Lee's Psychology--A Fatal Flaw

James N.

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The idea of building defensive entrenchments when besieging a fortress is very old indeed and goes back past Caesar.

... There is a specific type of situation in WW1 which is novel, which is the establishment of a complete set of manned fieldworks stretching across the whole theatre of operations. This means that it is no longer possible to turn the enemy and that attacks on trenches are necessary.
Another factor that's novel in WW1 is that the whole force digs in as a matter of course on both sides, regardless of quality. This is attributable to the spread of very long range high power rifles, the spread of shell-firing artillery with good time fuzes, and in particular the spread of the heavy watercooled machine gun (as this means that even in a relatively "quiet" sector it's not safe to have troops in the open within line of sight for very long at all.)
There is a very interesting example of the exact opposite displayed at Ninety-Six National Historic Site, South Carolina, remarkable for its compactness, simplicity, and ease of understanding. Ninety-Six was a tiny community originally built around a trading post of that name which was erroneously believed to be that many miles from Charleston. Following the British invasion of the state and capture of Charleston by the British in 1780 during the Revolution, many of these small upcountry settlements became British garrisons and/or Tory strongholds and therefore targets for small Patriot forces led by Nathaniel Greene, Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter, and others. Greene led an attack on Ninety-Six that resulted in a sort of mini-siege, complete with fortifications (the Star Fort surrounding the trading post) and siegeworks. In the current park a short observation tower located in the center of where the the British fort once stood allows visitors to overlook the entire area of operations, including the SINGLE Patriot zig-zag approach trench. This was a truly and typically dinky backwoods operation, surprisingly conducted on traditional and formal lines. Also typical of Greene's usual lack of success that nevertheless worked to his advantage: following a very short "siege" he was forced to give it up and withdraw, whereupon the British and Tories did likewise, abandoning Ninety-Six and the surrounding area, retreating all the way back to Charleston.
 

James N.

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... Were there any innovations in the use of artillery? I think I read something about howitzers used in a similar way like trench mortars in WWI - but am quite unsure about it....
That is EXACTLY what howitzers were intended for!
 

Saphroneth

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There is a very interesting example of the exact opposite displayed at Ninety-Six National Historic Site, South Carolina, remarkable for its compactness, simplicity, and ease of understanding.
It's a classic example of regular approaches, by the sound of it, though displaying the unusual miserliness that applies in a logistically difficult theatre.
 

Piedone

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So we have to see Petersburg as a quite traditional siege operation where heavy siege ordinance wasn‘t used for some reason?

I read somewhere that Lee brought the use of field fortifications to some kind of perfection - is this based on reality or just a myth? From what I am reading here there seemingly was nothing special about all of that....
 

Saphroneth

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So we have to see Petersburg as a quite traditional siege operation where heavy siege ordinance wasn‘t used for some reason?

I read somewhere that Lee brought the use of field fortifications to some kind of perfection - is this based on reality or just a myth? From what I am reading here there seemingly was nothing special about all of that....
I think the problem that results here is that Civil War historiography is often viewed from a baseline which is American history, without looking at how wars were fought elsewhere in the world in similar time periods.

The thing which makes Lee unusual is probably partly circumstance. It happens that as the main Confederate commander in 1864 he was:


- In charge of an army which was significantly smaller than the enemy.
- In charge of an army which was not a well disciplined professional army.
- In a situation where he has no belts of fortifications to retire behind.

A normal commander in a European war is going to have at least one of those things, generally speaking. He's going to have an army which is well drilled, and/or larger, and if he has neither of those he usually has the benefit of withdrawing behind a belt of fortifications to delay the enemy. Lee doesn't have any of those things, and consequently to fight his enemy he has to rely on "active defence" - i.e. dig in on important areas, the contemporary US army doctrine - while Grant is obliging enough to attack those entrenchments, often head-on.


A Napoelonic commander would have been able to withdraw behind his fortification belts, for example, and then manoeuvre to impact the sieges.



If, for example, Beauregard had been willing to attack Halleck's advancing field entrenchments around Corinth, Halleck would probably get the same accolade. If Sherman had been willing to attack Johnston's field entrenchments around Atlanta more often, then Johnston would probably get the same accolade.
If the Germans had been willing to keep attacking the French field entrenchments head-on in 1870, then there might still be a French imperial family...
 

wausaubob

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I don't think he had any fatal flaw. He miscalculated how much support there was for secession in the five border regions including western Virginia. He might not have been following naval developments very closely in the pre Civil War era.
I think when the US navy engaged at Port Royal and at Fort Pulaski, General Lee learned an important lesson. The US navy was probably going to capture the ocean and gulf ports, and the Confederate armies could never fight a major engagement within the operational zone of naval support.
The Confederacy had to win land battles and to win quickly, because the US would eventually wise up and finish closing the blockade ports.
 

J C J Barefoot

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Lee , as we know graduated with zero demerits from West Point. ZERO. This shows he was a young man of extraordinary discipline and high virtue. Shamed by his father’s legacy, he had something to overcome. He did so by galant living.

Married into the family of George Washington, the legacy of honor and duty became ever more important in his early adult formation. He embraced duty, honor, country.
The history is well known of Lee’s coming into a very meaningful Christianity in mid life—years before the war. We know that his faith in Jesus Christ, and in high church sacramental Christianity (Episcopalian) took root in early mid life and never stopped growing , even to the point of is death. His favorite Protestant hymn was “How Firm a Foundation”. It was played at the unveiling of his statue in Richmond. Look it up and it will tell you a great deal about Lee’s soul.
This sets the stage, I believe for understanding Lee and a core level. How so?
In this way:
To Lee, a man so full of virtue, duty and honor—and possessing a deeply growing and vibrant faith —oaths and promises to The Almighty were meaningful. He raised his hand to the Trinity and took an oath to fight for and defend the United States and it’s Constitution. Then, renouncing that very same oath to God, in order to fight, kill , and destroy ( which is what General’s do) the solders of the United States under the personal belief for a “higher calling” to Virginian independence and it’s slave culture, must have caused emotional and spiritual conflict. If it did not conflict him, he was not the man he appeared to be.I f it did not, Lee was a fraud. We know he was no fraud. Ergo, he was conflicted. Not in his psychology, but in his soul.
Proof that it did in fact conflict him was his constant referral to the Union forces as “Those People”. These , of course were formally “His People”. Proof as well, is that after Gettysburg he issued a proclamation to the AON to repent of their pride and called for a day of fasting. He clearly saw the defeat as the judgment of God against them. Still-he waged war for two more bloody years.

We learn that by March of 1865—as the walls are closing in on the AON, the Confederacy, and Lee, that Lee became expressive —to General Gordan, and especially to his own son—that from “the beginning” he, Lee, knew it was gong to end this way. He said he knew from the outset, that the economic , naval, and manpower superiority of the North would prevail—unless every single man and women the south did their duty. But does anyone agree the ANV and the people of the South did not do their duty? They committed regional suicide. So—he knew it all along. He stated he hated succession and warned against it. But still went forward.
No Union General is recorded as having soul deep doubts at the beginning of the war to it’s end. This is not minor friends. When the Lee is conflicted, and Grant and Sherman are certain of their cause this is a major mis-match of the will and soul.

So we see a tragedy of both Greek and Biblical proportions in Lee. A man from his youth committed to virtue and doing what is right and nobel. A man who finds faith in Christ—beyond the civil religion of both North and South.. He breaks his oath to God. He knows from the very beginning leaving the Union is a mistake, deep in his heart at the start in’61 he believes the South will lose —and looking back in ’65 he says to his son “see I told ya’ll”. Can one even think of this without asking new questions about Lee? What overcame his prudent Christian judgment that would let him lead his state —and the South into utter destruction?
I don’t know for sure—God knows.. But I guess it is the same conflict many have— the writer included. Worldly pride and honor vs. prudence and faith.
Appomattox, on Palm Sunday broke Lee’s pride. It was a person grace. The conflict in the man was over. I like to think that he saw anew the hand of God in the affairs of men. But who shall know? There is a strong outward clue. After Appomattox, Lee became a completed Christian. He was taken, blessed, broken….and given away as a rebuilder of the society he helped to destroy. That is his great legacy.
 

A. Roy

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I believe trench warfare, as it is now called, was around long before the American Civil War and that Robert E. Lee and his military contemporaries would have been quite familiar with it. Just an opinion, but I don't think there was anything especially "new school" about it.
The idea of building defensive entrenchments when besieging a fortress is very old indeed and goes back past Caesar.

I guess this is getting far afield from the psychology of Gen. Lee, but I was surprised to see the word "sapper" (some translations say "trenches") used on Sennacherib's Prism in discussing his military operations in Judea in the 8th century BCE. Earth fortifications were used at that time in connection with siege operations in antiquity, but I'm not sure whether what we think of as field fortifications were used back then (edit: that is, the routine digging-in practiced by Civil War armies). It would be interesting to know more about that. I'm pretty sure that besiegers customarily built their own fortifications (referred to as circumvallation?) at least going back several hundred years, to protect against sorties or other forces coming in to rescue the besieged fortress.

Here's part of Sennacherib's account from Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts:

"As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered (them) by means of well-stamped (earth-)ramps, and battering-rams brought (thus) near (to the walls) (combined with) the attack by foot soldiers, (using) mines, breaches as well as sapper work. I drove out (of them) 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered (them) booty. Himself [Hezekiah] I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage..."

ARB
 
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Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
So we see a tragedy of both Greek and Biblical proportions in Lee. A man from his youth committed to virtue and doing what is right and nobel. A man who finds faith in Christ—beyond the civil religion of both North and South.. He breaks his oath to God. He knows from the very beginning leaving the Union is a mistake, deep in his heart at the start in’61 he believes the South will lose —and looking back in ’65 he says to his son “see I told ya’ll”. Can one even think of this without asking new questions about Lee? What overcame his prudent Christian judgment that would let him lead his state —and the South into utter destruction?
I think this is probably an exaggeration of how it was viewed by Lee, and by others at the time. There is an interpretation which is that an oath sworn as part of taking an office is binding while holding that office, and consequently Lee's resignation released him from that oath rather than breaking it.

While this interpretation is not universal, for obvious reasons I think it's the one that those men who resigned adopted. The analogous situation is those who swore oaths to support the Crown before the American War of Independence.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
I guess this is getting far afield from the psychology of Gen. Lee, but I was surprised to see the word "sapper" (some translations say "trenches") used on Sennacherib's Prism in discussing his military operations in Judea in the 8th century BCE. Earth fortifications were used at that time in connection with siege operations in antiquity, but I'm not sure whether what we think of as field fortifications were used back then (edit: that is, the routine digging-in practiced by Civil War armies). It would be interesting to know more about that. I'm pretty sure that besiegers customarily built their own fortifications (referred to as circumvallation?) at least going several hundred years, to protect against sorties or other forces coming in to rescue the besieged fortress.

Here's part of Sennacherib's account from Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts:

"As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in their vicinity, and conquered (them) by means of well-stamped (earth-)ramps, and battering-rams brought (thus) near (to the walls) (combined with) the attack by foot soldiers, (using) mines, breaches as well as sapper work. I drove out (of them) 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered (them) booty. Himself [Hezekiah] I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage..."

ARB
Technically, the walls of circumvallation face outwards and are intended to safeguard the besieger against attack from the outside (IOW, to defend against a relief force trying to break the siege). Walls of contravallation face inwards towards the position being besieged position to safeguard the besieging force against a sally (an attack by those being besieged).

Julius Caesar's siege of Alesia in 52 BC provides examples of both.
 

James N.

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Lee , as we know graduated with zero demerits from West Point. ZERO. This shows he was a young man of extraordinary discipline and high virtue. Shamed by his father’s legacy, he had something to overcome. He did so by galant living...
True enough, but I've read that in the era in which Lee attended the Academy it was possible for cadets to "work off" demerits, thereby making it now impossible to determine with accuracy a claim like yours.
 

Saphroneth

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True enough, but I've read that in the era in which Lee attended the Academy it was possible for cadets to "work off" demerits, thereby making it now impossible to determine with accuracy a claim like yours.
The references I have seen claim that Lee went four years without recieving a demerit, not merely that he graduated with zero. Apparently 200 demerits in one year was an automatic dismissal.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
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True enough, but I've read that in the era in which Lee attended the Academy it was possible for cadets to "work off" demerits, thereby making it now impossible to determine with accuracy a claim like yours.
I am not sure when that tradition started, but it has been around a long time. If you go to a football game, the Cadets who have been walking off their demerits come into the stadium about halftime to a cheer (or they did -- it has been a while since I was up there for a game).

My nephew's son just started "Beast Barracks" there (Class of 2025 -- third generation after his grandfather and uncle). I'll have to ask him how that tradition goes nowadays.

Robert E. Lee was around for the "Eggnog Riot" (or the "Grog Mutiny") at West Point, Christmas Eve, 1826. In total, 19 Cadets were courts-martialed, all convicted, all sentenced to be dismissed -- another 53 received lesser punishments. Eight of the dismissals were granted clemency, five of those actually went on to graduate. One of those granted clemency was Jefferson Davis, who had a fondness for drink. Cadet Lee was not one of those charged, but he was a witness at the courts. Lee spoke for clemency on some of those charged based on their prior good records.
 

leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
Lee , as we know graduated with zero demerits from West Point. ZERO. This shows he was a young man of extraordinary discipline and high virtue. Shamed by his father’s legacy, he had something to overcome. He did so by galant living.

Married into the family of George Washington, the legacy of honor and duty became ever more important in his early adult formation. He embraced duty, honor, country.
The history is well known of Lee’s coming into a very meaningful Christianity in mid life—years before the war. We know that his faith in Jesus Christ, and in high church sacramental Christianity (Episcopalian) took root in early mid life and never stopped growing , even to the point of is death. His favorite Protestant hymn was “How Firm a Foundation”. It was played at the unveiling of his statue in Richmond. Look it up and it will tell you a great deal about Lee’s soul.
This sets the stage, I believe for understanding Lee and a core level. How so?
In this way:
To Lee, a man so full of virtue, duty and honor—and possessing a deeply growing and vibrant faith —oaths and promises to The Almighty were meaningful. He raised his hand to the Trinity and took an oath to fight for and defend the United States and it’s Constitution. Then, renouncing that very same oath to God, in order to fight, kill , and destroy ( which is what General’s do) the solders of the United States under the personal belief for a “higher calling” to Virginian independence and it’s slave culture, must have caused emotional and spiritual conflict. If it did not conflict him, he was not the man he appeared to be.I f it did not, Lee was a fraud. We know he was no fraud. Ergo, he was conflicted. Not in his psychology, but in his soul.
Proof that it did in fact conflict him was his constant referral to the Union forces as “Those People”. These , of course were formally “His People”. Proof as well, is that after Gettysburg he issued a proclamation to the AON to repent of their pride and called for a day of fasting. He clearly saw the defeat as the judgment of God against them. Still-he waged war for two more bloody years.

We learn that by March of 1865—as the walls are closing in on the AON, the Confederacy, and Lee, that Lee became expressive —to General Gordan, and especially to his own son—that from “the beginning” he, Lee, knew it was gong to end this way. He said he knew from the outset, that the economic , naval, and manpower superiority of the North would prevail—unless every single man and women the south did their duty. But does anyone agree the ANV and the people of the South did not do their duty? They committed regional suicide. So—he knew it all along. He stated he hated succession and warned against it. But still went forward.
No Union General is recorded as having soul deep doubts at the beginning of the war to it’s end. This is not minor friends. When the Lee is conflicted, and Grant and Sherman are certain of their cause this is a major mis-match of the will and soul.

So we see a tragedy of both Greek and Biblical proportions in Lee. A man from his youth committed to virtue and doing what is right and nobel. A man who finds faith in Christ—beyond the civil religion of both North and South.. He breaks his oath to God. He knows from the very beginning leaving the Union is a mistake, deep in his heart at the start in’61 he believes the South will lose —and looking back in ’65 he says to his son “see I told ya’ll”. Can one even think of this without asking new questions about Lee? What overcame his prudent Christian judgment that would let him lead his state —and the South into utter destruction?
I don’t know for sure—God knows.. But I guess it is the same conflict many have— the writer included. Worldly pride and honor vs. prudence and faith.
Appomattox, on Palm Sunday broke Lee’s pride. It was a person grace. The conflict in the man was over. I like to think that he saw anew the hand of God in the affairs of men. But who shall know? There is a strong outward clue. After Appomattox, Lee became a completed Christian. He was taken, blessed, broken….and given away as a rebuilder of the society he helped to destroy. That is his great legacy.
Not so sure about all that. Unlike former Confedrate Generals Forrest, Beuraugard and Longstreet Lee never publicly spike in favor of racial equality. Also many good Christian Southeners fought against the AnV in the form of the United States Coloured Troops and we're executed upon capture at the battle of the Crater.
Leftyhunter
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Not so sure about all that. Unlike former Confedrate Generals Forrest, Beuraugard and Longstreet Lee never publicly spike in favor of racial equality. Also many good Christian Southeners fought against the AnV in the form of the United States Coloured Troops and we're executed upon capture at the battle of the Crater.
Leftyhunter
Lee's Class graduated 45 cadets. Lee was one of five with zero demerits.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Lee , as we know graduated with zero demerits from West Point. ZERO. This shows he was a young man of extraordinary discipline and high virtue. Shamed by his father’s legacy, he had something to overcome. He did so by galant living.

Married into the family of George Washington, the legacy of honor and duty became ever more important in his early adult formation. He embraced duty, honor, country.
The history is well known of Lee’s coming into a very meaningful Christianity in mid life—years before the war. We know that his faith in Jesus Christ, and in high church sacramental Christianity (Episcopalian) took root in early mid life and never stopped growing , even to the point of is death. His favorite Protestant hymn was “How Firm a Foundation”. It was played at the unveiling of his statue in Richmond. Look it up and it will tell you a great deal about Lee’s soul.
This sets the stage, I believe for understanding Lee and a core level. How so?
In this way:
To Lee, a man so full of virtue, duty and honor—and possessing a deeply growing and vibrant faith —oaths and promises to The Almighty were meaningful. He raised his hand to the Trinity and took an oath to fight for and defend the United States and it’s Constitution. Then, renouncing that very same oath to God, in order to fight, kill , and destroy ( which is what General’s do) the solders of the United States under the personal belief for a “higher calling” to Virginian independence and it’s slave culture, must have caused emotional and spiritual conflict. If it did not conflict him, he was not the man he appeared to be.I f it did not, Lee was a fraud. We know he was no fraud. Ergo, he was conflicted. Not in his psychology, but in his soul.
Proof that it did in fact conflict him was his constant referral to the Union forces as “Those People”. These , of course were formally “His People”. Proof as well, is that after Gettysburg he issued a proclamation to the AON to repent of their pride and called for a day of fasting. He clearly saw the defeat as the judgment of God against them. Still-he waged war for two more bloody years.

We learn that by March of 1865—as the walls are closing in on the AON, the Confederacy, and Lee, that Lee became expressive —to General Gordan, and especially to his own son—that from “the beginning” he, Lee, knew it was gong to end this way. He said he knew from the outset, that the economic , naval, and manpower superiority of the North would prevail—unless every single man and women the south did their duty. But does anyone agree the ANV and the people of the South did not do their duty? They committed regional suicide. So—he knew it all along. He stated he hated succession and warned against it. But still went forward.
No Union General is recorded as having soul deep doubts at the beginning of the war to it’s end. This is not minor friends. When the Lee is conflicted, and Grant and Sherman are certain of their cause this is a major mis-match of the will and soul.

So we see a tragedy of both Greek and Biblical proportions in Lee. A man from his youth committed to virtue and doing what is right and nobel. A man who finds faith in Christ—beyond the civil religion of both North and South.. He breaks his oath to God. He knows from the very beginning leaving the Union is a mistake, deep in his heart at the start in’61 he believes the South will lose —and looking back in ’65 he says to his son “see I told ya’ll”. Can one even think of this without asking new questions about Lee? What overcame his prudent Christian judgment that would let him lead his state —and the South into utter destruction?
I don’t know for sure—God knows.. But I guess it is the same conflict many have— the writer included. Worldly pride and honor vs. prudence and faith.
Appomattox, on Palm Sunday broke Lee’s pride. It was a person grace. The conflict in the man was over. I like to think that he saw anew the hand of God in the affairs of men. But who shall know? There is a strong outward clue. After Appomattox, Lee became a completed Christian. He was taken, blessed, broken….and given away as a rebuilder of the society he helped to destroy. That is his great legacy.
Not so sure about all that. Unlike former Confedrate Generals Forrest, Beuraugard and Longstreet Lee never publicly spike in favor of racial equality. Also many good Christian Southeners fought against the AnV in the form of the United States Coloured Troops and we're executed upon capture at the battle of the Crater.
Leftyhunter
Lee's Class graduated 45 cadets. Lee was one of five with zero demerits.
Which is not relevant to my point. Fighting to enslave other human beings and killing American soldiers lawfully suppressing an illegal Secession is far more important then something unterrly trivial like not having any demerits.
Leftyhunter
 
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Piedone

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Not so sure about all that. Unlike former Confedrate Generals Forrest, Beuraugard and Longstreet Lee never publicly spike in favor of racial equality. Also many good Christian Southeners fought against the AnV in the form of the United States Coloured Troops and we're executed upon capture at the battle of the Crater.
Leftyhunter

Which is not relevant to my point. Fighting to enslave other human beings and killing American soldiers lawfully suppressing an illegal Secession is far more important then something unterrly trivial like not having any demerits.
Leftyhunter
While I am fully convinced that everybody today would share your opinion when confronted with a person taking a choice like Lee did I cannot refrain from remarking once again that it is probably not leading to a correct appreciation of people to judge them by present standards.

As soon as I know the US government in 1861 even supplied printed forms officers could use to tender their resignation (and to side with the Confederacy). Resignations were easily and generally accepted and the federal official who received such a resignation form undersigned it with „your obedient servant“ - which lets the whole procedure and how it was seen appear in a somehow diverse light....

There were also epic clashes within this forum where the idea of allegiance to a state beating that to the central government was accepted as having existed then (even if it´s constitutionality can be challenged on good grounds....).

And, well, I hate to repeat it again and again, of course the idea to fight for an undisturbed existence of slavery is completely incomprehensible and inacceptable to us (and Lee had to know that this was one of the consequences of an eventually victorious Confederacy...) - but people of the era saw the question of enslavement of african Americans mostly in a completely different light. It may suffice to remind how cautiously and laboriously Lincoln worked towards any declaration of even limited emancipation and how much he feared it´s effect on the public opinion - and how long he adhered to ideas of an emigration of all the african american freedmen as he feared that the american society just was not able to integrate them....

On the other hand this point is about Lee ´s psychology and regarding that his need to punctilious fulfill expectations, standards and norms IS important.
 
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trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
While I am fully convinced that everybody today would share your opinion when confronted with a person taking a choice like Lee did I cannot refrain from remarking once again that it is probably not leading to a correct appreciation of people to judge them by present standards.

As soon as I know the US government in 1861 even supplied printed forms officers could use to tender their resignation (and to side with the Confederacy). Resignations were easily and generally accepted and the federal official who received such a resignation form undersigned it with „your obedient servant“ - which lets the whole procedure and how it was seen appear in a somehow diverse light....

There were also epic clashes within this forum where the idea of allegiance to a state beating that to the central government was accepted as having existed then (even if it´s constitutionality can be challenged on good grounds....).

And, well, I hate to repeat it again and again, of course the idea to fight for an undisturbed existence of slavery is completely incomprehensible and inacceptable to us (and Lee had to know that this was one of the consequences of an eventually victorious Confederacy...) - but people of the era saw the question of enslavement of african Americans mostly in a completely different light. It may suffice to remind how cautiously and laboriously Lincoln worked towards any declaration of even limited emancipation and how much he feared it´s effect on the public opinion - and how long he adhered to ideas of an emigration of all the african american freedmen as he feared that the american society just was not able to integrate them....

On the other hand this point is about Lee ´s psychology and regarding that his need to punctilious fulfill expectations, standards and norms IS important.
For reference, Robert E. Lee's letter of resignation to Secretary of War Cameron:

Arlington, Washington City, P.O.
20 April 1861
Honble Simon Cameron
Sect of War
Sir
I have the honour to tender the resignation of my Commission as Colonel of the 1st Regt of Cavalry
Very respt your ob Servt
R E Lee
Col 1st Cavy
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
While I am fully convinced that everybody today would share your opinion when confronted with a person taking a choice like Lee did I cannot refrain from remarking once again that it is probably not leading to a correct appreciation of people to judge them by present standards.

As soon as I know the US government in 1861 even supplied printed forms officers could use to tender their resignation (and to side with the Confederacy). Resignations were easily and generally accepted and the federal official who received such a resignation form undersigned it with „your obedient servant“ - which lets the whole procedure and how it was seen appear in a somehow diverse light....

There were also epic clashes within this forum where the idea of allegiance to a state beating that to the central government was accepted as having existed then (even if it´s constitutionality can be challenged on good grounds....).

And, well, I hate to repeat it again and again, of course the idea to fight for an undisturbed existence of slavery is completely incomprehensible and inacceptable to us (and Lee had to know that this was one of the consequences of an eventually victorious Confederacy...) - but people of the era saw the question of enslavement of african Americans mostly in a completely different light. It may suffice to remind how cautiously and laboriously Lincoln worked towards any declaration of even limited emancipation and how much he feared it´s effect on the public opinion - and how long he adhered to ideas of an emigration of all the african american freedmen as he feared that the american society just was not able to integrate them....

On the other hand this point is about Lee ´s psychology and regarding that his need to punctilious fulfill expectations, standards and norms IS important.
African Americans knew slavery was wrong other then a tiny amount that owned slaves and even then they mostly bought family members. Many Americans knew slavery was evil and John Brown was popular with some in the North. Many Union soldiers when they entered the South and saw slavery first hand were repulsed do it's not like being anti slavery is a modern belief. Lincoln couldn't get ahead of popular opinion but did the best he could go shape it. Lincoln was correct about emmigration but it just wasn't a practical idea.
Leftyhunter
 

J C J Barefoot

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Sep 10, 2019
To the point of Lee’s psychology —should the question been asked to anyone prior to circa 1900 “What was Lee’s psychological profile?” the question would have been utterly incomprehensible. Why? Everyone knows psychology is a medical social discipline created, for all practical purposes in the last one hundred years. Generations hence will determine it’s sustainability. Data is already coming forth questioning the discipline and it’s effectiveness.

It seems fair and prudent to judge human beings—Lee and any of the people of the CW period— by how they lived up to the standards and values that they professed believe in, not by the standards of our day which clearly also have deep and serious religious and ethical failings. To that point—is the judging of every persons moral character of the CW period by their position relative to southern style African perpetual chattel slavery a reasonable and fair measuring rod? By that singular measuring rod—every single man, woman, and child —at any time and in in place in this country that was not an abolitionists is , ipso facto, a person found guilty and lacking in any human , moral or Christian virtue. Let's us dig up their corpses and hold trills for them.
Following such logic John Brown, he who hacked men to death in the presence of their wives and children while in Kansas is thereby exonerated from murder because of his position on slavery, while Forrest (who did speak out-post war for the freedmen) can never be forgiven because he did not renounce it strong enough or soon enough, or loud enough so that folks in the year 2021 could hear him. Further as some have written here—no renouncement he would ever give can forgive what he did. We must agree to disagree on this point because a there are modernists that are so revolted by slavery that they can find nothing redemptive in Lee or anyone that fought for the south.

History points to a man named Saul. He murdered, enchained and imprisoned his own Jewish people who were following Jesus Christ. He watched the stoning butcher of innocent Stephen. By his community standards what He did was just and right. Until it wasn’t. He had his Damascus road experience and, as Paul The Apostle became with Peter one of the two towering figures of western civilization.
He was redeemed.
Lee was redeemed at Appomattox. Lee was conflicted throughout the entire war on moral principles and we don’t need a therapy session to know this. After the war—he accepted that God himself had made the decision. (See: Decided on The Battlefield by David Alan John, Prometheus Books and The Religious Life of Robert E. Lee by R. Davis Cox.) He urged his men to return to civil life in the United States , to obey the laws and become good citizens. He did so by his example at Washington University. Included in his call to renewed citizenship —indirectly is accepting the fact that slavey was over and the former slaves by the 13th​ amendment (passed before the end of the war) were free men.

Lee is a mighty, complex , strong, and in may ways humble man. He has is sins and failures like all of us. We can all learn from his life—especially it’s final chapter.
 
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