Request for info from R.E. Lee fans: Lee's afterthoughts on Grant at Appomattox

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#1
One of my favorite Grant stories is how when he arrived at Appomattox, he immediately started reminiscing with Lee about the Mexican War. From Grant's memoir: "We soon fell into a conversation about old army times . . . Our conversation grew so pleasant that I almost forgot the object of our meeting. After the conversation had run on in this style for some time, General Lee called my attention to the object of our meeting...."

Grant also describes how he had to ride into Appomattox with nothing but the clothes he was wearing since the baggage with his changes of clothes was miles behind on the road somewhere. The contrast between his rough appearance and Lee's own appearance is well-known now, and scandalous in some quarters, but Grant didn't even notice it at the time -- his mind was on other things!

What I'm curious about -- here's my request to all the Lee people around here -- is: Is there any record of LEE's reflections afterward about Appomattox? My impression has always been that in later times, Lee talked of these things as little as possible. But if there's any record anywhere, I figure the Lee fans here would know.

Thanks for whatever leads/links you can offer!
 

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diane

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#2
There is a letter recounting an incident where Lee gave a very high opinion of Grant. I'm not sure when this was but his cousin had made a disparaging remark about Grant being a lucky drunk with plenty of men and supplies, and Lee remarked that was sure a smack in his face! He went on to say he'd studied a lot of generals throughout history and couldn't find one to match Grant. However, he reckoned McClellan to be the best general he'd faced. Grant was a head-down fighter, he'd just keep coming, but McClellan had an artistry about his warring. He didn't get results, though, and his boss fired him.
 
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#3
There's also the story about a professor at Washington University (later Washington and Lee) when Lee was president of that institution: The professor disparaged Grant, and Lee said that if the guy ever spoke ill of Grant again in Lee's presence, "one or the other of us will have to sever his connection with this institution."

But what I'm looking for -- since a friend has asked -- is if Lee had anything to say specifically about his and Grant's actual meeting at Appomattox.
 

brass napoleon

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#4
Other than a highly-dubious, third-hand hearsay quote that's been plastered all over neo-Confederate web-sites of Lee saying he regretted ever surrendering at Appomattox, I can't think of any.
 
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#6
Thank you, Faraway Friend!

Unfortunately, there seems to be not a word in it about his personal reactions to Grant -- his heart was way too overwhelmed with grief, I imagine, and it remained so, I believe, for the rest of his life, which was not long. Very telling comment by his son on p. 158: "He seemed very tired, and was always glad to talk of any other subject than that of the war or anything pertaining thereto."

Though my question is one that I suppose can never be answered, I appreciate your giving me the link, since I didn't know about this book, and it has a lot of stuff in it worth reading (especially for Lee fans!)
 
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#7
I'm glad you could use the link although it did not help you to answer your question. I had downloaded the book a while ago but have not read it yet, just browsed through the “Content“ page. When I read the title of your post here I remembered that there was something in that book. Okay, at least it was a nice try.:smile:
 
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#8
One of my favorite Grant stories is how when he arrived at Appomattox, he immediately started reminiscing with Lee about the Mexican War. From Grant's memoir: "We soon fell into a conversation about old army times . . . Our conversation grew so pleasant that I almost forgot the object of our meeting. After the conversation had run on in this style for some time, General Lee called my attention to the object of our meeting...."

Grant also describes how he had to ride into Appomattox with nothing but the clothes he was wearing since the baggage with his changes of clothes was miles behind on the road somewhere. The contrast between his rough appearance and Lee's own appearance is well-known now, and scandalous in some quarters, but Grant didn't even notice it at the time -- his mind was on other things!

What I'm curious about -- here's my request to all the Lee people around here -- is: Is there any record of LEE's reflections afterward about Appomattox? My impression has always been that in later times, Lee talked of these things as little as possible. But if there's any record anywhere, I figure the Lee fans here would know.

Thanks for whatever leads/links you can offer!
Were you ever able to find the information you were looking for?
 



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