ROBERT E. LEE was the finest military mind of his generation. First in his class at West Point. Brilliant, charismatic, influential.
Among his many admirers? Abraham Lincoln, who asked Lee to head the Union army’s defense of Washington on April 18, 1860.
Despite being a Virginian, Lee was a patriot first and foremost. “Secession is anarchy,” he wrote. Or so Lincoln was led to believe.
Not only did Lee refuse the post; two days later, he resigned from the Union army, instead commanding the Confederate forces.
Although he did not believe in secession and was not crazy about slavery, Lee considered it a breach of honor to fight against his fellow Virginians.
In school, we are taught that there was something noble about this decision. In fact, Lee’s actions were both cowardly and morally bankrupt.
If he didn’t want to fight other Virginians, Lee could have resigned and sat the war out. THAT would have been the “honorable” move.
Instead, Lee not only deprived the North of his services, but gave himself fully to the enemies of the Union.
This is like a German general saying, in ’39, “I hate Hitler, and concentration camps are evil, but I won’t kill Germans so I’ll lead the Nazi army into Poland.”
The Civil War lasted as long as it did because the North had the numbers, but the South had vastly better leadership. The Union had nincompoops; the South had Lee.
It is no exaggeration to suggest that had Lee remained in the Union army, the war would have been over much, much sooner.
Perhaps the Confederates, seeing a Virginian general on the Union side of the field, may have lost the will to fight.
The bloodiest battles were fought in 1862 and 1863; with Lee at the Union helm, perhaps these would have been averted completely.
Some 750,000 Americans were casualties of the Civil War, more than all other wars combined.
Lee commanded Confederate troops at Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania, Antietam, and the Battle of the Wilderness. Five battles, 150,ooo casualties.
If Lee heads the Union army, the war ends in half the time, and some 375,000 lives are saved.
Maybe Sherman does not burn Atlanta. Maybe Lincoln is not assassinated, easing the process of Reconstruction.
As it stands, by my reckoning, Lee is responsible for 375,000 dead Americans. That’s bin Laden times 100, and then 100,000 more.
This is the moral weakling, the traitor to his country, whom Trump equates with Washington and Jefferson.
Enough blood has been spilled to satisfy his sense of “honor.” Robert E. Lee deserves no more.