But, after all, this ruffianism was really not a whit worse in its effects on the national character than was the case with certain of the “universal peace” and “non-resistance” developments in the Northeastern States; in fact, it was more healthy. A class of professional non-combatants is as hurtful to the real, healthy growth of a nation as is a class of fire-eaters; for a weakness or folly is nationally as bad as a vice, or worse; and, in the long run, a Quaker may be quite as undesirable a citizen as is a duelist. No man who is not willing to bear arms and to fight for his rights can give a good reason why he should be entitled to the privilege of living in a free community. The decline of the militant spirit in the Northeast during the first half of this century was much to be regretted. To it is due, more than to any other cause, the undoubted average individual inferiority of the Northern compared to the Southern troops; at any rate, at the beginning of the great war of the Rebellion. The Southerners, by their whole mode of living, their habits, and their love of out-door sports, kept up their warlike spirit; while in the North the so-called upper classes developed along the lines of a wealthy and timid bourgeoisie type, measuring everything by a mercantile standard (a peculiarly debasing one if taken purely by itself), and submitting to be ruled in local affairs by low foreign mobs, and in national matters by their arrogant Southern kinsmen. The militant spirit of these last certainly stood them in good stead in the Civil War. The world has never seen better soldiers than those who followed Lee; and their leader will undoubtedly rank as without any exception the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth and this, although the last and chief of his antagonists may himself claim to stand as the full equal of Marlborough and Wellington.
Theodore Roosevelt, Life of Thomas Hart Benton, Boston: Houghton and Mifflin and Co., 1887.
A few words of explanation seem necessary. I was a sophomore at Washington College during the session of 1860-61. On the breaking out of hostilities at Charleston in the spring, or, rather, when the secession of Virginia became inevitable, the college was converted into a military school and the students, with some of the professors, formed an infantry company, the “Liberty Hall Volunteers.” I joined the company, but when it was disbanded (temporarily) by order of Governor Letcher, I went to western Virginia and some months later enlisted in an artillery company (afterwards known as Bryan’s Battery) that was being formed, and served Until the end of the war, at which time I was in my twenty-first year. I was unable to return to college until the spring of 1866, five years from the suspension of academic studies on account of the war. I was a student from this time until I received my master of arts in June, 1869, but was also tutor and assistant professor from 1867 on, and in 1870 became a member of the faculty.
When I arrived at college, before taking any steps towards matriculating, I visited several lecture rooms during recitation. The last of these was the mathematics room. At the close of the lecture Professor A. L. Nelson went to General Lee’s office, which was adjacent, to arrange for an introduction; but General Lee returned with him and I was introduced in the lecture room. The conversation lasted a good while, but nothing worth recording was said by Lee, and the incident is here mentioned because of only one fact. When a man has become famous there is usually a feeling of disappointment when we first form his acquaintance and the near approach removes much of the enchantment. We think, “Why, he is only a man.” But in this case my experience was just the reverse. Before the introduction I felt no trepidation, but as the conversation proceeded I began to feel embarrassed, and the feeling grew steadily. When the interview was over General Lee seemed farther removed, less human, I might say more superhuman, than he did before, and every subsequent interview intensified this feeling. George Washington also is said to have possessed this characteristic, and I do not know whether any one has ever offered a satisfactory explanation in either case.
It is a well-known fact that General Lee was an advocate, both in precept and in practice, of personal freedom. He believed that after the age of responsibility is reached a young man ought to be allowed to develop his own character, obviously bad influences being withheld and obviously good influences brought to bear, but no compulsion nor repression applied except as a final resort. It was this tenet alone that prevented Lee from being an ideal soldier; but an ideal soldier cannot be an ideal man.
At that time many students were mature men, including not a few who had served in the Confederate army. Lee naturally attached importance, under his theory of government, to the prevailing views of these men in regard to the administration of college affairs. By way of illustration I may state that more than once, after I became an instructor, I heard him express dissatisfaction when a glowing account was given of the number of new students that had arrived at the opening of a session. He would say: “But how many old students have returned? That is the measure of the satisfaction we are giving and hence of the efficient discharge of our duty.” Here, by the way, there was an error which his own modesty prevented him from seeing. Very many students came for the sole purpose of seeing, knowing and being under Lee, and one session accomplished all this.
General Lee, I observed, often took a humorous view of an occurrence or situation. Many instances of this are recorded, but I add still another, however trivial it may be. When I was assistant in ancient languages I was present at the examination of the senior Latin class. The professor was conducting an oral examination. His son was a member of the class, and certainly was not shown any favors. The professor questioned him long and closely, and at last asked him a very difficult question. The young man leaned forward, contracted his brows, riveted his eyes upon mine and remained in that attitude for several seconds (all unconsciously, as he afterwards told me), when General Lee burst into a hearty laugh, and then, by way of apology or explanation, said: “He is trying to absorb it from Mr. Humphreys.”
“Mr. Humphreys! However long you live and whatever you accomplish, you will find that the time you spent in the Confederate army was the most profitably spent portion of your life. Never again speak of having lost time in the army.”
Just once it was my lot to receive a severe rebuke from General Lee. While I was an undergraduate my health seemed to become impaired and he had a conversation with me about it, in which he expressed the opinion that I was working too hard. I replied: “I am so impatient to make up the time I lost in the army– “I got no farther. Lee flushed and exclaimed in an almost angry tone: “Mr. Humphreys! However long you live and whatever you accomplish, you will find that the time you spent in the Confederate army was the most profitably spent portion of your life. Never again speak of having lost time in the army.” And I never again did.
— Excerpt of address by Milton W. Humpreys during the Lee Centennial observation at the University of Virginia, 29 January 1907; Alumni Bulletin, Vol. vii., No. 2.
Give him my affectionate regards, and tell him to make haste and get well, and come back to me as soon as he can. He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right.
HDQRS. ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
May 11, 1863.
With deep grief, the commanding general announces to the army the death of Lieutenant General T. J. Jackson, who expired on the 10th instant, at 3.15 p.m. The daring, skill, and energy of this great and good soldier, by the decree of an all-wise Providence, are now lost to us. But while we mourn his death, we feel that his spirit still lives, and will inspire the whole army with his indomitable courage and unshaken confidence in God as our hope and our strength. Let his name be a watchword to his corps, who have followed him to victory on so many fields. Let officers and soldiers emulate his invincible determination to do everything in the defense of our beloved country.
R. E. LEE,
August 9, 1960
Dear Dr. Scott:
Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War between the States the issue of secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.
General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.
From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.
Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
— Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, “Dwight D. Eisenhower, Records as President, 1953-1961; White House Central Files, President’s Personal File Series, Box 743, Folder: PPF 29-S Lee, General Robert E.”
On a quiet autumn morning, in the land which he loved so well, and, as he held, served so faithfully, the spirit of Robert Edward Lee left the clay which it had so much ennobled, and traveled out of this world into the great and mysterious land. The expressions of regret which sprang from the few who surrounded the bedside of the dying soldier and Christian, on yesterday, will be swelled to-day into one mighty voice of sorrow, resounding throughout our country, and extending over all parts of the world where his great genius and his many virtues are known. For not to the Southern people alone shall be limited the tribute of a tear over the dead Virginian. Here in the North, forgetting that the time was when the sword of Robert Edward Lee was drawn against us, — forgetting and forgiving all the years of bloodshed and agony, — we have long since ceased to look upon him as the Confederate leader, but have claimed him as one of ourselves; have cherished and felt proud of his military genius as belonging to us; have recounted and recorded his triumphs as our own; have extolled his virtue as reflecting upon us; for Robert Edward Lee was an American, and the great nation which gave him birth would be to-day unworthy of such a son if she regarded him lightly.
Robert Edward Lee was an American, and the great nation which gave him birth would be to-day unworthy of such a son if she regarded him lightly.
Never had mother a nobler son. In him the military genius of America was developed to a greater extent than ever before. In him all that was pure and lofty in mind and purpose found lodgment. Dignified without presumption, affable without familiarity, he united all those charms of manners which made him the idol of his friends and of his soldiers, and won for him the respect and admiration of the world. Even as, in the days of his triumph, glory did not intoxicate, so, when the dark clouds swept over him, adversity did not depress. From the hour that he surrendered his sword at Appomattox to the fatal autumn morning, he passed among men, noble in his quiet, simple dignity, displaying neither bitterness nor regret over the irrevocable past. He conquered us in misfortune by the grand manner in which he sustained himself, even as he dazzled us by his genius when the tramp of his soldiers resounded through the valleys of Virginia.
And for such a man we are all tears and sorrow to-day. Standing beside his grave, men of the South and men of the North can mourn with all the bitterness of four years of warfare erased by this common bereavement. May this unity of grief — this unselfish manifestation over the loss of the Bayard of America — in the season of dead leaves and withered branches which this death ushers in, bloom and blossom like the distant coming spring into the flowers of a heartier accord!
In person General Lee was a notably handsome man. He was tall of stature, and admirably proportioned; his features were regular and most amiable in appearance, and in his manners he was courteous and dignified. In social life he was much admired. As a slaveholder, he was beloved by his slaves for his kindness and consideration toward them. General Lee was also noted for his piety. He was an Episcopalian, and was a regular attendant at church. Having a perfect command over his temper, he was never seen angry, and his most intimate friends never heard him utter an oath. He came nearer the ideal of a soldier and Christian general than any man we can think of, for he was a greater soldier than Havelock, and equally as devout a Christian. In his death our country has lost a son of whom she might well be proud, and for whose services she might have stood in need had he lived a few years longer, for we are certain that, had occasion required it, General Lee would have given to the United States the benefit of all his great talents.
— New York Herald, 12 October 1870.
A COLLEGE BOY’S OBSERVATION OF GENERAL LEE.
By Mr. John B. Collyar, Nashville, Tenn.
A FEW years after General Lee accepted the presidency of the then Washington College, I was sent to be entered in the preparatory department, along with an older brother who was to enter college. The morning after we reached Lexington we repaired to the office of General Lee, situated in the college building, for the purpose of matriculation and receiving instructions as to the duties devolving upon us as students. I entered the office with reverential awe, expecting to see the great warrior, whose fame then encircled the civilized globe, as I had pictured him in my own imagination. General Lee was alone, looking over a paper. He arose as we entered, and received us with a quiet, gentlemanly dignity that was so natural and easy and kind that the feeling of awe left me at the threshold of his door. General Lee had but one manner in his intercourse with men. It was the same to the peasant as to the prince, and the student was received with the easy courtliness that would have been bestowed on the greatest imperial dignitary of Europe.
When we had registered my brother asked the General for a copy of his rules. General Lee said to him, “Young gentleman, we have no printed rules. We have but one rule here, and it is that every student must be a gentleman.” I did not, until after years, fully realize the comprehensiveness of his remark, and how completely it covered every essential rule that should govern the conduct and intercourse of men. I do not know that I could define the impression that General Lee left on my mind that morning, for I was so disappointed at not seeing the warrior that my imagination had pictured, that my mind was left in a confused state of inquiry as to whether he was the man whose fame had filled the world. He was so gentle, kind, and almost motherly, in his bearing, that I thought there must be some mistake about it. At first glance General Lee’s countenance was stern, but the moment his eye met that of his entering guest it beamed with a kindness that at once established easy and friendly relations, but not familiar. The impression he made on me was, that he was never familiar with any man.
I saw General Lee every day during the session in chapel (for he never missed a morning service) and passing through the campus to and from his home to his office. He rarely spoke to any one—occasionally would say something to one of the boys as he passed, but never more than a word. After the first morning in his office he never spoke to me but once. He stopped me one morning as I was passing his front gate and asked how I was getting on with my studies. I replied to his inquiry, and that was the end of the conversation. He seemed to avoid contact with men, and the impression which he made on me, seeing him every day, and which has since clung to me, strengthening the impression then made, was, that he was bowed down with a broken heart. I never saw a sadder expression than General Lee carried during the entire time I was there. It looked as if the sorrow of a whole nation had been collected in his countenance, and as if he was bearing the grief of his whole people. It never left his face, but was ever there to keep company with the kindly smile. He impressed me as being the most modest man I ever saw in his contact with men. History records how modestly he wore his honors, but I refer to the characteristic in another sense. I dare say no man ever offered to relate a story of questionable delicacy in his presence. His very bearing and presence produced an atmosphere of purity that would have repelled the attempt. As for any thing like publicity, notoriety or display, it was absolutely painful to him. Colonel Ruff, the old gentleman with whom I boarded, told me an anecdote about him that I think worth preserving. General Lee brought with him to Lexington the old iron-gray horse that he rode during the war. A few days after he had been there he road up Main street on his old war horse, and as he passed up the street the citizens cheered him. After passing the ordeal he hurried back to his home near the college. . . . He was incapable of affectation. The demonstration was simply offensive to his innate modesty, and doubtless awakened the memories of the past that seemed to weigh continually on his heart. The old iron-gray horse was the privileged character at General Lee’s home. He was permitted to remain in the front yard where the grass was greenest and freshest, notwithstanding the flowers and shrubbery. General Lee was more demonstrative toward that old companion in battle than seemed to be in his nature in his intercourse with men. I have often seen him, as he would enter his front gate, leave the walk, approach the old horse, and caress him for a minute or two before entering his front door, as though they bore a common grief in their memory of the past.
— From Confederate Veteran, I, 265 (1893) as reproduced in Riley, Franklin Lafayette, ed., General Robert E. Lee After Appomattox, New York: MacMillan, 1922.
Typical of those men — most typical — was Lee. He represented, individualized, all that was highest and best in the southern mind and the Confederate cause — the loyalty to state, the keen sense of honor and personal obligation, the slightly archaic, the almost patriarchal, love of dependent, family, and home. As I have more than once said, he was a Virginian of the Virginians. He represents a type which is gone — hardly less extinct than that of the great English nobleman of the feudal times, or the ideal head of the Scotch clan of a later period; but, just so long as men admire courage, devotion, patriotism, the high sense of duty and personal honor — all, in a word, which go to make up what we know as character —just so long will that type of man be held in affectionate, reverential memory. They have in them all the elements of the heroic. As Carlyle wrote more than half a century ago, so now: “Whom do you wish to resemble? Him you set on a high column. Who is to have a statue? means, Whom shall we consecrate and set apart as one of our sacred men? Sacred; that all men may see him, be reminded of him, and, by new example added to old perpetual precept, be taught what is real worth in man. Show me the man you honor; I know by that symptom, better than by any other, what kind of man you yourself are. For you show me there what your ideal of manhood is; what kind of man you long inexpressibly to be, and would thank the gods, with your whole soul, for being if you could.”
Charles Francis Adams, “Shall Cromwell Have a Statue?” delivered before the Beta of Illinois Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society of the University of Chicago, 17 June 1902.
West point and secession.
By General D. H. Maury.
I wish I could have seen Dr. Curry before he sent his letter vindicating General Lee from breach of faith in returning to his natural allegiance to Virginia when that State withdrew from the Federal Union; I would have given him some facts which were very strangely unknown to our people, and were always ignored by our enemies.
When Mr. Calhoun was Secretary of War, in 1822, I believe, he caused a text-book to be introduced into the course of studies at West Point, known as Rawle on the constitution. This Rawle was a Northern lawyer of great ability, one of the very few who seem to have understood the true nature of the terms and conditions of the compact between the States constituting the Federal Union. His work–Commentaries on the constitution of the United States–breathes the very essence of States’-rights, and the right of secession is distinctly set forth by him. When we remember that only seven years had then elapsed since New York, Vermont, Connecticut, and, perhaps, other Northern States asserted this right, and threatened to exercise it or make dishonorable terms of peace with Great Britain unless the war was stopped, we can understand that Mr. Calhoun was not violating Northern sentiment in introducing Rawle on the Constitution at West Point. It there remained as a text-book till 1861, and Mr. Davis and Sidney Johnston, and General Joe Johnston and General Lee, and all the rest of us who retired with Virginia from the Federal Union, were not only obeying the plain instincts of our nature and dictates of duty, but we were obeying the very inculcations we had received in the National School. It is not probable that any of us ever read the constitution or any exposition of it except this work of Rawle, which we studied in our graduating year at West Point. I know I did not.
I am told that in 1861 the text-book was changed and the cadets are now taught out of a treatise on the constitution which teaches that secession is a crime.
And if any one of the present generation should resign on the secession of his native State, he will be in danger of being lawfully hanged.
Dabney H. Maury.
Richmond, VA. 1878.
The authorities of Washington College having tendered to Mrs. Lee the college chapel as a burial-place for General Lee, the offer was accepted; and 1 1/2 o’clock P. M. on the 14th of October was the time fixed on for the removal of the remains from the residence of the deceased to the chapel, where they were to lie in state until Saturday, the 15th of October, the day appointed for the burial. At the hour named, the procession to convey the body was formed under the charge of Professor J. J. White as chief-marshal, aided by assistants appointed by the students. The escort of honor consisted of Confederate soldiers, marshaled by the Hon. J. K. Edmondson, late colonel of the Twenty-seventh Virginia Regiment. Following the escort came the hearse, preceded by the clergy, and attended by twelve pall-bearers, representing the trustees, Faculty, and students of Washington College, the authorities of the Virginia Military Institute, the soldiers of the Confederate army, and the citizens of Lexington. Just in the rear of the hearse, Traveler [sic], the noble white war-horse of General Lee, with saddle and bridle covered with crape, was led by two old soldiers. Then came in order the long procession composed of the college authorities and students, the corps of cadets with their Faculty, and the citizens. The body was borne to the college chapel, and laid in state on the dais; the procession passing slowly by, that each one might look upon the face of the dead. The body, attired in a simple suit of black, lay in a metallic coffin, strewed by pious hands with flowers and evergreens. The chapel, with the care of the remains, was then placed in charge of the guard of honor, appointed by the students from their own number. This guard kept watch by the coffin until the interment, and gave to all who desired it the opportunity of looking once more upon the loved and honored face.
On Friday morning, October 14th, the college chapel was filled at nine o’clock with a solemn congregation of students and citizens, all of whom seemed deeply moved by the simple exercises. Rev. Dr. Pendleton read from Psalm xxxvii. 8-11 and 28-40, and with deep feeling applied its lessons to the audience, as illustrated in the life and death of General Lee. The speaker had for forty-five years been intimately associated with this great and good man as fellow-student, comrade-in-arms, and pastor; and testified to his singular and consistent rectitude, dignity, and excellence under all the circumstances of life, and to that meekness in him that under the most trying adversity knew not envy, anger, or complaint. ‘The law of God was in his heart,’ therefore did ‘none of his steps slide.’ ‘Mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.’ The minister powerfully illustrated the text of his discourse in the career of this great and good man, and urged his hearers to profit by the example of this servant of the Lord.
The venerable Dr. White, Stonewall Jackson’s pastor, and the Rev. John William Jones, of the Baptist Church, who had served as chaplain in the Confederate army, and had since been intimately connected with General Lee, followed with brief but interesting remarks on the Christian character of the deceased.
On the 14th of October, General W. H. F. Lee, Captain Robert E. Lee, and other members of the family, arrived; and on this and the following day delegations from the Legislature of Virginia and from various places in the Commonwealth reached Lexington over roads almost impassable from the ravages of the recent great flood. The flag of Virginia, draped in mourning, hung at half-mast above the college, badges of sorrow were everywhere visible, and a general gloom rested on the hearts of old and young.
Saturday, October 15th, was the day appointed for the funeral. A cloudless sky and a pure, bracing air made a suitable close to the splendid and unsullied career of the man who was now to be consigned to the tomb. It was desired to avoid all mere pageantry and display, and that all the honors paid should accord with the simple dignity of the dead. This spirit prevailed in all the proceedings, and gave character to the ceremonies of the day.
It was thought proper that those who had followed his flag should lay the honored body of their chief in its last resting-place, and the escort of honor of Confederate soldiers, much augmented in numbers, and commanded by General B. T. Johnson, assisted by Colonel Edmondson, Colonel Maury, and Major Dorman, was assigned the post of honor in the procession.
The following account of the ceremonies is taken from a newspaper letter, written at the time, by Rev. J. Win. Jones:
‘The order of the procession was as follows:
Escort of Honor, consisting of Officers and Soldiers of the Confederate Army.
Chaplain and other Clergy.
Hearse and Pall-Bearers.
General Lee’s Horse.
The Attending Physicians.
Trustees and Faculty of Washington College.
Dignitaries of the State of Virginia.
Visitors and Faculty of Virginia Military Institute.
Other Representative Bodies and Distinguished Visitors.
Alumni of Washington College.
Cadets Virginia Military Institute.
Students Washington College as Guard of Honor.
‘At ten o’clock precisely the procession was formed on the college-grounds in front of the president’s house, and moved down Washington Street, up Jefferson Street to the Franklin Hall, thence to Main Street, where it was joined, in front of the hotel, by the representatives of the State of Virginia and other representative bodies in their order, and by the organized body of the citizens in front of the courthouse.
‘The procession then moved by the street to the Virginia Military Institute, where it was joined by the visitors, Faculty, and cadets of the Institute, in their respective places. The procession was closed by the students of Washington College as a guard of honor, and then moved up through the Institute and college grounds to the chapel.
‘The procession was halted in front of the chapel, when the cadets of the Institute and the students of Washington College were marched through the college chapel past the remains, and were afterward drawn up in two bodies on the south side of the chapel. The remainder of the procession then proceeded into the chapel and were seated under the direction of the marshals. The gallery and side blocks were reserved for ladies.
‘As the procession moved off, to a solemn dirge by the Institute band, the bells of the town began to toll, and the Institute battery fired minute-guns, which were kept up during the whole exercises.
‘In front of the National Hotel the procession was joined by the committee of the Legislature, consisting of Colonel W. H. Taylor, Colonel E. Pendleton, W. L. Riddick, Major Kelley, Geo. Walker, Z. Turner, H. Bowen, T. O. Jackson, and Marshall Hanger; the delegation from the city of Staunton, headed by Colonel Bolivar Christian and other prominent citizens; and such other delegations as had been able to stem the torrents which the great freshet had made of even the smaller streams.
‘It was remarked that the different classes who joined in the procession mingled into each other, and that among the Boards of the College and Institute, the Faculties, the students and cadets, the legislative committee, the delegations, and even the clergy, were many who might with equal propriety have joined the soldier guard of honor; for they, too, had followed the standard of Lee in the days that tried men’s souls.
‘Along the streets the buildings were all appropriately draped, and crowds gathered on the corners and in the balconies to see the procession pass. Not a flag floated above the procession, and nothing was seen that looked like an attempt at display. The old soldiers wore their ordinary citizens’ dress, with a simple black ribbon in the lappel of their coats; and Traveler [sic], led by two old soldiers, had the simple trappings of mourning on his saddle.
‘The Virginia Military Institute was very beautifully draped, and from its turrets hung at half-mast, and draped in mourning, the flags of all of the States of the late Southern Confederacy.
‘When the procession reached the Institute, it passed the corps of cadets drawn up in line, and a guard of honor presented arms as the hearse passed. When it reached the chapel, where an immense throng had assembled, the students and cadets, about six hundred and fifty strong, marched into the left door and aisle past the remains and out by the right aisle and door to their appropriate place. The rest of the procession then filed in. The family, joined by Drs. Barton and Madison, the attending physicians, and Colonels W. H. Taylor and C. S. Venable, members of General Lee’s staff during the war, occupied seats immediately in front of the pulpit; and the clergy, of whom a number were present, Faculty of the College, and Faculty of the Institute, had places on the platform.
‘The coffin was covered with flowers and evergreens, while the front of the drapery thrown over it was decorated with crosses of evergreen and immortelles.
‘Rev. Dr. Pendleton, the long intimate personal friend of General Lee, his chief of artillery during the war, and his pastor the past five years, read the beautiful burial services of the Episcopal Church. No sermon was preached, and nothing said besides the simple service, in accordance with the known wishes of General Lee.
‘After the funeral services were concluded in the chapel, the body was removed to the vault prepared for its reception, and the concluding services read by the chaplain from the bank on the southern side of the chapel, in front of the vault.
‘There was sung, in the chapel, the 124th hymn of the Episcopal collection; and, after the coffin was lowered into the vault, the congregation sang the grand old hymn,
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord.”
‘This was always a favorite hymn of General Lee’s, and was, therefore, especially appropriate upon this sad occasion.
‘The vault is constructed of brick, lined with cement. The top just reaches the floor of the library, and is double capped with white marble, on which is the simple inscription:
ROBERT EDWARD LEE,
BORN JANUARY 19, 1807;
DIED OCTOBER 12, 1870.
‘This temporary structure is to be replaced by a beautiful sarcophagus, the design of which has been already committed to Valentine, the gifted Virginia sculptor.’
The simple services concluded, the great assemblage, with hearts awed and saddened, defiled through the vaulted room in which was the tomb, to pay the last token of respect to the mighty dead. Thus ended the funeral of General Robert E. Lee.
— Account of the funeral of General Robert E. Lee by Col. William Preston Johnston.
When the South declared in consequence of all these things they would leave the Union unless something was done to assure their protection and justice within it, the whole air resounded with the taunts of Northern members of Congress and the Northern press, taunting them for their weakness and impotence, and threatening to overwhelm them by their superior power, until State after State fell from them in utter despair. Let it be told how a Confederacy was thus formed, small in point of numbers, consisting of eight millions of whites, and about four millions of slaves, without commerce, without manufactures, and almost without accumulated capital, and without allies — which Confederacy staked its all upon an issue of arms with a union of more than twenty millions of men homogeneous in character and pursuits, and which, abounding in all those things of which the others were so much in want, and although nominally without professed allies was yet substantially assisted by the whole world, which, although professing to be impartial, respected a paper blockade, which of itself was almost fatal to a people without ships of war, and to which they had not quietly submitted heretofore. Nor could they have done so then but for the idea that they were indirectly assisting in a war against slavery. What was to be the effect of all this, foreigners did not then understand, or their course might have been different; nor did the North foresee the terrible nature of the contest in which they were about to embark, or they might have paused before entering into it. But let the whole story be told, that the world and the country may behold the entire consequences of such a strife before they provoke another like it. Let us hear the history of that famous day at Bull Run, when Northern men and Northern women, as if upon some review or gala occasion, followed their army out from Washington to see it overwhelm the poor, despised South, whose sons were recklessly assembled together, as they supposed, to be routed and ruined by the superior forces which they stood up to encounter. Let all mankind hear how bloody was the reception which they met, until they broke and fled in wild despair, even more surprised than frightened, if possible, to find the men in gray capable of such stern resistance. Let the course of these heroic men be followed after they fell into the master-hands of Lee, for more than four years over the soil of Virginia, as they trod in triumph with feet red with the blood of their enemies, and as they hurled back the invading forces, sometimes four, sometimes three, and never less than two to one, reeking with their own blood and red with carnage; now driving McClellan into the James River and clear away from Richmond; now hurling Burnside across the Rappahannock river in bloody repulse from the good town of Fredericksburg. Let it be told how these same men in gray flanked the superior hosts of the North under Hooker, and drove them away in wild and bewildering flight, having lost their confidence in numbers, and believing it impossible to make themselves superior in strength so long as there was a Lee to plan, or a Jackson to lead these brave men in the charge, whose wild cheer always betokened courage and victory so long as they had food and clothing, and maintained heart and hope; or still following them in their bloody march, let us pause with them at Cold Harbor, where they repulsed Grant’s assault and piled so high the Federal dead that, as the rumor runs, the authorities at Washington despaired of success, and resolved to abandon the contest and agree to a division of the Union, a determination which they only revoked upon the receipt of encouraging news from the Southwest. But we must not leave the story there; we must follow it to the last sad results, until the tapestry is quite reversed. We must follow it to its final close, when without food, without clothes, and an unsufficient supply of arms, Lee surrendered his hardy and battered regiments with eight thousand muskets in their hands, whilst the rolls bore twenty-two thousand upon their face. And thus when it was impossible to maintain any further contest upon even plausible terms, the army was surrendered and the cause was lost.
— Hon. R. M. T. Hunter in an address to the Southern Historical Society (as reorganised), at the Capitol, Richmond, 27 October 1874.
[I]n the absence of a home I wish I could purchase Stratford. That is the only place I could go to, now accessible to us, that would inspire me with feelings of pleasure and local love. You and the girls could remain there in quiet. It is a poor place, but we could make enough cornbread and bacon for our support and the girls could weave us clothes. I wonder if it is for sale and how much.
Letter of Robert E. Lee to his wife, Christmas Day, 1861.
Scene: Guiney’s Station, Va., May 5, 1863. SATAN, MARS.
Mars. Hooker retreats; the battle ceases here.
In three days’ fighting his great army lost
Seventeen thousand well-drilled veterans.
Lee is victorious, yet he has lost
More than his enemy a thousand-fold.
Jackson has fallen, and he soon must die.
In vict’ry’s loving arms the hero fell,
Admired and honored by his fiercest foes.
The trump of fame sounds forth his glorious name
In every land where valor is esteemed.
Satan. Foe as I am to all the hated race,
Toiling through ages most malignantly,
To work its ruin through eternity,
I must confess he triumphed over me!
From my maliciousness extorted praise.
Mars. His last great battle was a masterpiece
Of strategy and valor well combined.
He fell not by a foeman’s fatal shot.
The men who slew him would have gladly risked
Ten thousand deaths to save their hero’s life.
Behold the wounded warrior on his couch
Serenely waiting the approach of death.
That open window shows his manly face.
Let us retire see holy angels come,
With dutcous love the hero to attend.
SATAN and MARS retire. Enter GABRIEL, UZZIEL, ITHURIEL, RAPHAEL,
ABDIEL, ZOPHIEL, ZEPHON, ARIEL, ZADKIEL, ISRAFIEL, chanting:
“Rest for the toiling hand, rest for the anxious brow,
Rest for the weary, way-sore feet, rest from all labor now;
Rest for the fevered brain, rest for the throbbing eye;
Through these parched lips of thine no more shall pass
the moan or sigh.”
“Go to the grave in all thy glorious prime,
In full activity of zeal and power!
A Christian cannot die before his time,
The Lord’s appointment is the servant’s hour.
Go to the grave; at noon from labor cease;
Best on thy sheaves; thy harvest task is done;
Come from the heat of battle and in peace,
Soldier, go home with thee, the fight is won.”
— Drummond Welburn, The American Epic (1891).