".

There is no doubt in my mind that the people who financed and organized the Southern Secession did so because their financial interests were threatened, and that meant slavery. But it is also true that at that stage of our country's history one's state was considered far more to be one's home and governance than one's country. As Shelby Foote said in Ken Burn's documentary, The American Civil War made the United States an "is". Before the ACW, it was "The United States are". After the ACW, it was "The United States is". People of that era had a very real sense of loyalty to their state, and this cannot be dismissed.

Lee did make his decision to turn his back on his oath, commission, and country lightly. It is said that he went and spoke with his commanding officer about trying to find some compromise, but was told that he would not tolerate any half-commitments and if he was not completely on board he should resign, which he ultimately did.

The people of the South, including Lee, fought for a cause that had an abomination at its core. This is undeniable. But it should be noted that the war ended as it did largely because of the efforts of Lee, and also Grant. At a word, Lee could have dispersed the South's troops into a guerrilla warfare that could have dragged on for years, and in fact this was the plan of action advocated by Jefferson Davis. This was expressly against Lee's wishes. He felt that as vanquished people they should strive to re-integrate themselves into the Union and, as he told his soldiers, to go forth and be good citizens.

Likewise, the generous terms (initially rejected by Washington) that Sherman gave to Johnston to secure the surrender of the Army of Tennessee also went a long way to bringing a peaceful close to the end of the war.

It is my opinion that the efforts of those four men, acting alone, by the way, Sherman, Johnston, Lee, and Grant, did more to shape the close of the Civil War than anyone else. Had the Union victors been more harsh in their prosecution of their foes, or had the defeated been less chivalrous in their defeat, the war could have dragged on much, much longer. In the end, Lincoln's sense of reconciliation was made much, much easier because of the actions of those generals.

Also in Ken Burn's documentary was an anecdote concerning Lee after the war. He was attending church services, when a black man went up to the dias (to receive confession, or absolution, or whatever it was that particular denomination did, I forget). No one else did. Lee got up, went to the front, and knelt down beside the black man, and thus everyone else did, too.

Lee's cause was unjust, but Lee did seem to have a strong sense of morality and justice about him, twisted by the issue of slavery though it may have been. I think he was a man dedicated to his State, and extremely gracious and compliant in defeat.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Chris_Texas Donating Member (707 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 11:25 AM
Response to Original message
27. He was a charismatic leader of men and a terrible strategist
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MasonJar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 06:54 PM
Response to Original message
30. Robert E Lee was a great man. He fought for his state. He didn't want to
leave the Union; he only did so because his state seceded. His choice does not prevent him from being one of our country's heroes. He was in fact much more heroic than Grant ever hoped to be.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
orangeapple Donating Member (167 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 10:26 PM
Response to Reply #30
36. and his State seceded
Edited on Tue Apr-26-11 11:01 PM by orangeapple
only after Lincoln called for troops to invade the States that had decided to secede.

A few generations removed from the Declaration of Independence and Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, the idea of an inseparable Union was hardly taken for granted.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
HankyDubs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 12:12 AM
Response to Reply #30
39. Robert E Lee was a piece of shit
who owned slaves and turned traitor when his "right" to own other men was threatened.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Stuckinthebush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 07:11 AM
Response to Reply #39
43. The romantic notion of the heroic Lee is crap
R.E. Lee was a General in the US military. He committed treason when he left to command the troops for the Confederacy. The reason? He couldn't bear to fight against his beloved South. I call BS on that. What Lee couldn't bear was the loss of the South's slave holding ability. Anyone who romanticizes Lee and the Confederacy are being intentionally blind. My ancestors fought for the Confederacy. Some were officers. As a lifelong Southerner I can tell you many stories of people down here romanticizing this stupid secession. It's all BS. The Southern states seceded for "State's Rights" which is another way to say "Right to Own People". I'm very sorry that Sherman felt the need to destroy Georgia but I'm certainly glad that the South lost that foolish war. I'm sick of hearing about the romantic Confederacy. My ancestors were foolish to support such a sick system as slavery. They fought and they lost. Good.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 01:54 PM
Response to Reply #43
44. My ancestors fought on both sides of the war and none of them owned slaves.
Lee was never a General in the U.S. military, his highest rank was Colonel, Lincoln did offer him command of the Union Army but Lee turned him down when he resigned his commission.

Lee didn't resign and join the Confederacy until after Virginia seceded, there is little doubt as expressed in his letter of resignation that he couldn't raise his sword against his home state.

If Virginia hadn't seceded Lee most likely would've accepted Lincoln's offer and become the commanding General of the Union Army fighting against the Confederacy.

Back in those days and to some smaller degree today ties were much closer between citizens and their state/region than to the nation.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the U.S. was less than 75 years old, if the nation were human by today's standards it wouldn't have been old enough to drink alcohol when Lee was born in 1807.

On the other hand the memories, history and intrinsic loyalty to a colony/state such as Virgina went all the way back to the founding of the first permanent English settlement in North America that being Jamestown; so the colony/state/entity/roots of Virginia was approximately 200 years old, when Lee was born.

There is nothing romantic about the Old South, and the evil institution of slavery wherever it was/is had/has no redeeming value but the world of individuals and their fates isn't black and white either, Lee was one such example as I posted up thread, I believe when Virgina seceded he was faced with a Sophie's Choice dilemma.

For Lee it was a no win situation regardless of his choice so just as Meryl Streep's character did, his choice contained the most memories.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MasonJar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 07:18 PM
Response to Reply #44
50. The description you have given of Lee and his world is very reasonable.
It is all too easy to criticize others, even great, thoughtful and brave men, when we did not live in their shoes. We cannot say what we would have done if we had lived in those times and in those states. I have always thought of Robert E lee as a man I admired because he fought so valiantly and led his men with such august vision and surrendered with such grace.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
HankyDubs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 05:38 PM
Response to Reply #43
47. actually when it comes to Sherman's march
Far fewer people died on Sherman's march than in any of the famous battles, and the damage the march did to the economic infrastructure of the south did much more to cripple the south and end the war than did Gettysburgh or Vicksburgh.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
winston65 Donating Member (45 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-29-11 07:47 AM
Response to Reply #30
52. sorry-
no sale. Lee knew it was treason and should have swung for it.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Zoeisright Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-26-11 10:53 PM
Response to Original message
37. Exactly. Anyone who thinks Lee is a hero is a traitor to the United States.
And anyone who thinks the Civil War wasn't about slavery is an idiot.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
MasonJar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 07:24 PM
Response to Reply #37
51. That is the most outrageous statement, labeling a person a traitor because
Edited on Wed Apr-27-11 07:29 PM by MasonJar
he or she admires a former American who lived in a different world and a different time. How can you be sure what you would have done if you had lived in Virginia in 1860? One thing you might ask yourself is whether you would have risen to the stature of Robert E Lee. As I remember my history, Lee was a man torn by loyalty to the Union and his state. His decision was not made lightly, but is the one he was compelled to make by the honor he felt was due to Virginia, not because he owned slaves.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
winston65 Donating Member (45 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-29-11 07:59 AM
Response to Reply #51
55. Please-
treason is treason is treason. Taking up arms against the United States is TREASON.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
OwnedByFerrets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-27-11 07:12 PM
Response to Original message
48. At least we dont have a National Holiday for him as we do for the child molestor
Columbus
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
PurityOfEssence Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-03-11 12:24 AM
Response to Original message
59. Forrest was the greatest tactician of them all
Period, and perhaps of all time.

Grant is one of the most underrated Generals of all time, and it's telling that he understood how good Meade was. Sherman was also stellar, as was George Thomas.

Johnston is underrated, Bragg was an idiot, and it's a good thing Albert Sydney Johnson died when he did, because he was a talent to be reckoned with.

Sheridan was effective, though brash. Lee was overrated. Longstreet was a genius of battle.

They got what they deserved: it was an ugly cause, and it failed because of its feeling of privilege.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Tue Sep 16th 2014, 01:11 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Editorials & Other Articles Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC