Myth of a kindly General Lee

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That's an interesting question, really. A lot of people followed Lee's lead - a lot of fence sitters might not have joined the Confederate cause. It does make one wonder how affairs would have turned out in Virginia if Lee had not left with the government of his state. Plenty of Unionists in West Virginia!

His sons - I don't think there was a choice there even if they wanted one. They'd inherited property from their grandpa and it was in Virginia. Didn't fare any better than their mother's but the old homestead is worth fighting about. While I haven't really studied up on what Lee's boys thought, I have a feeling their mother's influence on them was more than their father's. Mary Lee was as Confederate as they came and never got reconstructed!
So do you believe the Union soldiers would have destroyed the property of prominent Unionists fighting for them, or would they have protected that property, like they did with John Minor Botts' property?
 

Mdiesel

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I agree with you there, and so would Harry! He believed it was a political plot and a total set-up. He was a Federalist and the mob was put together by the opposition. Ironically, Harry was against the 1812 war - he wasn't against another war with Britain over their arrogant behavior toward the new US, but he didn't think this was the war to fight with them. However, he did believe in everybody's right to have their say even if it was lousy. He was, rather in a roundabout way, fighting for freedom of the press.
Unfortunately for him Baltimore was not the place to do it! I don't know for sure why he was attacked but I can tell you that the War brought a lot of money to the port. Privateers sailing out of Baltimore harbor attacked British shipping during the war & ship owners made mint!!! The famous Baltimore Clippers were big enough to capture the Brithist merchants & fast enough to outrun her navy.?

That's one reason the British attacked & wanted to burn Baltimore. "That nest of pirates!" As one British commander called it.
 

diane

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We have had previous threads that stated that after the Union defeat at Bull Run substantial Union reinforcements were arriving in Washington DC. At no time was a successful invasion of the North likely to succeed.
Leftyhunter
You mean the supposed chance to destroy the Union army by pursuing them into Washington after the route at Bull Run? That probably wasn't as juicy a proposition as it might have seemed on the instant - as you say, reinforcements were coming up quickly. However, that isn't what Jackson had in mind. He was talking about the war strategy being highly aggressive everywhere, hit 'em where they ain't as Forrest said, and destroy everything they could possibly use. It wasn't black flag warfare as many have supposed but it was sure the hard war Lincoln prosecuted successfully at the end. The Union hadn't gotten their ducks in a row yet. But it had to be quick and very forceful. Once the Union machinery kicked in, they were a juggernaut. That's what Jackson believed the South had to prevent immediately.
 
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diane

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So do you believe the Union soldiers would have destroyed the property of prominent Unionists fighting for them, or would they have protected that property, like they did with John Minor Botts' property?
Well, it turned out not to be so possible. Location, location, location! The Lee family had some mighty prime fightin' land. McClellan tried being nice but it didn't work at all. As soon as Mrs Lee was out her son's door and headed down the road in her carriage, White House became a major depot for the Union. We all know what happened to Arlington. And...we all know what happened to Wilbur McLean. That guy couldn't dodge the war for love nor money! Union or Confederate or nothing, if your farm was in the way it went.
 

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Well, it turned out not to be so possible. Location, location, location! The Lee family had some mighty prime fightin' land. McClellan tried being nice but it didn't work at all. As soon as Mrs Lee was out her son's door and headed down the road in her carriage, White House became a major depot for the Union. We all know what happened to Arlington. And...we all know what happened to Wilbur McLean. That guy couldn't dodge the war for love nor money! Union or Confederate or nothing, if your farm was in the way it went.
What happened to Arlington would not have happened had Lee not been a rebel general. What happened to White House, i.e., being burned by Union troops, would not have happened if the Lees were Union soldiers instead of confederate soldiers. Wilmer McLean's house at Manassas was used as Beauregard's headquarters. Not much damage other than a shell dropping through the kitchen chimney. No damage at all to his house in Appomattox, other than furniture he sold to Union officers.
 

CowCavalry

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False equivalence fallacy. The two situations were completely different. For one example, Lincoln didn't know for sure there would be a war, nor did he know he would be moving against slavery during that war.

Lee was almost certain Virginia would secede, was almost certain there would be a civil war, and was almost certain if there was a war, he would be fighting against the United States.
Don't think so, the events that led to Lee "taking up a musket" in defense of VA just came more quickly than the events that led Lincoln to the emancipation proclamation. Lee no more lied than Lincoln did, both followed their conscience. If you think that Lee came to his decision lightly, or that Lee acted with duplicity or deceit, well, I don't know what to say.
 
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diane

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Unfortunately for him Baltimore was not the place to do it! I don't know for sure why he was attacked but I can tell you that the War brought a lot of money to the port. Privateers sailing out of Baltimore harbor attacked British shipping during the war & ship owners made mint!!! The famous Baltimore Clippers were big enough to capture the Brithist merchants & fast enough to outrun her navy.?

That's one reason the British attacked & wanted to burn Baltimore. "That nest of pirates!" As one British commander called it.
Get the pirates but keep the clippers! :D They loved those and always tried to get them.

I don't think the mob knew - or cared - who Lee was. His fame had died down quite a bit and he no longer had the dashing reputation he once had, and he was in his mid-fifties. I think he got mashed, slashed and thoroughly trashed because he was there.
 

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Don't think so, the events that led to Lee "taking up a musket" in defense of VA just came more quickly than the events that led Lincoln to the emancipation proclamation. Lee no more lied than Lincoln did, both followed their conscience. If you think that Lee came to his decision lightly, or that Lee acted with duplicity or deceit, well, I don't know what to say.
Read Lee's letters. He said clearly he would probably have to fight, though he termed it in Virginia's defense. If he knew he would have to fight, then he knew he would be fighting against the Union.
 

diane

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What happened to Arlington would not have happened had Lee not been a rebel general. What happened to White House, i.e., being burned by Union troops, would not have happened if the Lees were Union soldiers instead of confederate soldiers. Wilmer McLean's house at Manassas was used as Beauregard's headquarters. Not much damage other than a shell dropping through the kitchen chimney. No damage at all to his house in Appomattox, other than furniture he sold to Union officers.
It would have happened whether they were the original Founders or the most die-hard rebs in history. Look where Arlington is - Arlington Heights. You're a general and you're not going to put your guns up there? White House - great landing for all your troops and gear, great staging area. Lots of stuff handy you didn't have to go get, too. Ok, maybe they shouldn't have let Sherman smoke that after dinner cigar... Actually, the Lee boys came back pretty well except for Custis. He got euchred out of his house but - eventually - got paid for it. That would have been the only difference, anyway. Unionists could get reparations.

Poor old McLean - well, what can you say. Destiny! No escaping destiny! Might as well stand outside your house and collect a few bucks from the guys toting your stuff out the door...
 
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leftyhunter

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You mean the supposed chance to destroy the Union army by pursuing them into Washington after the route at Bull Run? That probably wasn't as juicy a proposition as it might have seemed on the instant - as you say, reinforcements were coming up quickly. However, that isn't what Jackson had in mind. He was talking about the war strategy being highly aggressive everywhere, hit 'em where they ain't as Forrest said, and destroy everything they could possibly use. It wasn't black flag warfare as many have supposed but it was sure the hard war Lincoln prosecuted successfully at the end. The Union hadn't gotten their ducks in a row yet. But it had to be quick and very forceful. Once the Union machinery kicked in, they were a juggernaut. That's what Jackson believed the South had to prevent immediately.
For practical purposes cavalry raids don't really work out as a winning strategy. If the CSA was going to win they would have to win some major offensive battles .As you stated I agree if the CSA was going to win they would have to strike very quickly; however the CSA lacked the means to do so.
Leftyhunter
 

diane

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For practical purposes cavalry raids don't really work out as a winning strategy. If the CSA was going to win they would have to win some major offensive battles .As you stated I agree if the CSA was going to win they would have to strike very quickly; however the CSA lacked the means to do so.
Leftyhunter
Jackson wasn't a cavalryman - raids would have been a major tool, though. The South hadn't been invaded yet - just intruded upon some - they actually had more soldiers than the Union (which problem was fixed super quick) and they had not lost their most talented generals yet. Right out the gate - both sides were fairly matched. Lincoln had not yet gained his military acumen - it took him only one micro-management failure to understand he wasn't a general! Southerners had been training before for quite a while, too. There was a chance Stonewall was right. It would have been a whole hog thing, though, with everybody on board. That might have been the real problem to face - there were some mighty prideful generals and ambitious officers on the Southern side. (Both sides, for that matter.)

Speed and force were the essence of what Jackson advocated. It's always amazed me how fast and furiously the North got itself on a real war footing - navy ships literally popped up like mushrooms after a shower!
 

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It would have happened whether they were the original Founders or the most die-hard rebs in history. Look where Arlington is - Arlington Heights. You're a general and you're not going to put your guns up there? White House - great landing for all your troops and gear, great staging area. Lots of stuff handy you didn't have to go get, too. Ok, maybe they shouldn't have let Sherman smoke that after dinner cigar... Actually, the Lee boys came back pretty well except for Custis. He got euchred out of his house but - eventually - got paid for it. That would have been the only difference, anyway. Unionists could get reparations.

Poor old McLean - well, what can you say. Destiny! No escaping destiny! Might as well stand outside your house and collect a few bucks from the guys toting your stuff out the door...
Silly. Had Lee been a high-ranking Union officer, Arlington would have been protected, and today we wouldn't have Arlington National Cemetery. White House grounds would have been used, but the buildings and other parts of the property would have been protected. "Poor" is not the description for McLean.
 
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diane

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Silly. Had Lee been a high-ranking Union officer, Arlington would have been protected, and today we wouldn't have Arlington National Cemetery. White House grounds would have been used, but the buildings and other parts of the property would have been protected. "Poor" is not the description for McLean.
:laugh: And here I refrained from calling you Captain Obvious! (I thought I was the one and only...) Let's say they would have tried to protect it in that case - but how successful that would be is dubious. If Lee was Union, he might have ended up trashing it himself!

Unfortunate Mr McLean? At least this time he had a roof over his head even if he had to eat dinner sitting on the floor...
 

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:laugh: And here I refrained from calling you Captain Obvious! (I thought I was the one and only...) Let's say they would have tried to protect it in that case - but how successful that would be is dubious. If Lee was Union, he might have ended up trashing it himself!
You should try to stick to facts for a change. Even with Lee being a rebel general, Arlington was, with one exception being the Washington artifacts, protected throughout the war. Had Lee been a Union commander, those artifacts would never have been touched, and there would have been no burials on the grounds.

Unfortunate Mr McLean? At least this time he had a roof over his head even if he had to eat dinner sitting on the floor...
McLean was in good shape. Don't cry over him.
 

diane

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You should try to stick to facts for a change. Even with Lee being a rebel general, Arlington was, with one exception being the Washington artifacts, protected throughout the war. Had Lee been a Union commander, those artifacts would never have been touched, and there would have been no burials on the grounds.



McLean was in good shape. Don't cry over him.
Oh, if Mary had sent the Washington artifacts to the Lee cousins in Ohio like her husband told her to, they wouldn't have been touched either. She had that strange plantation lady idea that if she said don't touch this nobody would dare touch it. Always have had a hard time understanding that but a lot of them had that curious notion. They lived in a very protected world, I suppose.

True enough, if Lee had been Union a LOT of things would have been better. But he wasn't and, like just about all good military minds, once the decision is made it's made. He was all in for the Confederacy.

Y'know, once you figured Forrest wouldn't let his only son enlist in the war so you didn't believe a 14 year old kid would be where he was...but you don't seem to have a problem believing Lee would shoot at his three sons. Don't see how they could have done otherwise than join the rebels. And, if they all survived, Lee could be assured he'd never hear from any of them again. Thomas' sisters - we have no brother.

McLean - well, I know he did all right but sheesh! It just shows there wasn't any place in Virginia that wasn't a war zone.
 
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Andersonh1

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"At what point do you say "sorry, you're just going to have to suck it up and be a slave, because it's not worth the cost to free you." -- Shadow9216.
Ub, at some point this one-note reply to every discussion doesn't really contribute much to the conversation, does it? We all know quite well that slavery was immoral. I doubt very much any of us disagree with you on that. It's a given, and saying "slavery was legal" is not a defense of immorality, it's a reminder. Sometimes it's useful to discuss the implications of that legality when we're trying to understand what our ancestors did and what motivated them.
 
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leftyhunter

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Jackson wasn't a cavalryman - raids would have been a major tool, though. The South hadn't been invaded yet - just intruded upon some - they actually had more soldiers than the Union (which problem was fixed super quick) and they had not lost their most talented generals yet. Right out the gate - both sides were fairly matched. Lincoln had not yet gained his military acumen - it took him only one micro-management failure to understand he wasn't a general! Southerners had been training before for quite a while, too. There was a chance Stonewall was right. It would have been a whole hog thing, though, with everybody on board. That might have been the real problem to face - there were some mighty prideful generals and ambitious officers on the Southern side. (Both sides, for that matter.)

Speed and force were the essence of what Jackson advocated. It's always amazed me how fast and furiously the North got itself on a real war footing - navy ships literally popped up like mushrooms after a shower!
We are arguing a hypothetical. The Confederacy did try going on the offensive in the New,Mexico Territory, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Early's raid against Washington DC. None of these offensives were successful.
Leftyhunter
 
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wausaubob

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One problem here is that the theory of secession was under discussion from 1850 onward, and perhaps previously.
All southerners who had gone to West Point had a long time to think about what their decision would be in the case secession occurred.
And some United States officers in the army and navy who were from the south took the opposite course, remained loyal and were effective commanders.
 
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