THE SOUL OF LEE
BY ONE OF HIS SOLDIERS
RANDOLPH H. McKIM
Late 1st Lieutenant and A.D.C. Brig-Gen. Geo. H. Steuart's Brigade,
Major-Gen. Edward Johnson's Division, Ewell's Corps
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
THE purpose of this little volume is to give in brief compass an epitome of the life and the campaigns of General Robert E. Lee, with sufficient detail, however, to convey a true impression of his genius as a soldier and his exalted character as a man. The author believes that at this crisis when our young men are offering their strength and their lives in the greatest struggle for liberty and democracy the world has ever seen, a study of the life and character of Lee cannot but be an inspiration. For the great Southern leader was more than a Southerner—he was an American;* and the time has come when the whole country may take an honest pride in his military genius and in the high ideals which governed him in his campaigns, while the study of those campaigns may well arouse the emulation of the young soldiers of our new national army as they mark the splendid valor and constancy of the men who fought in both the Union and the Confederate armies more than fifty years ago.
It will at once be seen that these pages do not aspire to the dignity of a biography of the illustrious man who is their subject,—yet they are more than an appreciation or a eulogy. They give, I hope, a true outline of Lee's life, a reliable sketch of his campaigns, and a just, if inadequate, impression of his character. They are based upon a painstaking study of his career, and it is believed the picture they present is historically accurate. May I point out to any who may think it too highly colored, that it has been painted chiefly with materials taken from other easels than my own—competent writers and critics, in large part Northern men and Europeans,
It will also be recognized that, while all who write of Lee must needs draw from substantially the same sources, yet there are in this narrative not a few incidents which are quite unfamiliar, and others which have never been published before.
I do not forget in what I have said above that it may be thought that the magnitude of the world conflict now waging so dwarfs the battles and the campaigns of half a century ago that the student of war today can learn little or nothing from them; but on the other hand Gen. Sir Frederick B. Maurice has told us that war is waged today on the same great principles of strategy practiced by Napoleon and Lee. And though the methods and the instruments of war are so vastly changed since 1861, yet there are likenesses as well as contrasts between the two,—and the most vital factor of war, the spirit of man himself, has never changed since the days of Joshua and Judas Maccabeus.
I will only add that I desire to make my own the words of the author of that charming little volume, A Rebel's Recollections:
“Will the reader please bear in mind that my estimate of the character of the Southern troops is a positive and not a comparative one, and that nothing said in praise of the one army is meant to be a reflection on the other. Between Bull Run and Appomattox I had ample opportunity to learn respect for the courage and manliness of the men who overcame us.” (Geo, Cary Eggleston.)
The frontispiece is reproduced from the portrait at Washington and Lee University by kind permission of the President of the University. The original is known as the “Pine Tree Portrait.”
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