Discussion About the morality of R.E.Lee

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
@Quaama,
If I’m reading the reference properly, Kevin Levin was discussing a book about the crater written by Newt Gingrich and another author.
Knowing he was referencing a book co-authored by Newt might give me pause.
Here’s his online location. http://cwmemory.com/
I get the feeling he writes from a conjectured point of view.

Here’s a third person’s take on the backing of historical books-

Just looks like contemporary authors quoting each other and not a one making a reference to an actual source - sloppy stuff.

I think we can safely ignore such unsubstantiated quotes until an actual source can be found.

[Unsourced quotes always remind me one that is attributed to Napoleon in many historical works (some by fine historians in many respects). Napoleon is said to have commented "Is he a lucky general?" or similar yet I have never seen a source for it. I conversed with a number of people far more knowledgeable on the subject than I but the closest I ever came to a source was a comment in a 1796 letter from Napoleon where he attributed to General P F Sauret the words "bon, très-bon soldat; pas assez éclairé pour être général; peu heureux" which translated to "good, very good soldier; not enough education for a general; not lucky." Such things tend to get distorted over time and once a few writers start quoting it others then start doing so with no consideration to the provenance of it and it is wrongly accepted as a commonly known 'fact' which of course it is not until it can be shown to be so.]
 

eeric

Private
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
I don't have the books either, but sometimes Google Books preview can give info, or he may be able to check out the book on an online library like archive.org.
Or Thrift Books etc I get many for 3-4$, and archive .org etc have many of these, these are not popular titles so can be found cheap
 

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
Scott gave you a link, with the books listed, and their page numbers. It should be fairly easy for you to track down.

They merely listed two books and the pages from which the extract emanates. There is nothing about the first quote to say where it comes from and then the author (I'm unsure which one) says:
"Fiction. Absolute fiction. We know exactly how Robert E. Lee felt about the status of black U.S. POWs. Why? Well, because several months later Lee and Ulysses S. Grant exchanged letters on the treatment of captured United States soldiers of African-American descent."

Well, we don't "know exactly how Robert E. Lee felt about the status of black U.S. POWs ... because several months later
Lee and Ulysses S. Grant exchanged letters ...". Firstly, who ever knows exactly how someone else feels about something - that's just nonsense. Secondly, where are the letters? I do recall reading those letters at some time in the past but I do not recall those letters saying anything about General Lee's feelings on the matter.

Then later there is this unsubstantiated claim:
"Meanwhile, he [Lee] planned to put more U.S. POWs in harm’s way by placing them in a pen at Dutch Gap, which was under Union artillery fire, should Grant not relent with his plans for retaliation."
Where's the evidence of that? There's certainly none in the extract.
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
I think this is the second letter sent by Lee after grant protested the first , Sorry i cant find the first.

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

October 3, 1864

Lieut. Gen. U. S. Grant,

Commanding Armies of the United States:

General: In my proposition of the 1st​ instant to exchange the prisoners of war belonging to the armies operating in Virginia I intended to include all captured soldiers of the United States of whatever nation and color under my control. Deserters from our service and negroes belonging to our citizens are not considered subjects of exchange and were not included in my proposition. If there are any such among those stated by you to have been captured around Richmond they cannot be returned.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee

General

End quote:
-------------------------------------------------------
I will try and find the other letters if i can
 
Last edited:

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
They merely listed two books and the pages from which the extract emanates. There is nothing about the first quote to say where it comes from and then the author (I'm unsure which one) says:
"Fiction. Absolute fiction. We know exactly how Robert E. Lee felt about the status of black U.S. POWs. Why? Well, because several months later Lee and Ulysses S. Grant exchanged letters on the treatment of captured United States soldiers of African-American descent."

Well, we don't "know exactly how Robert E. Lee felt about the status of black U.S. POWs ... because several months later
Lee and Ulysses S. Grant exchanged letters ...". Firstly, who ever knows exactly how someone else feels about something - that's just nonsense. Secondly, where are the letters? I do recall reading those letters at some time in the past but I do not recall those letters saying anything about 'tGeneral Lee's feelings on the matter.

Then later there is this unsubstantiated claim:
"Meanwhile, he [Lee] planned to put more U.S. POWs in harm’s way by placing them in a pen at Dutch Gap, which was under Union artillery fire, should Grant not relent with his plans for retaliation."
Where's the evidence of that? There's certainly none in the extract.
This is what I'm understanding that you're saying:

"I have read the blog post. I disagree with it. I'd like to see sources. And although the blog post lists its sources (specific books, with bibliographies, and the page numbers) I still choose to consider the opinions "unsubstantiated."​

Ok. That's your choice.
 

jcaesar

Private
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Davis in General Orders #111, December 24th, 1862, gave the individual states of the Confederacy not its army complete legal authority to deal with captured soldiers who happened to also be owned by citizens of the states in question.

GO #111: "That all n***o slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong to be dealt with according to the laws of said States"

 
Last edited:

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
This is what I'm understanding that you're saying:

"I have read the blog post. I disagree with it. I'd like to see sources. And although the blog post lists its sources (specific books, with bibliographies, and the page numbers) I still choose to consider the opinions "unsubstantiated."​

Ok. That's your choice.

No.

That post was in reply to your Post #44 where you said "Scott gave you the link ...". So I looked at Post #32 by @Scott1967 and was commenting on that post.

I said two things in particular.
1. The writer claimed to "exactly how Robert E. Lee felt about the status of black U.S. POWs" which I thought was rubbish and then there was a referral to letters but I didn't see any letters and nor do I remember (from when recall reading them) that they said anything about General Lee's feelings on the matter.
2. The writer said:
"Meanwhile, he [Lee] planned to put more U.S. POWs in harm’s way by placing them in a pen at Dutch Gap, which was under Union artillery fire, should Grant not relent with his plans for retaliation."
The writer (in the extract provided) gave no facts in support of that claim and therefore it is unsubstantiated.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
No.

That post was in reply to your Post #44 where you said "Scott gave you the link ...". So I looked at Post #32 by @Scott1967 and was commenting on that post.

I said two things in particular.
1. The writer claimed to "exactly how Robert E. Lee felt about the status of black U.S. POWs" which I thought was rubbish and then there was a referral to letters but I didn't see any letters and nor do I remember (from when recall reading them) that they said anything about General Lee's feelings on the matter.
2. The writer said:
"Meanwhile, he [Lee] planned to put more U.S. POWs in harm’s way by placing them in a pen at Dutch Gap, which was under Union artillery fire, should Grant not relent with his plans for retaliation."
The writer (in the extract provided) gave no facts in support of that claim and therefore it is unsubstantiated.
I didn't post on the thread to debate Lee, but to answer the question about Simpson providing sources. He provides sources, and he provided sources in this case to the applicable books which have bibliographies.

So any claims about unsupported facts are themselves unsupported opinions.
 

A. Roy

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
I believe that sentiment would be more appropriate in Lee's ablest lieutenant, Stonewall Jackson, who was indeed a Calvinist Presbyterian; Lee himself, on the other hand, was a lifelong Episcopalian

Thanks -- good point here about the distinction between religious traditions. I was incorrectly using "Calvinism" as shorthand for predeterminism. In my previous post, I actually had Jackson in mind as well, as the friendship and collaboration between him and Lee was apparently based in part on strong Evangelical leanings. In reading about them, I've noticed both of them using the term "Providence" to refer to the influence of the divine will in their campaigns and battles.

Anyway, the reason I brought up Lee's religious views is the focus on morality here. It seems to me he was in the difficult position of trying to live as a devout person while directing so much destructive activity. I can see why he would try to make kind and compassionate decisions on a day-to-day basis in his dealings with others. In cases where compassion was not an option, or in connection with larger issues -- such as his commanding an army responsible for death and destruction -- Providence might be invoked to try to resolve the moral paradox.

Roy B.
 

LetUsHavePeace

Volunteer
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
The correspondence between Lee and Grant regarding the works at Petersburg should not trouble admirers of either man. Each was representing what they considered to be the "moral" position of their side of the argument that had become a war. By 1860 "free" blacks in the South had lost all hope of retaining the secondary citizenship that they had held before Dred Scott. A person with "black" skin - the category included mulattoes, mestizos, and Indians in various states - had always had the legal burden of proof to show that he or she was not a slave. (Those of us who have endured litigation of any kind understand that having the burden of proof is always a legal handicap.) After Dred Scott it became impossible for any black-skinned person to prove, at law, that he or she was not, by race alone, categorized for life as a slave. For Robert E. Lee to see all black-skinned people as being someone's property was hardly surprising or shocking; it was, after all, what the Supreme Court had decided. There is no question that Lee's view was shared by many people in the North; when the Supreme Court heard the Dred Scott case, there were only five states in the entire Union that did not grant separate and unequal rights to adult men with black skin.
Grant held a very different view that continues to win him relatively few friends and endless criticism. Grant thought individuals all had the same natural rights. The categories that the law used to establish different levels of status - race, gender, culture, religion - made no sense to him. All people had the inheritances of culture and religion, the biology of their sex and race and ancestry, and the individual complexities of their own natures and characters; the law's attempts to reduce all those facts into sociological categories of good, better, best seemed to him mathematically absurd. At the same time, people were who they were. The traders buying contraband cotton were Jews; identifying them by their religious manner of dress was not an insult to believing in Jehovah. The Southerners and Northerners who had fought for the Confederacy were incredibly brave and honorable men; thinking they had been politically and morally wrong to fight a war in defense of the property ownership of human beings did not diminish Grant's respect for them. Agreeing with Senator Sumner that the country needed its Constitution to guarantee civil rights for all native born and naturalized citizens did not prevent Grant from thinking the man was a scheming, petty *edited*
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
I didn't post on the thread to debate Lee, but to answer the question about Simpson providing sources. He provides sources, and he provided sources in this case to the applicable books which have bibliographies.

So any claims about unsupported facts are themselves unsupported opinions.

Ha, a bibliography is not a source nor is it a list containing a number of sources. A bibliography is, well, a bibliography - a list of books.

Bibliography
Definition 1
Definition 2

Source
Definition 1
Definition 2

Anyhow, I previously provided quotes from Sherman, Freemantle and two US Presidents, now here is a quote from one of Lee's subordinates, General Wade Hampton, that comments in regards to Lee's General Orders No. 73.

"This order, pervaded as it is by the spirit of Christianity and the dictates of humanity, confers greater glory on its author than the most brilliant of his victories, for it shows how solicitous he was to mitigate the horrors of war. Coming from one, whose own “beloved home” had been despoiled and desecrated; who had seen his country subjected to a fate which finds no parallel in the history of civilized warfare, save in the cruel devastation of the palatinate; who had witnessed the perpetration of atrocities at which humanity shudders, and who was at the head of a victorious army, every man of which had in his own person, or the persons of his kindred, felt these unutterable atrocities,—it constitutes the brightest jewel in that crown of glory which Lee has won for himself. Well may the South be proud of the leader who, when time and opportunity held out the alluring temptation of inflicting merited retaliation, could restrain the angry passions of his men by appealing to their unsullied reputation, and by reminding them that “vengeance is mine, saith the Lord: I will repay.” Nor can anything prove more fully the influence Gen. Lee had over his men, than the fact, creditable alike to the Commander and to the army, that his order was most scrupulously obeyed. But the sublime lesson of generosity and magnanimity he gave on this occasion was, unfortunately, lost upon the enemy, as his subsequent conduct showed, for South Carolina and Virginia were converted into deserts wherever his army penetrated."

[The above quote comes from a very long address (which can be found here) made to the 'Society of Confederate Soldiers and Sailors In Maryland' where General Hampton provides insight in to many aspects of Lee's character.]
 
Last edited:

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
I didn't post on the thread to debate Lee, but to answer the question about Simpson providing sources. He provides sources, and he provided sources in this case to the applicable books which have bibliographies.

So any claims about unsupported facts are themselves unsupported opinions.

Well that's rather odd given that this thread is "About the morality of R.E.Lee".
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
Ha, a bibliography is not a source nor is it a list containing a number of sources. A bibliography is, well, a bibliography - a list of books.

Bibliography
Definition 1
Definition 2

Source
Definition 1
Definition 2
Actually, yes, a bibliography is a list of sources. It can be books, articles, letters, whatever type of sources used.

So just a recap: Brooks Simpson lists his sources, in his bibliographies, or notes, or whatever you prefer to call them. They are listed at the end of his books.
 
Last edited:

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
Actually, yes, a bibliography is a list of sources. It can be books, articles, letters, whatever type of sources used.

So just a recap: Brooks Simpson lists his sources, in his bibliographies, or notes, or whatever you prefer to call them. They are listed at the end of his books.

ROFL. I think I will stay with the dictionary meaning of bibliography. I'll also wait and see if sources are provided for the quotes so we can see from where and when they emanated.
 
Top