Who was Lee’s Greatest Influence

American87

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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."

I don't see any difference, other than Grant leaving the army for alcohol abuse, and being able to spend time with his wife that way. Before that, he was in Lee's position, but much less happier.

As to Lee's feelings with other women, he was quite playful about in his letter to that Savannah woman he loved so dearly, I forget her name. He teased her for not coming to the wedding haha.

Lee had it all. Good for Grant and his marriage, but there is nothing to knock Lee about in that regard. He took great good care of his wife when she became invalid.
 
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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.
For both men (Lee and Grant), the answer is the same: his mother. Grant had Washington's luck: he met and stayed happily married to a woman who both adored and teased him and always stood by him. Lee did not.
You are spot on! I totally agree.
 
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You are spot on! I totally agree.
Sorry! I misread LetUsHavePeace. I don’t agree ( in part) and retract my earlier statement.
I agree their mothers were the primary influence. I don’t agree with the remainder. Lee’s and his wife were devoted to one another and Lee saw to her illness as a caring and loving husband should.
 

Lubliner

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Sorry! I misread LetUsHavePeace. I don’t agree ( in part) and retract my earlier statement.
I agree their mothers were the primary influence. I don’t agree with the remainder. Lee’s and his wife were devoted to one another and Lee saw to her illness as a caring and loving husband should.
I must add that Lee was much less a romanticist than Grant, and concerning personal feelings more stoic. Lee once remarked that fiction was for weaker minds. His openness portrayed devout intentions that were above all reproach. Grant on the other hand had been slandered publicly for drunkenness and for infidelity. The strongest common denominators defining the two were they both were headstrong fighters, and both died near the same age, at 63.
Lubliner.
 
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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."
Beg your pardon, but even the happiest couple has moments where they are not entirely on the same page.
Lee always cared for his wife and family - yes he was a ladies man and well aware of his effect on the ladies and he enjoyed their company. But his wife was sacred to him, he would never have betrayed her. He always tried to live a life that would made her proud of him. Something that cannot always be said about Grant.
Sure, Mrs. Lee suffered a lot from her arthritis or rheumatism in her later years and was of frail health in general and that made both of their lives more complicated, but he always loyally stayed with her.
 

8thFlorida

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Joined
Nov 27, 2016
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.
His mother in law was also another great influence especially when it came to religion.
 

8thFlorida

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I must add that Lee was much less a romanticist than Grant, and concerning personal feelings more stoic. Lee once remarked that fiction was for weaker minds. His openness portrayed devout intentions that were above all reproach. Grant on the other hand had been slandered publicly for drunkenness and for infidelity. The strongest common denominators defining the two were they both were headstrong fighters, and both died near the same age, at 63.
Lubliner.
Grant and Lee were also accustomed to military life in far away posts. Lee was an engineer so he dealt with this absence from family in a much healthier manner.
 

Sbc

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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.
Wow what a tragedy
 

JeffBrooks

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Manor, TX
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.
I would recommend The Road to Rivoli: Napoleon's First Campaign, by Martin Boycott-Brown. Very well-written, well-researched, and comprehensive.
 

wausaubob

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It had to have been Lee's mother. It could not have been Washington, who sided with the anti-slavery federalists as the issue of slavery arose. Nor could it have been Winfield Scott who lived in New Jersey while NJ was slowly abolishing slavery, and who remained loyal to the US.
Although he must have been motivated to rebel against his father's legacy, Robert E. Lee ended up taking audacious risks, instead of taking the safe path by serving in the US Army.
A few of Lee's cousins remained in Maryland or served in the US armed forces. It would be interesting to know how many.
 

Fairfield

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Three people certainly contributed to Lee's success: his mother, his wife and General Scott. Perhaps it can be said he failed to live up to the expectations of the latter two--so that leaves Ann Hill Carter Lee. His mother was a tower of strength who refused to wallow in the misery that Light Horse Harry visited on his family and who made certain that her children lived well, were educated well and married well.
 

American87

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It had to have been Lee's mother. It could not have been Washington, who sided with the anti-slavery federalists as the issue of slavery arose. Nor could it have been Winfield Scott who lived in New Jersey while NJ was slowly abolishing slavery, and who remained loyal to the US.
Although he must have been motivated to rebel against his father's legacy, Robert E. Lee ended up taking audacious risks, instead of taking the safe path by serving in the US Army.
A few of Lee's cousins remained in Maryland or served in the US armed forces. It would be interesting to know how many.

Lee certainly admired Washington as a hero. And he certainly learned many of his military beliefs by serving under Scott in Mexico.

I don't think slavery or Federalism had anything to do with it, in terms of turning him off from people. His family was Federalist and he borrowed books on Alexander Hamilton's writings when he was at West Point. He was also a Whig in the 1840s and was anti-Jackson on a personal level.

He was quite friendly with Federalism, as it was expounded by Hamilton, not by William Seward, if Seward can even be called a Federalist.
 

John S. Carter

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Mar 15, 2017
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.
I do agree that from the strategy of as with Washington that he did not have to win just do not lose the army. Both Washington and he were it seem to have been influenced by the great Roman general Fabian,{I think I have the name correct} the commander whose strategy was not to face the Hannibal in a massive battle but to do so in small ones, where by that with no victories that Carthage may recall him ,which they did eventually with the appearance of Roman legions at their gates. Washington did receive military aid from French where Lee did not and he did face a superior force in Pa. Lee was seen later in the war as a George Washington against the British ,in the disguise of Union forces, forgetting again that Washington had allies and Lee had only his personal belief in his ANV. Then I would state that his mentor from the Mexican War, General Winfield Scott , as to tactics Then there is Bonaparte for certain troop movements, . Bonaparte did great till Wellington ,Lee did well till he meet the general who would not leave the field, General US Grant. Does seem as all that started well with Lee turned on him but was wise to know that it had for him and his army. I am still reading to see what part Frederick the Great may have influenced Lee. There was a war that he almost lost with the armies at his gate ,but Czar of Russia who idolized Freddy ,removed his army from the war-result Frederick became victorious . Thing is there was no Czar in this war. Prehabs if the British army had attacked from Canada as Grant was at the gates of Petersburg .Not the same but would have been interesting.
 

American87

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Scott was a role model but Lee taught Scott a thing or two in two wars. Scott was influential to Grant as well.

I've never read that Scott was influential on Grant, nor see where he could be. Grant favored bludgeoning tactics and full on assaults, whereas Scott preferred flanking maneuvers, at least in Mexico.

Even when Grant abandoned his line of communications for Vicksburg, it was nothing he learned from Scott.
 

8thFlorida

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Nov 27, 2016
I've never read that Scott was influential on Grant, nor see where he could be. Grant favored bludgeoning tactics and full on assaults, whereas Scott preferred flanking maneuvers, at least in Mexico.

Even when Grant abandoned his line of communications for Vicksburg, it was nothing he learned from Scott.
Grant’s siege of Vicksburg was patterned after Scott in Mexico. Also Grant’s terms of surrender at Appomattox were influenced by Scott.
 
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