Category Archive 'Robert E. Lee'

15 Jul 2021

The Left’s War on Robert E. Lee

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“He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty; a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbour without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guile. He was a Caesar, without his ambition; Frederick, without his tyranny; Napoleon, without his selfishness, and Washington, without his reward.” Benjamin Harvey Hill (former Confederate Senator from Georgia), 1874.

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“He had a calm and collected air about him, his voice was kind and tender, and his eye was as gentle as a dove’s. His whole make-up of form and person, looks and manner had a kind of gentle and soothing magnetism about it that drew every one to him and made them love, respect, and honor him.” Samuel R. Watkins, veteran of 1st Tennessee Regiment, 1881.

Last weekend, the communist city council of Charlottesville removed Lee’s statue and, as a scorched earth policy, even demolished its base.

Christopher Caldwell, in Claremont Review, marvels at how quickly a minority mob of radicals has seized power nationally and successfully enforced its own crude and simplistic ideological perspective.

As recently as 2014, biographer Michael Korda was able to describe Lee in Clouds of Glory as “universally admired even by those who have little or no sympathy toward the cause for which he fought.” Korda might have been thinking of Dwight Eisenhower, who considered Lee one of the four greatest Americans and hung his portrait in the Oval Office alongside those of the other three (Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Lincoln). “General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation,” Eisenhower wrote, “selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.”…

Lee had a good 20th century. The greatest biography of him remains Freeman’s Pulitzer-winning life—heroic and punctilious, if a bit purple for modern tastes. It has had its measured defenders and its measured detractors, though almost all readers accepted its assessment of Lee’s importance.

In our own century, things have changed. The urgent, invective-filled attacks on Lee that are beginning to appear would have seemed overheated even if the Civil War were still going on. …

The reassessment of Lee’s position in American history has almost everything to do with a shift in the way we talk about race. This shift has come about the way most recent shifts in intellectual fashion have—not so much because of any new historical information but because of the arrival in journalism and academia, by a process so gradual as to be almost imperceptible, of the bureaucratic oversight and litigative intimidation enabled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

RTWT

Stonewall Jackson’s monument was pulled down along with Lee’s, and the tricoteuses of Charlottesville celebrated their victory by voting unanimously to add their city’s famous statue of explorers Lewis & Clark to the purge list.

03 Mar 2021

A Sample of Sherwood

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Sherwood Bonner 1849-1883 (left) — Lee (right).

Our new house in Northern Mississippi had previously been the home of a fairly distinguished female regional author, Sherwood Bonner, who had also been secretary, friend, and muse to the very famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Sherwood Bonner wrote mostly (now unpopular) dialect stories, and essays and sketches for periodicals like Harper’s and Lippincott’s. She left only one novel, Like Unto Like, whose plot superficially resembles Miss Ravenel’s Conversion: patriotic Southern belle, in aftermath of defeat, falls in love with Yankee.

I’ve just started Like Unto Like, and I find Sherwood Bonner a pretty good read. Her descriptions of her Southern town are perceptive and interesting and I like her active and observant outlook.

At the point I reached late last night, it is summer, a year or so after the war, Yankee troops are being transferred from New Orleans to “Yariba” in northern Mississippi (Holly Springs, fictionalized) to escape the summer heat. The Tollivers are in bad odor with local Society, having been forced by financial stress to accept a Yankee officer, Colonel Dexter, and his family as boarders. Our heroine, Blythe Herndon (recognizable as Sherwood Bonner’s fictional alter ego) is destined to fall in love with Roger Ellis, a Northern friend visiting the Dexters.

The tension in town is alleviated when old Mrs. Oglethorpe (the acknowledged head of Yariba society) makes a point of calling upon (and thereby accepting the society of) Mrs. Dexter. Mrs. Oglethorpe has decided that it is her Christian duty to promote reconciliation.

Mrs. Oglethorpe’s gesture provokes a conversation between Blythe and the Tolliver family. Blythe explains her family has put off calling on Mrs. Dexter due to her grandmother’s irredentist attitudes. She lost a son, William, and the South’s defeat caused the old woman to break down emotionally, lose interest in everything, nearly to lose her mind. She paced the halls at night, walking in her sleep, “as white as a ghost.” A year later, she has only slightly improved.

Poor soul!” said Mrs. Tolliver. “If William had been spared she wouldn’t have felt so. I’m sure I don’t think I could have had them in in my house if Van had been killed.”

“I don’t think Uncle Will’s death made any special difference; I think it’s the ‘Lost Cause’ grandma mourns. I can’t understand it. I think it is a great deal better to forgive and forget; don’t you, Van?”

“I don’t want to forget,” said Van throwing back his head with a spirited action peculiar to him. “We made a good fight for our rights, and I’m glad and proud to have been in it. But as for bearing any malice against the men that whipped us –not I. The war ended. I would just as soon have shaken hands with General Sherman as with Joe Johnston.”

“Or with Grant as with Robert E. Lee?”

“No,” said the young man, with a sudden reverence in his tone, “for I would have knelt to Lee.”

19 Jan 2021

Robert E. Lee’s Birthday

Today is the 214th birthday of Robert E. Lee, General-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States, and one of the greatest American military commanders ever to pull on boots. This photograph, taken in late February-early March 1864 by Julian Vannerson, is among my favorites. Lee is shown in the Confederate colonel’s coat he habitually wore and the photograph certainly supports the diarist Mary Chesnut’s description of the General as –cold, quiet and grand.

When this photo was taken, Gettysburg was eight months in the past. Lee knows that the gigantic US Army of the Potomac is coming south again. He is consumed with anxiety because a third of his army is detached, away in east Tennessee; his own greatly outnumbered army’s horses, and soldiers, are tired and ill-fed; and the Confederate States is reaching the end of its resources. Winter is ending, the enemy will be moving very soon. . .

In 1864, Lee would do his finest work, stymying Grant in the Overland Campaign –(The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Yellow Tavern, Cold Harbor and other battles) — Lee keeping Grant out of Richmond despite frequently being outnumbered by almost two to one. The Southern war for independence was lost by that November. . .but not because of events in Virginia.

Volumes have been written on Lee the general, and as many on Lee the man. But I think the General speaks best for himself, and that his own writing shows the true measure of the man. Here is his letter to his sister Anne Marshall (a passionate Unionist and thus not on Lee’s side), written in April 1861, just after his resignation from the US Army:

    Arlington, Virginia
    April 20, 1861

    My Dear Sister,
    I am grieved at my inability to see you. I have been waiting for a more convenient season, which has brought to many before me deep and lasting regret. Now we are in a state of war which will yield to nothing. The whole South is in a state of revolution, into which Virginia, after a long struggle, has been drawn; and though I recognize no necessity for this state of things, and would have forborne and pleaded to the end for redress of grievances, real or supposed, yet in my own person I had to meet the question whether I should take part against my native State.

    With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and save in the defense of my native State (with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed) I hope I may never be called upon to draw my sword.

    I know you will blame me, but you must think as kindly as you can, and believe that I have endeavored to do what I thought right. To show you the feeling and struggle it has cost me, I send you a copy of my letter of resignation. I have no time for more. May God guard and protect you and yours and shower upon you everlasting blessings, is the prayer of

    Your devoted brother,

    R.E. Lee

    (From “The Wartime Papers of Robert E. Lee” (Clifford Dowdey, Louis H. Manarin, eds., Da Capo, 1987) pp. 9-10.

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On Robert E. Lee:

“I cannot in justice omit to notice the valuable services of Captain Lee of the engineer corps, whose distinguished merit and gallantry deserves the highest praise.” Gen. Gideon Pillow, 1847.

“As distinguished for felicitous execution as for science and daring.” Gen. Winfield Scott, 1847.

“He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty; a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbour without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guile. He was a Caesar, without his ambition; Frederick, without his tyranny; Napoleon, without his selfishness, and Washington, without his reward.” Benjamin Harvey Hill (former Confederate Senator from Georgia), 1874.

“There is as much instruction both in strategy and in tactics to be gleaned from General Lee’s operations of 1862 as there is to be found in Napoleon’s campaigns of 1796.” Gen. Garnet Wolseley, date unknown.

“He had a calm and collected air about him, his voice was kind and tender, and his eye was as gentle as a dove’s. His whole make-up of form and person, looks and manner had a kind of gentle and soothing magnetism about it that drew every one to him and made them love, respect, and honor him.” Samuel R. Watkins, veteran of 1st Tennessee Regiment, 1881.

“He possessed my unqualified confidence, both as a soldier and a patriot.” Jefferson Davis, 1881.

11 Jul 2020

Our Own Cultural Revolution

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For Helen Andrews the last straw was the faculty and staff of Washington & Lee University voting to remove Lee’s name from the college.

Here we arrive at the question at the heart of the statue debate: Are people constrained by any duties, any external obligations at all, or is everything always up for negotiation? Are we free to choose which heroes we want to celebrate and then equally free to choose again differently tomorrow?

Heredity is one source of unchosen obligations. It was very much in mind when Americans were debating how to handle reconciliation after the Civil War. How could we possibly strike a balance between asking Southerners to swear allegiance to the Union, which was vitally necessary, and forcing them to spit on the graves of their fathers and brothers, which was morally unthinkable to ask from any but an abjectly conquered foe? Amazingly, America succeeded in bringing the South into the country again, but only because we did exactly that: struck a balance.

History is another source of unchosen obligations, one more powerful in many ways than heredity. To be loyal to the United States means being loyal to its history. You can’t treat America like a conquered province, the way the crowds defacing Winston Churchill are treating London. Lee and Sumner were both very stubborn men, which made them superficially similar, but the difference was that for Lee the ultimate arbiter of his conduct was external whereas Sumner recognized no higher judge than himself. Acknowledging unchosen obligations means accepting that some things about America, like its history, aren’t yours to change at will — which is good, because stable and unchanging things are what Americans can unite behind.

The left has a counteroffer to this. We can heal all our divisions, they say, if you will only join with us in rallying behind our revised list of heroes. But that would mean consenting to make your position on your country’s history infinitely changeable, and infinitely changeable at the whim of someone other than yourself. Because, of course, the right side of history we’re all uniting under will be different again tomorrow, and you won’t be on the committee that decides what it is. Nothing is fixed; no principles stand firm. You will be like Sumner, a man in whom nothing can be relied upon except his sense of his own self-righteousness.

To live like that, you must either have an unshakeable sense of yourself, as the egotist Sumner did, or else no sense of yourself at all. There are some political systems that prefer their citizens to be infinitely malleable with no bedrock sense of self, but they are not democratic ones.

I used to side with the people who wanted to tear down all Confederate monuments. If Southern gentility means anything, I thought, it means not causing gratuitous offense. It means being willing to accept that a statue might mean one thing to us but something different to our fellow citizens, to whom we have an obligation to be considerate. I took people at their word when they said, we don’t hate the South, we just want you to celebrate what’s best about it, not what’s worst.

That gave them too much credit. In truth, they don’t want to celebrate anything about the South, or America, or the past. Everything falls short of their Year Zero standards. Considering the absolutism of their ideology, perhaps I should have seen this coming. Others did. Either way, Confederates are in the rear-view mirror now and Washington and Jefferson are the ones up for condemnation.

The left argues that name changes and statue topplings are a way for people and institutions to demonstrate their commitment to real change. But at this point, it is not ordinary Americans who need to demonstrate their good faith to the left. It is the statue-topplers who need to convince us that they are genuinely committed to pluralism and not, as their actions would suggest, just sparing some statues temporarily while they bide their time to wait and see what they can get away with tomorrow.

RTWT

They are so very small and the men whose memory they want to efface are so very great. Nothing the Left does can possibly touch General Lee.

19 Jan 2020

Robert E. Lee’s Birthday

Today is the 213th birthday of Robert E. Lee, General-in-Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States, and one of the greatest American military commanders ever to pull on boots. This photograph, taken in late February-early March 1864 by Julian Vannerson, is among my favorites. Lee is shown in the Confederate colonel’s coat he habitually wore and the photograph certainly supports the diarist Mary Chesnut’s description of the General as “cold, quiet and grand.”

When this photo was taken, Gettysburg was eight months in the past. Lee knows that the gigantic US Army of the Potomac is coming south again. He is consumed with anxiety because a third of his army is detached, away in east Tennessee; his own greatly outnumbered army’s horses, and soldiers, are tired and ill-fed; and the Confederate States is reaching the end of its resources. Winter is ending, the enemy will be moving very soon. . .

In 1864, Lee would do his finest work, stymying Grant in the “Overland Campaign” (The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Yellow Tavern, Cold Harbor and other battles) — Lee keeping Grant out of Richmond despite frequently being outnumbered by almost two to one. The Southern war for independence was lost by that November. . .but not because of events in Virginia.

Volumes have been written on Lee the general, and as many on Lee the man. But I think the General speaks best for himself, and that his own writing shows the true measure of the man. Here is his letter to his sister Anne Marshall (a passionate Unionist and thus not on Lee’s side), written in April 1861, just after his resignation from the US Army:

    Arlington, Virginia
    April 20, 1861

    My Dear Sister,
    I am grieved at my inability to see you. I have been waiting for a more convenient season, which has brought to many before me deep and lasting regret. Now we are in a state of war which will yield to nothing. The whole South is in a state of revolution, into which Virginia, after a long struggle, has been drawn; and though I recognize no necessity for this state of things, and would have forborne and pleaded to the end for redress of grievances, real or supposed, yet in my own person I had to meet the question whether I should take part against my native State.

    With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and save in the defense of my native State (with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed) I hope I may never be called upon to draw my sword.

    I know you will blame me, but you must think as kindly as you can, and believe that I have endeavored to do what I thought right. To show you the feeling and struggle it has cost me, I send you a copy of my letter of resignation. I have no time for more. May God guard and protect you and yours and shower upon you everlasting blessings, is the prayer of

    Your devoted brother,

    R.E. Lee

    (From “The Wartime Papers of Robert E. Lee” (Clifford Dowdey, Louis H. Manarin, eds., Da Capo, 1987) pp. 9-10.

HT: Hale Cullom.

31 Oct 2017

That Witches Coven Down in Alexandria

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Zman unloads on the SJW female nutcases who recently decided it would be necessary to tear down memorials to Washington and Lee in the church they once attended.

These churches are big on the “all are welcome” stuff. They hang banners outside their empty churches with this slogan, usually decorated with rainbows. My suggestion is the alt-right toughs should take pics of themselves dressed as Hitler, posing in front of these stupid signs. That would make for a hilarious social media campaign. The fact is, the only people welcome in these hell holes are Progressive nutters and sexual deviants. As is always the case with The Cult, the opposite of what they say is usually the truth.

If you have any doubts about any of this, take a look at the roster of clergy running this church. The rector has two last names, suggesting she is keeping her options open. A good rule of thumb is that a woman with two last names is a nut. That’s probably why she hired a tranny as a youth counselor. Her second in command is a former actress, a profession known to attract the stable and virtuous. Two more women fill out the priestly class of this old church. It’s not hard to see why they are waging jihad on George.

That’s the thing with these churches. They are run by social justice warriors who see the church as a vehicle to inflict Progressive morality on their congregations. You can be sure that no one in the church gave a damn about George Washington. These hens spend all day clucking about what they read in the New York Times or heard on NPR. They came up with the idea of evicting the father of the country, because they wanted attention. It is virtue signalling, but their idea of virtue originates outside the Episcopal Church.

Of course, this was always the end point of the Rebel Flag burning and statue toppling. It is the thing everyone knew all along. It may have started as a tantrum by Cloud People aimed at the Dirt People, but it was going to end as a orgy of self-abnegation. These people hate their own kind. They hate their ancestors. The reason is, they hate themselves and the way to erase themselves is to erase their past. Progressives dream of the day when they no longer exist and any memory of them is gone too.

He’s perfectly right on this one. Once you start putting in charge of your famous churches revolutionary activists who have already decided that they are entitled to overthrow two thousand years of ecclesiastical tradition (and the judgment of all the saints and doctors of the church past) in order to gratify their own amour propre by donning clerical robes and usurping a position never previously occupied by members of their sex, you can’t be surprised that the same historically-illiterate, limitlessly self-infatuated progressives will proceed on to further acts of destructive sacrilege.

29 Oct 2017

Vestry Committee Votes to Take Down Lee & Washington Memorials in Church They Attended

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The soon-to-be removed offending memorial to George Washington.

The Washington Times reports that the much-predicted and inevitable has occurred. This time, they are going after Washington as well as Lee.

George Washington was one of the founding members of Christ Church in Alexandria, buying pew No. 5 when the church first opened in 1773, and attending for more than two decades.

This week the church announced it was pulling down a memorial to its one-time vestryman and the country’s first president, saying he and another famous parishioner, Robert E. Lee, have become too controversial and are chasing away would-be parishioners.

While acknowledging “friction” over the decision, the church’s leadership said the twin memorials, which are attached to the wall on either side of the altar, are relics of another era and have no business in a church that proclaims its motto as “All are welcome — no exceptions.”

“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques,” the church leaders said.

A staffer at the church Friday said the decision was going to be announced to the church on Sunday.

The smarmy letter announcing this spectacular insult to American history signed by all 12 Vestry committee members and the local priestess herself is here.

They explain that this destructive, insulting, and revolutionary step was necessary because “discussion about the appropriateness of the plaques in our worship space caused friction in our parish family.” In other words, some extraordinary and outrageous assholes infected with a repulsive ideology hostile to America, our history, our founding fathers, and our national heroes, started making irrational complaints, and the useless, spineless, brainless nincompoops and poltroons on that Vestry committee lacked both the backbone and intellectual resources to defend even the memory of George Washington in his own church, and decided to surrender.

Traditionally, the Episcopal Church would be considered to represent a prominent pillar of upper middle class American culture. Episcopalians used to be expected to be, on the average, wealthier, better educated, and more prominent in the leadership of the community than members of other denominations.

I find myself muttering to myself in frustration, and wondering aloud: how did this country ever come to this? How did we wind up with, everywhere you look, from Yale and Harvard, to city halls all over the Southland, to Christ Church in Alexandria with nobody in charge who thinks or cares? How did it ever happen that the American Establishment sold its soul and gave away its conscience to the brainless demoniac Radical Left? How is it possible that that gentleman over there, a graduate of an elite university, in a tweed jacket and a club tie or that attractive older female graduate of a Seven Sisters school in pearls, are today prepared to throw both Washington and Lee under the bus as sacrifices to the Gospel of Howard Zinn?

Thank goodness we have flyover, Red State America, because coastal urban Establishment America is rotten to the core. Our Establishment today is no less ready to surrender to the Reds than the one in St. Petersburg a hundred years ago this week.


You can see it again right there, on the left.

19 Jan 2017

Robert E. Lee’s Birthday

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This photograph was taken in late February-early March 1864 by Julian Vannerson. Lee is shown in the Confederate colonel’s coat he habitually wore and the photograph certainly supports the diarist Mary Chesnut’s description of the General as “cold, quiet and grand.”

Robert Edward Lee, the greatest American military commander of all time, was born January 19, 1807 at Stratford Hall Plantation, Westmoreland County, Virginia.

03 Apr 2012

Robert E. Lee’s Sword Being Moved to Appomattox

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Lee is wearing the sword in this famous picture. (click on each image for larger version)

The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond is planning to re-locate a presentation sword made in Paris by Louis-Francois Devisme* as a gift to General Robert E. Lee to a new museum branch located at Appomattox, the site of Lee’s surrender in April of 1865.

Future museum branches are planned for Hampden Roads and the Fredericksburg area.

Lee naturally remained in possession of his sword after the surrender at Appomattox in accordance with General Grant’s generous terms which allowed Confederate officers to retain their sidearms.

The Lee family loaned the sword to the museum in 1918, and permanently bequeathed it in 1982.

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*Louis-François Devisme, gunmaker and inventor, is recorded in Paris between 1843 and 1870, first at 12 rue de Helder and then (ca 1850) at 36 Boulevard des Italiens. He is remembered today principally for the highly decorated pieces produced for a succession of Paris Exhibitions, and for the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 at Crystal Palace, for which he was awarded numerous medals. He ranks as one of the most accomplished of the 19th-century Parisian arms makers.

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USA Today


Conservationists recently restored the hilt’s gilding.


The inscription on one side reads: “Gen. Robert E. Lee. U.S.A. from a marylander, 1863.” The identity of the donor is unknown.


Museum of the Confederacy curator, Cathy Wright, displays the newly restored sword.

27 Jan 2012

Did Lee’s Health Problems Play a Role at Gettysburg?

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The Battle of Gettysburg, generally looked upon as the turning point of the Civil War, occurred over three days, July 1 – July 3, 1863.

The first day of Gettysburg consisted of a meeting engagement, in which fate favored the Union. Elements of A.P. Hill’s Corps ran into veteran Union cavalry armed with repeating carbines occupying a good defensible position on a ridge. Reinforcements arrived for both sides, but the Union forces which arrived first consisted of the best troops in the Union Army, Reynolds‘ First Corps, including the renowned Iron Brigade. Nonetheless, the Confederate infantry eventually drove the Union forces back, compelling them to retreat to the next ridge line east of the town. The first day of the Battle of Gettysburg ended with a significant Confederate victory.

On the second day, Confederate forces attacked both the left and right ends of the Union line, attempting to turn the Army of the Potomac’s flank. But the Union positions on high ground were strong, the Confederate attacks were delayed and not ideally coordinated, and the Union defense held. The second day’s fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg ended in an indecisive stalemate.

On the third day, Robert E. Lee choose to emulate the offensive strategy adopted by Napoleon successfully at both Wagram and Borodino, a full-scale frontal attack on the enemy center intended to break his line decisively and to drive him from the field in full retreat. Lee sent Pickett’s Division and six brigades from A.P. Hill’s Corps, nearly 13,000 men, to advance and break the Union center. Pickett’s Charge failed, and the third day of Gettysburg resulted in a decisive Confederate defeat.

Robert E. Lee’s decision to order a frontal attack has provoked endless re-examination and criticism.

In the latest issue of The Gettysburg Magazine, Dr. Carl Coppolino proposes a medical explanation for General Lee’s misjudgment.

I don’t put any stock in these kinds of explanations myself, but there may be something valid in the mention of Lee’s heart trouble. The possibility that Lee’s cardiac illness played a role at Gettysburg has been offered before. Mainwaring, Tribble 1992.

19 Jan 2007

Robert E. Lee’s Birthday

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Robert Edward Lee, the greatest American military commander of all time, was born January 19, 1807 at Stratford Hall Plantation, Westmoreland County, Virginia.


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