Friday, February 28, 2014

Prattville Dragoons Camp Meeting for February 2014 - Part 3

The guest speaker at the Dragoons February 2014 Camp Meeting was Colonel (retired) Mark Anderson who provided a presentation on Robert E. Lee, his father Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee and Stratford Hall where Lee was born and raised.  The following was provided by Col. Anderson detailing his presentation.

Meanwhile Robert continued and completed his studies in Alexandria. In 1825, he received an appointment to West Point from John C. Calhoun. The endorsements on his application read like a who's who of the era. He spent the next four years at the Academy. Taking into consideration those who were seniors when he entered and plebes when he graduated, his classmates were exceptional:

Albert Sidney Johnston, the Confederate commander killed at Shiloh.
Samuel Peter Heintzelman, later a Union general.
Augustus James Pleasonton, the Union cavalry general who faced Lee in Virginia in 1863.
Silas Casey, another Union general.
Leonidas Polk, later Bishop of Louisiana, founder of Sewanee and a Confederate lieutenant general, killed at Pine Mountain.
Gabriel James Rains, another Confederate general.
Philip St. George Cooke, a Union cavalry general who was Jeb Stuart's father-in-law.
Hugh Weedon Mercer, grandson of Revolutionary War Gen.
Hugh Mercer, Washington's physician, and grandfather of songwriter Johnny Mercer.
Jefferson Davis.
Thomas Fenwick Drayton, later a Confederate general from South Carolina.
Joseph Eggleston Johnston, the beloved commander of the Army of Tennessee.
Ormsby McKnight Mitchell, another Union general.
Albert Gallatin Blanchard, a Confederate general from Louisiana.
Theophilus Hunter Holmes, later a Confederate lieutenant general.
William Nelson Pendleton, later an Episcopal minister who became Lee's chief of artillery.
John Bankhead Magruder, another Confederate general.
Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, another Union general and one of their heroes of Gettysburg.
Samuel Ryan Curtis, another Union general.
Benjamin Stoddert Ewell, Jackson's successor as commander of the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Philip St. George Cocke, another Confederate general.
Erasmus Darwin Keyes, a Union General.
George Bibb Crittenden, a Confederate general from Kentucky.
Humphrey Marshall, nephew of Chief Justice Marshall and a Confederate general,
Martin Phillips Parks.

Lee never received a demerit in his four years, yet he finished second in his class, behind one Charles Mason of New York, whose distinguished civilian career is now largely forgotten. Of Lee's subsequent career, as an engineer officer under Scott in Mexico, building forts around our borders, as Superintendent at West Point, as a cavalry officer in Texas, his refusal of the field command of the Union Army, his great accomplishments as a Confederate general, and finally his time at Washington College, we all know.

One anecdote about Lee's time in Mexico. He and P.G.T. Beauregard were returning from scout. When they reached the American lines, a sentry challenged them, "Who goes there?" Beauregard answered "Officers" but Lee's answer was "Friends". That says something about both men.

In 1869, he wrote the introduction to a new edition of his father's memoirs.Of his own life and his Confederate service, he never wrote. In Donald Davidson's great poem, "Lee 1n the Mountains", he has Lee say:

            Why did my father write? I know he saw History clutched as a wraith out of blowing mist.           
Where tongues are loud, and a glut of little souls Laps at the too much blood and the burning house. He would have his say, but I shall not have mine. What I do is only a son's devoir
To a lost father. Let him only speak. The rest must pass to men who never knew the strike of armies, And never heard the long Confederate cry Charge through the muzzling smoke or saw the bright eyes of the beardless boys go up to death. It is Robert Lee who writes with his father's hand-­ The rest must go unsaid and the lips be locked.

In spite of that, there is some evidence that Lee determined to write something after all and that he was beginning to gather information when he was stricken. He died October 12, 1870.        He was only 63 years old.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Prattville Dragoons Camp Meeting for February 2014 - Part 2

The guest speaker at the Dragoons February 2014 Camp Meeting was Colonel (retired) Mark Anderson who provided a presentation on Robert E. Lee, his father Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee and Stratford Hall where Lee was born and raised.  The following was provided by Col. Anderson detailing his presentation.

In January 1807, the family of Hnery Lee was living at Stratford Hall on the Potomac River.  The home had been built in the 1730s.  It was the hereditary home of the Lees but, it was not Henry Lee’s home.  The home had belonged to his cousin Thomas Lee. Henry Lee had married Thomas Lee's daughter, Matilda. Henry and Matilda Lee had lived there.  Matilda bore Henry four children, only two of whom, Lucy Grymes Lee and Henry Lee IV, survived.  When Matilda died in 1790, the home passed to Henry IV, their surviving son, still a minor.

Henry and his children continued to live in Stratford Hall.  In 1793, Henry married Ann Hill Carter, an heiress of the immensely wealthy Carter family.  Ann Carter Lee bore 5 children to Henry Lee. The first, Algernon Sydney Lee, died when he was ten .  On a cold January morning in 1807, the 19th, herself sick with a cold, 33 year old Ann Carter Lee bore her fourth child and last son.  She named him after two of her brothers, Robert and Edward Carter.  She named him Robert Edward Lee.

Henry Lee, "Light Horse Harry Lee", had been a hero of the Revolutionary War, the most famous cavalry officer in the Continental Army. He rose to the rank of major general. He was three times Governor of Virginia. But he couldn't handle money. He lost everything he had and everything that Ann Carter Lee brought into the family. In April 1809, when Robert was barely two, Henry Lee was jailed for debt. He was released but then jailed again. While imprisoned, he wrote his "Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department". He hoped that its sales would repair his shattered fortunes. It did not.

By 1810, when he had been released a second time, Henry IV, the son of his first marriage, had come of age and become the master of Stratford Hall. Henry IV, by then 24, could not be expected to support his father's second family indefinitely. The general's family had to move. That summer, they settled in a small house in Alexandria where they lived off the meager income from a trust set up by Ann Lee's father.  The family woes were far from over. In 1812, Henry Lee got involved in a controversy involving a Baltimore newspaper editor. His martial spirit aroused, he went to Baltimore to assist his friend. There, he was severely beaten by an irate mob and left for dead. His strong constitution enabled him to survive but he was a broken man, physically and financially. His creditors were unrelenting and he fled to the British West Indies in 1813, even though we were in the midst of the War of 1812 with Britain. Robert was six years old when his father left. He never saw him again for Henry died in 1818 while trying to make it back to Virginia. Henry was buried on Cumberland Island on the Georgia coast on the property of his old commander, Gen. Nathaniel Greene.

What future could 11 year old Robert have? Impoverished, son of a broken horne, son of a disgraced and fugitive father and an invalid mother? It says something about the man that he survived such a background and thrived. In 1820, when Lee was 13, he had to assume the duties of de facto head of the household. He "carried the keys" in the old Virginia phrase. His oldest surviving brother, Charles Carter Lee, had finished Harvard and was practicing law in Washington. His middle brother, Sidney Smith Lee, had been appointed a midshipman at Annapolis. His mother was a virtual invalid. His sister Ann always had been sickly. There simply was no one else.