Gen. Robert E. Lee Remembered as Part of MS History

In 1972, the Mississippi legislature added another historical figure to Monday’s holiday, U.S. General Robert E. Lee, who most people know as the leader of the Confederacy during the Civil War. General Lee is also known for his leadership during the Mexican and Civil Wars, especially in Mississippi.

If General Lee was alive today, he would be 208 years old. Lee is known as the unrelenting general who denied President Abraham Lincoln’s request to lead the Union during the Civil War so he could stay true to his home state of Virginia. Greg Stewart, Executive Director of the Beauvoir, says, "And then following the conflict, he was one of the chief proponents of surrender and peace and reconciliation, and so that was his gift at the end of the conflict was to encourage everybody to get back into one nation and move in one direction."

According to writings about General Lee, he was always willing to give his all and expected nothing less from his men. Pat Alford, Curator for the Beauvoir, says, "The best offense is the best defense, so he was always looking for the opportunity to be on the offensive because that what’s would win the battles and ensure the south would become a nation."

During his life, Lee was looked up to by many Mississippians who fought with him during the Mexican and Civil Wars. Alford also says, "The Mississippi troops were some of the shock troops that made Robert E. Lee successful and the Mississippi troops always thought Robert E. Lee was their leader."

In spite of his resignation from the U.S. military, his home in Virginia was turned into a graveyard for Union soldiers and is now called Arlington Cemetery. Stewart closes, "His family estate was right across the river from D.C., across the Platonic there, and as the Union dead started to fill up the morgues and they didn’t have any place to put them, so what better place than to put them in his front yard?"

Monday, Mississippi honors the life of Robert E. Lee as a good general and even better, a symbol embodying conciliation in defeat.

Categories: Local News, News

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