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Trump’s characterization of the Robert E. Lee statue does not jibe with historical past

Like Lee on the Appomattox Court House in 1865, they misplaced the battle and the warfare.

Many generals think about Lee ‘the best strategist of all of them’

Trump is right that President Abraham Lincoln wished Lee, then a colonel within the US Army, to assist lead the North and he declined, later telling his sister he couldn’t “raise my hand against my birthplace,” Virginia (which had seceded the day earlier than Lincoln’s supply).
It’s additionally true that, in a handful of Civil War battles, Lee earned accolades, But the superlative employed by Trump ignores the storied careers, highlighted by navy specialists, of Gens. John Pershing, George Patton, William Sherman, David Petraeus and Douglas MacArthur, all of whom defended the United States somewhat than insurgent uprisings.
Loyalty to nation however, Lee’s techniques have been extremely scrutinized — most notably his model of management on the battlefield and his penchant for pointless aggression. Per the previous, Lee was quoted in a dialog with Prussian military Capt. Justus Scheibert saying, “I think and work with all my powers to bring my troops to the right place at the right time, then I have done my duty. As soon as I order them into battle, I leave my army in the hands of God.”

Like different Confederate leaders, he suffered from poor maps and unprepared employees, however he additionally made his personal issues, wrote historian Joseph Glatthaar, who has penned quite a few books on the navy, together with two on Lee.

“His most egregious problem was to repeat an error that surfaced in his initial campaign: Lee attempted to coordinate too many independent columns. He overburdened himself and his staff. … What Lee achieved in boldness of plan and combat aggressiveness he diminished through ineffective command and control,” Glatthaar wrote in “Partners in Command: The Relationship Between Leaders in the Civil War.”

‘Except for Gettysburg, (Lee) would have gained the warfare’

Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia scored many notable victories — together with when it was outnumbered on the Battles of Second Manassas, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville — however he misplaced nearly 30,00zero troops in these campaigns, partially owing to his aggressive techniques.
Gettysburg, the place nearly 40% of his troops fell to casualty, was removed from his solely defeat. He additionally misplaced at Malvern Hill earlier than faltering within the warfare’s closing days at Five Forks and the Appomattox Court House, the place he surrendered.

Lee was ‘maybe the best unifying pressure after the warfare’

Trump is right that Lee was “ardent in his resolve to bring the North and South together through many means of reconciliation,” however these efforts have been restricted to White Americans.

Ta-Nehisi Coates and Adam Serwer, writing for The Atlantic, are two of many who’ve dismantled the mythology and hagiography of a “kindly” Lee who voiced his opposition to human bondage whereas declining to finish his involvement within the establishment earlier than the Civil War.

Yes, he known as chattel slavery a “moral & political evil,” however he additionally wrote, “I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former.”

He went on to say that Black women and men have been higher off in bondage within the United States than of their homeland and described the connection between grasp and slave as paternalistic, Christian and needed.

“The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy. This influence though slow, is sure,” he wrote in 1856.

The patriarch of one of many wealthiest and most well-known households in Lee’s birthplace of Westmoreland County freed his slaves many years earlier than the warfare, however this didn’t transfer the overall to do the identical. Upon inheriting his father-in-law George Washington Parke Custis’ slaves, Lee was informed he might free them instantly if Custis’ property was in good standing, or inside 5 years.
Lee selected the latter, and historic paperwork point out he was a a lot crueler taskmaster than have been the Custises.
Wesley Norris was born on Custis’ plantation and informed in an abolitionist newspaper of operating away together with his cousin and sister after studying Lee meant to maintain them enslaved for 5 extra years. Upon seize, the trio have been returned to Lee, who demanded to know why they’d absconded. Norris mentioned:

“We frankly informed him that we thought-about ourselves free; he then informed us he would educate us a lesson we by no means would overlook; he then ordered us to the barn, the place, in his presence, we have been tied firmly to posts by a Mr. Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the waist and provides us fifty lashes every, excepting my sister, who acquired however twenty.

“We have been accordingly stripped to the pores and skin by the overseer, who, nevertheless, had ample humanity to say no whipping us; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable, was known as in, who gave us the variety of lashes ordered.

“Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to lay it on well, an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done. After this my cousin and myself were sent to Hanover Court-House jail, my sister being sent to Richmond to an agent to be hired.”

It’s been acknowledged ‘as a stupendous piece of bronze sculpture’

Aesthetic apart, public odes to the Confederacy have been acknowledged as an affront to a therapeutic nation by none aside from Lee himself, who died 20 years earlier than his statue was erected by these in search of to advertise the Civil War’s problematic “Lost Cause” narrative.
Where are the monuments to Confederate Gen. James Longstreet?
“Lee feared that these reminders of the past would preserve fierce passions for the future,” historian Jonathan Horn wrote in a 2016 op-ed. “Such emotions threatened his vision for speedy reconciliation. As he saw it, bridging a divided country justified abridging history in places.”
Lee wrote to a fellow ex-general in December 1866, “As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated; my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; & of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour.”

The yr earlier than he died, Lee declined an invite to a confab of former Union and Confederate officers who had served within the Battle of Gettysburg, which a newspaper reported was, partially, aimed toward discussing “enduring memorials of granite.”

“I could not add anything material to the information existing on the subject,” Lee wrote. “I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”
Honoring the unforgivable
For what it is value, descendants of Confederate luminaries Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson — whose likenesses, too, have been faraway from Monument Avenue — informed CNN after the lethal 2017 protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that they believed such monuments have been now not fitted to public show.

“We cannot ignore his decision to own slaves, his decision to go to war for the Confederacy, and, ultimately, the fact that he was a white man fighting on the side of white supremacy,” Jackson’s descendants wrote. “While we are not ashamed of our great great grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument.”

CNN’s Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

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