• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



Gen. B. D. Fry’s Description of Gen. Lee Asleep


The last time I saw General Lee


On the 3rd of June 1864 Gen. Grant’s army made an advance upon the Confederate forces covering the City of Richmond. The result was the sanguinary battle known as the Second Cold Harbor, in which the Federal troops were repulsed with terrible slaughter. During the action I occupied the extreme left of our line, and on the following day was ordered to move towards the right with my command which consisted of five Virginia, three Tennessee, and two Alabama regiments of Infantry – amounting in the aggregate to about three thousand men.

While riding at the head of my command along a road a short distance in rear of our line, I observed under a spreading oak – which stood a few paces from the road – a group of officers some of whom I knew as belonging to the staff of our great commander, and when nearer saw General Lee lying on the grass with his head resting on a saddle over which a cloth had been thrown. He was evidently sleeping soundly, and his attitude was exactly that represented in Mr. E. V. Valentines splendid recumbent statue. He lay upon his back with one arm across his breast and the other extended by his side.

My men were moving at rout step, and were talking, laughing, singing or whistling as was usual on a march. I turned and remarked to my staff

“There is General Lee asleep.”

Catching sight of him the men at the head of the column at once passed the word back along the line.    

“Hush boys – don’t make a noise – there is Marse Robert asleep under that tree.”

Instantly there was a perfect silence and the long line of bearded, bronzed, and battle begrimed veterans passed quietly by – all turning to look at their beloved commander in whom they felt such unbounded confidence.

During the whole war I witnessed no more striking manifestation of the affection felt by our men for General Lee.

Soon after the incident above described I was ordered to another part of the country and never saw him again.


B. D. Fry




Source: Valentine Museum archives, Richmond, Virginia

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 July 24


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