Appomattox--Lee's last Stand...

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

5fish

Captain
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
7,292
Location
Central Florida
How would Lee be remembered if he had fought to the last man at Appomattox on April 8th, 1865 and die with a gun in hand.?

Would he still a hero in the eyes of people today?

Would the last stand at Appomattox be compared to the Alamo or Thermopylae with the same praise?

Would the last stand at Appomattox be consider by historians as foolishness of a zealot?

Would there have been a "Lost Cause movement" if Lee had die that way or would it have added more fuel to the movement and Lee's legend?

How would such an act be perceived?
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,817
Location
California
I can only answer for myself. I'm not sure how those who admire Lee and/or the Confederacy would react.

1) No. At this point, further fighting would simply mean further bloodshed with no impact on anything but the number of widows and orphans.

2) See above. The Alamo was a brave, foolishly so, action, but it did do some good (indirectly) for the Texas revolution. Thermopylae played a useful role in beating the Persians. Lee continuing to fight wouldn't impact anything.

3) Perhaps not quite that strongly, but I think so.

4) Its quite possible, but I don't know.

5) The last stand of a man too proud to surrender.
 

5fish

Captain
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
7,292
Location
Central Florida
Image>>>

Could you picture Lee asking his men to stand with him until last. Think of that historical image of Lee asking his fellow soldiers to stand with him until death.

Think of the pressure a soldier in Lee's army would feel if he refused to stand with Lee until the end. Think of the pressure of the other confederate soldiers around the south like Johnston, Forrest, Smith if they did stand until death with their soldiers as Lee had.

I think it would have led to a insurgent warfare and many think Reconstruction was bad. Lee would become the symbol that would be use for years to rally the white south to fight on.

I think today he would be a symbol of evil in the none southern schools and symbol of pride in the southern schools. He would be a polarizing image today if he had made a last stand at Appomattox....

The way Lee surrender did a lot for keeping the peace in the years falling the war....One reason he is a belove figure by most people today
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,817
Location
California
The problem is, a good part of why Lee was respected (in his day) was because he wasn't the type to order something fueled by stiff-necked pride, which would be the only possible reason to refuse to surrender on April 9th.

I know that Johnston would refuse anyway, and my impression is that Forrest would as well.

Thermopylae is a gallant stand that bought time for the Greeks to deal with the Persians. Its heroic and awesome not just because they died gallantly, but because they gave their lives so that their people might live.

Lee isn't in anything resembling that position.
 

jreb721

Private
Joined
Sep 1, 2008
Messages
50
Location
nc
After Lee saw reconstruction I am sure probably wished at times he had done that. He would even be more of a hero than he is now.
 

whitworth

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jun 18, 2005
Messages
2,513
The war was long over

And students of the war should realize that Lee continued the war long after the Confederacy was lost.
By the time of the retreat, the Confederacy was contending for control of North Carolina and eastern Virginia. It no longer was a sustainable country.

Once Richmond was burned with its supplies, the army could exist only for a short time as an army. There was no resupply available from Georgia (railroad line disruption) or Alabama(Wilson's raid was tearing up the supplies in that state)
By the time Sherman crossed into South Carolina, the Confederacy should have sued for peace. Three states could never make a nation. The states the Confederacy needed had been lost for years. With Hood's destruction in Tennessee, Alabama was only marking time before its destruction.

Lee's army was not fit to go on a hard retreat from Petersburg. Death was the only reprieve. Lee could not win. The well supplied and equipped Union army would run the poorly supplied Army of Northern Virginia into the ground. Sailor's Creek was a near slaughterhouse for the Confederate army. And yet it seems the contention of history, that Lee had a viable army at Appomattox.
With his great desire to escape to somewhere, R.E. Lee nearly totally destroyed his army.

A sad record if a Battle of Appomattox had ever taken place. Fought to the last dead Confederate soldier.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

5fish

Captain
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
7,292
Location
Central Florida
Topic..........

After Lee saw reconstruction I am sure probably wished at times he had done that. He would even be more of a hero than he is now.
I would disagree with this but Reconstruction is another topic........


Think if Lee had gone down fighting what the years after the war would have been like.......
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,393
Location
Near Kankakee
Sailor's Creek was a near slaughterhouse for the Confederate army.
I'll take the liberty of a short sidebar here: Is it Sailor's or Sayler's. Or is his a situation in which either is correct?

ole
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,393
Location
Near Kankakee
And students of the war should realize that Lee continued the war long after the Confederacy was lost.
The problem is, whitworth, it was not Lee's call. I don't know of where he explicitly recommended to Davis to toss it in and end the suffering. (I think there was one time when he hinted at it.) I don't know of where Davis ever thought about stopping the enormous prices being paid. (I'm oversimplifying that the dumb **** even sent some commissioners to propose an end to the war based on "we keep our slaves and our independence, in return for which, we will allow you to stop shooting at us.")
By the time of the retreat, the Confederacy was contending for control of North Carolina and eastern Virginia. It no longer was a sustainable country.
"Contending for control" is a slight misstatement. How about "desperately trying not to get thrown out"?

Good points. Don't stop posting.

ole
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,393
Location
Near Kankakee
Thanks, Blockade. That was one of those things that always bothered me but was never a good enough reason to ask the question.

ole
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

timewalker

Cadet
Joined
Jan 7, 2008
Messages
1,123
Location
Flower Mound, Texas
The problem is, whitworth, it was not Lee's call. I don't know of where he explicitly recommended to Davis to toss it in and end the suffering. (I think there was one time when he hinted at it.) I don't know of where Davis ever thought about stopping the enormous prices being paid. (I'm oversimplifying that the dumb **** even sent some commissioners to propose an end to the war based on "we keep our slaves and our independence, in return for which, we will allow you to stop shooting at us.")"Contending for control" is a slight misstatement. How about "desperately trying not to get thrown out"?

Good points. Don't stop posting.

ole
Davis' cheek has never ceased to amaze me. It would be roughly equivalent to Colonel Travis at the Alamo telling Santa Anna "Agree to Texas Independence and we will let you go home." Actually worse than that, because the Texans won in the end. More like Paulus telling the Russians, "Surrender and quit shooting at us and we'll let you be a conquered people."

His pronouncements after the fall of Richmond have all the rining truth of Sadaam's press secretary as the allied forces closed in on Baghdad.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,817
Location
California
Its a sad statement on the man, it really is. Fighting to the last possible hope of victory was one thing. By the time Hood invaded Tennessee, it would have taken a miracle to do more than, at the very most, prolong the agony.

One might say earlier. But certainly not later.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,393
Location
Near Kankakee
And here we are treading on applying what we know to what they thought. Davis and Lee, et al., were doggone fools for not cutting their losses. But that is not how their brains worked at the time. One must take up the shattered lance and go one more time at the foe.

We see that in the defiance at the Bulge. We see that in Colonel Moore's affray in country. Maybe even Vince Lombardi? We don't often see good sense in what happened. It doesn't always work, but it does make history.

ole
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,817
Location
California
The problem is that a (governmental) leader has a responsibility to recognize when the game is over and not drag it on and on until the last drop of blood and sweat is wrung out of the soldiers of that country.

As stated, Thermopylae being fought to the death was a stand that meant something. Lee doing so at Appomattox would just generate widows and orphans, it wouldn't even buy time.
 

timewalker

Cadet
Joined
Jan 7, 2008
Messages
1,123
Location
Flower Mound, Texas
And here we are treading on applying what we know to what they thought. Davis and Lee, et al., were doggone fools for not cutting their losses. But that is not how their brains worked at the time. One must take up the shattered lance and go one more time at the foe.

We see that in the defiance at the Bulge. We see that in Colonel Moore's affray in country. Maybe even Vince Lombardi? We don't often see good sense in what happened. It doesn't always work, but it does make history.

ole
There is a difference between dying for a cause when that death will have meaning, or when there is a glimmer of hope. The men at the Bulge died to block the road and shorten the war (and they held out). Colonel Moore's men died because they still had a chance of winning (which they did). However, there comes a point were another death is meaningless. General King recognized that on Bataaan; General Wainwright on Corregidor.

Lee recognized that at Appomattox. I am not sure that Davis ever did. Seems to me that Davis lost the forest for the trees somewhere.
 

5fish

Captain
Joined
Aug 26, 2007
Messages
7,292
Location
Central Florida
There is a difference between dying for a cause when that death will have meaning, or when there is a glimmer of hope. The men at the Bulge died to block the road and shorten the war (and they held out). Colonel Moore's men died because they still had a chance of winning (which they did). However, there comes a point were another death is meaningless. General King recognized that on Bataaan; General Wainwright on Corregidor.

Lee recognized that at Appomattox. I am not sure that Davis ever did. Seems to me that Davis lost the forest for the trees somewhere.

How do we know if Lee had fought to the last man that in ten years the south would have had thier wish of independence after an insurgent war.

I bet if Lee ahd fought to the last. Forrest, Wheeler and other confederate would have started an insurgent war by the end of 1865. LEE's name would have been the rallying cry.

More blood to shed.....
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,817
Location
California
I have no idea about Wheeler (though I find him to be hardly likely to inspire that kind fo war), but Forrest seems to have been willing to say "Okay. We lost. Let's end this gracefully."

I don't see him being driven to "Avenge Lee!" particularly if it was clear Lee chose to fight to the last (instead of being killed in some dishonorable way).
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,393
Location
Near Kankakee
So at what point does one cry uncle? When the Bosch clearly had the edge over London? When the Japanese were sweeping China, Indochina and Oceania? When do we sue for an adjustment or figure we can still whip them? Not an easy decision ...

...except in this case. Lee's boys hadn't a decent meal in months. Ammunition was short and Grant had about twice the men Lee had. Lee was dug in well, and Grant couldn't assail any point without great loss.

Lee wasn't going anywhere; it was over. Davis wasn't going anywhere; it was over. Lee and Richmond could do nothing but watch the noose being made. And tightened. Sherman has destroyed very nearly every supply line leading to Petersburg. And he was well on his way to destroying the last trickle of grain reaching Lee on the last railroad.

There is something noble to be said about hanging on until the last dog dies; if there was a chance of breaking out or turning Grant back, or even getting in a wagon or two of food and ammunition, I'd see a reason to hang on. Under the circumstances, it was almost over when Lee got himself bottled up at Petersburg. He knew that. An army invested is an army that can only waste away. An army that can't move is an army that is as good as dead.

So .... at what point should Davis, Lee, either or both, have said enough is enough!

ole
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top