Monday, September 22, 2014

Prattville Dragoons Camp Meeting Report September 2014, Part 2

Dr. Brandon Beck, Professor, author and Commander of SCV Camp 2140 from Columbus, Mississippi again joined the Dragoons for their September 11th camp meeting at the Prattville Shoney's.  His presentation focused on (then) Colonel Robert E. Lee when serving in the U.S. Army during the period 1859-1861, just prior to the War Between the States.  Dr. Beck provided a handout which included the Lee family crest which contained a banner in Latin reading "Be Not Unmindful of the Future".  Significant dates included his birth on January 19, 1807 at Stratford Hall in Virginia, graduating from West Point in 1829, marrying Mary Custis on June 30, 1831 and of course, serving with distinction in the U.S. Army and in the Confederate Army.  After the War, Lee was installed as President of Washington College (now Washington Lee University) on October 2, 1865.  Robert E. Lee died very young on October 12, 1870 in Lexington VA at the age of 63.

Robert E. Lee was born at Stratford Hall which is in Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1807. But after age 3 the family was forced to move due to his father losing the estate to debt collectors. His father was Major General Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee who commanded cavalry under General George Washington in the Revolutionary War. His name is on the Declaration of Independence. But his later years were marked by poor investment ventures and debt and he died alone in poverty and disgrace.  Robert E. Lee did not see his father after about age six when his father left the family.

The War aged Lee tremendously as he was a clean shaven (excepting a mustache) man with brown full hair prior to the conflict.  He served in the Mexican War in the U.S. Army and was superintendent of West Point at the age of 52.  His hair greyed and he grew his well known full beard during the War. George Washington Custis left his Arlington estate to his daughter Mary and thru marriage, Robert E. Lee became executor of the Custis estate including 250 slaves raising his family there. Lee and Mary were determined to educate and emancipate their slaves and they eventually did by the start of the War. Arlington was an impressive antebellum mansion with an impressive exterior and portico but the interior had large gloomy rooms. It was here in 1859 where Robert E. Lee resided at the time of John  Brown's Raid at Harpers Ferry.
Dr. Brandon Beck with Dragoons Commander Waldo

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