Tag Archives: Robert E. Lee

That Was My Head That Just Exploded

Lee and Jackson by Mort Kunstler

Scene set at Blandford Church Hill, Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, 1:45pm – July 30, 1864 in The Battle of the Crater by Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen

“Finish it,” Lee said, looking at [William] Mahone.  “For heaven’s sake, they are cornered.  Bag the lot, and finish it.  If we wait until dark they will escape.  For that matter, I am stunned they have not yet brought up reserves to strengthen their line and perhaps threaten another section to draw us off.  I want it finished now, before they can launch another attack and stretch us too thin to hold.”
“Yes sir.”
“And General…”
“Sir?”
“Is it true a colored division was in the assault?”
“Yes, sir.”
Lee stepped closer to Mahone and in an uncharacteristic gesture put a fatherly hand on his solider. “I want the full honor of war observed.  Those who surrender are to be treated as proper prisoners, with respect, their wounded tended to, their officers shown the respect due their rank.”
Mahone looked at him, as if to reply.
“I know what our President has said, but in this army, sir, my orders on this day carry full weight.  We are Christian soldiers, sir.  Do you understand me?  Passions must not rule, even in the heat of battle.  If I hear of any atrocities, I will ensure that those involved shall face court-martial and the full penalty of military law.”
He drew Mahone a bit closer. “Do we understand each other, sir”?
There was only one answer Mahone could possibly give to such a man. “Yes, sir.” [pp. 281-82]

Of course, there is no evidence that such a conversation ever took place and there is no evidence to suggest that Lee did not know or disapprove of the slaughter of black soldiers after the battle.  This is nothing less than a gross distortion of the battle even for a work of historical fiction.  Why this scene is necessary for their narrative will be the subject of my review.

Robert E. Lee on Robert H. Milroy or Emancipation

Lincoln Writing the Proclamation of Freedom

I am really sorry to have missed last weekend’s “Years of Anguish” event in Fredericksburg organized by John Hennessy and including Gary Gallagher, Peter Carmichael, and Jeff McClurken.  Apparently, at some point during his presentation Gallagher commented on Lee’s views on slavery and emancipation with a reference to his January 10, 1863 message to James Seddon:

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Flagging a Symbol Into Oblivion

Old Soldiers' Home in Richmond, Virginia

Here is another story concerning the public display of the Confederate flag, this time in the former capital of the Confederacy of Richmond, Virginia.  A small, but dedicated group is protesting the removal of a Confederate flag from the grounds of the Confederate War Memorial Chapel, which sits on ground owned by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  The chapel was at one point part of a camp for Confederate veterans, known as Robert E. Lee Camp No. 1, also known as the “Old Soldiers’ Home.”  In 1993 permission was given to the Sons of Confederate Veterans by the VMFA to lease the building, which is when, as I understand it, the Confederate flag first went up.  In 2010 the lease was renewed with the stipulation that the flag be removed on the grounds of research done by museum staff showing that the flag had never been displayed when the building was in use by Confederate veterans.  The following local report adds some context:

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