Robert E. Lee in Texas
THE MOST IMPORTANT MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION throwing light on Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee's Texas experiences from 1856 to 1861 is that of his family papers of two hundred or more pieces, now under restriction in the Division of Manuscripts, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. For the most lint these papers consist of letters written by Lee and other members of Ins family. But in addition there are miscellaneous papers, including three helpful memoranda books. Book No. 1 contains a few roughly drawn maps, a field note in July, 1856, from Major Earl Van Dorn to Lee, and Lee's incomplete letter copies front December 3, 1838, to February 4, 1860. Letters of the period from May 3, 1842, to April 11, 1860, are also in his “Letter Book, No. 2.” Lee's “Memo. Book, No. 3” is a valuable supplement to his family letters. Within its first thirty-four pages are Mexican War sketches and drawings, of Monclova, Vera Cruz, and other plans. Then, next, is a brief day-by-day journal, with wide gaps, running from July, 1855, to February, 1861. Following the daily entries are brief commentaries on “Sectarianism,” “Education,” “Geology,” and “Engineering.” Elsewhere in the Division of Manuscripts are a few other Lee letters: e.g., Lee to Van Dorn, July 3, 1860 (Acc. 1015); Lee to Mrs. W. Louis Marshall, April 20, 1861 (Acc. 4628); and Lee to General Winfield Scott, April 20, 1861 (Arc. 4627).
The George Denison Papers, a small collection covering the years 1854 to 1862 are also in the Division of Manuscripts. Denison was a New England school teacher who lived in San Antonio during the period of Lee's stay in Texas. His portrayals of the Alamo City's life and conditions are excellent.
Lee's official letters, reports, and orders, written while he was stationed in Texas as lieutenant colonel of the Second Cavalry, together with other military papers bearing on the Texas border problem, are filed in the War Records Division, National Archives, Washington, D.C. They are found in such categories as “Letters Received,” and “Consolidated File,” and include such items as inspection and reconnaissance reports, regimental returns, and other papers bundled with the Secretary of War's annual report. More than one thousand pieces bear on the Texas border problem during Lee's stay from 1856 to 1861.
Other divisions of the National Archives house additional materials. The Division of Interior Department Archives, the Office of Indian Affairs, parallels the War Records Division in point of annual reports of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, divisional superintendents, and agents—all bearing directly on tribal affairs, raiding, reservation problems, settler grievances, and border relations. And, finally, the Division of Photographic Archives and the Division of Maps and Charts yield photographs and maps of the sort used in this study.
Supplementing these National Archives records, other papers are found in two depositories at Austin, Texas. In the Texas State Library, in the Capitol are the Lea letters; the unpublished “Memoirs of John Salmon Ford” (vol. 5), relating to the Cortinas war and giving Ford's estimate of Lee; and the “Executive Record Book, Governor Samuel Houston, 1859–1861,” covering the same period; and the letters and reports received by the Texas governors, 1856̵1861, showing the desperate plight of the border settlements and the movements of the state troops.
Interesting details of the operations of the Clear Fork Comanche reservation, the Sanaco-Katumse rivalry, and bits of Neighbor[s]'s correspondence are in Robert S. Neighbors Papers, 1857–59 (twenty-nine documents), Archives, University of Texas Library.
Still other miscellaneous papers of Lee were furnished the author by Mr. Henry Sayles, Jr., Abilene, Texas; Acting Librarian Richard H. Shoemaker, Cyrus Hall McCormick Library, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia; Mr. C. L. Greenwood, Austin, Texas; and Colonel M. L. Crimmins, San Antonio, Texas.
2. Federal Documents
FEDERAL DOCUMENTS examined by the author bearing on Lee's army services are mainly the House and Senate Executive Documents. House Executive Document No. 6, 30 Congress, 1 session, Vols. I and II, contain official papers, diplomatic and military, of the Mexican War period. “The Purchase of Camels” is the subject of Senate Executive Document No. 62, 34 Congress, 3 session; and scouting reports, troop changes, settler complaints, Indian raids, and the Cortinas war are the miscellaneous listings in House Executive Document No. 2, 32 Congress, 1 session, Part I; Executive Document (No house or number given), 34 Congress, 1 session, Vol. I, Part II; Senate Executive Document No. 5, 34 Congress, 3 session, Vol. II; Senate Executive Document No. 1, 35 Congress, 2 session, Vol. II; Senate Executive Document No. 11, 35 Congress, I session, Vol. II; House Executive Document No. 52, 36 Congress, 1 session; Senate Executive Document No. 1, 36 Congress, 2 session, Vol. II; and House Executive Document No. 81, 36 Congress. 1 session.
FAIRLY COMPLETE NEWSPAPER FILES of the Library of Congress, the Texas State Library, and the University of Texas Library are useful for the period 1856 to 1861. Among those headlining Indian atrocities, state and federal troop movements, and border turmoil are the Belton (Texas) Independent, 1857–59; the St. Louis (Missouri) Republican, 1859–60; the Texas State Gazette (Austin), 1856–81; the San Antonio (Texas) Ledger and Texan, 1860; the Dallas (Texas) Herald, 1856–61; the Clarksville (Texas) Standard, 1856–57, and 1860–61; and the Southern Intelligencer (Austin, Texas), 1856–61.
4. Lee Biographies and Memoirs
AMONG ALL THE BIOGRAPHIES that have been written about General Robert E. Lee only one is of definitive, scholarly value—Douglas Southall Freeman, R. E. Lee (4 vols., New York, 1935). Volume I, pages 1 to 461 of this fine work includes a discussion and an excellent documentation of Lee's family, his early rearing and training at West Point, his assignments with the Corps of Engineers, and his Mexican War and Texas experiences. A reproduction of a part of Lee's family correspondence, supplementing Freeman's narrative, may be found in three other studies: Emily V. Mason, Popular Life of General Robert E. Lee (Baltimore, 1872); Fitzhugh Lee, General Lee (New York, 1886); and J. William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee, Soldier and Man (Washington, 1906). Of this group only Fitzhugh Lee's account is of material value beyond the reproduction of Lee's letters.
Other Lee biographies that should be given passing mention are: Philip Alexander Bruce, Robert E. Lee (American Crisis Biographies, Philadelphia, 1907); Major General J. F. C. Fuller, Grant and Lee: A Study in Personality and Generalship (New York, 1933); Bradley Gilman, Robert E. Lee (New York, 1919); Burton J. Hendrick, The Lees of Virginia (Boston, 1935); Captain Robert E. Lee, Jr, Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee (New York, 1905); A. L. Long, Memoirs of Robert E. Lee; His Military and Personal History (Philadelphia and Washington, 1887); James D. McCabe, Jr., Life and Campaigns of General Robert E. Lee (Atlanta, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, St. Louis, 1870); William P. Trent, Robert E. Lee (Boston, 1899); Henry Alexander White, Robert E. Lee and the Southern Confederacy, 1807–1870 (New York and London, 1897) and Robert W. Winston, Robert E. Lee, A Biography (New York, 1934). Beyond an incidental fact here and there to weigh and evaluate and the reproduction of Lee letters and a part of his “Memo. Book, No. 3,” these references are of little value to the research student interested only in Lee's pre-Civil War years.
WITHIN THIS CATEGORY OF MATERIALS are sundry books and magazines picturing life on the pre-Civil War Texas border, the wild Comanches, frontier forts, overland trails, roads and freighting, and the observations of Lee's contemporaries. Three army registers of great value are: F. B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (2 vols., Washington, 1903); T. H. S. Hammersley, Complete Regular Army Register of the United States (Washington, 1880); and Brevet Major General George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of Officers and Graduates of United States Military Academy, at West Point, N.Y. (2 vols., New York, 1868–79). The general narrative of William Addleman Ganoe, The History of the United States Army (New York, 1924) should be read with these for a general sweep of military problems and policies. George F. Price, comp., Across the Continent with the Fifth Cavalry (New York, 1883) is of primary importance, since the Fifth Cavalry was organized as the Second Cavalry. This book is invaluable for its narrative of the border services rendered by the Second Cavalry and for its brief sketches of the regiment's officers.
There are also available a few biographies and reminiscences of Lee's fellow officers and friends, including comments on Lee. Lee at Camp Cooper is briefly considered in J. B. Hood, Advance and Retreat (New Orleans, 1880); and William Preston Johnston, The Life of General Albert Sidney Johnston (New York, 1878). Lee's brief stay at Fort Mason and at San Antonio is referred to in Brigadier General R. W. Johnson, A Soldier's Reminiscences in Peace and War (Philadelphia, 1886); ——, Memoirs of General George H. Thomas (Philadelphia, 1881); and Charles Anderson, Texas Before and on the Eve of the Rebellion (Cincinnati, 1884).
Contemporary Mexican War views, and a part of the diplomatic and military correspondence of the period, are seen in four narratives, all relating to the expeditions of Taylor, Wool, and Scott. Those of some importance are Francis Baylies, Narrative of Major-General Wool's Campaign in Mexico (Albany, 1831); J. Frost, The Mexican War and its Warriors (New Haven, 1850); and Edward K. Mansfield, The Mexican War; A History of Its Origin (New York. 1848). Of lesser value is William Jay, A Review of the Causes and Consequences of the Mexican War (Boston, 1849).
The author used articles in three regional magazines. Decca Lamar West, “Robert E. Lee in Texas,” in Texas Monthly, April, 1930, 323–39, is an excellent sketch. But of greater value are several articles in the West Texas Historical Association Yearbook discussing the Texas border army, transportation problems, Texas roads and trails, army posts, and Lee and his contemporaries. They are W. C. Holden, “Frontier Defense in Texas during the Civil War,” in Vol. IV (June, 1928), 16–32; R. N. Richardson, “The Comanche Reservation in Texas,” in Vol. V (June, 1929), 43–66: Lenora Barrett, “Transportation, Supplies, and Quarters for the West Texas Frontier Under the Federal Military System, 1848–1861,” in ibid., 87–100; Arrie Barrett, –Western Frontier Forts of Texas,” in Vol. VII (June, 1931), 115–40; Colonel M. L. Crimmins, “What General Robert E. Lee's Generals Thought of Him,” in Vol. XII (July, 1936), 95–100; ——, “Major Earl Van Dorn in Texas,” in Vol. XVI (October, 1940), 121–30; C. C. Risser, “The Border Post of Phantom Hill,” in Vol. XIV (October, 1938), 3–14; Colonel M. L. Crimmins, Camp Cooper and Fort Griffin, Texas, in Vol. XVII (October, 1941), 32–44; —— “General John E. Wool in Texas,” in Vol. XVIII (October, 1942), 47–54; J. W. Williams, “Military Roads of the 1850's in Central West Texas,” in ibid., 77–92; Colonel M. L. Crimmins, “The First Line of Army Posts Established in West Texas in 1849,” in Vol. XIX (October, 1943), 121–28; and R. C. Crane, “Major George H. Thomas on the Trail of Indians in 1860,” in Vol. XX (October, 1944), 77–86. Colonel Crimmins also has, in addition, “Colonel Robert E. Lee's Report on Indian Combats in Texas,” in Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. XXXIX, No. 3 (July, 1935), 21–33.
One may find a number of miscellaneous items of interest in such books as: Charles Merritt Barnes, Combats and Conquests of Immortal Heroes (San Antonio, 1910); J. De Cordova, Texas; Her Resources and Her Public Men (Philadelphia, 1858); R. B. Marcy, Thirty Years of Army Life on the Border (New York, 1866); James P. Newcomb, Sketches of Secession Times in Texas and Journal of Travel from: Texas through Mexico to California, and a History of the “Box Colony” (San Francisco, 1863), 10–11; W. B. Parker, Notes Taken During the Expedition Commanded by Capt. R. B. Marcy, U.S.A. Through Unexplored Texas in the Summer and Fall of 1854 (Philadelphia, 1856); George F. Price, Across the Continent with the Second Cavalry (New York, 1883); R. N. Richardson, The Comanche Barrier to South Plains Settlement (Glendale, California, 1928); Carl Coke Rister, The Southwestern Frontier, 1865–1881 (Cleveland, 1928); ——, Border Captives (Norman, Oklahoma, 1940); and Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers; A Century of Frontier Defense (Boston and New York, 1935).
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