General Robert E. Lee: State Loyalty

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General Robert E. Lee: State Loyalty
An 1800's historical perspective and context regarding state identity and loyalty:

The day after the firing on Fort Sumter, the United States Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, directed that all United States Military Academy (West Point) cadets must take a "new oath of allegiance." Previously, each cadet had taken an "oath of allegiance to his respective State." Now, they were required to "swear feilty* to the United States paramount to any other state, county or political entity." While the cadets were in full uniform, the new oath was administered in the chapel in the presence of the Academy staff. 
*feilty is an old English word that is not in all dictionaries but is best equated to the modern word ‘fidelity’.
Robert E. Lee had rejected the offer to command the Union forces on the grounds that he could not draw his sword against his beloved home state of Virginia. Lee stated that his "loyalty to Virginia ought to take precedence over that which is due the Federal Government." He further proclaimed that he had no greater duty than to his native state of Virginia. Lee was a 4th generation Virginian, son of Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee (one of George Washington's favorite lieutenants), and Lee's wife, Mary Anne Custis, was the great granddaughter of Martha Washington.
Today, most people view and identify themselves as Americans. During the 1800s, however, many identified and viewed themselves as North Carolinians, Virginians, Texans, Tennesseans, etc. Through the ages, we, as a people, have evolved and placed a greater emphasis on national identity.

Robert E. Lee also had very strong family ties to the South, and many of his relatives served in the Confederate Army: Major General George Washington Custis Lee (graduated first in West Point class of 1854), eldest son of Robert E. Lee and Mary Anne Custis Lee; General William Henry Fitzhugh Lee, second son of Robert E. Lee and Mary Anne Custis Lee; Captain Robert Edward Lee, Jr., youngest son of Robert E. Lee and Mary Anne Custis Lee, and the sixth of their seven children; General Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of Robert E. Lee; Brigadier General Edwin Gray Lee, second cousin of Robert E. Lee.

Recommended Reading: Robert E. Lee on Leadership : Executive Lessons in Character, Courage, and Vision. Description: Robert E. Lee was a leader for the ages. The man heralded by Winston Churchill as "one of the noblest Americans who ever lived" inspired an out-manned, out-gunned army to achieve greatness on the battlefield. He was a brilliant strategist and a man of unyielding courage who, in the face of insurmountable odds, nearly changed forever the course of history. "A masterpiece—the best work of its kind I have ever read. Crocker's Lee is a Lee for all leaders to study; and to work, quite deliberately, to emulate." — Major General Josiah Bunting III, Superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute. Continued below...

In this remarkable book, you'll learn the keys to Lee's greatness as a man and a leader. You'll find a general whose standards for personal excellence was second to none, whose leadership was founded on the highest moral principles, and whose character was made of steel. You'll see how he remade a rag-tag bunch of men into one of the most impressive fighting forces history has ever known. You'll also discover other sides of Lee—the businessman who inherited the debt-ridden Arlington plantation and streamlined its operations, the teacher who took a backwater college and made it into a prestigious university, and the motivator who inspired those he led to achieve more than they ever dreamed possible. Each chapter concludes with the extraordinary lessons learned, which can be applied not only to your professional life, but also to your private life as well. Today's business world requires leaders of uncommon excellence who can overcome the cold brutality of constant change. Robert E. Lee was such a leader. He triumphed over challenges people in business face every day. Guided by his magnificent example, so can you.


"A splendid and inspiring book, Robert E. Lee on Leadership offers enormously valuable lessons for all of us today, and should be required reading in the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon, at least."

— Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense, chairman of Forbes magazine

"As Harry Crocker reminds us, the principles that guided Robert e. Lee were grounded in the finest traditions of American values. Robert E. Lee on Leadership is a timely and valuable reflection on character, and on the personal and spiritual convictions that make for great leaders."

— S. Patrick Presley, director of Federal Government Affairs, British Petroleum

"A moving and illuminating look at Lee the man, so that thoughtful people can learn from him how to succeed in the business of life."

— Dinesh D'Souza, author of Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader

"Harry Crocker has provided a great service by reminding us through this moving and tightly written biography that winning isn't the only thing: faithfulness and honor live in our memories after the guns are silent."

— Marvin Olasky, author of the bestselling Renewing American Compassion and The American Leadership Tradition

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Recommended Reading: General Lee: A Biography of Robert E. Lee, by Fitzhugh Lee (Author), Gary W. Gallagher (Introduction). Description: A soldier, politician, and author, General Fitzhugh Lee (1835–1905) had attended West Point and proved to be a boisterous challenge to the superintendent of the Academy, who was also his uncle: Robert E. Lee. (Gen. Lee commended Fitzhugh as ”an excellent cavalry officer. . . . I feel at liberty to call upon him—on all occasions.”) The book covers Robert E. Lee’s early service in the Mexican War through his masterful command during the Seven Days Battle, Second Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and the High Water Mark of the war--the Battle of Gettysburg. Fitzhugh vividly describes Lee's surrender and latter years. Continued below...

He also allows the reader an insight into the mind of the South’s greatest hero and permits them to relive the immense achievements that "Marse Lee" accomplished. This book even covers Lee's family history, lineage and genealogy, which compliment the life of the beloved general.


Recommended Reading: The Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee (Civil War Library) (Hardcover). Description: Recollections and Letters show all the varying facets of Lee's character. His letters reveal his personal warmth, bravery and concern for the South during and after the war. Continued below.

No other collection of source materials gives such a whole and rewarding picture of one of the South's greatest sons and heroes.


Recommended Reading: The Wartime Papers Of Robert E. Lee (1012 pages). Description: This monumental contribution to the literature of the Civil War brings together Lee’s official correspondence—letters, orders, dispatches, battle reports—with his touching letters to his family, thus providing a previously unavailable view of Lee’s life during the war. From the more than 6,000 items, the editors have chosen to reprint many letters in full for the first time, so that Lee is seen complete, self-revealed, in all his dignity and purpose. Continued below...

Short narratives connect each section—on the mobilization of Virginia, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and the siege of Petersburg and Appomattox. Sponsored by the Virginia Civil War Commission to commemorate the Civil War Centennial, this expert work of scholarship dramatizes Lee’s life as only his own correspondence could. As Lee himself said: ”Letters are good representatives of our minds. They certainly present a good criterion for judging of the character of the individual.”


Recommended Reading: General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse (624 pages). Editorial Review (Publishers Weekly): You cannot say that University of North Carolina professor Glatthaar (Partners in Command) did not do his homework in this massive examination of the Civil War–era lives of the men in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Glatthaar spent nearly 20 years examining and ordering primary source material to ferret out why Lee's men fought, how they lived during the war, how they came close to winning, and why they lost. Continued below...

Glatthaar marshals convincing evidence to challenge the often-expressed notion that the war in the South was a rich man's war and a poor man's fight and that support for slavery was concentrated among the Southern upper class. Lee's army included the rich, poor and middle-class, according to the author, who contends that there was broad support for the war in all economic strata of Confederate society. He also challenges the myth that because Union forces outnumbered and materially outmatched the Confederates, the rebel cause was lost, and articulates Lee and his army's acumen and achievements in the face of this overwhelming opposition. This well-written work provides much food for thought for all Civil War buffs.


Recommended Reading: Robert E. Lee: A Biography, by Emory M. Thomas. Review From Publishers Weekly: Thomas, a distinguished historian of the Civil War (The Confederacy as a Revolutionary Experience), has written a major analytical biography of Robert E. Lee. Synthesizing printed and manuscript sources, he does not present Lee as the icon of Douglas Southall Freeman nor the flawed figure presented by Thomas Connolly. Lee emerges instead as a man of paradoxes, whose frustrations and tribulations were the basis for his heroism. Lee's work was his play, according to the author, and throughout his life he made the best of his lot. Continued below...

Believing that evil springs from selfishness, he found release in service to his family, his country and, not least, to the men he led. One of history's great captains and most beloved generals, he refused to take himself too seriously. This comic vision of life ultimately shaped an individual who was both more and less than his legend. Highly recommended.

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