Robert E. Lee, Expectations.

War Horse

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Location
Lexington, SC
That's a bit of a stretch. No doubt he was aware of the fate that commonly awaited rebels, and willing to accept it if necessary, but that's a far cry from saying it was absolutely certain. He and Grant had discussed capitulation courteously by letter over the past couple of days. Grant had shown little sign of vindictiveness at Donelson or Vicksburg. And the final decision would be up to President Lincoln.
I would imagine there’s a difference in letters between commanders contemplating surrender and the actions of the victory once surrender is achieved. At least I would suspect the surrendering General would have great trepidation there would be a large difference. Especially if you’re Robert E. Lee.
 

War Horse

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Location
Lexington, SC
It is my understanding that after the assassination of Lincoln, President Johnson wanted to try Confederate leaders and it was Ulysses S. Grant who stood in his way, stating he would resign his commission if Johnson went ahead.

"Following the end of Civil War hostilities in 1865, there were many in the North who wanted the civil and military officials of the Confederacy to stand trial for treason. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln further flamed the desire of many to take vengeance upon the South and its leaders, particularly Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The New York Times was a leading proponent for treason charges against Lee, writing in a June 4, 1865 editorial: “He has ‘levied war against the United States’ more strenuously than any other man in the land, and thereby has been specially guilty of the crime of treason, as defined in the Constitution of the United States,” and “whether Gen. Lee should be hung or not, is a minor question.”

President Andrew Johnson was another advocate of harsh treatment for Lee and his generals, but he was soon to learn his views were in direct contrast to those of the North’s war hero, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant."

https://www.civilwarprofiles.com/grant-protects-lee-from-treason-trial/

Also from the link:

"When Lee, who was preparing to apply for amnesty, became aware of the indictments, he wrote Grant asking if the Appomattox terms were still in effect.

After reading Lee’s letter, Grant forwarded his own views to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton on June 16, 1865:

In my opinion the officers and men paroled at Appomattox Court-House, and since, upon the same terms given to Lee, cannot be tried for treason so long as they observe the terms of their parole. This is my understanding. Good faith, as well as true policy, dictates that we should observe the conditions of that convention. Bad faith on the part of the Government, or a construction of that convention subjecting the officers to trial for treason, would produce a feeling of insecurity in the minds of all the paroled officers and men. If so disposed they might even regard such an infraction of terms by the Government as an entire release from all obligations on their part. I will state further that the terms granted by me met with the hearty approval of the President at the time, and of the country generally. The action of Judge Underwood, in Norfolk, has already had an injurious effect, and I would ask that he be ordered to quash all indictments found against paroled prisoners of war, and to desist from further prosecution of them.

Grant also visited personally with President Johnson to discuss the situation, but was dismayed to find that Johnson fully intended to let the proceedings continue. Grant insisted the Appomattox terms be honored. Johnson asked when the men could be tried. “Never,” Grant responded, “unless they violate their paroles.”
That same constitution is what prevented Stanton / Johnson from executing Jefferson Davis. Simply put there was no language in the constitution prohibiting secession. This is the reason Davis was ultimately released.
 

War Horse

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017
Joined
Sep 4, 2014
Location
Lexington, SC
He and Grant had discussed capitulation courteously by letter over the past couple of days. Grant had shown little sign of vindictiveness at Donelson or Vicksburg. And the final decision would be up to President Lincoln.
To the contrary. Grant’s treatment of Lee was in complete contrast to those between he and those Generals. That’s the reason for his nickname. Unconditional Surrender Grant. Conditions were not his style.
 

Wolfman0125

Private
Joined
May 4, 2021
William Mack Lee -- Body Servant of General Robert E. Lee.
He stayed with General Lee throughout the war and until the day Lee died in 1870. Mack said of General Lee after his death "I was raised by one of the greatest men in the world. There was never one born of a woman greater than General 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."
General Lee left Mack $360 in his will, which Mack used to go to school and started 14 churches. He became an ordained Missionary Baptist minister in Washington, DC

CA8FDF29-1FA3-4F89-B6CB-D8D14569EAF2.png
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2017
Unconditional Surrender Grant. Conditions were not his style.
I don't think that means he was vindictive. But it's interesting you point out the difference between the surrenders. There is a book written about surrenders during the CW - David Silkenat, Raising the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2019). I haven't read it yet, but I wonder what it would have to say about this? Maybe a topic for another thread.
 
Last edited:

Carronade

Captain
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
I would imagine there’s a difference in letters between commanders contemplating surrender and the actions of the victory once surrender is achieved. At least I would suspect the surrendering General would have great trepidation there would be a large difference. Especially if you’re Robert E. Lee.
I wouldn't disagree with "great trepidation".
 
Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Location
Hannover, Germany
I don't think that means he was vindictive. But it's interesting you point out the difference between the surrenders. There is a book written about surrenders during the CW - David Silkenat, Raising the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, 2019. I haven't read it yet, but I wonder what it would have to say about this? Maybe a topic for another thread.
Sounds like an interesting book, thanks for sharing!

I snooped around a bit and found an interview with the author from which I snipped this, which fits into this discussion about dignified surrender. I think it is okay to quote it here, although I do agree with you, this thread is specifically about Robert E. Lee and his feelings and thoughts in the face of surrender at Appomattox Court House, so probably to dig deeper into surrender in general another thread should be started. Nevertheless, as it sums up our previous thoughts in this thread:

1626698937664.png

[...]
1626698745453.png

[...]
1626698653089.png

https://emergingcivilwar.com/2020/0...id-silkenat-author-of-raising-the-white-flag/
 
Joined
Jan 24, 2017
Sounds like an interesting book, thanks for sharing!

I snooped around a bit and found an interview with the author from which I snipped this, which fits into this discussion about dignified surrender. I think it is okay to quote it here, although I do agree with you, this thread is specifically about Robert E. Lee and his feelings and thoughts in the face of surrender at Appomattox Court House, so probably to dig deeper into surrender in general another thread should be started. Nevertheless, as it sums up our previous thoughts in this thread:

View attachment 408649
[...]
View attachment 408648
[...]
View attachment 408647
https://emergingcivilwar.com/2020/0...id-silkenat-author-of-raising-the-white-flag/
Great share @FarawayFriend. Much appreciated.
 
Top