Favorite Robert E. Lee Quotes


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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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#43
Or perhaps he was a criminal guilty of murder for prosecuting the battle after he knew his position was hopeless and resistance was futile, leading only to unnecessary loss of life.
Or perhaps Lee looked to George Washington (a personal hero) as an inspiring example of perseverance to continue the battle in the face of seeming hopelessness.
 
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#44
Not from R.E. Lee but about him. William Mack Lee, Gen'l Lee's body servant and cook throughout the war and until his death in 1870:

"I was raised by one of the greatest men in the world. There was never one born of a woman greater than Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to my judgment. All of his servants were set free ten years before the war, but all remained on the plantation until after the surrender."

View attachment 20290
Mack Lee was a fraud.
 

cash

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#47
Or perhaps Lee looked to George Washington (a personal hero) as an inspiring example of perseverance to continue the battle in the face of seeming hopelessness.
Washington recognized what actual hopelessness was when he surrendered to the French in the French and Indian War. There wasn't hopelessness in the American Revolution.
 

dlofting

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#48
So what does that say about Lee when, in 1864 it became a siege and realizing it was just a mere question of time he didn't surrender?
I see this as a good example of Lee being a complex human being. He was logical and his head told him that a siege meant it was only a matter of time.......but he was also emotional, and his heart didn't want to give up. Was that wrong? Maybe. Was he conflicted about it, then, and later on in life? Probably.
 

ole

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#49
Or perhaps Lee looked to George Washington (a personal hero) as an inspiring example of perseverance to continue the battle in the face of seeming hopelessness.
Had it not been for Jefferson Davis, I believe Lee would have surrendered much earlier to avoid the "needless effusion of blood."

Yes, he was pugnacious and a fighter to the end, but he was also pragmatic as evidenced in his statement that if he got bottled up, the war was over. What prevented him from avoiding further casualties was Jefferson Davis.
 

rhp6033

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#50
So what does that say about Lee when, in 1864 it became a siege and realizing it was just a mere question of time he didn't surrender?
:ee was a believer in civilian control of the military. Specifically, he stuck to the chain of command, and he was underneath Jefferson Davis. If Davis wanted to continue the war, Lee would do so, regardless of Lee's opinion about the outcome. The only thing that removed him from that obligation was his inability to physically obey the orders. Once trapped at Appomattox, and after determining that there was no viable route of escape for the army, he had reached that point.
 

rhp6033

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#51
I don't have the quote at hand, but it goes something like this...

One of Lee's aids was up late by lantern-light working on some project, and Lee inquired about what he was working on. The aid said he was trying to determine how, with the resources available, the war might be won by the South. "Put away your ciphers", Lee replied. "I have already done them, and there is no cypher in existence through which we can win. We must simply do our duty, and trust in Providence to provide the rest".
 

cash

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#52
:ee was a believer in civilian control of the military. Specifically, he stuck to the chain of command, and he was underneath Jefferson Davis. If Davis wanted to continue the war, Lee would do so, regardless of Lee's opinion about the outcome. The only thing that removed him from that obligation was his inability to physically obey the orders. Once trapped at Appomattox, and after determining that there was no viable route of escape for the army, he had reached that point.
Are you saying an army commander doesn't have the authority to surrender his army when he is convinced that further resistance will merely result in unnecessary loss of life?
 
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#53
Can you and Cash document that?
Read his book, which is available on-line. In an earlier post Cash detailed many, but certainly not all, of the ways that Mack Lee's account differs with known history. There is no evidence at all that Mack Lee was every owned by Robert Lee, ever worked for Robert Lee, or even met Robert Lee.
 
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#54
Read his book, which is available on-line. In an earlier post Cash detailed many, but certainly not all, of the ways that Mack Lee's account differs with known history. There is no evidence at all that Mack Lee was every owned by Robert Lee, ever worked for Robert Lee, or even met Robert Lee.
Nice try KS. R.E. Lee left Mack Lee $360 in his will, equivalent to $6,600 today, so odds are he knew him well. . . . I forget, how much did U.S. Grant leave his ex-slave?

William Mack Lee, b. 1835
History of the Life of Rev. Wm. Mack Lee: Body Servant of General Robert E. Lee Through the Civil War: Cook from 1861 to 1865
[Norfolk, Va.: The Smith Printing Company], c1918.

Summary

William Mack Lee (1835-c.1930) was a body servant and cook for General Robert E. Lee during the Civil War and until the general's death in 1870. Lee was raised at the General's Arlington Heights estate and served "Marse Robert, as I called him" even after being legally emancipated in 1865 (p. 3). General Lee left him $360 in his will, which Lee used to educate himself. He was ordained "a Missionary Baptist preacher" in Washington, D.C.
 
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rhp6033

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#55
Are you saying an army commander doesn't have the authority to surrender his army when he is convinced that further resistance will merely result in unnecessary loss of life?
There being no orders to the contrary, a commander can exercise his own judgement and surrender if the circumstances dictate. But sometimes his superior orders him to continue to fight regardless of the cost, or simply doesn't leave room for discretion. Lee found himself in that situation with Davis.

That is why Lee's orders to his subordinates always included the words "if practical", to make them discretionary. Davis didn't have enough sense to recognize reality when it hit him in the face, and even ordered Johnston to continue to fight after the ANV had surrendered, an order which Johnston ignored (the exception to this thesis). Jackson once court-martialed an officer who withdrew his men from an exposed position where the unit was out of ammunition, on the grounds that Jackson hadn't issued an order authorizing the withdrawal.
 

cash

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#56
There being no orders to the contrary, a commander can exercise his own judgement and surrender if the circumstances dictate. But sometimes his superior orders him to continue to fight regardless of the cost, or simply doesn't leave room for discretion. Lee found himself in that situation with Davis.

That is why Lee's orders to his subordinates always included the words "if practical", to make them discretionary. Davis didn't have enough sense to recognize reality when it hit him in the face, and even ordered Johnston to continue to fight after the ANV had surrendered, an order which Johnston ignored (the exception to this thesis). Jackson once court-martialed an officer who withdrew his men from an exposed position where the unit was out of ammunition, on the grounds that Jackson hadn't issued an order authorizing the withdrawal.
I don't recall Davis ordering Lee not to surrender during the Richmond/Petersburg siege.
 

rhp6033

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#59
I don't recall Davis ordering Lee not to surrender during the Richmond/Petersburg siege.
I'm not aware of any written order, but Lee and Davis were in frequent consultation during the winter of 1865. We may infer from Davis' order to Johnston to not surrender and to continue fighting that Lee was operating under similar orders.
 

cash

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#60
I'm not aware of any written order, but Lee and Davis were in frequent consultation during the winter of 1865. We may infer from Davis' order to Johnston to not surrender and to continue fighting that Lee was operating under similar orders.
Or we can infer that Davis felt it necessary to issue those orders to Johnston in the wake of Lee's surrender, as the Army of Tennessee was the next most important army in the field and he didn't have confidence in Retreating Joe.
 



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