Can Gen. Robert E. Lee still be considered "A great general and honorable man"?

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Because this was the society he was defending. A slave holding and actively enslaving society. Its why the citation: "Lee, man of honor" always has an asterisk.

Lee was always honored by his men and postwar by the South and the American nation as a whole. But the OP is asking us: was he a great general and an honorable man. Great general for sure. But as Shakespeare wrote in All About Nothing "in a false quarrel there is no true valor." Lee's greatest feats were in the service of America's worse cause. We can understand Lee, we can comprehend his social background and ideas and conflicting loyalties. We can respect his courage, commitment, military judgement, leadership, and intellectual daring. But honor? Which, to me, implies approval, justification, righteousness? There will always be an asterisk.
much ado about nothing
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if it's called all about nothing your place it must have been translated to american
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jgoodguy

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matthew mckeon

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Honor is situational to the society in which it is valued. A man that grows vast numbers of blue potatoes might be called great and honorable in one society, but not so in the society that values yellow potatoes.
Sure. But we're talking about our society.
 
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... Was Lee an honorable man, relative to his society, he was. ...
True enough, but I think the OP was asking whether we think Lee was an honorable man, not whether his contemporary countrymen did. You can well ask how meaningful a question that is, but it cannot be avoided as we grapple with how we commemorate Confederate heroes. There are statues to Genghis Khan in present day Mongolia. GK was the greatest cavalry general of all time bar none - Forrest isn't even in his league - and by the lights of his own society, GK may well have been an honorable man too - I don't know that he wasn't.
As for R. E. Lee, I'd say he was an honorable man with different values than my own, who was caught in a tragic situation. After the war he behaved more honorably than many of his former colleagues. I can appreciate Lee's professional skill, and I can understand the choices he made.
 

jgoodguy

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True enough, but I think the OP was asking whether we think Lee was an honorable man, not whether his contemporary countrymen did. You can well ask how meaningful a question that is, but it cannot be avoided as we grapple with how we commemorate Confederate heroes. There are statues to Genghis Khan in present day Mongolia. GK was the greatest cavalry general of all time bar none - Forrest isn't even in his league - and by the lights of his own society, GK may well have been an honorable man too - I don't know that he wasn't.
As for R. E. Lee, I'd say he was an honorable man with different values than my own, who was caught in a tragic situation. After the war he behaved more honorably than many of his former colleagues. I can appreciate Lee's professional skill, and I can understand the choices he made.
OP asked
What do you guys think?
I answered what I thought.
 

CSA Today

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??? Bobby Lee was nothing but a traitor, he took his best shot to win the war, ended up surrendering his army and losing the war. So personally I wouldn't say he was a great General either. Tell me boys how these great Generals get beat so bad they have to surrender their whole **** Army???? And.....lose the War???? Looking like Mr. Lee was a traitor and a loser. Truth.
Why? Most Americans have always considered George Washington honorable in the past, perhaps not as many now though given his slavery connection.
 

Lost Cause

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True enough, but I think the OP was asking whether we think Lee was an honorable man, not whether his contemporary countrymen did. You can well ask how meaningful a question that is, but it cannot be avoided as we grapple with how we commemorate Confederate heroes. There are statues to Genghis Khan in present day Mongolia. GK was the greatest cavalry general of all time bar none - Forrest isn't even in his league - and by the lights of his own society, GK may well have been an honorable man too - I don't know that he wasn't.
As for R. E. Lee, I'd say he was an honorable man with different values than my own, who was caught in a tragic situation. After the war he behaved more honorably than many of his former colleagues. I can appreciate Lee's professional skill, and I can understand the choices he made.
Genghis Khan comes up from time to time here as a comparable, whether it be downplay Confederate cavalry exploits or to downplay the destruction of Sherman’s March. Regardless, what does going back to the 13th century have to do with Robert E Lee?
 
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I think people lack empathy in these situations. Regardless of what the motivations were for the start of the Civil War, a lot of these mens decisions came down to "Can I march into my hometown, with an army of thousands at my back, and order those soldiers to shoot the people I grew up with?" Edited. I really don't think people would be so quick to make that decision when actually granted the power. Do you think, if tomorrow, you were handed complete control of the United States Military and told to march into your current town of residence and open fire on anyone and everyone, would you do it? Even if the town was full of awful capitalistic republicans or awful socialistic democrats? Would you really be able to order the deaths of the barber that cuts your hair? The school teachers that taught your kids? Would you be able to fire on Jim, the guy you ate lunch with for 15 years with at the factory? Would you be able to shoot your brother in law? Would you be able to shoot your brother? Think about what people are genuinely asking of Lee here.....

When Lee was offered command of the Union army, that was the decision he was faced with. It was as simple as "I can't march an army into my home town. I would rather defend my home town and all that I know." The guy was married to Washingtons great granddaughter for crying out loud. You couldn't find a more "patriotic American" than Lee in 1860. I think if people put themselves in his shoes for 5 minutes, things wouldn't be so black and white. The debate boils down to; does honor mean "as an officer of the United States army do I obey orders without hesitation and do what I'm asked?" or does honor mean "I am going home to protect my family, my town, and those that I know about."
 
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Genghis Khan comes up from time to time here as a comparable, whether it be downplay Confederate cavalry exploits or to downplay the destruction of Sherman’s March. Regardless, what does going back to the 13th century have to do with Robert E Lee?
I didn't say Khan was a "comparable." Forrest was good, but he wasn't anywhere near that good. GK conquered most of the known world with lightning speed. Only his early death prevented him from finishing the job. He cut through his opponents like a hot knife through butter.
 


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