From the 23 May 1864 issue of The New York Times.

The Chivalry of the Rebel Gen. Lee.

“When monkeys are gods, what must the people be?” ROBERT E. LEE, Commander of the rebel army, is deemed the paragon of Southern chivalry. The rebels have always been vain of being led by one of such pure blood, such stainless honor. Justly enough by their standard. But let us put him to a civilized test.

What is his blood? His grandfather, R. H. LEE, had the taint of treason in him. Writing in 1790, on the Federal Constitution, he said, “When we [the South] attain our natural degree of population, I flatter myself thata we shall have the power to do ourselves justice, with dissolving the bond which binds us together.” His great uncle, “Light-Horse HARRY,” was stigmatized by JEFFERSON, who knew him well, as “an intriguer,” “an informer,” a “miserable tergiversator.” Maj.-Gen. CHAS. LEE, of Revolutionary memory, and a kinsman, was, as one may see by IRVING’s Washington, not only a calumniator of WASHINGTON, but was a plotter to supersede him; he was tried by court-martial, after the battle of Monmouth, was found guilty of disobedience of orders, misbehavior before the enemy, and disrespect to the Commander-in-Chief; was subsequently dismissed from the service in disgrace, and soon afterward died in Berkley County, Virginia, leaving in his will these words: “I desire most earnestly that I may not be buried in any church or churchyard, or within a mile of any Presbyterian or consecrated meeting-house; for, since I resided in this country, I have kept so much bad company, while living, that I do not choose to continue it when dead.” The great uncle, ARTHUR LEE, was the libeler of FRANKLIN and JAY and JEFFERSON, and is described by TUCKER, in his life of thelatter, to have been “singularly impracticable in his temper and disposition.” The uncle, HENRY LEE, was in Congress at the time of the Presidential struggle between JEFFERSON and BURR, and according to TUCKER, advised “desperate measures” to defeat the former; and he was a man of such bad character that when, in 1830, Gen. JACKSON, whose fierty partisan he had been, sent his nomination to the Senate for the consulship at Algiers, Mr. TAZEWELL, of his own party and State, Chairman on Foreign Relations, reported against it, and it was unanimously rejected. It would be difficult to name an old family in this country, of any historical mark, whos “blood” has been shown to be of worse quality than that of the LEES of Virginia.

But is is not family that makes the gentleman, or the reverse. It is personal honor. Has ROBERT E. LEE this? We say emphatically that he has it not. He is deficient in its very first and most essential element—truth. He is as mendacious as BEAUREGARD himself. This can be proved incontestably, and that too without going back of the history of the last fortnight. On the 14th of this month he issued an address to his soldiers, which we have published. It is brief, but it contains five broad falsehoods.

The first is that “a part of the enemy’s force threatening the Valley of Virginia has been routed by Gen. IMBODEN, and driven back to the Potomac.” This, if is means anything, refers to the withdrawal of SIGEL across the Shenandoah, when confronted with superior forces. He experienced no rout, and little loss, and, instead of being driven back to the Potomac, was then seventy miles south of the Potomac.

The second is that “a portion of Gen. AVERILL’s forces had been dispersed by Gens. MORGAN and JONES, who are in pursuit of the remainder.” There was no such dispersion, no such pursuit. Gen. AVERILL most successfully accomplished the destruction of connections and of stores, and everything which he undertook.

The third is that “Northern journals of the 10th inst. announce the surrender of Gen. STEELE, in Arkansas, with an army of nine thousand men.” The Northern journals of that date, or of any other date, made no such announcement, except as reproduced in extracts from Richmond papers, which their own advices from Arkansas had previously contradicted. Gen. LEE has been guilty of the trickery of imputing to the Northern papers statements which are expressly given as rebel representations.

The fourth is that “the cavalry force sent by Gen. GRANT to attack Richmond has been repulsed, and retired toward the Peninsula.” This relates to Gen. SHERIDAN’s expedition, the most dashing, brilliant, and completely successful raid of the war. It was never sent to “attack Richmond,” was never repulsed, but went straight through, like a besom of destruction, from the Potomac to the James, in spite of JEB. STUART, who perished in his effort to prevent it.

The fifth is that “every demonstration of the enemy south of James River has, up to this time, been successfully repelled.” On the contrary, every demonstration, without an exception, had been successful, for, at that time, the demonstration upon Fort Darling had not been made, and those upon the railroads had invariably succeeded, and positions had been secured of great importance, which our forces held, and still hold, in defiance of the enemy.

Now these misstatements must have been willful. They are of a character that precludes the possibility of their being the product of mere misapprehension. LEE deliberately and flagitiously lied. If it be said in his behalf that he did it in order to keep up the drooping spirits of his soldiers, we have to say that it is an expedient which no soldier of honor ever adopts. No Commander of the Army of the Potomac has been guilty of anything of the kind. GRANT or MEADE would die on the spot before they would degrade their own manhood, and insult the manhood of their soldiers, by such deception.

The simple truth is that the very fact of a soldier’s abandoning his flag involves an abandonment of character. LEE received his military education from the Government, had been constantly honored and trusted by the Government, and it was the extreme of perfidy in him to turn traitor against the Government. The soul that could once work itself up to a crime like that is capable of any violation of professional honor or moral duty. Amazement is often expressed at the displays of turpitude by rebels who were formerly reputed high-minded men. But we do not sufficiently appreciate the terribly demoralizing effect of the very act of commmitting treason. It is not morally possible to perpetrate this supreme crime without wrenching and in fact breaking down the whole moral nature. Treason cannot be committed on any scale without its malignity extending to every part of the moral constitution. Fidelity lies at the very core of sound character, and when that rots, all rots.