When did Lee grow his beard?

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Andersonh1

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I was reading a book of Lee's letters today, and while he is stationed on the coast of South Carolina, he mentions in a letter to his daughter that he has a "beautiful white beard". Seems an odd thing to say unless it was something novel and new, at least since the last time he'd seen her. I seem to remember some author commenting that Lee had grown his beard out while on the SC coast, so maybe this was his source.

Any ideas about this?
 

James N.

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Only after taking command of Virginia troops in 1861.
 

diane

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I think he had written his wife about starting a serious beard when he took command from Johnston. He said it was difficult to shave in the field and was good protection against the weather. He was a tidy fellow. It was something of a minor wonder to his staff how he kept so neat and clean all the time - they couldn't do it!
 
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Jamieva

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He had a mustache when he was still in the US Army and declined command of troops offered to him by Scott. The beard came in sometime during the Civil War but as to when exactly I do not know. I believe he had it when offered command of the ANV.
 
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He had a mustache when he was still in the US Army and declined command of troops offered to him by Scott. The beard came in sometime during the Civil War but as to when exactly I do not know. I believe he had it when offered command of the ANV.
Lee grew his beard during the western Virginia assignment, August-October 1861. I cover this in my "Robert E Lee at War" series, volume one titled Tragic Secessionist.
 
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Jamieva

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I just read a passage today in Wert's "A Glorious Army" that refers to his new neatly cropped beard when he had just taken command of the ANV. I will find the exact passage this weekend.
 
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James N.

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I was reading a book of Lee's letters today, and while he is stationed on the coast of South Carolina, he mentions in a letter to his daughter that he has a "beautiful white beard". Seems an odd thing to say unless it was something novel and new, at least since the last time he'd seen her. I seem to remember some author commenting that Lee had grown his beard out while on the SC coast, so maybe this was his source.

Any ideas about this?
I remember a letter he wrote to one of his daughters (Agnes?) in which he likened it to being like a stiff bristle brush or something of the sort. He also thought it ugly because it was all white! Was this the same letter to which you refer?
 

diane

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I remember a letter he wrote to one of his daughters (Agnes?) in which he likened it to being like a stiff bristle brush or something of the sort. He also thought it ugly because it was all white! Was this the same letter to which you refer?
I've read he didn't like it much at first as well...it kind of grew on him, though! (Sorry...) He didn't shave it off after the war, probably because it had become something of a signature look. He would have looked peculiar to his former soldiers without it - it's like Forrest's signature chin beard and mustache. His men wouldn't have recognized him without them! Sherman, on the other hand, grew a beard before the war because as his beard matured it became stiffer and stiffer. Shaving was literally bite the bullet and get 'er done! So, since he was scraping barbed wire off his face and it felt like it, he decided to just leave it alone.
 
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Andersonh1

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Lee grew his beard during the western Virginia assignment, August-October 1861. I cover this in my "Robert E Lee at War" series, volume one titled Tragic Secessionist.
Douglas Freeman reached the same conclusion:

78 It is impossible to say precisely when he stopped shaving, but he had a beard by October 20, for he quoted some remarks Robert made about it when he saw his son as he passed through Charlottesville that day (letter to Mildred Lee, Nov. 15, 1861; R. E. Lee, Jr., 54‑55). After his return to Richmond, when Miss Mary Pegram complained of his changed appearance, Lee laughingly protested: "Why, you would not have a soldier in the field not to look rough, would you? There is little time there for shaving and personal adornment" (Mrs. Mary Pegram Anderson in Richmond Times-Dispatch, Jan. 20, 1907).​
 
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