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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: The Spirit of Robert E. Lee

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Spirit of Robert E. Lee

By Calvin E. Johnson Jr.

Sunday, October 12, 2008 is the 138th anniversary of the death of a great American soldier, Confederate leader, husband, father and savior of a great college.

You may be interested in turning to the Travel Channel at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 10,, which will air a live telecast of the "Most Haunted" team’s investigation from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Some call Gettysburg’s War Between the States Battlefield the most haunted spot in the USA , where thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers died during three days of battle in July 1863.

Robert E. Lee’s greatness can be shown in how he came from defeat at Gettysburg and surrender at Appomattox Courthouse to helping save a financially troubled college in Lexington, Va.

Some say the spirit of Gen. Lee still walks the halls of Washington and Lee University.

General Robert E. Lee died at his home at Lexington, Va. at 9:30 a.m. on October 12, 1870. His last great deed came after the War Between the States when he accepted the presidency of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University. He saved the financially troubled college and helped many young people further their education.

It is believed that Robert E. Lee suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on September 28, 1870, but was thought to greatly improve until October 12th, when he took a turn for the worse. His condi ion seemed more hopeless when his doctor told him, "General, you must make haste and get well--Traveller--has been standing too long in his stable and needs exercise."

The heavy rains and flooding were reported as the worse of Virginia s recorded history on the day Gen. Lee passed away.

The church bells rang as the sad news passed through Washington College, Virginia Military Institute, the town of Lexington and the nation. Cadets from Virginia Military Institute carried the remains of the old soldier to Lee Chapel where he lay in state. Many buildings and homes were covered in black crepe in mourning.

The United States flag flew at half-mast throughout much of the nation.

Memorial meetings were held throughout the South and as far north as New York . At Washington College eulogies were delivered by: Reverend Pemberton, Reverend W.S. White--Stonewall Jackson's Pastor and Reverend J. William Jones. Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis brought the eulogy in Richmond, Va. Lee was also eulogized in Great Britain.

In a letter home, a VMI Cadet wrote, quote "The day following the funeral procession after marching all around town and through the institute grounds, formed around the college chapel and he was buried in the chapel under the floor of the basement. The procession was a very large one, a great many persons from a distance being here. Our brass band with muffled drums went ahead of the hearse playing the death march." unquote

Robert E. Lee's last words were, "Strike the Tent."

“Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by this nation.”---The late former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Some news organizations have reported a revival of interest in the War Between the States as 2008 is the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and 2009 will be the 200th birthday of Union President Abraham Lincoln.

Please check the Sons of Confederate Veterans national website at: for more information about the history of the South, which is part of the history of this great nation. You can also find more information on Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis and his family by going to:

Lest We Forget!!


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