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  #1  
Old 13 Apr 12, 04:59
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General Lee's real thoughts on the post war south?

Hi all

Just finished watching parts 1 & 2 of Gen.

Robert Lee on the History Channel in Australia.

I know you have to take these documentaries on History Channel with a 'grain of salt' but it did raise an interesting point for me.

It stated that General Lee was a somewhat 'shattered man' after the war.

Whilst he for the main part kept his opinions to himself, he believed he was a failure and was disillusioned with society post war, namely everything he knew was now gone.

He took up a college position etc but it seems he lived in obscurity until his death.

Put all the 'lost cause' mythology about Lee to one side, has anyone provided an objective insight into his state of mind and political thoughts after the war?

(I have read much about his military career prior and during the civil war but the post war phase interests me).


I belive there was some correspondence between himself and Longstreet but what of other confederate comrades and political figures?

Thanking you for your replies in advance.
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Last edited by newjack66; 13 Apr 12 at 06:08..
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  #2  
Old 13 Apr 12, 06:43
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Your post prompted me to remember this site. I did not review it so I am not sure how pertinent it will be to you.

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  #3  
Old 13 Apr 12, 06:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newjack66 View Post
Hi all

Just finished watching parts 1 & 2 of Gen.

Robert Lee on the History Channel in Australia.

I know you have to take these documentaries on History Channel with a 'grain of salt' but it did raise an interesting point for me.

It stated that General Lee was a somewhat 'shattered man' after the war.

Whilst he for the main part kept his opinions to himself, he believed he was a failure and was disillusioned with society post war, namely everything he knew was now gone.

He took up a college position etc but it seems he lived in obscurity until his death.

Put all the 'lost cause' mythology about Lee to one side, has anyone provided an objective insight into his state of mind and political thoughts after the war?

(I have read much about his military career prior and during the civil war but the post war phase interests me).


I belive there was some correspondence between himself and Longstreet but what of other confederate comrades and political figures?

Thanking you for your replies in advance.
I would exclude any remarks from Longstreet.
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  #4  
Old 13 Apr 12, 08:39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B7B Southern View Post
I would exclude any remarks from Longstreet.
I'm happy to do that, I guess my point was that Lee may have written to people outside of his immediate family. Several books I have read talked of some exchange of correspondence between Lee & Longstreet. I guess the content may be in dispute.

But I am interested in gaining some type of insight of General Lee's thoughts in the years after the war.

Did he attend or address veteran events? Was his health such that he was unable to make public appearances?

Cheers
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  #5  
Old 13 Apr 12, 08:50
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"In his public statements and private correspondence, Lee argued that a tone of reconciliation and patience would further the interests of white Southerners better than hotheaded antagonism to federal authority or the use of violence. Lee repeatedly expelled white students from Washington College for violent attacks on local black men, and publicly urged obedience to the authorities and respect for law and order" ....

and

"He (Robert E Lee) privately chastised fellow ex-Confederates such as Jefferson Davis and Jubal Early for their frequent, angry responses to perceived Northern insults, writing in private to them as he had written to a magazine editor in 1865, that "It should be the object of all to avoid controversy, to allay passion, give full scope to reason and to every kindly feeling. By doing this and encouraging our citizens to engage in the duties of life with all their heart and mind, with a determination not to be turned aside by thoughts of the past and fears of the future, our country will not only be restored in material prosperity, but will be advanced in science, in virtue and in religion." - Fellman, Michael (2000). The Making of Robert E. Lee. Random House. ISBN 0-679-45650-3.

Interesting Reading ....
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  #6  
Old 13 Apr 12, 23:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newjack66 View Post
I'm happy to do that, I guess my point was that Lee may have written to people outside of his immediate family. Several books I have read talked of some exchange of correspondence between Lee & Longstreet. I guess the content may be in dispute.

But I am interested in gaining some type of insight of General Lee's thoughts in the years after the war.

Did he attend or address veteran events? Was his health such that he was unable to make public appearances?

Cheers
Newjack 66,

Lee did carry on some correspondence after the war with some of those that served with him to include Longstreet and Early. Disregard anything Marshall has to add to any discussion as it relates to Longstreet, as he is hardly reliable with any information as it concerns Pete (unless you subscribe to the Early, Pendleton, school).

In fact, Marshall's view of the Civil War is decidely stuck in 1930s. There has been plenty of original scholarship since that time challenging and successfully overturning many of the orthodox views held at that time. Unfortunately, he did not get the memo and still trots out some of the same tired arguments.
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Old 14 Apr 12, 04:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cici View Post
Newjack 66,

Lee did carry on some correspondence after the war with some of those that served with him to include Longstreet and Early. Disregard anything Marshall has to add to any discussion as it relates to Longstreet, as he is hardly reliable with any information as it concerns Pete (unless you subscribe to the Early, Pendleton, school).

In fact, Marshall's view of the Civil War is decidely stuck in 1930s. There has been plenty of original scholarship since that time challenging and successfully overturning many of the orthodox views held at that time. Unfortunately, he did not get the memo and still trots out some of the same tired arguments.
I respect Marshall's opinion, as an Australian student of the Civil War I try not to tread on people's toes.

I have read in Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant that Longstreet did correspond with Lee.

I sometimes am frustrated that Lee did not defend his 'old war horses' military record especially against Early and other 'lost causes' of that period!

I have read a number of articles since my original post that suggest Lee believed in moving on and looking to the future as a unified nation, which shows the 'class' of the man.
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Old 14 Apr 12, 04:34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cici View Post
Newjack 66,

Lee did carry on some correspondence after the war with some of those that served with him to include Longstreet and Early. Disregard anything Marshall has to add to any discussion as it relates to Longstreet, as he is hardly reliable with any information as it concerns Pete (unless you subscribe to the Early, Pendleton, school).

In fact, Marshall's view of the Civil War is decidely stuck in 1930s. There has been plenty of original scholarship since that time challenging and successfully overturning many of the orthodox views held at that time. Unfortunately, he did not get the memo and still trots out some of the same tired arguments.

Does that mean you support Longstreet's own book?

Look on the 'Longstreet' thread and make up your own mind about Longstreet. The books I reference are not from the 30s that is referred to above. This poster is enamored by Longstreet that causes a person to overlook a balanced truth about him.

Marshall
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Last edited by B7B Southern; 14 Apr 12 at 04:40..
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Old 14 Apr 12, 04:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B7B Southern View Post
Does that mean you support Longstreet's own book?
Unfortunately Marshall, 'Pete' wrote hid biography through the eyes of a somewhat bitter man many years after the war. It did not enhance his reputation well.

Had it been written a year or two after the war I personally may have been supportive.

I guess he wrote it more as a 'payback' of sorts for the criticisms of his military record over the years.

I will admit Pete was his own worst enemy with some of the decisions he made in the post war period.

But for post war elements to point the finger at Pete for the Gettysburg defeat is unfair to say the least.

I do believe that Lee should have supported his 'Old War' horses' military record.

I have read that the two still had great respect for each other till Lees death.
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Old 14 Apr 12, 04:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newjack66 View Post
I respect Marshall's opinion, as an Australian student of the Civil War I try not to tread on people's toes.

I have read in Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant that Longstreet did correspond with Lee.

I sometimes am frustrated that Lee did not defend his 'old war horses' military record especially against Early and other 'lost causes' of that period!

I have read a number of articles since my original post that suggest Lee believed in moving on and looking to the future as a unified nation, which shows the 'class' of the man.
Don't let your nationality stop you. No one on this site fought in that war & it is unlikely they even met anyone who did. What they know is eihter dervied from the same sources as you - mostly books - or from 'folk history' passed down through family & local communities. This is especially the case with southerners, some of whom cling to their own versions of history as their forefathers clung to slavery & often with considerably less honesty.

Growing up in modern America gives relatively limited insight into the civil war in and of itself for the average person. With the exception of being able to visit the occasional battlefield or see 'the country' there is little most of our American bretheren know about the war itself that you do not have access to (except those who may actually have access to original documents). At the University of Melbourne I met Australians who had made valuable contributions to understanding the history of France, Russia & other far flung places. Beyond a certain point in the past we all start at a similar point when it comes to informing ourselves.

In sort, your qualification to comment & judge here is base on your reading, not your nationality. I have read realtively sparesly on the ACW, so I comment little. There is no reason, however, why you should not be as well or better informed than many of the Americans here. Jump in boots & all if that is your wont. Anyone so fragile as to take offence because you are not a Yank probably shouldn't be debating history to begin with.
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  #11  
Old 14 Apr 12, 05:54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BF69 View Post
Don't let your nationality stop you. No one on this site fought in that war & it is unlikely they even met anyone who did. What they know is eihter dervied from the same sources as you - mostly books - or from 'folk history' passed down through family & local communities. This is especially the case with southerners, some of whom cling to their own versions of history as their forefathers clung to slavery & often with considerably less honesty.

Growing up in modern America gives relatively limited insight into the civil war in and of itself for the average person. With the exception of being able to visit the occasional battlefield or see 'the country' there is little most of our American bretheren know about the war itself that you do not have access to (except those who may actually have access to original documents). At the University of Melbourne I met Australians who had made valuable contributions to understanding the history of France, Russia & other far flung places. Beyond a certain point in the past we all start at a similar point when it comes to informing ourselves.

In sort, your qualification to comment & judge here is base on your reading, not your nationality. I have read realtively sparesly on the ACW, so I comment little. There is no reason, however, why you should not be as well or better informed than many of the Americans here. Jump in boots & all if that is your wont. Anyone so fragile as to take offence because you are not a Yank probably shouldn't be debating history to begin with.
Thanks for your kind words and support.

I would not take offence at someone commenting on Gallipoli or the Eureka Stockade from the US.

I have asked some rather 'newbie' questions regarding the Civil War and have always been treated with respect by forum members.

I plan on traveling to the US in the next year or so and am keen to visit Gettysburg (and other battlefields) and the South in general.

Would love to be involved in re-enacting as well.
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Old 14 Apr 12, 06:40
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Would love to be involved in re-enacting as well.
Itchy hot uniforms during the summer? Especially with fanatics who refuse to hide well iced and stocked coolers in their kit?!

I'll stick to just visiting and chatting with them! Hope you get great pleasure from your visit here!

Regards,
Dennis
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Old 14 Apr 12, 10:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BF69 View Post
Don't let your nationality stop you. No one on this site fought in that war & it is unlikely they even met anyone who did. What they know is eihter dervied from the same sources as you - mostly books - or from 'folk history' passed down through family & local communities. This is especially the case with southerners, some of whom cling to their own versions of history as their forefathers clung to slavery & often with considerably less honesty.

Growing up in modern America gives relatively limited insight into the civil war in and of itself for the average person. With the exception of being able to visit the occasional battlefield or see 'the country' there is little most of our American bretheren know about the war itself that you do not have access to (except those who may actually have access to original documents). At the University of Melbourne I met Australians who had made valuable contributions to understanding the history of France, Russia & other far flung places. Beyond a certain point in the past we all start at a similar point when it comes to informing ourselves.

In sort, your qualification to comment & judge here is base on your reading, not your nationality. I have read realtively sparesly on the ACW, so I comment little. There is no reason, however, why you should not be as well or better informed than many of the Americans here. Jump in boots & all if that is your wont. Anyone so fragile as to take offence because you are not a Yank probably shouldn't be debating history to begin with.

I imagine a person from overseas probably has a more objective point of view on the ACW than some of us, who tend to choose sides..
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Old 14 Apr 12, 16:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B7B Southern View Post
Does that mean you support Longstreet's own book?

Look on the 'Longstreet' thread and make up your own mind about Longstreet. The books I reference are not from the 30s that is referred to above. This poster is enamored by Longstreet that causes a person to overlook a balanced truth about him.

Marshall
Marshall, Cici knows very well that not everything Longstreet put in his book is accurate. Even the most pro-Longstreet people like myself realize that. But you must consider the circumstances under which he wrote the book. He was trying to settle the score against the Early/Pendleton SHS crowd that was lying about him for the better part of 42 years. Almost everything they put forward was a knock on Longstreet. If they could, they'd have blamed him for the loss at Shiloh and Vicksburg and for killing Lincoln.
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Old 14 Apr 12, 19:29
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Originally Posted by KICK View Post
I imagine a person from overseas probably has a more objective point of view on the ACW than some of us, who tend to choose sides..
In the end I suspect we all 'choose sides', but people from a different nation/culture start without a certain amount of baggage. That said, outsiders also start without as strong an understanding of the culture as a local, but that can be an advantage to a point. Locals often believe that understanding the culture now means they understand the culture 100, 200 or perhaps even thousands of years previous. The danger is that such understanding as they do have is lost as they project their current understanding backward & assume it is valid. An outsider is unlikely to do that, but they, in turn, need to inform themselves well.

History is a tricky bugger.
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