Robert E. Lee Revisited. Again. And Again.

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#1
"The [Lost Cause] legend of Lee is at odds with the facts. He was not anti-slavery as the image claims; he was a strong believer in the institution. His secession, following Virginia, was not inevitable, but a calculated act of will in highly ambiguous circumstances. His aggressive, offensive generalship cost his army disproportionate, irreplaceable, and excessive casualties, which led to his being caught in a fatal siege. Contrary to the legend of his magnanimity, he was hateful and bitter toward the North during and after the war. His persistence in continuing the war after he realized the South was defeated was costly in the lives of his men as well as the Yankees and not necessarily a creditable act. In the postwar period, he was less of a healer than he was a conventional advocate of Southern positions."


"The Anatomy of the Myth" by Alan T. Nolan, from THE LOST CAUSE AND CIVIL WAR HISTORY, Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan, Editors. Indiana Univ Press, 2000.

Please note I do not necessarily side entirely with this point of view. I think it has some merits. It is posted here for the purpose of generating discussion. RH

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#2
"The [Lost Cause] legend of Lee is at odds with the facts. He was not anti-slavery as the image claims; he was a strong believer in the institution. His secession, following Virginia, was not inevitable, but a calculated act of will in highly ambiguous circumstances. His aggressive, offensive generalship cost his army disproportionate, irreplaceable, and excessive casualties, which led to his being caught in a fatal siege. Contrary to the legend of his magnanimity, he was hateful and bitter toward the North during and after the war. His persistence in continuing the war after he realized the South was defeated was costly in the lives of his men as well as the Yankees and not necessarily a creditable act. In the postwar period, he was less of a healer than he was a conventional advocate of Southern positions."


"The Anatomy of the Myth" by Alan T. Nolan, from THE LOST CAUSE AND CIVIL WAR HISTORY, Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan, Editors. Indiana Univ Press, 2000.

Please note I do not necessarily side entirely with this point of view. I think it has some merits. It is posted here for the purpose of generating discussion. RH

View attachment 311164
In the case of the battle of Gettysburg I and others have argued that Lee had no choice but to engage in a very risky offensive and Pickett's Charge .
Certainly an argument can be made that by at least the Siege of Petersburg the war was lost. Certainly many Confederate soldiers who were AWOL by the summer of 1864 saw the writing on the wall.
Leftyhunter
 

damYankee

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#3
leftyhunter, I respect your conclusions, but I have to disagree, Lee had many options, and other general officers presented him with others.
Even before the invasion on Pennsylvania began there was alternative plans proposed that would have perhaps produced better outcomes.
But alas those plans became great "What ifs " because Davis and Lee dismissed them.
 
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#4
leftyhunter, I respect your conclusions, but I have to disagree, Lee had many options, and other general officers presented him with others.
Even before the invasion on Pennsylvania began there was alternative plans proposed that would have perhaps produced better outcomes.
But alas those plans became great "What ifs " because Davis and Lee dismissed them.
Certainly that would make for an interesting "what if thread" something along the lines of "what were better options then Gettysburg in the summer of 1863?"
Leftyhunter
 

damYankee

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#5
Certainly that would make for an interesting "what if thread" something along the lines of "what were better options then Gettysburg in the summer of 1863?"
Leftyhunter
It is what it is, Lee's plan to invade Pennsylvania was bold. But unsustainable and he knew that, it required his army to operate beyond interior lines, he was fortunate to return to Richmond intact, his retreat from Pennsylvania after Gettysburg is IMO his greatest feat.
A success he owes as much to the weather as anything else.
Even before he embarked on the movement Longstreet had proposed a thrust toward Cincinnati which would have had IMO a better chance of attracting Union forces from Tennessee, and interrupt the union invasion of the south.
Again at Gettysburg, Longstreet recommended a flanking move around the east side of the Round Tops.
We don't know what the results would have been, but we do know what the results of Peach Orchard and Pickets Charge was.
 
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#6
It is what it is, Lee's plan to invade Pennsylvania was bold. But unsustainable and he knew that, it required his army to operate beyond interior lines, he was fortunate to return to Richmond intact, his retreat from Pennsylvania after Gettysburg is IMO his greatest feat.
A success he owes as much to the weather as anything else.
Even before he embarked on the movement Longstreet had proposed a thrust toward Cincinnati which would have had IMO a better chance of attracting Union forces from Tennessee, and interrupt the union invasion of the south.
Again at Gettysburg, Longstreet recommended a flanking move around the east side of the Round Tops.
We don't know what the results would have been, but we do know what the results of Peach Orchard and Pickets Charge was.
The fundamental problem with " what if scenarios" is we can't prove for example that Longstreet's plan for an offensive against Cincinnati would or would not work. Same for Gettysburg.
All we know about Longstreet is that his record as an independent commander is questionable at best. Yes Longstreet was certainly a good Corp's commander.
We do know as a general rule the victors in most Civil War's win with foreign intervention.
We do know that Davis certainly made a serious attempt to obtain foreign recognition but no nation could justify that it was worth recognizing the Confederacy based on any cost benefit analysis.
Leftyhunter
 
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#8
"The [Lost Cause] legend of Lee is at odds with the facts. He was not anti-slavery as the image claims; he was a strong believer in the institution. His secession, following Virginia, was not inevitable, but a calculated act of will in highly ambiguous circumstances. His aggressive, offensive generalship cost his army disproportionate, irreplaceable, and excessive casualties, which led to his being caught in a fatal siege. Contrary to the legend of his magnanimity, he was hateful and bitter toward the North during and after the war. His persistence in continuing the war after he realized the South was defeated was costly in the lives of his men as well as the Yankees and not necessarily a creditable act. In the postwar period, he was less of a healer than he was a conventional advocate of Southern positions."


"The Anatomy of the Myth" by Alan T. Nolan, from THE LOST CAUSE AND CIVIL WAR HISTORY, Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan, Editors. Indiana Univ Press, 2000.

Please note I do not necessarily side entirely with this point of view. I think it has some merits. It is posted here for the purpose of generating discussion. RH

View attachment 311164
Many times it is the idea of the object mentioned, such as the usage, "Those people...." in referencing the northern soldiers, that proves the subtlety of feelings that remain solely within the heart. Lee was in disagreement and at odds with the activities of many men, and still is.

Lubliner.
 
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Location
South Carolina
#10
"The [Lost Cause] legend of Lee is at odds with the facts. He was not anti-slavery as the image claims; he was a strong believer in the institution. His secession, following Virginia, was not inevitable, but a calculated act of will in highly ambiguous circumstances. His aggressive, offensive generalship cost his army disproportionate, irreplaceable, and excessive casualties, which led to his being caught in a fatal siege. Contrary to the legend of his magnanimity, he was hateful and bitter toward the North during and after the war. His persistence in continuing the war after he realized the South was defeated was costly in the lives of his men as well as the Yankees and not necessarily a creditable act. In the postwar period, he was less of a healer than he was a conventional advocate of Southern positions."

"The Anatomy of the Myth" by Alan T. Nolan, from THE LOST CAUSE AND CIVIL WAR HISTORY, Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan, Editors. Indiana Univ Press, 2000.

Please note I do not necessarily side entirely with this point of view. I think it has some merits. It is posted here for the purpose of generating discussion. RH
It's trendy today to try and tear Lee down. Much in the quoted paragraph is arguable, meaning the author has chosen the harshest possible position in an attempt to go along with the trend. There's not really much of value here, imo.
 

damYankee

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#11
It's trendy today to try and tear Lee down. Much in the quoted paragraph is arguable, meaning the author has chosen the harshest possible position in an attempt to go along with the trend. There's not really much of value here, imo.
I have mixed feelings towards Lee. There is the myth and then there is the man. And it is nearly impossible to separate one from the other. Read his own letters before Virginia's secession and he is an unapologetic Union supporter. Read his letters after it's a different story.
His greatness as a battlefield tactician is focused on a very small geographical area compared to his contemporaries, even compared to some of his subordinates. Limitations that where from all indications self-imposed. One has to ask the great what if, had Virginia not joined the secession what would he had done?
He was as brilliant as he was lucky. And as we all know sometimes being lucky is better than being good, and makes you look even better. With all that being said there is no question he was an inspirational leader, almost to a fault as CSA General Wise pointed out to him the night before Lee surrendered,. Lee was the CSA, he was the reason his men fought, and if he continued the fight, their blood was on his hands.
 
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kel1985

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Location
Pittsburgh, Pa.
#12
I disagree with the opinion that Lee still harbored hatred against the Union in the years following the war. You only have to look at his words, writings and actions while president of Washington College to confirm this.
 



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