Who was Lee’s Greatest Influence

8thFlorida

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
I saw a post asking who Grants greatest influence was and I wanted to ask the same of Lee. Who was his greatest influence in life and In his military career. My thought is George Washington on both counts. Lee loved Arlington and he was a son of Virginia. His military career was influenced by that of Washington as well as his own Father who fought under Washington. Lee lived among Washington’s relics and considered Virginia his country even more than the US. That was not uncommon for the time. He could never take up arms against Virginia considering Washington was his greatest influence in my opinion. What are your thoughts? Agree or Disagree?

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Joined
Aug 25, 2013
Location
Hannover, Germany
I would say 'Lighthorse Harry Lee' due to how he reacted toward his own father's absence.
Lubliner.
Very good point, unusual interpretation! Yes, Robert wanted to be all that his father was in a military way, but much better than his father was in his private life, from handling money to treating his wife. Robert wanted to be the White to his father's Black, erase the dark spot on his family's honor.
https://www.historynet.com/light-horse-harry-lee-overreaching-hero-revolution.htm

But apart from this I would agree that he adored George Washington most and I think the fact that he married the daughter of the step-grandson of George Washington sure pleased him a lot. Her father, George Washington Parke Custis had made Arlington a kind of shrine for the first President and I'm sure Robert loved that about Arlington, too.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
I saw a post asking who Grants greatest influence was and I wanted to ask the same of Lee. Who was his greatest influence in life and In his military career. My thought is George Washington on both counts. Lee loved Arlington and he was a son of Virginia. His military career was influenced by that of Washington as well as his own Father who fought under Washington. Lee lived among Washington’s relics and considered Virginia his country even more than the US. That was not uncommon for the time. He could never take up arms against Virginia considering Washington was his greatest influence in my opinion. What are your thoughts? Agree or Disagree?

View attachment 396009
I saw a post asking who Grants greatest influence was and I wanted to ask the same of Lee. Who was his greatest influence in life and In his military career. My thought is George Washington on both counts. Lee loved Arlington and he was a son of Virginia. His military career was influenced by that of Washington as well as his own Father who fought under Washington. Lee lived among Washington’s relics and considered Virginia his country even more than the US. That was not uncommon for the time. He could never take up arms against Virginia considering Washington was his greatest influence in my opinion. What are your thoughts? Agree or Disagree?

View attachment 396009
Two years ago, I did quite a bit of research into Lee ‘s early life for my book. I am convinced his mother had the biggest influence, and Washington his biggest role model.
 

jdawg

Private
Joined
Aug 2, 2019
I saw a post asking who Grants greatest influence was and I wanted to ask the same of Lee. Who was his greatest influence in life and In his military career. My thought is George Washington on both counts. Lee loved Arlington and he was a son of Virginia. His military career was influenced by that of Washington as well as his own Father who fought under Washington. Lee lived among Washington’s relics and considered Virginia his country even more than the US. That was not uncommon for the time. He could never take up arms against Virginia considering Washington was his greatest influence in my opinion. What are your thoughts? Agree or Disagree?

View attachment 396009
Napoleon. Always keep the initiative.

Lee had an understanding of the initiative on the level of Napoleon.

By the way, keeping the initiative does not just mean always attacking. Keeping the initiative can be on defense.

Laying a ambush can be keeping the initiative.

Second Manassas comes to mind.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Lee greatly admired Winfield Scott, but his relationship with Scott came about when Lee was already in adulthood. So in terms of his influential younger years, it has been noted that Lee's mother was an important life model. Conversely, Lee viewed his own father's life as a model that he tried very hard not to follow. Overall, Lee was very much concerned about upholding the proud culture and attributes of his Virginian ancestors and relationships, which did include Washington.
 

8thFlorida

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Lee greatly admired Winfield Scott, but his relationship with Scott came about when Lee was already in adulthood. So in terms of his influential younger years, it has been noted that Lee's mother was an important life model. Conversely, Lee viewed his own father's life as a model that he tried very hard not to follow. Overall, Lee was very much concerned about upholding the proud culture and attributes of his Virginian ancestors and relationships, which did include Washington.
So trying not to be his own Father was a real influence! Good points
 

JeffBrooks

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2009
Location
Manor, TX
One could claim Hannibal. In terms of grand strategy, their goals were the same - persuade the enemy to seek terms by achieving decisive battlefield victories over the enemy armies and thereby destroying the enemy's will to continue the war. Alas, it failed for Lee, just as it had failed for Hannibal.

In terms of moral character and matters of behavior, clearly George Washington. But whereas Washington saw his primary military objective as being the survival of his army as a force-in-being, Lee did not. He was out for decisive victory. History would have gone rather differently if he had adopted Washington's military strategy as well as his moral sense.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
His hero, in the aspirational sense, was Washington, obviously. But personally his mother must have had an extreme influence on him since he grew up in a single-parent household. Maybe Sydney Smith, who he got a long with, but he always took care of his mother. He got along with Charles Carter too, as far as I can see, but Charles was a bit off the range; he didn't take care of his mom as much as Robert did, and he became an attorney, while the other brothers joined the military.

In terms of military influence, it was probably Winfield Scott. D.S. Freeman, Lee's most thorough biographer, has a whole little section describing how Lee's central tenets, militarily, can be traced to Scott's campaign in Mexico, when Lee was on his staff.
Some of these include delegating tactical authority to subordinates and relying on flank attacks, both of which Lee did heavily for most of his Civil War career.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
Great comments so far and great perspective. I think Scott learned a great deal from Lee as well. Lee was a Natural. Also Lee far exceeded his Father Lighthorse Harry Lee as a person and in a way he was running from who his Father was. No psychology degree here.

Exactly. Lee was very close to his family, very, whereas his father wasn't. He was also really tight with money and an excellent budgeter, whereas his father was a spendthrift.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
Napoleon. Always keep the initiative.

Lee had an understanding of the initiative on the level of Napoleon.

By the way, keeping the initiative does not just mean always attacking. Keeping the initiative can be on defense.

Laying a ambush can be keeping the initiative.

Second Manassas comes to mind.

Yes, he was a close student of Napoleon's Italian Campaign(s?). I wish I knew more about the Italian campaign so I could compare it to Lee's thinking and actions, but alas, not yet.

Some of the officers pre-war had a Napoleon club where they wrote papers on Napoleon's campaigns. Lee's were deposited at West Point, but they were burned after the war.
 

LetUsHavePeace

Volunteer
Joined
Dec 1, 2018
Lee and his wife never seemed able to get in sync. Freeman's biography makes that clear, without unfairly criticizing either of them. Lee's letter, written while on the survey mission in Michigan with Talcott, is revealing: "why do you urge my immediate return, & tempt one in the strongest manner[?] ... I rather require to be strengthened & encouraged to the full performance of what I am called on to execute." There is an added poignancy to reading those words because Lee was, as Freeman points out, completely infatuated by Talcott's wife with whom he had "lifelong Platonic relationship."
 
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