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Rating: 6 votes, 2.00 average.

Robert E. Lee's loyalty

Posted April 11th, 2013 at 01:54 AM by Stefany
Updated April 11th, 2013 at 10:27 AM by Stefany

I have always been fascinated how in 1861 Colonel Robert E. Lee left the United States army and went to defend his home state of Virginia that just seceded. Lee was the most promising officer of the North, graduated 2nd from West Point and having distinguished himself in the Mexican war.

Upon his arrival in Washington to present his resignation, he was quickly made a full colonel and general-in-chief of the army of the Union, Winfield Scott, proposed him command of an army and a promotion as a brigadier general. Scott and Lee were very good friends and Scott always spoke very highly of the colonel. He once said [I]"It would be better for every officer in the army, including myself, to die than Robert Lee."[/I]


Also, it was no secret that General Scott was very old and he would point as his successor as general-in-chief no else, but Robert Lee himself. So what the North offered to Colonel Lee was this:

Promotion to brigadier general, given command of the army designated to suppress the rebellion in the South, and later on an appointment as commander-in-chief of the United States army, the greatest honor and position ever to be gained by a soldier.


But Robert E. Lee refused, presented his resignation and went to Virginia with his family.
Scott tried to dissuade Lee, but in vain. [I]"For God's sake, don't resign, Lee!"[/I]
But Colonel Lee said that his loyalty to Virginia and her people must always come first. He said that if Virginia had remained in the Union, he would have fought for the North, but since Virginia had declared secession, he had no choice, but to resign his commission and that is why he refused all the honors and fortunes that awaited him had he accepted General Scott’s offer then left for Virginia waiting further orders.

Here is Robert E. Lee's letter of resignation:
________________________________________________


GENERAL: Since my interview with you, on the 18th instant, I have felt that I ought not longer to retain my commission in the army. I therefore tender my resignation, which I request you will recommend for acceptance. It would have been presented at once but for the struggle it has cost me to separate myself from a service to which I have devoted all the best years of my life, and all the ability I possessed.

During the whole of that time—more than a quarter of a century—I have experienced nothing but kindness from my superiors, and the most cordial friendship from my comrades. To no one, general, have I been as much indebted as to yourself for uniform kindness and consideration, and it has always been my ardent desire to merit your approbation. I shall carry to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration, and your name and fame will always be dear to me.

Save in defence of my native State, I never desire again to draw my sword. Be pleased to accept my most earnest wishes for the continuance of your happiness and prosperity, and believe me, most truly yours,
R.E. LEE. LIEUTENANT-GENERAL WINFIELD SCOTT, Commanding United
States Army.

_________________________________________________

It is truly amazing how you cannot bribe a loyal man, either by post, money, promotion, power or glory.
And truthful to his words, Robert E. Lee fought for Virginia and the Confederacy till the very end and never betrayed his native state.

Source - John Esten Cooke, [I]A life of General Robert E. Lee [/I]
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  1. Old Comment
    Viperlord's Avatar
    No, he just betrayed his country and the oath he took as an officer instead.
    Posted April 11th, 2013 at 01:16 PM by Viperlord Viperlord is offline
  2. Old Comment
    ^^ What was he supposed to do? Fight against his own family and native state?
    Posted April 11th, 2013 at 01:26 PM by Stefany Stefany is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Viperlord's Avatar
    Actually, a large part of his family were anti-secession, particularly his wife. He fought against some of his own family when he fought for the Confederacy; a relative served in John Pope's army, and Lee's cousin Samuel Philips Lee remained in the navy. When asked about his loyalties, the redoubtable Samuel Lee sardonically remarked "The moment I find the word "Virginia" in my commission, I'll join the Confederacy." And he owed no loyalty to his state, and hadn't even spent much of his life in it. By contrast, he owed most of what he was to his U.S. army career, and the patronage of Scott, and he had sworn an oath as an officer.
    Posted April 11th, 2013 at 01:30 PM by Viperlord Viperlord is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Well, that's because most of Lee's family chose to fight for the Union, didn't compel him to betray his own state.
    Don't forget that he was from an old Virginian aristocratic family, and thus owned much of his achievements to Virginia again. And while Scott was his friend indeed, it was mostly Lee's personal qualities that had risen him so high in the military.
    And one of these qualities was loyalty and during that era, loyalty to your state always came first, so he made the right moral decision.
    Posted April 11th, 2013 at 02:22 PM by Stefany Stefany is offline
    Updated April 11th, 2013 at 02:42 PM by Stefany
  5. Old Comment
    Viperlord's Avatar
    Quote:
    Don't forget that he was from an old Virginian aristocratic family, and thus owned much of his achievements to Virginia again
    Ah, no. Lee explicitly considered his father to have been an absolutely terrible life example. He owed his rather successful career to his country and the army, not to mention his own considerable talents, but he betrayed the country and the oath he swore as an army officer.

    Quote:
    Well, that's because most of Lee's family chose to fight fight for the Union, didn't compel him to betray his own state.
    Except that you were just arguing that it did compel him to betray his country. So you are a hypocrite and a liar, not that that's new. And how could he betray something he didn't belong to? He was a citizen of the U.S. and a officer of the U.S. Army, not Virginia's.

    Quote:
    And one of these qualities was loyalty and during that era, loyalty to your state always came first,
    Obviously not. At least 40% of army officers from the South remained loyal to the U.S. Tens of thousands of Southerners fought to preserve the Union, hundreds of thousands when you factor in the blacks, which suspiciously, you never do. I'm guessing you can't find any legal records where these officers owed loyalty to state above country. The truly loyal men were those who held to their oaths and to their country no matter what their personal qualms.

    Quote:
    so he made the right moral decision.
    It was a debated and tough decision at the time, but declaring oathbreakers who committed treason so they could fight for an insurrection with the goal of preserving and expanding racial slavery to be unequivocally right is really just so far-out there it isn't even in this universe, and is suggestive of all sorts of unpleasant things about the person making it.
    Posted April 11th, 2013 at 02:50 PM by Viperlord Viperlord is offline
    Updated April 11th, 2013 at 02:53 PM by Viperlord
  6. Old Comment
    Traiter!
    Posted April 11th, 2013 at 04:25 PM by Gorge123 Gorge123 is offline
 

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