General Robert E. Lee...

5fish

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A great general...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_E._Lee

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Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) was a Confederate general best known for his service to the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, during which he was appointed the overall commander of the Confederate States Army. He led the Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy's most powerful army, from 1862 until its surrender in 1865. During the war, Lee earned a solid reputation as a skilled tactician, for which he was revered by his officers and men as well as respected and feared by his Union Army adversaries.

Here is this...


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Because of his reputation as one of the finest officers in the United States Army, Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the command of the Federal forces in April 1861. Lee declined and tendered his resignation from the army when the state of Virginia seceded on April 17, arguing that he could not fight against his own people. Instead, he accepted a general’s commission in the newly formed Confederate Army.
 

5fish

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Somewhere in my past I wrote about Lee being a perfectionists and the people under him were scared to act... like at North Anna...


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Claiming to speak with authority on the subject since he had known three of Lee’s staff officers or their immediate descendants, Freeman declared that Lee’s staff did not love him while the war still raged because he demanded so much from them: General Lee was not popular with his own staff…The heirs of one of his staff officers possess letters in which General Lee is several times condemned vigorously by the staff officer…What was the reason? He 8 was a little disposed to be indolent, and laziness General Lee would never countenance. He demanded more of his staff officers than he did of his line officers. He demanded that his staff officers give themselves as fully to the service as he did.18 Elsewhere, he claimed that “it was only when the war was over that they got over these little things and had for him the admiration and affection that they later cherished. They admired him as a magnificent man, but they did not love him.”19 Freeman simply dismissed the staff officers’ complaints as the common grumblings of staffers everywhere who were too focused on their workloads and problems to see the greater purpose for which they were laboring.20 Freeman thus simultaneously praised Lee’s tireless devotion to duty and gave the impression that his staff officers simply failed to measure up to or fully appreciate their commander’s greatness.

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s. DiNardo claimed that Lee was unwilling to delegate important responsibilities to his personal staff, w

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Pryor depicted Lee as a deeply flawed administrator whose fierce temper and unrealistic expectations rendered his staff officers less effective than they should have been. She asserted that Lee’s staff officers were overworked and lived in squalor as a result of their commander’s 11 reluctance to locate his headquarters in civilian buildings

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When they mentioned Lee’s staff at all, later scholars largely followed Freeman’s lead, dismissing it as utterly inept or emphasizing its small size and lack of antebellum professional military training or experience. Many of them inferred that the staff was terrible when Lee took command, and that it remained as poor in 1865 as it had been in June 1862. Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones wrote of Lee’s staff in scathing terms, arguing that “In part they failed because they had an inadequate chief…Colonel R. H. Chilton, a comrade of Lee’s Texas days in the old army, but a misfit in his present position, served as Lee’s chief of staff.”21 Hattaway and Jones thus advanced Freeman’s criticism of the staff even farther. Freeman never claimed that Lee’s staff officers did not “appreciate” the nature of their jobs; he had only stated that they had not been adequately trained. Furthermore, Hattaway and Jones flatly accused Lee’s personal staff of deserting their posts, while Freeman had made no such contention. Finally, while these writers agreed with Freeman that Chilton was not suited to his responsibilities, they led readers to believe that all of Lee’s personal staff officers were similarly inept


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In contrast to Freeman, Pryor depicted Lee as an often-unreasonable taskmaster: In addition to overwork and bleak surroundings, the staff suffered Lee’s difficult temperament, with some audible sighs. He was quick to censure and slow to praise or recommend his team for promotion, causing several aides to cast around for better opportunities. Lee’s indifference to staff recognition was not quite as pronounced as they maintained, but their feeling of undervaluation is revealing. He also had difficulty in accepting personal blame and sometimes rebuked aides for his shortcomings…An uninitiated staff member found that everyone around the general was afraid of him, and though the newcomer had known Lee before the war, he soon felt the same way. Some of it was Lee’s unpredictable temper…but it was also the way Lee constantly tested the men against his impossible standards and ridiculed them on sensitive points, joking not with them, but at their expense. 31

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It does, however, demonstrate the effect of the “Lee Legend” that holds the general as a nearly infallible leader who overcame an inept staff.
 

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here some more


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. Although Lee had very high standards, his staff, with the exception of Chilton, satisfied his expectations. He wrote of them expressing his indebtedness to them for their battlefield services. He recommended them for promotions and singled out at least two of them by name for glowing reviews. Despite this, Lee was too used to seeing battlefields on his own to employ them fully as military theory prescribed; he placed a high premium on firsthand knowledge of the battlefield, and thus felt the need to observe far-flung parts of the fields himself instead of using his staff as much as he could have. If Lee could not personally observe the movements and fighting of his army, he usually left battlefield decisions in the hands of trusted subordinate generals who knew far more about conditions in their immediate front than he could hope to. In situations in which he was issuing orders to less-reliable generals, Lee was far more willing to use his staff officers to supervise the execution of his orders. Thus, as the war progressed, Lee’s use of his personal staff adhered more closely to prevailing military theory. His staff, however, was composed of mostly competent and devoted men. 3
 

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What do you all think of this view of Lee's as a person... ?
 

diane

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Gosh, there's a selection of viewpoints! I think Pryor might represent the 1 and Freeman might represent the 10 as far as a scale of who Lee was. One - grumpy old man, ten - St Robert of Lee.

There was a lot of Lightfoot Harry in Lee. Descriptions of him as a teenager show a lively sense of humor, charisma, and unreal good looks - he was fun loving and easy to like, loved being around large crowds. Naturally time made him more sober. However, he did have a birth defect - his father. There was a lot to overcome, and he nearly couldn't marry anybody in Virginia because their daddies had known his! Even Custis was reluctant to let his daughter marry Lee but she was determined. The marriage was a good one despite various ups and downs. Being a soldier gave Lee the firm structure and discipline he appreciated, but it was not a choice he would have made himself. His older brother went to Harvard to become a lawyer, but that was all the family could afford - the other two had the ancient 'second son' choices. Lee went to West Point to become an engineer for the army. Hard to find anybody critical of him or his personality during this time.

Most of the criticism of Lee comes from his time in the CW and after - he was late middle aged, had a bum ticker, arthritis like his wife. Being crippled up with it like her was a frightening thing without servants - old age fears was one of the reasons he discouraged his daughters from marrying. His age was definitely a factor in how he dealt with his personnel. He had spent his whole life controlling a naturally hot temper and under the heavy stresses of this particular war it got away from him more than he liked it to. His subordinates were mostly young men, he was old enough to be their grandpa some of them, and they did not see him with a knowledge of the past. Winfield Scott did not and would not have cared if Lee was the king of grumpy old men, he knew his history and who he was as a younger man. The young Robert E Lee was very audacious, dutiful, bright and Virginian - everything Scott valued in a soldier. He saw his younger self in Lee. Twenty years earlier, Lee was an amazingly good officer. By the time of the CW, he may well have been right when he said, "I am too old!"

In dealing with his staff and subordinates, the ones who seemed to complain about him the most frequently were much younger - like Walter Taylor. He was a teenager, and a student of his notes on Lee's temper and personality should take that into consideration. The greatest failing, imho, would be not making his orders crystal clear. He learned the hard way to do that with Stonewall Jackson, but he wanted more officers like Jeb Stuart. He could just point Stuart in the general direction of his mission and it would get done mostly as Lee wanted it, and with a considerable amount more. Stuart's intelligence gathering was spectacular, and he couldn't have done it if he had not been allowed to use his own head. However...not all Lee's subordinates could handle that. It possible he was too 'nice'! He hated conflict, hated having to knock somebody's hat off (unless it was Grant's), just found disciplining his officers unpleasant. I think several of them took advantage of this.
 

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I di not remember lee being injured and unable to ride during his Maryland campaign... This would truly add to his defeat at Antietam... I knew he was shot in the arm but did not know he could not ride...

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The Maryland Campaign put extreme pressure on both Lee’s army and his staff. Although flushed with its recent triumph, the army was extremely fatigued after three months of almost incessant marching and fighting. Lee himself had been seriously injured in an accident at the close of the Second Manassas Campaign.3 While Lee’s staff officers were likewise tired, their commander’s injury placed much heavier burdens on them as they assisted him. In addition to their routine assignments, they now had to keep Lee informed of conditions that he was incapable of observing personally.

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2 Unable to ride his horse, the general accompanied the troops in an ambulance. As an ambulance could not traverse open terrain or even the roads like a man on horseback, Lee’s mobility was limited, and his staff had to clear roads ahead of his ambulance of troops and vehicles so he could pass.13 Sensing his newfound limitations, Lee had Chilton issue a circular order to his senior generals reminding them of their duty to keep army headquarters fully informed.14 Lee kept his staff officers close to him for most of the campaign and only sent them away on urgent matters, communicating with most generals through couriers. He kept his own tent close to Longstreet’s or Jackson’s to facilitate the transmission of orders

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First, it should be remembered that Lee’s staff was already overworked from having to write every single order, dispatch, and letter for the commanding general because of his injury. They were therefore not available to personally deliver any copies 99 of Special Orders No. 191, even to the highest- ranking of Lee’s subordinates, and had to rely on couriers.

 

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He hated conflict, hated having to knock somebody's hat off (unless it was Grant's), just found disciplining his officers unpleasant. I think several of them took advantage of this.
There some truth he always found away to resign people he wanted to get rid of just like Chilton...

The people around him were scared for him, his temper, his unpredictability and more... He stifle people from taking initiative except for a few... he lived like a monk... His ability of going without creature comforts is amazing...
 

diane

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I di not remember lee being injured and unable to ride during his Maryland campaign... This would truly add to his defeat at Antietam... I knew he was shot in the arm but did not know he could not ride...

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The Maryland Campaign put extreme pressure on both Lee’s army and his staff. Although flushed with its recent triumph, the army was extremely fatigued after three months of almost incessant marching and fighting. Lee himself had been seriously injured in an accident at the close of the Second Manassas Campaign.3 While Lee’s staff officers were likewise tired, their commander’s injury placed much heavier burdens on them as they assisted him. In addition to their routine assignments, they now had to keep Lee informed of conditions that he was incapable of observing personally.

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2 Unable to ride his horse, the general accompanied the troops in an ambulance. As an ambulance could not traverse open terrain or even the roads like a man on horseback, Lee’s mobility was limited, and his staff had to clear roads ahead of his ambulance of troops and vehicles so he could pass.13 Sensing his newfound limitations, Lee had Chilton issue a circular order to his senior generals reminding them of their duty to keep army headquarters fully informed.14 Lee kept his staff officers close to him for most of the campaign and only sent them away on urgent matters, communicating with most generals through couriers. He kept his own tent close to Longstreet’s or Jackson’s to facilitate the transmission of orders

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First, it should be remembered that Lee’s staff was already overworked from having to write every single order, dispatch, and letter for the commanding general because of his injury. They were therefore not available to personally deliver any copies 99 of Special Orders No. 191, even to the highest- ranking of Lee’s subordinates, and had to rely on couriers.
The top brass of the ANV were all crippled up - they hobbled into Maryland! Longstreet had carpet slippers on due to blisters from his boots; Jackson had just had a horse fall on him - he was out for almost an hour and still wobbly as they went forward; Lee was riding in an ambulance with both hands bandaged up. That's why he did not write anything for some time.

What happened to Lee a few days before was his fractious horse, Traveller. Traveller loved the boss all to pieces but he was not a war horse - he spooked at some close fire and Lee reached out to grab him. It was raining, and Lee was wearing a poncho...he got tangled up in that and the horse and fell, catching himself with his hands. They broke!
 

diane

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There some truth he always found away to resign people he wanted to get rid of just like Chilton...

The people around him were scared for him, his temper, his unpredictability and more... He stifle people from taking initiative except for a few... he lived like a monk... His ability of going without creature comforts is amazing...
Some of that shifting rather than punishing had unfortunate consequences as it made his problem somebody else's. He transferred Floyd out west just in time for him to surrender Ft Donelson! Dire consequences. Lincoln at least had a frontier he could ship incompetent generals to - they wouldn't get into much trouble pestering Indians, at least for him.

Lee was austere but hardly a monk. He often got baskets of fruit and veggies, which he always sent to hospitals...unless there was buttermilk. That he'd hide under his bed! He didn't stifle people from taking the intiative - in fact, he hoped they would. He did, however, expect them to use their brains and common sense. Some of his generals couldn't be helped, they were them whatever he desired they be otherwise. A P Hill was impulsive, made mistakes that were too big to ignore, but Lee kept him on because Hill was the best division commander he had. And Lee knew how to subtly punish him. When he made an attack based on emotion rather than facts, lots of soldiers died who shouldn't have. Lee toured the battlefield and simply said, "Bury these men, General, and say no more about it." That, for Hill, was worse than any temper fit Lee could have had.

By the way, do you know the story of Lee's doll? He always carried it in his coat pocket. Two little sisters, around 6 or so, had come to bring him a basket of food and had made a little rag doll for him. The girls stayed all day playing around his tent, then the parents came to get them. Lee sent the basket to the wounded, like he always did, but the little rag doll he kept. It stayed in his pocket for the rest of the war.
 
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5fish

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I found this article about General Robert E. Lee's first duty station at Cockspur Island. Where Fort Pulaski will be built. He will be at one time under the command of Joseph Mansfield. Who will be killed at the battle of Battle of Antietam many years later. I think we can agree Grant was a better artist than Lee... The link has other sketches by Lee and interesting stuff...


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Rare sketch of the terrapin and alligator made by Lieutenant Lee on Cockspur Island. Copies of this sketch were apparently given by Lee to members of both the Mackay and Minis families, of Savannah, Ga., whose descendants still own the originals.
 
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Here is a study on these words Lee did or did not say... Here is a story behind them...


Since my trip to Fredericksburg last week I’ve been thinking about the words Robert E. Lee supposedly uttered to James Longstreet during the battle on Telegraph Hill. If you look up the quote Online you will get any number of versions.

Here are just a few:

1. It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it.
2. It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it.
3. It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we should grow too fond of it.
 
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