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US Army Honors Confederate Generals

lee-jackson-chancellorsville

At least one person wonders why the US Army honors Confederate generals.

Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times (“Southern Discomfort: U.S. Army seeks removal of Lee, ‘Stonewall’ Jackson honors“):

The U.S. Army War College, which molds future field generals, has begun discussing whether it should remove its portraits of Confederate generals — including those of Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Nestled in rural Pennsylvania on the 500-acre Carlisle Barracks, the war college is conducting an inventory of all its paintings and photographs with an eye for rehanging them in historical themes to tell a particular Army story.During the inventory, an unidentified official — not the commandant, Maj. Gen. Anthony A. Cucolo III — asked the administration why the college honors two generals who fought against the United States, college spokeswoman Carol Kerr said.

“I do know at least one person has questioned why we would honor individuals who were enemies of the United States Army,” Ms. Kerr said. “There will be a dialogue when we develop the idea of what do we want the hallway to represent.”

She said one faculty member took down the portraits of Lee and Jackson and put them on the floor as part of the inventory process. That gave rise to rumors that the paintings had been removed.

“This person was struck by the fact we have quite a few Confederate images,” she said, adding that the portraits were rehung on a third-floor hallway. “[Lee] was certainly not good for the nation. This is the guy we faced on the battlefield whose entire purpose in life was to destroy the nation as it was then conceived. … This is all part of an informed discussion.”

It is the kind of historical cleansing that could spark an Army-wide debate: Lee’s portrait adorns the walls of other military installations and government buildings.

Let’s stipulate up front that this is thinly-sourced linkbait. As best I can glean from the story, some unknown person asked a question and the Army War College may or may not be doing anything to answer it; from here, the author conjectures that the debate might spread. It’s pretty much a non-story.

The reason why I even clicked on it from the Defense News daily roundup is that I was amused by the notion that there’s any controversy at all about the paintings of Lee and Jackson when the Army has forts named after both men. Fort Lee, located “alongside the Tri-Cities of Virginia – Petersburg, Colonial Heights and Hopewell – as well as the counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Prince George” is home to  to the Combined Arms Support Command along with the Army Logistics University, the U.S. Army Ordnance School, the U.S. Army Quartermaster School and the U.S. Army Transportation School. [Fort Jackson, near Columbia, South Carolina, is "the U.S. Army's main production center for Basic Combat Training, trains 50 percent of the Army's Basic Combat Training load and 60 percent of the women entering the Army each year" as well as "home to the U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute, the Armed Forces Army Chaplaincy Center and School and the National Center for Credibility Assessment (formerly the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute). It also is home to the Army's Drill Sergeant School, which trains all active and Reserve instructors."]* That’s to say nothing of Fort Bragg and Fort Hood, two of our largest maneuver bases.

Is it somewhat odd to have major bases named after men who led the army of a secessionist state against the forces of the United States Army. But the spirit of reconciliation after the war, with some notable exceptions, was to embrace the South and its heroes as fellow countrymen. And Lee and Jackson in particular have been revered as outstanding examples of officership and gentlemanly virtue, at least within military circles, since time immemorial.

*UPDATE: A commentator correctly points out that Fort Jackson is named after Andrew, not “Stonewall,” Jackson. The point, however, remains: the Army has several major bases named after Confederate generals.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    And Lee and Jackson in particular have been revered as outstanding examples of officership and gentlemanly virtue, at least within military circles, since time immemorial.

    I don’t know that post-1865 is exactly “time immemorial”….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    The reason why I even clicked on it from the Defense News daily roundup is that I was amused by the notion that there’s any controversy at all about the paintings of Lee and Jackson when the Army has forts named after both men.

    Then rename the forts. I don’t think it’s exactly controversial to say that we should not name US Army forts after men who took up arms against America, were enemies of the US Army, and responsible for the wholesale slaughter of American soldiers fighting under the Stars and Stripes.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 8

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    But the spirit of reconciliation after the war, with some notable exceptions, was to embrace the South and its heroes as fellow countrymen.

    Embracing the Southerners as fellow countrymen (while not extending that same spirit of their black victims who continued to languish under Jim Crow for a hundred years) by not hanging their leading generals as the traitors they were is one thing.

    Actively honoring them by naming a fort after them is quite another. That goes far beyond reconciliation to a shameful cover-up of the real history.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 13

  4. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Maybe a portrait of Nelson Mandela (winner of the Enron Award for Distinguished Public Service) or a fort named for Harvey Milk would be more in line with our Zeitgeist.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 21

  5. Butch Bracknell says:

    I wonder if there are portraits hanging anywhere in our war colleges and museums of Rommel, Yamashita, or any other worthy adversaries skilled in the operational arts. If we excise the portraits of these two American opponents (Lee and Jackson), will we also strike Attacks from our Command and Staff reading lists? Lee and Jackson were insurgent leaders, but worthy of studying (and honoring) in terms of generalship. They conducted themselves with honor ON the battlefield and after the war, even if you disagree with their decision to support the Confederacy.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 9

  6. Andrei Vfeked says:

    They didn’t take up arms “against America.” They took up arms against the United States. That is more than just a semantical correction. There is a massive difference between someone serving a foreign nation that is hostile to the United States and choosing one side or another in a civil war within one’s country. Lee and Jackson never stopped being Americans, in multiple senses of the word.

    Lee fought for the United States in the Mexican-American War and served as Superintendent of West Point. Jackson also fought in the Mexican-American War and was a USMA graduate.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 6

  7. JKB says:

    Certainly doesn’t say much for history education in the US today. But shouts plenty about the political indoctrination in our “education” system.

    Lee and Jackson were great military commanders and were recognized as such by the U.S. Army. They also, were American soldiers and both were members of the US Army before the war. Oh, and should we just ignore that the US military didn’t until recently incorporate politics into its decisions to celebrate great warriors?

    But, yes, let’s substitute the ill-informed judgement of the poorly educated 150 years after the war for that of the men and women who lived the experience.

    And if it is not celebrating great enemies, then we should get rid of the Apache helicopter. And should we really be calling a forward operating base Geronimo? Or how about now closed Sioux Army Depot? Should we really celebrate these enemies of the US Army after the atrocities committed by the Native American tribes? After all, they didn’t even attend West Point.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 9

  8. grumpy realist says:

    I’d chalk acceptance of the portraits up under Historical Sloth and Inertia. Removing them at this point is like getting upset about a creek named Squaw Crossing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  9. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    While their cause was unjust, both men fought brilliantly and with honor. And, as noted, both were Americans — before and after the war. (OK, not Jackson, but certainly Lee.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  10. john personna says:

    Call me a utilitarian, but I think war colleges should include images of winning generals, even and especially when they cost us. Put Rommel up there.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  11. rudderpedals says:

    Study them thoroughly for leadership examples good and bad, but reserve the naming and portraiture national honors for those who remained loyal to the USA.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 7

  12. Pinky says:

    “In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will.” Not a bad lesson to teach our warriors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  13. JKB says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    You really are completely ignorant of American history.

    But let’s skip over Reconstruction where Yankee Carpetbaggers infested the South exploiting the recently freed slaves. We’ll go right to the point that Jim Crowe laws didn’t enter into the books until the Carpetbaggers had extracted what money they could and run off back North. It was only then that the Democrats were able to win elections and introduce Jim Crowe laws. Of course, the Carpetbaggers hadn’t left the people with good feelings about Yankees and/or Republicans.

    At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a move in the North was made to reconcile with Southerners. President McKinley was instrumental in this movement. When the Spanish-American War concluded successfully in December 1898, President McKinley used this as an opportunity to “mend the fences”.

    On 14 December 1898 he gave a speech in which he urged reconciliation based on the outstanding service of Southerners during the recent war with Spain. Remember, as part of the conciliation, several former Confederate officers were commissioned as generals to include former Confederate cavalry general, Wheeler.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 18

  14. Pinky says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    a shameful cover-up of the real history

    What is being covered up? That the Confederates had generals? That Jackson and Lee were among them? I think everyone knows that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:

    Boy are you full of sh!t.

    So the Carpetbaggers created the Ku Klux Klan? It’s Carpetbaggers who intimidated, whipped, castrated and hanged African-Americans in the post-war south? It’s the fault of northerners who arrived after a century or so of brutal slavery, and after we had to kill 600,000 people to stop the southern animals from continuing their evil ways.

    In other news: Jews really kinda responsible for the Holocaust.

    Absolutely despicable rewrite of history. Go hide your head in shame, you creepy little racist.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 10

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @Pinky:

    The real history is that Jackson and Lee (and other, obviously) were traitors who under most circumstances would have been, and probably should have been, taken away, tried and shot.

    They were traitors who fought in an evil cause. Normally we don’t erect statues to folks like that. Here’s a list of Americans who spied for the Soviets. How many statues of them shall we erect?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 15

  17. John Peabody says:

    Gee, if some people were upset about the names of Forts Lee and Jackson, you would’ve thought that we would have heard about it sometime in…oh….the last 100 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  18. Rafer Janders says:

    @Andrei Vfeked:

    There is a massive difference between someone serving a foreign nation that is hostile to the United States and choosing one side or another in a civil war within one’s country. Lee and Jackson never stopped being Americans, in multiple senses of the word.

    Sure they did. Had the South won, it would have been an entirely separate nation, and Lee and Jackson would have been generals of an actively hostile foreign power. That was their intent and that was their goal. They tried to split off from America and to create a brand new power that would be opposed to us. The only reason that never happened was because they lost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  19. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Not to state the obvious, but Fort Jackson is so named in honor of ANDREW Jackson, our 7th president, not Stonewall Jackson, a traitor.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  20. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    Oh, and should we just ignore that the US military didn’t until recently incorporate politics into its decisions to celebrate great warriors?

    Which is why we have Fort Rommel in Georgia, AFB Von Richthofen in California, the Admiral Yamamoto Naval Base in Hawaii, the Heinz Guderian Tank Training Ground in the Mojave Desert, and the Vo Nguyen Giap School of Counter-Insurgency Warfare in Florida…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Andrei Vfeked:

    There is a massive difference between someone serving a foreign nation that is hostile to the United States and choosing one side or another in a civil war within one’s country

    Correct. That distinction is the one between being an enemy and being a traitor.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 6

  22. Rafer Janders says:

    @Andrei Vfeked:

    Lee fought for the United States in the Mexican-American War and served as Superintendent of West Point. Jackson also fought in the Mexican-American War and was a USMA graduate.

    All the more shameful, then, that they forsook their sacred oaths and took up arms against their former comrades-in-arms and country.

    I mean, that’s what a traitor is: someone who was previously on your side and then turned against you.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 8

  23. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    What is being covered up?

    That they were responsible for the largest slaughter of American soldiers in any war we ever had. They led forces who fought against the United States Army and who were marching under the Stars and Stripes. They’re not worthy of honor by that same army whose soldiers they tried to kill and whose country they tried to defeat.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 10

  24. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: There are statues of traitors to the British crown in Scotland. It’s magnanimous to recognize those who fought bravely in a cause, and when a civil war fails it’s practical to treat the losers with respect as fellow countrymen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  25. Pinky says:

    @Rafer Janders: Did someone not tell you that they were Confederate generals? You can’t call it a cover-up if nothing’s covered up. There’s a difference between seeing it as wrong and seeing it as a cover-up.

    Edited to add: those who met them on the field of battle treated them with that honor before we did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB:

    The predictably tedious nature of your tendency to cast (any) topic in terms of “those evil Democrats” aside, The linkage you are trying to make in this instance is flawed.

    The modern-day ideological descendants of the people who instituted Jim Crow laws aren’t Democrats. They flipped and started voting (and running for office) as Republicans once Johnson signed that “they are trying to force us to believe that N-words are as good as us!” act in the late 1960s.

    There really is no defensible position to take with regard to defending the South’s actions / policies / abuses here. Just let it go before you reach China.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 4

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    Again, think about their end game: had Lee and Jackson won, the end result would have been a Confederate States of America which would have been an entirely separate country, and an actively hostile power opposed to the USA, sharing a border and on the same continent. They would have stolen a large portion of the USA’s land mass, population and resources, all in the name of slavery, and we would likely have gotten into further wars with them over the decades.

    You can say, oh, but they remained Americans — but that’s not what they wanted. They wanted to destroy the USA as it was. They wanted to be loyal to a foreign power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

  28. Jay L. Gischer says:

    There was certainly a lot of whitewashing that took place after the war. I will hold against all comers that the war was fought over slavery first, and foremost. But I won’t stand in judgement of those who fought it, merely for the fact of their fighting.

    I consider Lee to have made a terrible mistake in joining the Confederate Army. I understand it, I can even see myself making the same choice, knowing what I know about how that decision was taken. But it was still a grievous mistake, and in the end, it ruined him.

    When Grant accepted the surrender of Lee at Appomattox Courthouse, he wrote, “Never have better men served a worse cause.” He was speaking of the men who tried to slaughter his own troops, and would have shot him if they had the chance.

    If he could afford to be so generous, I don’t know that I care to be less so. They didn’t try to shoot me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  29. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Pinky:

    And, in this instance, the rhetorical equivalent of Scotland, the eternally resistant rump of the nation, is obviously the South. The two regions have a great deal in common.

    Which is, of course why you will find statues of Lee in places like Birmingham, just like you can find a statue of Wallace in Edinburgh. You sure as hell, though, won’t find a statue of him in Westminster …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  30. Rafer Janders says:

    @Andrei Vfeked:

    There is a massive difference between someone serving a foreign nation that is hostile to the United States and choosing one side or another in a civil war within one’s country.

    Yes. The difference is that the former is better and more honorable. There is indeed a difference between fighting for your own country against its enemies, and fighting against your own country….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  31. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    There are statues of traitors to the British crown in Scotland.

    Not quite the same. Scotland is partly its own country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Pinky:

    It is certainly magnanimous. But as Rafer points out above, why not recognize the Wehrmacht?

    We afforded this recognition to these traitors in an effort to pacify southerners. And because we weren’t ready to admit that the war was an evil enterprise, fought in a despicable cause. The reason we weren’t ready to state that plainly was, frankly, that a whole lot of northerners essentially endorsed the same racist thinking as did the south. So we kind of understood where they were coming from.

    But it’s almost 2014 now. If the south hasn’t gotten over their beating, too bad. And if anypne still has trouble seeing the southern cause for what it was, well, they’re pretty much hopeless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  33. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    “In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will.” Not a bad lesson to teach our warriors.

    Again, good will is one thing, but going beyond that to actually honoring them by hanging their portraits in a hall of heroes, or naming forts after them, is something else entirely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  34. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    Indeed. Scotland was a country (of sorts, the definitions get shifty in earlier history) for a long time before the English conquered them. Lost them. Conquered them again. Lost them. Conquered. Lost. Etc…

    In any event, Scotland preceded the United Kingdom, while the CSA came after they had already voluntarily signed onto the whole USA thing, had benefited from same, and had not only equal voting rights but superior voting rights to what northerners had..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I tend to agree with Michael Reynolds here. We showed goodwill by not shooting them as the traitors that they were. That is really all the goodwill that they, or their acolytes, should expect for them to receive.

    Benedict Arnold was, by all accounts, a pretty decent guy and an talented soldier who fought bravely in the American Revolution as well. At least until he decided to become a traitor. Should we be honoring him as well?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  36. Pinky says:

    @Rafer Janders: We disagree. Maybe you guys are right, although you calling it a cover-up and Michael misrepresenting JKB didn’t help your argument any. Neither did the rhetoric comparing them to the Axis. I’m sticking with my first reaction until I see a good argument against it. But of course, this being the internet and all, my opinion doesn’t matter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  37. PD Shaw says:

    There is a very specific claim to be made with respect to Lee; he had repeatedly and recently sworn an oath of allegiance as a U.S. military officer to “bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the rules and articles for the government of the Armies of the United States.”

    I know that some are impressed by the song and dance of Lee resigning in order to betray his oath. Is that an example the War College wishes to promote?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  38. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    As regards the use of the word “traitor”, I find myself in some disagreement. Standing up forthrightly and saying I can no longer serve your interests and then removing oneself from a nation or organization, doesn’t strike me as traitorous behavior. Isn’t that what our Founding Fathers did ?

    Treason seems to me to involve a betrayal of trust. Whether Lee and Jackson fought for a wrong cause and/or lost does not make them traitors by any stretch of my imagination.

    Expliquez-moi, s’il vous plait their deceit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  39. bookdragon says:

    I think there are points on both sides. My family fought for the North, but becoming one nation again after the war required magnanimity. Have you ever read accounts of soldiers from both sides meeting during a Memorial Day a decade after the war? People who had formerly been shooting at each other met as fellow citizens, brothers who had lived through the same hell even if from different sides. That sort of recognition of each other had to happen for us to even begin to be one nation again.

    In that vein, I find the more interesting question to be: why is the issue being raised now? I suspect it is a sort of backlash. (One I admit, being an unreformed Yankee, to having some sympathy for). We’ve had the Stars&Bars shoved in our faces as a symbol of ‘identity’ and Southern Pride and How DARE You Question That or mention all the nasty racist baggage that comes with it?

    At some point people say ‘Enough’. Magnanimity and good will need to go both ways. If a 100 years later you still spit ‘Yankee’ like a cuss word, guess what? I don’t have to buy into the mystique of ‘Rebel’ – those rebels were traitors. Especially, the generals who previously served in the US Army since they broke their oath to to the nation they had sworn to defend.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  40. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Plus, there was that poignant scene in one of the John Ford/John Wayne calvary movies where Sgt. Tyree wishes that Capt. Brittles new assignment had been endorsed not only by Generals Grant, Sheridan, and Sherman but also Robert E. Lee.

    So, there’s that, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  41. george says:

    Maybe something to do with reconciliation? In Canada they’ve named things after Louis Riel, who led a Metis rebellion against the government.

    Of course, the rebellion was much smaller than the Civil War.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @11B40:

    The Constitution defines treason thusly:

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

    Seems to me that Lee, et al, did exactly that … We honor people like Washington, Jefferson and Adams as patriots, and rightly so, but we also have to acknowledge that they were committing treason against what was, at the time, their country. Had Britain won the Revolutionary War, magnanimity wouldn’t have been their reward.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  43. Moosebreath says:

    @11B40:

    “Isn’t that what our Founding Fathers did ?”

    Yes, and had Britain won the Revolutionary War, it is highly unlikely that there would be a Fort Washington.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Don’t really care much one way or the other, but I do want to point out one little fact. Lee and Jackson were Americans before the war and Lee after. But during the war they were Confederates. So if you are going to honor them for what they did during the war, please don’t call them “great Americans” because of what they did then..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  45. 11B40 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Greetings, HarvardLaw92: ( @ Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 14:40 )

    So, Hitler, Stalin, Mao were American traitors or treasoners ??? Or is it that once a citizen, always and forever a citizen ??? Free men can be bound by past allegiances ???

    Harvard Law, mmmm. Where have I read those words before ???

    But, anyhow, thanks for the contrefactual.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  46. 11B40 says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Greetings, Moosebreath: ( @ Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 14:56)

    I appreciate your affirmation. And thank you, too, for the contrafactual.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @11B40:

    Neither Hitler, Stalin nor Mao were ever subject to the jurisdiction of the US Constitution. Accordingly, they can never be expected to have demonstrated allegiance to the United States, which renders them external enemies.

    Lee, Jackson, et al, by virtue of being citizens, WERE expected to demonstrate such loyalty. They besmirched it by waging war against their own country. That is what makes them traitors.

    Treason is, by definition, an INTERNAL crime, not an external one.

    But anyhow, thanks for the Southern apologism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  48. Mu says:

    Of course, if we take down all portraits of oath breakers we have to take down half of the revolutionary war heroes who all at some point had been officers in the British service. Unless we start talking good and bad oath breakers, which gets you in real trouble with people like Lee who thought of themselves not as citizens of the USA but their home state, and why they resigned their US commissions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  49. PD Shaw says:

    @11B40: “Treason seems to me to involve a betrayal of trust. Whether Lee and Jackson fought for a wrong cause and/or lost does not make them traitors by any stretch of my imagination.”

    As I intimated earlier, I do not hold all people who fought for the wrong cause equally. Lee accepted a promotion to Colonel after states had seceded and Lincoln had been elected President. He began questioning some of his peers and fellow Virginians, many of whom implicitly viewed the course he was charting as dishonorable. He resigned from the U.S. Army in order to break his oath. I am sure that others did as well, but not many.

    On the other end are the rank and file that did almost all of the fighting and dying in the war, a large number of which were conscriptees. They did not have many good choices and certainly did not have the heightened obligations of an officer of the U.S. Army.

    In between are men long retired from military service to plantations and insurance companies, and such, as well as men actually serving in the various State militias and colleges, long before the war started.

    There is a particular black mark on Lee, and one I am not aware of being shared by any of the Founders.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  50. R.Dave says:

    The issue for me is not the treason, but the cause for which that treason was committed. If slavery had been a non-issue and the South seceded over ordinary political matters, then sure, embrace the defeated parties with magnanimity afterward. However, that was not the case. The South seceded in order to perpetuate and extend a brutal, racist regime of literal human bondage. You don’t embrace the men who lead the fight for a cause like that, and you sure as hell don’t glorify them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  51. Tyrell says:

    These are generals who also went to US miltary academies and served in the US Army before the Civil War. General Jackson was a brilliant commander and the outcome of the war may well have been different if he had not been killed at Chancellorsville. General Jackson’s strategies are still studied in schools and academies. General Lee’s service and leadership speaks for itself. There are many other great generals on both sides who deserve full recognition: McClellan, Scott, Hooker, Sheridan, Grant, Sherman, Custer, Beauregaurd, Pickett, Hill, Stuart, Forrest, Hampton, and my favorite – Burnside.When I went to school we studied these great heroes and their pictures were up in the classrooms.
    Calling these generals “traitors” is deplorable and shameful. It treats those officers and soldiers who served under them with total disrespect and dishonor. I am glad that our local community still has a day to honor all Civil War veterans and a monument.
    Southern born, southern raised, southern pride, southern forever.

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  52. Matt Bernius says:

    Can one of the defenders of Lee and Jackson articulate how they were different than another “he was a good soldier until he chose to go over to the other side” figure like Benedict Arnold?

    And, as PD points out, if Arnold is considered a traitor, why do Lee and others who broke their oaths get a pass?

    Extra points if you can do it without falling back on Southern Pride…

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  53. R.Dave says:

    Out of curiosity, Tyrell, why is your “southern pride” so strongly attached to the handful of men who led the fight to preserve slavery rather than, say, the many, many southerners who’ve served with honor and distinction as leaders in the US military fighting against similar forms of tyranny throughout the world? Or perhaps to some of the southerners who fought in the political arena to expand the rights of black Americans (e.g., MLK himself)? How about cultural icons like Faulkner, Harper Lee or Tennessee Williams? How about all the amazing musical greats that come from the south? Or all the famous athletes? In short, why is “southern pride” in your case (as it seemingly so often is) in any way linked to the moral failure that was the Confederacy instead of the myriad positive contributions of the south?

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  54. dazedandconfused says:

    They were men raised to believe they were Virginians first and US citizens second. As inconceivable as that may seem to us in this era, that was not an uncommon view in theirs.

    Lee would have been accepted right back in the US Army after the war if he wished to be and Lincoln had lived. He would have been glad to give him a job teaching officers at WP. Bet the farm on it.

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  55. Tlaloc says:

    post-war reconciliation devolved into a studious attempt to pretend the south never engaged in “real” treason. It’s like we fought them and then in victory accepted all the BS rationalizations for why they went to war. They went to war because they were more loyal to slavery than to their nation. They preferred keeping blacks in chains to remaining americans. They preferred to whip, beat, starve, and otherwise humiliate and abuse fellow humans due to their skin color.

    Lee may have been a great general. So was Rommel. Neither had the moral integrity to be held up as examples to future generations. They both fought for unambiguous evil. Dustbin of history, ahoy!

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  56. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Matt Bernius: Can one of the defenders of Lee and Jackson articulate how they were different than another “he was a good soldier until he chose to go over to the other side” figure like Benedict Arnold?

    Lee and Jackson formally renounced their loyalties and declared their new allegiances openly. Arnold conspired with the British to aid them while still a member of the Continental Army. Lee and Jackson wore the uniform of the Confederacy while acting; Arnold wore the uniform of the nascent USA.

    Is that simple enough, or do you need it spelled out in words of fewer syllables? I’m sorry, “smaller words?”

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  57. 11B40 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Greetings, HarvardLaw92: ( @ Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 15:36 )

    Thank you for your lawyerly response. So, if Germans, Russians, Chinese resisted or even fought the aforementioned of the first part regimes, they would be treasonist traitors of the internal crime sort ???

    One of my points, one you haven’t quite gotten to yet, is what is this bond that binds citizens to their rulers and why, when, and where can it be properly disavowed and if it cannot be what state is an individual’s moral autonomy left in. Or, has moral autonomy been fundamentally transformed also ???

    And this citizenship you seem enamored of enforcing, how does it operate in these glory days of multiple (formerly dual) citizenships. Could one legitimately qualify for dual traitorships ??? Multiple ???

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  58. 11B40 says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Greetings, PD Shaw: ( @ Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 16:30 )

    As a bit of a preface, I really enjoyed your response. At the risk of keeping this discussion going, I would offer this. I don’t know that we of today’s day can easily evaluate the “loyalty” felt by those of those days to their native states. My understanding is that Lee’s decision was influenced by such consideration while nowadays such a consideration might well be considered a (bad) joke.

    Again, disavowal is not to me traitorous. I’m a kind of “No man can serve two masters.” kind of guy, and not too long ago, an American was elected to our Presidency who had a vaguely similar military history.

    Finally, and with all due respect, your other paragraphs seem to be veering towards some kind of “military equality” that I’m not yet quite understanding in this regard.

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  59. al-Ameda says:

    @11B40:

    Maybe a portrait of Nelson Mandela (winner of the Enron Award for Distinguished Public Service) or a fort named for Harvey Milk would be more in line with our Zeitgeist.

    I’d prefer a portrait of Charlize Theron and a fort named for Scarlett Johansson..

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  60. Tyrell says:

    If I may be so bold to venture further into this “tutorial” that seems to be devolving downward and getting away from some relevant issues. General Custer was a Civil War hero from Michigan, but of course made some serious miscalculations at a place in Montana. He is still regarded as a very good military officer in the Cibil War. There are many great generals and officers who may have stumbled or did things we today disagree with. Field Marshall Rommel was a skillful military leader and treated military prisoners with respect, not embracing the Nazi politics. Von Runstedt was also highly respected by many of our own military. Whether or not their pictures belong in a US military post depends on the designation of display.
    It is always convenient to wait until someone dies and then start criticisms about them. And the issue of race does not hold here. I am surprised and shocked that leaders that we studied, revered, , and looked up to in our schools and communities coming under such unfair and fierce criticism.

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  61. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tlaloc:

    Lee may have been a great general.

    This is where I differ with so many others. Lee was not a great general. He was a great tactician, but he sucked as a strategist. As head of the Army of Virginia his primary task was strategy. (a general, first and foremost, should know his job) Time and again he engaged in battles he could not win but people celebrated his genius because he did not lose them. Meanwhile he wasted soldiers and material he could ill afford the loss of.

    Grant was no genius, but he could do basic math and it is with that, that he bested Lee.

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  62. michael reynolds says:

    @bookdragon:

    We’ve had the Stars&Bars shoved in our faces as a symbol of ‘identity’ and Southern Pride and How DARE You Question That or mention all the nasty racist baggage that comes with it?

    At some point people say ‘Enough’. Magnanimity and good will need to go both ways. If a 100 years later you still spit ‘Yankee’ like a cuss word, guess what? I don’t have to buy into the mystique of ‘Rebel’ – those rebels were traitors.

    Exactly.

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  63. Andy says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    As a non-southerner (I’m a cultural Westerner), I’d be happy to take up your challenge.

    Fundamentally, I think PD and others here misunderstand military oaths. I’ll get to that in a second, but first a quick correction – the oath that PD quoted earlier is the modern oath. The one in use at the time before the civil war is this:

    I, (name), appointed a (rank/position) in the Army of the United States, do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the rules and articles for the government of the Armies of the United States.

    The oath is taken upon accepting a commission and becomes null and void when the commission is resigned. Lee resigned his commission and once he did so, he was no longer bound by the oath. This is true even today – an officer that resigns their commission in today’s military is no longer bound by their oath. So the argument that he betrayed the oath and is therefore a traitor is without merit.

    Additionally, to address some of the superficial and ahistorical comments in this thread, one must consider Lee’s decision in the context of the time. Note in the oath above the use of the plural in reference to the “United States.” Unlike today, the primary loyalty of most Americans was with their respective state and not the country as a whole. Lee was no different and, indeed, most “Americans” followed their state to whatever side in the war. At that time, community was much more important in people’s loyalty hierarchy that it is today. And, like many Americans at the time, he was torn by divided loyalties – Lee was conflicted between is long service in the US Army and the United States and is loyalty to his state of Virginia. As he put it in a letter to his sister upon resigning:

    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 the 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 relative, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and save in 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.

    And, on the same day, in a letter to his brother:

    The question which was the subject of my earnest consultation with you on the 18th instant has in my own mind been decided. After the most anxious inquiry as to the correct course for me to pursue, I concluded to resign, and sent in my resignation this morning. I wished to wait till the Ordinance of Secession should be acted on by the people of Virginia; but war seems to have commenced, and I am liable at any time to be ordered on duty which I could not conscientiously perform. To save me from such a position, and to prevent the necessity of resigning under orders, I had to act at once, and before I could see you again on the subject, as I had wished. I am now a private citizen, and have no other ambition than to remain at home. Save in defense of my native State, I have no desire ever again to draw my sword. I send you my warmest love.

    In contrast to what’s been alleged in this thread, Lee took great pains to avoid breaking his oath an sought to act honorably. For a fuller and more contemporary explanation of I would recommend this 1878 response to a letter published in a New York newspaper. The response was written by another Confederate, one who has a couple of things named after him and served the US government after the war…..

    Benedict Arnold, by contrast, did quite the opposite of Lee and clearly not only broke his oaths, but sought to deceive.

    Finally, just as an interesting aside, in 1862 the officer’s oath was changed from what I quoted above to this:

    I, A.B., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I have never borne arms against the United States since I have been a citizen thereof; that I have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility thereto; that I have neither sought nor accepted nor attempted to exercise the functions of any office whatsoever under any authority or pretended authority in hostility to the United States; that I have not yielded voluntary support to any pretended government, authority, power, or constitution within the United States, hostile or inimical thereto. And I do further swear (or affirm) that, to the best of my knowledge and ability, I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.

    This remained in effect until 1884 when the wording was changed to something close to the modern oath.

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  64. michael reynolds says:

    I’m a big believer in contrition and forgiveness, having needed so much of it myself.

    But there are times when we end up being ill-served by magnanimity. One of the smartest things we ever did as a country was to drag German citizens through Dachau and Bergen-Belsen and the rest and force them to bury piles of unburied Jewish dead. Because you can’t see a stack of murdered children and their mothers and not know that evil has been done. And you can’t puke your guts out at the stench, and have rotted flesh come away in your hands and fail to remember in later years.

    We said: This is what you did. This is what it looks like and smells like and feels like.

    Since then Germany has been a model citizen of the world. There is no German equivalent of Gone With The Wind. They don’t romanticize what their grandparents did. (Notwithstanding a nutty fringe.)

    By contrast, we have the South. White southerners were not, for example, tied to posts and whipped until they fainted from the pain. Southerners were not made to pick cotton. They did not have their children taken and sold into slavery. They were never forced to confront the enormity of their crime.

    So southerners have spent the last 150 odd years lying to themselves and everyone else. They have lied and lied and lied, and filled books and movies and TV series with their lies. Their politicians are in Washington right now lying. There are creeps waving the stars and bars without any sense of shame or guilt.

    For those who reject the comparison, you’re right: the Nazis only enslaved and murdered people for about five years, all told. Slavery went on in the United States for two centuries and was seamlessly followed with Jim Crow.

    One might argue that slavery grew as a moral evil, that it was less clearly defined early on as such. But by 1807 the UK had banned the slave trade. So long before 1860 it was clear to any decent, thinking person that this was a profoundly evil institution. And while we were keeping one race enslaved we were actively ethnically cleansing and slaughtering another, in part at least so that we could extend the reach of the slave states.

    We let the south off easy. And we still haven’t come to grips with the north’s own complicity, and the north’s own astoundingly crude racism. The result is that we still have a largely uninformed population, with a particularly persistent denialism in the south.

    Now, I realize that kind of talk wounds the amour propre of of people who prefer comforting myths to reality, but it’s the truth nevertheless.

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  65. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    Lee resigned his commission and once he did so, he was no longer bound by the oath.

    So on, say, June 4th, 1944, as he was finishing the plans for D-Day, Dwight Eisenhower could have resigned his commission and gone to work for the Nazis and not be a traitor.

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  66. Gary Puckett says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I’m reminded of Jane Fonda sitting in a NVA anti-aircraft gun.

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  67. Andy says:

    @michael reynolds: You seriously do not think there is a difference between a civil war and a war between nations?

    There is a civil war in Syria right now. It is Syrian against Syrian, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor. Who is a “traitor” to the Syrian people?

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  68. al-Ameda says:

    @Gary Puckett:

    I’m reminded of Jane Fonda sitting in a NVA anti-aircraft gun.

    Was that General Jane Fonda? Or just … Jane Fonda?

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  69. Gary Puckett says:

    @michael reynolds:

    A civil war is different, just like a revolution is different then two countries fighting each other.
    Your comments are hilarious.

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  70. Gary Puckett says:

    @al-Ameda:
    I don’t think she was in the military, much less a General.
    So its ok for private citizens to be traitors, just not the military?

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  71. Gary Puckett says:

    @Andy: The side that loses, LOL

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  72. PJ says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Lee and Jackson formally renounced their loyalties and declared their new allegiances openly. Arnold conspired with the British to aid them while still a member of the Continental Army. Lee and Jackson wore the uniform of the Confederacy while acting; Arnold wore the uniform of the nascent USA.

    Is that simple enough, or do you need it spelled out in words of fewer syllables? I’m sorry, “smaller words?”

    So, any Americans who renounced their loyalties and fought with the Germans against Americans in Europe or with the Taliban against Americans in Afghanistan should be honored?

    Edit: About civil wars. So, if Hispanics in Texas would renounce their loyalties and fight against the US for a “Free Texas”, they should be honored?

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  73. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    Yes, there’s a difference, that’s why we have the phrase “civil war,” because it defines a subset of war.

    Nevertheless, Lee was a traitor. Lee is responsible for hundreds of thousands of American dead. In actual numbers he’s responsible for far, far more American dead than any Nazi general, or than any Chines, North Korean or Vietnamese general. Proportionally to population the case is even more damning.

    Are you generally so fond of men who order American soldiers to be killed?

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  74. Gary Puckett says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Ha ha ha, Lee’s soldiers were Americans too, you are a riot!

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  75. PD Shaw says:

    @11B40: I think Lee can be judged by his contemporaries.

    For in reality there were numerous options available to him. Winfield Scott was a Virginian, and he dismissed as an insult any suggestion that he would renege on his solemn oath of loyalty. So did another Virginian, George Thomas, with whom Lee had spent Christmases in Texas. Both Thomas and Scott would suffer social ostracism for their choices. Scott was labeled a “free-state pimp;” Thomas’s relatives asked him to change his name. In all, about 40 percent of the officers from Virginia stayed with the federal forces after their state seceded. Others opted not to fight on any side. Dennis Hart Mahan, a famed West Point instructor, and another proud Virginian, chose to sit out the war. North Carolinian Alfred Mordecai resigned his commission, but rejected an offer to lead either the Confederate ordinance service or engineer department.

    The link goes on to describe family members that fought for the Union. So, its certainly true that Lee’s sense of loyalty reflects a strand of the past that the modern may have difficulty to appreciate, but it was also true at the time, that others similarly situated felt that this path was dishonorable.

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  76. Gary Puckett says:

    I have a question for you all,
    Lets say the South would have surrendered well before the Emancipation Proclamation was announced after the battle of Antietam, Lincoln would have maintained his original policy of no new slave states but keeping slavery where it existed before.
    Would y’all been ok with that?
    Did Lincoln become “righteous” after he emancipated the slaves?

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  77. michael reynolds says:

    @Gary Puckett:

    Dude, you’re not really saying anything. You know that, right? And the little you do say, such as Lee’s soldiers also being Americans, is kinda dumb. Because according to Lee and his brothers-in-arms they were not Americans they were citizens of an entirely different country called the Confederate States of America.

    So either they were simply Americans as you seem to think – in which case they were mass murderers shooting fellow citizens. Or they were Confederates – in which case they were treasonously carrying out an attempt to destroy the USA but at least had some political rationale for the slaughter.

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  78. Gary Puckett says:

    The Civil War: An Illustrated History, Shelby Foote said:

    Before the war, it was said “the United States are.” Grammatically, it was spoken that way and thought of as a collection of independent states. And after the war, it was always “the United States is,” as we say today without being self-conscious at all. And that sums up what the war accomplished. It made us an “is.”
    I don’t any of y’all can understand how people felt about their particular State in the pre- Civil war USA, you all just assume the current sentiments were as they were then and that is not the case.

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  79. Gary Puckett says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You post as if you are an educated person yet your arguments lack any knowledge of the history of that time or more importantly, the people who lived then.
    I honestly thought you were being funny and I apologize if I offended you.

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  80. PJ says:

    @Gary Puckett:

    I have a question for you all,
    Lets say the South would have surrendered well before the Emancipation Proclamation was announced after the battle of Antietam, Lincoln would have maintained his original policy of no new slave states but keeping slavery where it existed before.
    Would y’all been ok with that?
    Did Lincoln become “righteous” after he emancipated the slaves?

    Lincoln would still have been the President who kept the country together and defeated the traitors.
    Unless you believe that we would have had slave states today if Lincoln hadn’t changed his original policy, then some President following him would have been the one who had emancipated the slaves. I guess that President would also be known as one who defeated traitors…

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  81. Gary Puckett says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Please show me the source to where you got the info about Lee and his brothers in arms not considering themselves Americans.
    Have you read any books on Lee?

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  82. PD Shaw says:

    @Andy: “the oath that PD quoted earlier is the modern oath.”

    No, I used the same oath you quoted, I just cut off the introduction. (“I, (name), appointed a (rank/position) in the Army of the United States, do solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will . . .”)

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  83. 11B40 says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Greetings, PD Shaw: ( @ Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 20:20 )

    You seem to be arguing for a consensual moral autonomy, no ??? But hopefully different from that consensual climate science ???

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  84. michael reynolds says:

    @Gary Puckett:

    I think it would be the part where he swore allegiance to the Confederate States of America, which had it’s own constitution, government, army. . . . That’s kind of a “tell.”

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  85. Gary Puckett says:

    @PJ:

    Even before the shots were fired on Fort Sumter and Virginia had formally seceded, Lincoln called for the enlistment of troops to march southward and quell the rebellion without any dialogue with the belligerent states. They would have had to march through the “undecided” states to do so.
    Although it is clear today, was it really clear that a state could not secede from the union?

    You all post comments as though everything in 1861 was as if it was today, it was not.
    Read some books people and learn a little American history.

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  86. PD Shaw says:

    @dazedandconfused: “Lee would have been accepted right back in the US Army after the war if he wished to be and Lincoln had lived. He would have been glad to give him a job teaching officers at WP. Bet the farm on it.”

    I would take that bet. Lincoln certainly would not have spoken of Lee as having acted dishonorably or treasonous, nor sought to have him hung as a traitor. However, Lincoln was concerned that Southern leaders would serve as a continuing point of opposition, either at their direction or from their supporters. I think Lincoln expressed the view once that if Jefferson Davis (and perhaps others, such as Lee) fled to Cuba or Mexico, he would offer no resistance and be grateful. I think Lee understood his position was tolerated, not supported, and moreover, I don’t think Lee had any interest in teaching war no more.

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  87. michael reynolds says:

    @Gary Puckett:

    You speak with the form of rebuttal but have none of the substance.

    So far your entire schtick amounts to, “Haw haw, I know better than ya’ll because I read Shelby Foote.” Guess what: everyone read Shelby Foote. You’ve rebutted nothing, offered no facts, no logic, just assertion.

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  88. Gary Puckett says:

    @michael reynolds:

    No where in the Constitution was there a provision for secession in 1861. You still fail to understand that era and judge it and the people who lived then by the values and norms of 2013.

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  89. Gary Puckett says:

    @michael reynolds:
    You are regurgitating what you have been spoon fed and following the popular PC sentiment of the day. Go for it friend, one day maybe you’ll read a few books and expand your mind on US history.
    Have a Merry Christmas and a happy 2014, see y’all later.

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  90. michael reynolds says:

    @Gary Puckett:

    And that would be about your tenth failure to actually say anything.

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  91. Andy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Are you generally so fond of men who order American soldiers to be killed?

    The unseriousness of this characterization is as astounding, is without merit and deserves no response.

    Interestingly, in an earlier comment, you bring up the Nazi’s and magnanimity without any sense of irony regarding the origins of WWII. And then Lee is blamed for “hundreds of thousands” of American dead as if the union and Lincoln were passive actors the affair. The south sought secession and it was Lincoln and the Union that decided to conclusively settle that political question through the instrument of war – are we to believe that the victors in the conflict hold no responsibility for the bloodshed?

    The ideological critics of Lee and “southern” culture still cannot accept that they are just as much “Americans’ as the blue-shirts who fought on the other side. That is what makes civil wars different and why we don’t call one side in the Syrian civil war “Syrians” and the other side something else.

    Furthermore, the persistent characterization of southerners as the “other” or enemies that need to be put in their place and told by outsiders how to properly view their own history (since they obviously didn’t learn from the “beating” they took in the 1860’s) is both arrogant and ahistorical. Contemporaries who actually shed their blood fighting, in many cases, their friends and brothers, were willing to accept the those enemies back in the fold – a wise course considering their political goal for the war was preservation and restoration of the the union. Now, 150 years later, preservation of the union and the union victory is no longer sufficient for some; the abolition of slavery is no longer sufficient; the end of Jim Crow and continuous progress on racial equality is no longer sufficient – the self-proclaimed ideological descendants of the great victors of the Civil War must show those southerners where their place is and what is and isn’t acceptable for them to believe and act because, clearly, they still haven’t learned the proper lessons of the Civil War. Good luck with that.

    But there are practical considerations as well. Millions of people swore allegiance to the confederacy, not just Lee. If we are to declare them all traitors at this late date and excise their images and works and good names from American history that would be quit an ambitious endeavor – one that is also pointless and needlessly divisive.

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  92. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Gary Puckett: No. Lee’s soldiers were Confederates, fighting for the Confederate Army on behalf of the Confederate States of America, killing American soldiers, raping American women, torching American land.

    They were traitors. Period.

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  93. Grumpy Realist says:

    Actually, historically under Roman Law any form of taking up arms against the government was considered treason, whether you were a soldier or not. This causes great fun in Renaissance Italy with all the city-states and the constant rebellions and conspiracies. (the jurists don’t agree with the city-states claiming all the rights and privileges of the Roman Empire, however.)
    The reason the U.S. has treason defined in the Constitution is because they saw exactly what a mess it made when the local government could define treason as it liked.

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  94. Andy says:

    @PD Shaw: You are, of course, correct. I read that earlier in the day and did not check it when I wrote my comment. Please accept my apology.

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  95. mantis says:

    Is it somewhat odd to have major bases named after men who led the army of a secessionist state against the forces of the United States Army. But the spirit of reconciliation after the war, with some notable exceptions, was to embrace the South and its heroes as fellow countrymen.

    Forts Lee and Bragg were established and named during WWI. Hood during WWII. Seems like a really long period of reconciliation. For how long do we need to apologize for being on the right (and winning) side of the Civil War?

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  96. mantis says:

    @Andy:

    The south sought secession and it was Lincoln and the Union that decided to conclusively settle that political question through the instrument of war

    A preposterous revisionist history.

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  97. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Andy:

    If we are to declare them all traitors at this late date and excise their images and works and good names from American history that would be quit an ambitious endeavor

    They were traitors, hence the general amnesty which was issued to resolve the issue. Had they never been traitors, amnesty would never have been necessary.

    It’s also worth noting that Robert E. Lee, among others, died stateless. His citizenship was never restored to him during his lifetime.

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  98. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @mantis:

    Never underestimate the capacity for romanticized denialism in the South. They have all deputized Margaret Mitchell into their sense of reality.

    Personally speaking (with apologies to Dixie Carter)? That “happy darkies singing in the fields while Miss Scarlett primps around throwing hissy fits” ideal of the South is pernicious. It allows Southerners to pretend that the whippings and the beatings and the lynchings and the bombings and the flaming crosses and the hate that their way of life was (and to an extent still is) based on never happened. They need to be reminded.

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  99. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:
    I agree with most of your argument here and by the time I got to the thread the arguments of the Confederate apologists had been taken care of, but the following stuck in my craw

    and after we had to kill 600,000 people to stop the southern animals from continuing their evil ways.

    Southerners, even Confederate Southerners, were humans. They were wrong and they were defending an evil institution, but they were humans. The profoundly wrong people that are now apologists for the Confederacy are also humans. Denying the humanity of those one disagrees with is one of their primary faults. We shouldn’t fall into that trap.

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  100. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mu:

    Of course, if we take down all portraits of oath breakers we have to take down half of the revolutionary war heroes who all at some point had been officers in the British service.

    That’s flatly untrue. Of the major Founders only Washington was ever an officer in British service. The rest were writers, lawyers, farmers, planters, merchants, etc.

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  101. Pharoah Narim says:

    I’ve always believed it a mistake to judge historical figures by current cultural norms and values. We understand the human experience with more clarity each passing generation–that makes it possible acknowledge the brutality of institutions such as slavery but not sit in judgement of those who participated in that institution. Slavery was accepted as a norm for centuries and rightfully, in the fullness of time, became almost universally acknowledged as a grave sin. The bottom line is that people are products of their times the same as we are…and people in 2160 could easily find the cultural norms of today equaly barbaric depending on how the collective consciousness evolves. I find that Lee took the middle road as a Virginian ft since state identification trumped nationalism in those days. He didn’t fight against his own state nor did his stand by and watch it be attacked. His peers would have considered this course of actions rational. On the other hand though…dueling was also rational for those to Times. We know better and do better today.

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  102. al-Ameda says:

    @Gary Puckett:

    I don’t think she was in the military, much less a General.
    So its ok for private citizens to be traitors, just not the military?

    Forgive me, I thought this discussion was about Confederate generals and military status, I didn’t realize that we were running an equivalence that tied Confederate generals to Jane Fonda.

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  103. Mu says:

    A quick check on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_leadership_in_the_American_Revolutionary_War would tell you that most of the military leaders on the US side were previously British military officers. But why let facts get in the way of romanticism.

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  104. Andy says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Yes, they were granted amnesty, so why is it suddenly so crucial, 150 year later, to remove their portraits from an institution they contributed to and to still call them traitors, despite the fact the reconciled?

    And Lee, along with other confederates, did not die stateless – that is simply false.

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  105. Andy says:

    @mantis: Preposterous how? Did the Northern states under Lincoln seek to preserve the union by force of arms or not?

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  106. mantis says:

    @Andy:

    Did the Northern states under Lincoln seek to preserve the union by force of arms or not?

    That’s not what you wrote.

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  107. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Andy:

    For starters, the portraits haven’t been removed. They were moved. That said, read what I wrote. These men engaged in open warfare against their country, in defense of a system which is the essence of evil. Many of them remained avowed white supremacists throughout the remainder of their lives, Jubal Early in particular, and even Lee was outspoken about his support of denying the vote to Negroes.

    Were they a product of their times? Sure, but those times were evil, and led them to engage in acts of evil in defense of a system which was inextricably rooted in evil. The question, as far as I am concerned, shouldn’t be “why were the portraits removed?”

    It should be “why were they ever hung in the first place?”

    And yes, Lee died stateless. While pardoned for treason, his citizenship was never officially restored to him during his lifetime. It was only restored posthumously, via Senate Joint Resolution 23, signed in 1975 by President Gerald R. Ford.

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  108. gator says:

    Southern raised I do believe in “heritage not hate”.
    I also believe Lincoln did say in similar words that he would not have signed the emancipation proclamation if it didn’t help him politically. The north had slaves just as the south. Not that it was right but as others have stated it was in that era.. secession is simply the reason for the civil war.just cause we love our heritage, family, state.etc. doesn’t make us traitors. Us as in southerners.it makes us plain good people. All generals deserve recognition.

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  109. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @gator:

    Don’t you mean heritage OF hate?

    Just asking, because it takes a special kind of denial to pretend that 200 years of people as property, followed by another hundred years of Jim Crow and bombings and lynchings and all the others things that typified the post-Civil War South, never happened. The South may, and I stress MAY have come a long way, and for that I salute them, but they also have a great deal to answer for, and I’m not prepared to just pretend that it’s all one delightful ongoing bake sale just so we can all get along.

    To eradicate your evil, you need to face, and admit, your evil. Revising history to pretend it never happened doesn’t cut it with me.

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  110. An Interested Party says:

    No where in the Constitution was there a provision for secession in 1861. You still fail to understand that era and judge it and the people who lived then by the values and norms of 2013.

    That argument could be used to defend slavery, because of course many people viewed slavery differently in 1861 than they do in 2013…

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  111. dazedandconfused says:

    @PD Shaw:

    @dazedandconfused: “Lee would have been accepted right back in the US Army after the war if he wished to be and Lincoln had lived. He would have been glad to give him a job teaching officers at WP. Bet the farm on it.”

    I would take that bet. Lincoln certainly would not have spoken of Lee as having acted dishonorably or treasonous, nor sought to have him hung as a traitor. However, Lincoln was concerned that Southern leaders would serve as a continuing point of opposition, either at their direction or from their supporters. I think Lincoln expressed the view once that if Jefferson Davis (and perhaps others, such as Lee) fled to Cuba or Mexico, he would offer no resistance and be grateful. I think Lee understood his position was tolerated, not supported, and moreover, I don’t think Lee had any interest in teaching war no more.

    Make or take that bet? I think Lincoln was interested in integrating the south with the north again, especially militarily, and what better way than to incorporate the great Gen. Lee with West Point?

    Lincoln clearly sought to make the nation whole again, and “Better inside the tent pissing out than outside and pissing in.” I think Lincoln would have understood Lee’s terrible dilemma of either fighting with Virginia or taking up arms against his own neighbors and kin. I agree Lee probably wouldn’t have yearned for a posting at WP, sounded like he didn’t want anything to do with the military again after that war, but that is separate issue. He would probably have served his new president with the same sense of duty, if asked to do so, and Lincoln would have loathed asking him to do anything he found uncomfortable unless there were some pressing need, and there wasn’t, so it was unlikely.

    The point I am making is Lincoln and Lee might have become good friends. The same could not be said of a Jubal Early, or just about any of the surviving officers from the deep south. The prevailing attitudes towards slavery was very different in Virginians in general. The state just barely seceded.

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  112. michael reynolds says:

    @Andy:

    And then Lee is blamed for “hundreds of thousands” of American dead as if the union and Lincoln were passive actors the affair.

    Uh, yeah, just like I blame the Japanese for Pearl Harbor and the Germans for invading Poland and the Russians for crushing Czechoslovakia — because they started it. See, the way it works is that the ones who started the war by, let’s say, firing on a federal facility in South Carolina, are to blame when war ensues. The people fighting back are not to blame. It’s not complicated. aggressor gets blamed, victim not so much.

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  113. michael reynolds says:

    @gator:

    Dude, I sympathize, I really do. I was raised part of my life in the south. I, too, was subjected to the brainwashing. But you need to understand that none of it is true. It’s no more true than the lies the Japanese tell themselves about the rape of Nanking. Or the lies Russians tell themselves about Poland. Or the lies we tell about the Mexican-American war.

    The essential difference between north and south was slavery. The majority of southern wealth was in the form of human beings. Men and women and little children owned because their skin was black. That’s what the war was about. Not about freeing the slaves, that came later. But about the southern insistence on spreading slavery to the new territories we had just stolen from Mexico. The south was trying to metastasize. Like a cancer, it was trying to grow.

    So “heritage not hate” is just a bullsh!t slogan made up by apologists for the confederacy and slavery and Jim Crow. Once you comprehend what we’re talking about here, the full weight of the two century long atrocity that was slavery, you can’t hear things like that without wanting to throw up. You might as well tell me that celebrating the SS is “heritage not hate.” No: It’s not. It can’t be. Trying to make it so is an insult to the millions of victims of slavery and Jim Crow.

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  114. Pharoah Narim says:

    @gator: I understand the concept of Indian heritage, Mexican heritage, and other heritages because they are tied to ethnic commonalities. What exactly is the southern heritage that make it unique from Northern heritage in a way that say Indian heritage would be different from Irish heritage? I’m not a southern outsider…so my view is that this “heritage” is inextricably linked to the shared experience of engaging in and losing the civil war. Outside of that, a southern rural and urban experience isn’t any different than a northern one–save the accents and the tablefare.

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  115. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @HarvardLaw92: True, although you will find statues of both Washington and Lincoln in London. IIRC, Washington’s statue is not far from Trafalgar Square.

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  116. Matt Bernius says:

    @Andy:
    Thanks for taking the time to write that response to my question. Very interesting stuff. Still find myself siding with PD, but that gave me a lot to think about.

    I can understand the idea of reconciliation with Lee and others in the Southern command — that makes sense for a variety of reasons. But I still find the idea of memorializing him — when his most notable achievement is willingly fighting *against* our government (let alone in support of the “peculiar institution”) problematic.

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  117. mantis says:

    @gator:

    .just cause we love our heritage, family, state.etc. doesn’t make us traitors.

    No, but hatred of, and taking up arms against your country does. Celebrating that treason 150 years later is pretty foul too.

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  118. bookdragon says:

    @gator: What I don’t understand here is that IF most southerns like you care about your heritage as southerners AND reject the racist hate part, why aren’t you the first ones to shout down the racist @sshats who use the symbols of your heritage to promote hate?

    If a majority of white Southerners had stood up and loudly objected when the KKK and other racists adopted the Star&Bars, the symbol might have a different meaning now. Instead, even today, I rarely see anyone like you jumping in to chastise the racists who use the heritage you’re so proud of.

    I mean, I’m part German. I’m proud of my heritage there, which is a LOT more than the Nazi era, so the Aryan Nations types who try to tie my heritage to their racist BS seriously hack me off and I’ll let them know it. Nor am I an exception there. Even little old ladies in Germany will go after neo-Nazi punks with their canes.

    So, I’ll believe the ‘heritage not hate’ line when I see the evidence – when I see southerners more outraged by how their heritage has been co-opted by racists (and going after those racists for it) than by people questioning whether rebel generals should be honored at military academies.

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  119. Pinky says:

    @Grewgills:

    Southerners, even Confederate Southerners, were humans.

    Good catch on this one. I don’t take Michael seriously enough to more than skim his bluster, but it was important that you caught this one. The whole point of our reflection on the Civil War is how easy it is to think of others as less than human. I see a lot of so-called anti-racists who are falling into the same trap. They’re promoting exactly the same kind of dehumanization that can lead to horrors in a generation or two. No one (practically no one, anyway) starts out intending to plant the seeds of hate, and anger almost always starts out as righteous anger. People who are legitimately upset about the last war raise a generation that causes the next war.

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  120. Andy says:

    @Matt Bernius: Well, the question I tried to answer was about the difference between Lee and Benedict Arnold when it comes to treacherous acts. I think his resignation to avoid taking up arms against Virginia was noble and honest, but it’s fair to argue that Lee was wrong later on when he decided to lead the Army of Northern Virginia.

    Also, while it’s interesting to debate who should and shouldn’t receive various “honors” (to use that term loosely), I think it would be more useful to dissociate individual personalities and discuss objective criteria for bestowing various honors.

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  121. rudderpedals says:

    @Andy: I see where you’re coming from but one really needs to examine each individual separately, on his own facts, to determine whether to honor the particular individual.

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  122. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @SC_Birdflyte:

    True, but Washington is only there because the Commonwealth of Virginia gave the statue to Britain, who promptly installed it at an art gallery. I think the message there is pretty clear.

    Lincoln was never subject to British rule, so I’m not seeing the connection with that one.

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  123. Matt Bernius says:

    @Andy:

    Also, while it’s interesting to debate who should and shouldn’t receive various “honors” (to use that term loosely), I think it would be more useful to dissociate individual personalities and discuss objective criteria for bestowing various honors.

    I totally agree.

    It’s also why I have such a hard time with the US Government *honoring* Lee’s service when the key part of that service (what he was (in)famous for) was spent leading a rebellion against the Government (or leading the armies of a separate country against the government).

    I appreciate that he was also the Superintendent of West Point prior to the war. But I think its fair to ask whether or not Lee would be remembered outside of Military History circles, if that had been the apex of his career.

    That said, as has been pointed out, there is a statue of Washington in London…

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  124. MarkedMan says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: So help me, I never thought I would be saying this: Jenos, you have a darn good point.

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  125. MarkedMan says:

    @Pinky: I agree that Michael was completely out of line on that one. Indignation is like a drug that spurs us to ever wilder accusations while simultaneously spinning our ears to hear it as mellifluous wisdom. That said, I can’t help but find it ironic that a Southern apologist is castigating someone for dehumanizing a group of people on account of ethnicity.

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  126. dazedandconfused says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    The painting shown is Jackson and Lee at their meeting by a fire where they hatched what is certainly the most daring successful move in US military history, and few in all of history can match it, the flanking maneuver at Chancellorsville. Laid his entire Corp out in a thin line miles long to march right around the nose of vastly larger force. All that had to happen was Hooker being notified, and it’s Game Over for the Confederacy. Here’s the kicker: They assumed he would be notified. It’s about knowing one’s enemy to the point of predicting that the news would appear to him as evidence of a retreat instead of an attack, and correctly predicting how Hooker would respond to them retreating, by standing pat. It’s about climbing right inside the other guy’s head, not politics.

    If they hung a picture of Nathan Bedford Forrest or Jefferson Davis, or even Lee in his CSA uniform portrait, there might be something to bitch about on that one of Lee, but not this one.

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  127. Kolohe says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    “They would have stolen a large portion of the USA’s land mass, population and resources, ”

    Yeah, how dare they steal land from us that we rightfully stole from the Cherokee, the Seminoles, the Spanish, and the Mexicans.

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  128. Billy Bearden says:

    I awoke on Wednesday to news of portraits of Robert E Lee and Thomas J Jackson being ‘removed’. Before I responded, I read the open statement by MGen Cucolo, and other media pieces, to discover the items in question were relocated.

    The quotes from Carol Kerr ” ‘This person was struck by the fact we have quite a few Confederate images, [Lee] was certainly not good for the nation. This is the guy we faced on the battlefield whose entire purpose in life was to destroy the nation as it was then conceived’ ” INSTANTLY reminded me of an almost identical quote made on
    August 1st, 1960, by a Dr. Leon Scott:

    “The most outstanding thing that Robert E. Lee did was to devote his best efforts to the destruction of the United States Government, and I am sure that you do not say that a person who tries to destroy our Government is worthy of being hailed as one of our heroes. “Will you please tell me just why you hold him in such high esteem?”

    Dr. Scott’s question was directed to President Dwight D Eisenhower, over his curiosity as to why the U.S. President had a portrait of Robert E Lee in the Oval Office. President Eisenhower answered the Scott query on August 9th, 1960 thusly:

    Dear Dr. Scott:

    Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War Between the States the issue of Secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.

    General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.

    From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained .

    Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.

    Sincerely,
    Dwight D. Eisenhower

    A partial transcript of the statements made at the decommissioning of the US Navy’s U.S.S. Robert E. Lee SSB (N) 601 can be viewed here:
    http://www.ssbn601.com/lastdays.asp
    The reason I offer this is the fact the US Navy had named a submarine after General Lee, and the words spoken on it’s last day is very inspiring.
    There was also the U.S.S. Stonewall Jackson SSB (N) 631.

    During the D-Day landings at Normandy in WW2, on June 6th, 1944, in the 1st wave on Omaha Beach was the 116th Infantry. They suffered over 800 casualties in the assault. They are known then as now as the “Stonewall Brigade”

    The United States Congress granted in 1956 that Confederate Veterans were equal in status to all U.S. Veterans.
    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2011/04/14/confederate-soldiers-are-american-veterans-by-act-of-congress/
    A U.S. Congressional Gold Medal was given to the last 2 remaining Confederate Veterans in 1958.

    In MGen Cucolo’s statement http://www.carlisle.army.mil/banner/article.cfm?id=3289 he mentions a “George S. Patton Room”. History shows that the young George Patton received his first education as a soldier from Confederate General John S. Mosby.

    I could go on for a week with such facts, but shall pause here. I strongly and respectfully request the portraits of General Lee and General Jackson be retained, and forever displayed openly at your facility, that all this information be included in the upcoming dialogue, and shared with the individual whose musical painting maneuver has instigated the late media ruckus.

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