Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

 Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

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Shortly after his return to Lexington, he writes to Mrs. JeffersonDavis. In this letter he expresses such noble sentiments, and is somoderate and sensible in his views of those who were harassing him andthe South, that all who read it must profit thereby:

"Lexington, Virginia, February 23, 1866.

"My Dear Mrs. Davis: Your letter of the 12th inst. reached Lexingtonduring my absence at Washington. I have never seen Mr. Colfax'sspeech, and am, therefore, ignorant of the statements it contained.Had it, however, come under my notice, I doubt whether I should havethought it proper to reply. I HAVE THOUGHT, FROM THE TIME OF THECESSATION OF THE HOSTILITIES, THAT SILENCE AND PATIENCE ON THE PARTOF THE SOUTH WAS THE TRUE COURSE; and I think so still. CONTROVERSYOF ALL KINDS will, in my opinion, only serve to continue excitementand passion, and will prevent the public mind from the acknowledgementand acceptance of the truth. These considerations have kept me fromreplying to accusations made against myself, and induced me to recommendthe same to others. As regards the treatment of the Andersonvilleprisoners, to which you allude, I know nothing and can say nothingof my own knowledge. I never had anything to do with any prisoners,except to send those taken on the fields, where I was engaged, to theProvost Marshal General at Richmond. I have felt most keenly thesufferings and imprisonment of your husband, and have earnestlyconsulted with friends as to any possible mode of affording him reliefand consolation. He enjoys the sympathy and respect of all good men;and if, as you state, his trial is now near, the exhibition of thewhile truth in his case will, I trust, prove his defense andjustification. With sincere prayers for his health and speedyrestoration to liberty, and earnest supplications to God that He maytake you and yours under His guidance and protection, I am, with greatrespect,

"Your obedient servant,

"R. E. Lee."

In further illustration of these views, held so strongly by him andpractised so faithfully throughout his life, the following, writtento a gentleman in Baltimore, is given:

"Lexington, Virginia, April 13, 1866.

"My Dear Sir: Your letter of the 5th inst., inclosing a slip fromthe Baltimore "American," has been received. The same statement hasbeen published at the North for several years. The statement is nottrue; but I have not thought proper to publish a contradiction, beingunwilling to be drawn into a newspaper discussion, believing thatthose who know me would not credit it and those who do not would carenothing about it. I cannot now depart from the rule I have followed.It is so easy to make accusations against the people at the Southupon similar testimony, that those so disposed, should one be refuted,will immediately create another; and thus you would be led into endlesscontroversy. I think it better to leave their correction to the returnof reason and good feeling.

"Thanking you for your interest in my behalf, and begging you toconsider my letter as intended only for yourself, I am,

"Most respectfully your obedient servant,

"R. Lee."

In this connection I give the following letter thanking Mr. Burr fora copy of the "Old Guard" which he had sent him, and showing alsowhat, in his opinion, the South had fought for, and of what truerepublicanism consists:

"Lexington, Virginia, January 5, 1866.

"Mr. C. Chauncey Burr.

"My Dear Sir: I am very much obliged to you for your letter of the27th ult., and for the number of the 'Old Guard' which you kindly sentme. I am glad to know that the intelligent and respectable people atthe North are true and conservative in their opinions, for I believeby no other course can the right interests of the country be maintained.All that the South has ever desired was that the Union, as establishedby our forefathers, should be preserved, and that the government asoriginally organised should be administered in purity and truth. Ifsuch is the desire of the North, there can be no contention betweenthe two sections, and all true patriots will unite in advocating thatpolicy which will soonest restore the country to tranquility and order,and serve to perpetuate true republicanism. Please accept my thanksfor your advocacy of right and liberty and the kind sentiments whichyou express toward myself, and believe me to be, with great respect,

"Your obedient servant,

"R. Lee."


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