A Lee Letter on the “Lost Dispatch” and the Maryland Campaign of 1862
Hal Bridges


1 Even in Virginia, such a newspaper as the Richmond State Journal was opposed to Lee after 1865. Of the Congressmen who attacked him, none was more vitriolic than Simon Cameron, whose excesses are noted in the March 25, 1868, issue of the Lexington (Virginia) Gazette.

2 Hibbard’s letter and clipping are in the Lee Archives at Washington and Lee University. Lee never answered such assaults as this, but went quietly about his appointed task of constructive effort and reconciliation. With ample cause did “Vindex” write a letter to the editor of the Louisville Courier on March 13, 1868, asking, “Why cannot these jackals let the old lion rest in peace?”

3 John S. Wise, The End of an Era (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1900), p. 434.

4 The New York Herald stated that citizens of the North “have recounted and recorded his triumphs as their own”; the Halifax (Nova Scotia) Morning Chronicle was even more laudatory in tone. Accounts from both papers are reprinted in Stanley F. Horn’s Robert E. Lee Reader (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1949), p. 508 f.

5 James P. Holcombe, “Address at Washington and Lee University, January 19, 1871,” reprinted in J. W. Jones’ Personal Reminiscences of Gen. Robert E. Lee (New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1874), pp. 487–509.

6 In John William Jones’ Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of General Robert E. Lee (New York, D. Appleton, 1874), p. 249, this letter from Lee to a prospective translator is quoted: “It has been my desire to write a history of the campaigns in Virginia; but I have not been able to commence it, and it is so uncertain that I shall be able to accomplish my purpose, that I think it unnecessary to make any arrangements for its translation into a foreign language . . .” The letter, dated April 16, 1866, is quoted in Douglas S. Freeman’s R. E. Lee, IV, p. 261.

7 In 1867 she had published her Diary of a Southern Refugee During the War (New York, E. J. Hale & Son, 1867), which had won a wide audience.

8 John Esten Cooke, The Life of Stonewall Jackson (Richmond, Ayers and Wade, 1863).

9 Quoted in John O. Beaty’s John Esten Cooke, Virginian (New York, Columbia University Press, 1922), p. 88. Cooke, almost as dashing and colorful as J. E. B. Stuart, under whom he served, satisfied his literary cravings, reading by firelight books captured from the Federal armies. He never allowed enemy forces to interfere with his meals, continuing to eat from a plate near his horse until the Yankees were within two hundred yards, whereupon he would gulp down his coffee and gallop away.

10 During the 1880’s two volumes of military reminiscences, the first by Edward S. Ellis and the second by Armistead L. Long, added to the number of details about Lee, and every volume of the 47 that the Southern Historical Society published between 1878 and 1930 provided an outlet for small, obscure Lee stories that might otherwise be lost. The Confederate Veteran, a professionally patriotic journal which specialized in Lee items, was founded in 1893. The 40 volumes which constitute the complete file of the publication contain approximately 225 Lee stories and anecdotes.

11 Talbott Sweeney, A Vindication from a Northern Standpoint of General Robert E. Lee (Richmond, J. L. Hill Co., 1890), pp. 47–48.

12 John Burton Nicholson, Jr., General Robert Edward Lee, 1807–1870, A Preliminary Bibliography. This unpublished thesis was submitted to the faculty of Washington and Lee University on May 15, 1936, and is in the Lee Archives there. A careful and detailed study, it has been of great assistance in the preparation of this article.

13 These were Macmillan’s (55:321), The Critic (10:141), and The Eclectic (108:683).

14 John Burton Nicholson, Jr., op. cit., p. 47.

15 Both volumes were published by C. Scribner’s Sons in New York. Page’s copy of the earlier biography, with revisions in the margins for a second edition, is in the Lee Archives at Washington and Lee University.

16 There is much autobiographical material in Two Little Confederates and The Burial of the Guns; there is also a biography done by Page’s brother, Rosewell Page, called Thomas Nelson Page: A Memoir of a Virginia Gentleman (1923).

18 Letter from Mrs. Robert E. Lee to Mrs. Thomas S. Burwell of Roanoke, dated August 17, 1922, in Lee Papers, Manuscript Division, Washington and Lee Library.

20 Douglas S. Freemon, R. E. Lee, I (New York, C. Scribner’s Sons, 1934), p. ix.

21 Douglas S. Freeman, letter to the author dated November 2, 1947.

22 This was the first volume on Lee which employed the techniques of “scientific historical research,” taught at American graduate schools in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The 400-page compilation, drawing from the Lee papers in the Wymberley Jones DeRenne collection, is a milestone in Lee research.

23 Stephen Vincent Benet, “R. E. Lee,” in Books, XI (October 14, 1934), p. 36.

24 Cf., Hendrick’s The Lees of Virginia (Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1935); Gaines’ Lee: The Background of a Great Decision, August 1865 (Lexington, Washington and Lee University Bulletin, Vol. 33, No. 13), and Lee: The Final Achievement (1865–1870) (New York, New York Southern Society, 1933); Winston’s Robert E. Lee (New York, W. Morrow and Co., 1934); Eckenrode’s James Longstreet, Lee’s War Horse (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1936); Davidson’s Lee in the Mountains and Other Poems (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1938); Meredith’s The Face of Robert E. Lee (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947; and Horn’s Robert E. Lee Reader (Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1949).

25 A full report of the committee, as well as a sketch of the proposed memorial, was printed in the July, 1949, number of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, pp. 301–306.

26 Quoted by Burton J. Hendrick, op. cit., p. 433.

27 Edwin A. Alderman, Virginia, An Address Delivered in Response to the Toast “Virginia” Given by Citizens of Petersburg, Virginia (Charlottesville, Michie Co., 1909), p. 10.

28 In 1914 Charles Alfred Graves, a law professor at the University of Virginia, published a pamphlet called The Forged Letter of Robert E. Lee (Richmond, Richmond Press, Inc., 1914) which demonstrates that Lee did not make this famous pronouncement on duty. The line is so much a part of the Lee legend, however, and is so much in keeping with Lee’s personality, that Graves’ discovery has brought with it little disillusionment for Lee’s admirers.