General Robert E. Lee and Arlington House Property History

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Inventory of General Robert E. Lee's Personal Property at Arlington House, 08/29/1863

This inventory enumerates furniture, household accessories, prints and paintings (including "1 large painting of Washington and his officers on the battlefield") at Arlington House at the time of its confiscation during the case of U.S. v. All the Rights, Titles, of Robert E. Lee.

General Robert E. Lee: Arlington House Inventory
General Robert E Lee Arlington House Inventory.gif
National Archives

Recommended Reading: The Lee Girls. Publishers Weekly Review: Raised in aristocratic luxury, Confederate leader Robert E. Lee's four daughters--Mary, Anne, Eleanor and Mildred--were forced to adjust to privation caused by the Civil War. Including photos, this gentle book tells the story of their struggle to maintain their gracious lifestyle. It is at once a sunny and poignant tale, for the childhood days at Arlington were idyllic, but when Lee rode off to war they ended abruptly and never were recaptured. The book stresses the passivity Southern society imposed on women of the era, particularly unmarried women. Continued below.

None of Lee's daughters married, and Coulling's theory is that they were unable to find suitors who could hold a candle to their noble father. As for Lee himself, the Confederate icon appears here in unexpected guise from time to time. A great teaser of his daughters, he suggested, for example, that their mischievous pet squirrel be turned into soup. Coulling is a Virginia-based freelance writer.

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Recommended Reading: Mrs. Robert E. Lee: The Lady of Arlington (400 pages). Description: Many know about her husband, Robert E. Lee, and her great-grandmother, Martha Washington; many have visited the cemetery that now occupies her family estate. But few today know much about Mary Custis Lee herself. Chronically ill and often in excruciating pain, Mary raised seven children, faithfully witnessing to her husband for years before his conversion. Continued below...

She retained her dignity and faith throughout a fruitless, heartbreaking attempt to win compensation for the confiscation of her home and possessions. History is never more powerful than when it provides a role model for enduring hardship with sturdy and radiant faith. Mary Custis Lee is such an example.


Recommended Reading: The Robert E. Lee Family Cooking and Housekeeping Book (304 pages) (The University of North Carolina Press). Description: Part cookbook, part culinary history, part family history, this book is an engaging and enlightening glimpse into the household of a well-to-do, mid-nineteenth-century Virginia family. Seeking to learn more about her ancestors' daily lives, Anne Zimmer, great-granddaughter of Robert E. and Mary Lee, turned to her great-grandmother's small, now shabby notebook. Packed with recipes, shopping lists, and other domestic jottings, the notebook opened an intimate window onto an earlier way of life. With recipes for breads, cakes, puddings, sweets, soups, main dishes, vegetables, drinks, and home remedies, The Robert E. Lee Family Cooking and Housekeeping Book will serve as a ready reference on traditional American cookery. Continued below...

For each entry, the author provides the original recipe, helpful notes on the ingredients and techniques employed, and instructions--based on careful kitchen testing--for adapting the recipe in the modern kitchen. Peppered throughout with family stories and illustrated with photographs from the Lee family and other archives, the book is both an informative investigation of southern foodways and a fascinating look at one family's household history. "Makes for a great gift!"

Recommended Reading: Lee the Soldier, by Gary W. Gallagher, University of Nebraska Press (January 1, 1996) (Hardcover, 648 pages). Description: This collection of essays scratches a bit of the luster off General Robert E. Lee by examining his ability as a commander. The 21 essays were authored by current Civil War researchers and by 19th century military analysts, including a Union veteran. (There are five new articles in the book.) The unifying theme of the articles is the questioning of Lee's role in the defeat of the Confederacy. Greatly admired by his troops, Lee plunged the Army of Northern Virginia into some of the most brutal fighting in military history. Lee the Soldier carefully weighs the notion that Lee's bold moves may have hastened the South's defeat.

Recommended Reading: Lee: The Last Years. Review: After his surrender at Appomattox, Robert E. Lee lived only another five years - the forgotten chapter of an extraordinary life. These were his finest hours, when he did more than any other American to heal the wounds between North and South. Flood draws on new research to create an intensely human and a "wonderful, tragic, and powerful... story for which we have been waiting over a century." Continued below...

Lee's last five years were not years of unabated bliss. His health declined steadily, his wife was an invalid, his brother died, and his reputation suffered from some unjust attacks in Northern newspapers. Lee, however, held his head high and maintained his dignity, his character, and his principles -- and strived to unite a shattered nation. A SOLID 5 STARS.

Recommended Reading: Lee, by Douglas Southall Freeman. Description: Douglas Southall Freeman's multi-volume "Robert E. Lee" may have been published nearly three-quarters of a century ago, but this abridged version remains the best single biography ever written about the legendary Confederate general. Although there have been numerous books written about Lee, none have come as close to capturing Lee's military genius, or why so many Southerners enthusiastically fought and died under his banner, as does Freeman's work. When it was first published "Lee" was a sensation, and in the 1930's only Margaret Mitchell's wildly fictionalized "Gone With the Wind" surpassed it in sales and publicity. Senator Harry Truman read every volume, as did other famous political and military leaders. Freeman's work did much to spread the "Lee Legend" outside the South and made Lee into a national, and not merely regional, icon. In Freeman's elegant prose, Robert Edward Lee is nearly perfect in every respect - he is a modest, deeply religious man who dislikes slavery and secession but reluctantly agrees to side with his native state of Virginia when the Civil War begins. Continued below...

If the rest of Freeman's story sounds familiar it is because this book made it so. Lee, despite facing constant shortages of men and supplies, meets the overwhelming forces of the Northern States and defeats them in battle after battle. Yet after each defeat the Northerners simply recruit new soldiers, resupply their vast armies, and come after Lee's valiant but shrinking forces again and again. In the end not even Lee's tactical genius can save the outnumbered and outgunned Confederates from eventual (and in Freeman's opinion, inevitable) defeat. Naturally, some historians have not agreed with this view of the Old South's greatest icon, and later books on the "Gray Fox" have disputed Freeman's assertions that Lee was opposed to slavery and secession, or that his military decisions were always correct. There have been numerous books written about Robert E Lee, but none have done so well at portraying his life or in explaining why, even today, Lee’s legend thrives and his tactics are studied at military academies throughout the world. A genuine "must-read" for any Civil War buff or student of military history.

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