Confederate General Robert E. Lee accepted the consequences of his actions.

Union8448

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Rather than engage in a long winded plea for leniency Lee simply asked Grant to formalize the terms that Grant had previously offered.
By April 9 Lee had Grant's earlier letter offering parole. And Lee had his friend Longstreet with him. Longstreet knew Grant well and Grant had a reputation as fair arbiter of disagreements among cadets. Lee had reasons to trust Grant.
By April of 1865 Lee was no longer the chief military figure of a functioning nation. The decline in Confederate fortunes from Jan 1 to April had been rapid and unmistakeable. Therefore Lee had to know he personally was not surrendering a position that was going to last much longer. I wonder if Lee's anxiety arose from the fact that in surrendering in order to end the killing he was accepting that he had made a tragic error in 1861 by surrendering his US career to pursue a Confederate command.
By surrendering he had to face the fact that Scott had been correct. Dyer had even acquired a non-combat post in Springfield, MA. Geoge Thomas finished the war with a honorable record and the respect of the US army officers. Lee's cousin Samuel had successfully served in several commands in the US navy. And Lee had ruined his career and his future for nothing . He ended up disgraced, at least relative to the US Army, much like his father before him.
And yet in an act supreme courage he led his army to surrender as an army still under the discipline of officers. And that act saved thousands of lives.
The remarks attributed to General Lee claim he knew at the time that he was acting on behalf of the remaining faithful soldiers. His precise words in his final order may not match the words attributed to him. But the sentiment matches.
 

diane

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I'm not sure Lee considered his decision to go with his state a bad one - his family was Virginia. And, I'm not all that sure he truly wanted to be a military man. When younger, he had voiced a desire to be a doctor. The one thing that was giving Grant migraines, Lincoln nightmares, and making Sherman chew his fingernails was Lee dispersing his army into the hills and valleys as guerrillas. This was a nightmare scenario that Lee could certainly have made a reality but he didn't. He knew what that would mean.
 

Union8448

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I'm not sure Lee considered his decision to go with his state a bad one - his family was Virginia. And, I'm not all that sure he truly wanted to be a military man. When younger, he had voiced a desire to be a doctor. The one thing that was giving Grant migraines, Lincoln nightmares, and making Sherman chew his fingernails was Lee dispersing his army into the hills and valleys as guerrillas. This was a nightmare scenario that Lee could certainly have made a reality but he didn't. He knew what that would mean.
The words attributed to Lee express an understanding of that potential outcome. They fought as an army and they surrendered as an army. They weren't sneaks.
 

5fish

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He ended up disgraced, at least relative to the US Army, much like his father before him.
I do not think Lee cared about losing his military career once he decided to follow Virginia into the Confederacy. He had a solid career in the U.S. Army but had a stellar but short career in the Confederate Army. If you read his Farewell Address Order #9, Lee never admits defeat on the battlefield and some history says, the seeds of the Lost Cause were sowed in Lee's Order #9...


Have you ever thought how history would have turned out if Lee had chosen to make a last stand...

 

diane

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What Lee knew would happen if he did a last stand, or became a guerilla, Virginia would be devastated. Sheridan had already wiped out the Shenandoah Valley in his campaign there - it would happen over and over until the people themselves turned on the rebels. He would be an outlaw chief and accomplish nothing toward a confederacy.

The one everybody was worried about was Forrest. He was hugely popular and had a die-hard core of loyal veterans who would follow him anywhere. Sherman thought Forrest would never surrender, and that he was the most dangerous man the Confederacy had. Some Confederates thought that as well and sounded him out about taking his troops to Missouri, or taking them south of the border. The fears were unfounded - he was done!

However, the thought of a suicide ride did cross Lee's mind. He told Longstreet he could just ride along the Union line and presently he wouldn't have any problems at all!
 

5fish

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You know, it seems Lee secured immunity from persecution for treason from Grant and then rebranded himself. It seems Lee was looking to protect his skin, and noticed only him, not his officers.

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Everything had to work perfectly for Lee to avoid prosecution and as Reeves demonstrates, it did. His first priority was to secure immunity. Thanks to Gen. Grant’s parole agreement for Confederate soldiers, Lee was safe from prosecution until the war officially ended. As he waited for the war to be declared over, Lee set out to change his reputation and largely succeeded. While Henry Wirz faced trial and execution for the treatment of prisoners at the Andersonville, Georgia, prison camp, Lee declared ignorance of what happened to prisoners of war once they left his forces. As for slavery, he presented himself as a reluctant slaveowner, bound by his father-in-law’s will.


Lee sent a note to Grant, and later that afternoon they met in the home of WILMER MCLEAN. Grant offered generous terms of surrender. Confederate officers and soldiers could go home, taking with them their horses, sidearms, and personal possessions. Also, Grant guaranteed their immunity from prosecution for treason. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the two men saluted each other and parted.


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.”
 

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Confederate General Lee had to be aware of the reversal of fortune about to be realized at Appomattox. Before the Civil War Lee was a regular colonel, a landowner, and had a prestigious marriage. Grant was out of the army, working for his father, and married to an unknown lady from St. Louis. By April 1865 Grant had the lifetime rank of Lt. General and all that went with it, while Lee had lost virtually everything. What future prospect loomed for Lee to dissuade him from what would have been assisted suicide? And yet in an act of supreme courage he faced up to Grant. Grant based on what he understood to be the President's policy, and based on Grant's own experience with the up and downs of American life. covered Lee and the Confederates with the law of war and set an example that other Confederate forces could and did follow.
 

diane

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Confederate General Lee had to be aware of the reversal of fortune about to be realized at Appomattox. Before the Civil War Lee was a regular colonel, a landowner, and had a prestigious marriage. Grant was out of the army, working for his father, and married to an unknown lady from St. Louis. By April 1865 Grant had the lifetime rank of Lt. General and all that went with it, while Lee had lost virtually everything. What future prospect loomed for Lee to dissuade him from what would have been assisted suicide? And yet in an act of supreme courage he faced up to Grant. Grant based on what he understood to be the President's policy, and based on Grant's own experience with the up and downs of American life. covered Lee and the Confederates with the law of war and set an example that other Confederate forces could and did follow.
Lee didn't tell his men to do something he wasn't prepared to do himself, so he couldn't take the flag and head down the Union lines singing "Bonnie Blue Flag" at the top of his lungs! However, Grant did very well in helping ease the misery. He really was a remarkable man. The first battle he won - Belmont, I believe - the people in his home town were shocked to hear who won it. "Grant? The Grant from here? Useless Grant? He won that?" (Useless was the pet name his father saddled him with...) Lee's sons did retain their estates inherited from their grandfather, except for Custis. He had inherited Arlington, and that wasn't going to be coming back ever!

He came out of the war poorer and wiser, but not entirely face first in the mud. Lee's career as an educator is overshadowed very much by his military career, as should be expected. He did some unusual things during his tenure as president of Washington (later Washington and Lee) College, especially in broadening the curriculum. His own education had limited him to either a military career or a law career, and he knew of college graduates walking behind their farm mules cussing at them in Greek! Did a lot of work to make education much more flexible.
 

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Ron Chernow claimed that after Appomattox Lee remarked to Grant that the war had reduced Lee to poverty. If that is correct it would have definitely provoked Grant's empathy.
Given Lee's gravity,, perhaps Grant should have insisted that Lee and his wife be Grant's guests and travel to meet President Lincoln.
Maybe Lee could have travelled to Troy and visited with Winfield Scott for the summer. But in a few days after their historic meeting both Lee and Grant were shocked by a further national tragedy.
 

diane

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Ron Chernow claimed that after Appomattox Lee remarked to Grant that the war had reduced Lee to poverty. If that is correct it would have definitely provoked Grant's empathy.
Given Lee's gravity,, perhaps Grant should have insisted that Lee and his wife be Grant's guests and travel to meet President Lincoln.
Maybe Lee could have travelled to Troy and visited with Winfield Scott for the summer. But in a few days after their historic meeting both Lee and Grant were shocked by a further national tragedy.
The news of Lincoln's assassination was extremely bad for Lee. He knew the Radical Republicans would gain the upper hand and want revenge. Lincoln was very good at balancing, and without him doing this, it was a poor lookout. That's one of the reasons many more Confederates took a boat for Europe!
 

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One of Lee's officers, eithe Wise or Alexander made the famous comment: "There is no country now. There hasn't been for a year. You are the country for these men."(paraphrasing) In other words, continuing a pointless fight would be exploiting their personal loyalty to Lee.
 

diane

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One of Lee's officers, eithe Wise or Alexander made the famous comment: "There is no country now. There hasn't been for a year. You are the country for these men."(paraphrasing) In other words, continuing a pointless fight would be exploiting their personal loyalty to Lee.
That is an important point. Lee honestly loved the ANV, and they loved him back. The ones he had with him were the ones who really would storm the gates of hell for him. And that was problematic for Grant and others. The AoP respected Grant because they knew he would get the job done, but they did not love him. This love for Lee continued long, long after he was dust!

And, we might also note, the commanders of the Union armies in the west were absolutely prepared to raze the whole Old South to the rock bottom if Forrest turned renegade. George Thomas told Forrest if he did not surrender, Mississippi and Tennessee would be so thoroughly destroyed it would take them a hundred years to start coming back! None of them ever had to worry - Forrest was a gambler and he knew when to fold 'em!
 

Union8448

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That is an important point. Lee honestly loved the ANV, and they loved him back. The ones he had with him were the ones who really would storm the gates of hell for him. And that was problematic for Grant and others. The AoP respected Grant because they knew he would get the job done, but they did not love him. This love for Lee continued long, long after he was dust!

And, we might also note, the commanders of the Union armies in the west were absolutely prepared to raze the whole Old South to the rock bottom if Forrest turned renegade. George Thomas told Forrest if he did not surrender, Mississippi and Tennessee would be so thoroughly destroyed it would take them a hundred years to start coming back! None of them ever had to worry - Forrest was a gambler and he knew when to fold 'em!
On top of which General Forrest had to decide if he wanted to share the fate of Van Dorn, Morgan and Stuart. If he had not surrendered its probable that the US soldiers would have been given permission to shoot on sight.
 

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On top of which General Forrest had to decide if he wanted to share the fate of Van Dorn, Morgan and Stuart. If he had not surrendered its probable that the US soldiers would have been given permission to shoot on sight.
isn't that a given in warfare if the dude in question wears the enemy's uniform?
 

diane

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On top of which General Forrest had to decide if he wanted to share the fate of Van Dorn, Morgan and Stuart. If he had not surrendered its probable that the US soldiers would have been given permission to shoot on sight.
This was something that was already in effect, if not officially. Even during those times, it was illegal to put a price on an enemy officer's head, but Sherman all but did. He made it clear that anyone who killed Forrest was in for good rewards but stopped just short of saying it in so many words. He did state in a letter that Forrest must be killed if it took 10,000 men and bankrupted the treasury. Morgan was ambushed and would not surrender - he had said he would not after his humiliating experience as a prisoner before, and Stuart likely bought a bullet meant for anybody. The man who shot him later said he did not know who was on the black horse except it was a Confederate officer. Kind of hard to believe, imho, since Stuart's plume and red lined cape were well known. Out of all of them who survived the war, Forrest was the most surprised!
 

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isn't that a given in warfare if the dude in question wears the enemy's uniform?
I think the Confederate cavalry officers shared a particular risk because of their raiding tactics. General Forrest in particular was highly effective. Van Dorn and Morgan seemed to have been hunted and executed. After the war ended Quantrill, Bill Anderson and Ferguson found out that there was very little due process involved in killing a known Confederate guerilla fighter. That makes me wonder how John Mosby avoided provoking a shoot out as US troopers must have lost friends to Mosby and his raiders.
 

5fish

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Stuart's plume and red lined cape were well known
You can say Stuart was unlucky because his foe was Sheridan, who had something to prove and make good on a bet.

It a good story about Meade and Sheridan fight leads to Stuart's death ...

 

5fish

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I do not consider Van Dorn a cavalry guy plus he was kill early in the by a husband of one of his lady friends.

Quantrill, Bill Anderson and Ferguson
These three guys were not cavalry officers but irregular soldiers or bushwhacker or just murders and died the criminals deaths. If they had survived the war they would have been outlaws like Jesse James...
 

5fish

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Forrest, Stuart , Mosby, Shelby and Morgan all had earned the admiration of their foes. You somehow forgot Jo Shelby the best cavalry man after Stuart. It is not Forrest...

 
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