Gary Gallagher on Robert E. Lee

Gary W. Gallagher, the John L. Nau Professor in History of the American Civil War at the University of Virginia, gave this year’s Remembering Robert E. Lee lecture on Oct. 12, 2009, in Lee Chapel.  The title of the talk is “Robert E. Lee Confronts Defeat: Duty in the Wake of Appomattox.”

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18 comments… add one
  • Rob George Jul 2, 2011 @ 14:29

    I have been listening to Gary everytime he speaks on the Civil War. Each time I learn something different. One I thing I heard and I wanted to confirm, did Gary say that the Texans were the best fighting men in the Northern Virginia army? Can anybody verify this statement and where he found evidence to back up this statement…Just curious..

  • LynneF Jan 2, 2010 @ 0:14

    My recent comments on YouTube (which were about the same as the ones I made on your site) re Gary Gallagher’s talk on R.E. Lee elicited some pretty raunchy 4-letter comments, directed at me, in reply. In addition, they supplied Graphic details concerning RE Lee’s treatment of his slaves. They (There were 2 separate commenters.) were incensed that anyone should honor Lee in ANY way. I didn’t bother to respond to these cretins (or should I say miscreants? ), but it got me to wondering how reliable are the memoirs by Lee’s slave, William Mac Lee, & why no mention has been made in regard to treatment of slaves by their owners/overseers? I wanted to mention that I’m aware that Gary’s talk wasn’t on the topic of slavery, & I’ve never gotten the impression that he is proslavery in any of the 72+ lectures I’ve heard him give on the ACW. I wouldn’t have wanted to hear an entire lecture on the treatment of slaves; however if it is part of RE Lee’s past, why ignore it in the scraping away of the “lost cause” debris? My own attitude is that the past is over. We can either accept what was, perhaps find the good in it, & move on from it or react the way these people did. But finding the truth can be frustrating, & I keep coming up with conflicting stories which got me no closer to the truth. Can anyone shed any light on this? I’m turning to your blog site because it seems to be one of the more rational & helpful sites. I’m sure you’ll agree that Four-letter invectives don’t lead to rational discussion.

    • Marc Ferguson Jan 2, 2010 @ 1:13

      In her book on Lee, _Reading the Man_, Elizabeth Brown Pryor pretty thoroughly debunks the William Mac Lee story. It doesn't hold up to any kind of reasonable scrutiny.

      • LynneF Jan 2, 2010 @ 11:57

        Thanks Marc. I'll check it out.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 2, 2010 @ 11:49

      I also highly recommend Pryor's book.

      • LynneF Jan 2, 2010 @ 11:56

        Thank you Kevin. I did check out Amazon, & it has some pretty strong detractors, but they tend to be opposers to anything lost cause. BTW, I am a fellow former Jerseyite…Lived for 29 yrs in Ocean Cty. Thanks for the help guys!

        • Kevin Levin Jan 2, 2010 @ 11:59

          Don't pay any attention to the Amazon reviews. It's one of the most thoughtful Lee studies currently available and while I don't agree with all of Pryor's conclusions she gives us a quite a bit to chew on.

          Looks like we were neighbors being that I am from Ventnor. I think every trip to OC included a bucket of Johnson's caramel popcorn. 😀

          • LynneF Jan 2, 2010 @ 19:28

            Thanks again!
            OC is a beautiful boardwalk. I'm not familiar with Johnson's caramel pc though. I googled on it, & it does look good. We tended to go to Pt. Pleasant or LBI. We lived across the bay from Barnegat LH (“Old Barney”), which I considered “My LH” from the time I was little. Some of you may be interested in the fact that Barnegat Lt. was engineered by George Meade & commissioned just before the war in 1859. He also engineered Cape May LH, & I've read where he shuttled back & forth by Schooner between the two lights. Most of what we know of Meade is that he had an irascible personality & his part in Gettysburg. I would love to read more about his engineering work with LHs. I know there is one biography which does mention it, but if anyone knows of any more sources, I'd love to know about them.

  • Kevin Levin Dec 12, 2009 @ 11:16

    You would have to contact Washington and Lee or Lee Chapel to see about purchasing it. I may be wrong, but YouTube only allows you to embed the video as I have done.

  • Lynne Dec 12, 2009 @ 11:14

    I hear his classes are always full. It's easy to see why.
    Kevin, is there any way I can purchase this talk on DVD or download to disc?

  • Lynne Dec 6, 2009 @ 6:40

    Professor Gallagher is a SUPERB teacher. I have taken 2 courses given by him & have learned so much. His bios of various ACW “characters” always leaves one at the very least with the desire to know more, & more often than not, with the feeling that you have actually met them. In this video his wonderful, wry sense of humor comes out even more, & he gives us so much to think about. I just wish the person with the camera hadn't cut the video off short at the end. I would have liked hearing the Q&A session off the cuff.

    • Kevin Levin Dec 6, 2009 @ 6:42

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I invited Prof. Gallagher once to lecture to my high school elective on the Civil War and the students absolutely adored him. He has a way, as you noted, of making you want to learn more. Prof. Gallagher has been a huge supporter of mine over the past nine years. Glad you enjoyed the post and video.

      • Lynne Dec 12, 2009 @ 5:14

        I hear his classes are always full. It's easy to see why.
        Kevin, is there any way I can purchase this talk on DVD or download to disc?

        • Kevin Levin Dec 12, 2009 @ 5:16

          You would have to contact Washington and Lee or Lee Chapel to see about purchasing it. I may be wrong, but YouTube only allows you to embed the video as I have done.

  • msimons Oct 22, 2009 @ 9:55

    Watched it last nite at home the work PC filter blocks all videos. IT was Great. I was impressed.

  • Lizzie Oct 21, 2009 @ 16:28


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