From the 24 July 1897 issue of The New York Times.

Reminiscences of Gen. Lee.

In The Outlook, Mr. S. S. McCormick gives his reminiscences of Gen. Robert E. Lee as a college President. The wonderful memory that Gen. Lee had is illustrated. Some thirty students, newcomers, had called on the President of the university to pay their respects to him, and among them was Mr. McCormick. In the course of a week fully 400 students were introduced. Mr. McCormick writes:

Possibly six weeks passed before I again met the General, when one morning I came face to face with him on the campus, and respectfully saluted. To my surprise, as I had only met him for a moment, the General, in returning my salute, called my name. I was so impressed that I went among the students, stated the cirmstance, and, after pushing my inquiries, discovered that each of them had had a similar experience. Afterward, when I knew the General well, I called his attention to the incident, told him of my astonishment, and how I had questioned other students, and how frequently I had to ask the names of my new acquaintances time and again, although I was somewhat gifted, as I thought, in my memory of both faces and names. The General smiled, and said that his ability to recall a face and name came from cultivation of the memory and close observation. He told me, furthermore, that he had never been introduced to a soldier of the Army of Northern Virginia whose face and name he could not afterward instantly recall. I remembered from my historical reading that it was stated that Mithridates could call the name of every man in his army of a million men—a statement, which I considered as somewhat “rosy” until I met Gen. Lee.

Another story of Gen. Lee’s memory and power of observation may be cited, as told by a gentleman who was in active service during the war:

It was my business to carry dispatches. That duty was entailed on me because I had an excellent horse—poor Jack! the best soldier’s horse that ever lived. Dispatches are not often put directly into the hands of the General in Chief because yhou can’t find him. The dispatches go through the intermediary of some member of the General’s staff. By an accident, just within the lines I stumbled across the General, and I was so taken aback that I must have forgotten to salute. I was called to a sense of military courtesy by Gen. Lee’s bow to me as I handed him the dispatches across my horse, for he was mounted. I was tired to death. Thirty-odd miles, and through hard roads, had Jack carried me, and mostly at a gallop. I was begrimed and filthy, and my face scarred where the trees’ boughs had scratched me—In fact, I was almost unrecognizable.

Two years after the surrender I was at an assemblage in Richmond, and Gen. Lee was present. I should have liked to have clasped the hand of my old General, but was afraid of being thought obtrusive. It happened that I passed near him. At once my presence seemed to call his attention. Presently a gentleman touched my arm and said to me, “Gen. Lee would like to talk with you.” I approached the General with some trepidation.

“Will you pardon me,” he said, “but did I not see you on the Chickahominy? You rode a roan horse, and the poor beast was blown—and you were a bearer of dispatches. It was a fine horse, but he had a terrible sore on his back.

“Yes, Gen. Lee, that about describes my mount. The horse had had a heavy day’s work—and I rode then 165 ounds—and Jack’s ration had been few and far between—his condition was bad—and a hard saddle and no blanket had galled him.

“I wanted to compliment you at that time on a fairly dangerous ride. I did not know your name then, and you were off next day,” said Gen. Lee.

“But, General how an you remember such a trivial matter?”

“Oh, readily enough. When you dismounted I noticed that you at once unsaddled—which was the right thing to do—and you looked at the abrasion on your horse’s back. Then you asked my orderly if he could get you a piece of soap. Now soap was scarce just then. I had a very small bit of castile soap left, and I gave my man particular instructions that he should divide my soap in two and give you half. Did you receive it?”

“I did, General, and my horse’s sore back had the benefit of it.”

“Did you carry your horse safely through the war?” he asked.

“I did, General.”

“Well, I am pleased to hear that, for I should have missed Traveler so much had he been killed.” Then followed an invitation to call on him, which I only too glady accepted.

Mr. McCormick thus describes Traveler, Gen. Lee’s favorite horse:

I had not long been a student before I knew Traveler, the great war steed of the General’s, so easily recognized as his mount in any battle picture of the Army of Northern Virginia. Being a Kentuckian, I prided myself not a little upon my knowledge of the points of a good horse; and hundreds of thimes, as I walked out for exercise during the afternoons, the General would ride by, always salute, and frequently rein in to converse for a few moments. It was only natural that, at times, Traveler should be discussed between us. He was a large, powerful, and well-muscled horse; an iron-gray; as I recall, rather more than 16 hands in height, and in ordinary flesh weighing about 1,150 pounds. I remember I called the attention of the General to some of his fine points—his high spirit; his light, agile step; his full, prominent eye; his immense power, and the ease with which, at any pace, he carried the General, who weighed probably 200 pounds. The General’s eye kindled, and I soon found out that I was a novice where I though myself a critic. He pointed out that the first essentials of a mount were power and intelligence—of course presupposing that the horse is sure-footed and the wind perfect; that intelligence was to be judged by the prominence of the forehead, the width between the eyes, and the head, the width between the eyes, and the eye itself, and that no horse was trustworthy unless level-headed, that power and endurance were indicated in the deep, capacious chest, the full throttle, the short, strong back, the deep, sinewy flank, the large, flat bones of the leg, and he suggested that the pasterns should not rest too straight above the firm, solid hoof.

The General was a superb horseman. His favorite gaits were the canter, the gallop, and the walk. He sat his horse easily and gracefully, his bearing military, with a firm yet easy hand upon the bridle-rein, his weight on the stirrup, his thighs pressing the saddle, and his every movement in unison with the motions of his steed. Riding was his favorite recreation, and was, so far as we knew, his only exercise except his daily walk to the office and back to his home.

Gen. Lee’s loyalty and how he held the point of honor high could not be explained better than by this incident:

At a Faculty meeting one of the professors made some disparaging remarks about Gen. Grant. Gen. Lee, in indignation, rose from his chair, and looking the professor full in the face, said to him: “Sir, if you ever presume to speak disrespectfully of Gen. Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever our connection with this university.”