Remembering Robert E. Lee: Measuring True Greatness

Robert E. Lee copyRS

The enormous importance that the mainstream media and political leaders today give to the Martin Luther King Holiday has worked to obscure the memory of Lee. Although there are many states that celebrate holidays for both King and Lee, most Southern politicians, following the politically correct fashion of the times, have shied away from honoring Lee.

In 2017, this politically correct trend brought down or removed numerous statues of Lee across the South including some of the most famous in New Orleans, Charlottesville, and Dallas. Many schools named for Lee were renamed. This was part of trend of purging the memory of the Confederacy, its symbols, and its heroes from American history. All this has been based on a false political narrative of the causes and conduct of the Civil War and the Reconstruction era following the war. Moreover, this false Civil War narrative is part of a larger agenda to change the American narrative and culture into a brain-numbed totalitarian nightmare where free speech, free thought, truth, and logic are treason. I have written a whole book on this: The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths (Leonard M. Scruggs) so I will not delve into much detail in this article aside from a few quotes.

Writing in December of 1861 in a London weekly publication, the famous English author, Charles Dickens, who was a strong opponent of slavery, said this about the war going on in America:

“The Northern onslaught upon slavery is no more than a piece of specious humbug disguised to conceal its desire for economic control of the United States.”

Five years after the end of the War, prominent Northern abolitionist, attorney and legal scholar, Lysander Spooner, put it this way:

“All these cries of having ‘abolished slavery,’ of having ‘saved the country,’ of having ‘preserved the Union,’ of establishing a ‘government of consent,’ and of ‘maintaining the national honor’ are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats—so transparent that they ought to deceive no one.”

President Woodrow Wilson, in his multi-volume History of the American People, offered this explanation as to why the issue of slavery was so exaggerated during and after the war:

“It was necessary to put the South at a moral disadvantage by transforming the contest from a war waged against states fighting for their independence into a war waged against states fighting for the maintenance and extension of slavery.”

The media, education, and political allies of the new politically correct American narrative continue to strain every nerve to discredit, misrepresent, and slander Confederate leaders, the South, and the Southern cause. Their mendacious purposes can be seen in their smug self-righteousness and despicable tactics: lies, bullying, false labeling, ignorant temper tantrums, and nauseating virtue signaling.

This abandonment of truth to support political agendas is severely damaging to the American people. The demeaning and erasing of Robert E. Lee’s place in history is particularly tragic for few men in American history have left such an exemplary record of Christian faith, noble character, and devotion to cause and duty.

It is particularly ironic that Lee is made to bear the burden of slavery. Lee opposed slavery and freed most of his inherited slaves before the war. Here is a quote from Lee that refutes his critics’ willful ignorance and blind rage:

“In this enlightened age, there are few I believe but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any Country, It is useless to expatiate upon its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white than to the black race…”

Following Lee’s death at his home in Lexington, Virginia, on October 12, 1870, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis gave a moving eulogy honoring Lee at a Memorial meeting in Richmond on November 3. This was probably the largest gathering of Confederate generals and officers since the end of the war. In the course of his speech, he gave this praise of Lee:

“This good citizen, this gallant soldier, this great general, this true patriot, had yet a higher praise than this or these; he was a true Christian.”

It was as Superintendent at West Point that Lee’s leadership style was refined and molded. As a cadet, Lee’s outstanding academic performance and strict military bearing had gained him the nickname “the Marble Man” with his classmates, but his leadership style as Superintendent was anything but stiff and overbearing. While Lee was Superintendent, the Cadet Corps was only about 200, and he took a personal interest in every cadet, especially those who struggled with the strenuous academic and strict military discipline of the school. Lee had high standards, but his style was not to push, drive, or threaten. According to his most celebrated biographer, Douglas Southall Freeman,

“He carried them [the cadets] on his heart, and spent many an anxious hour debating how he could best train them to be servants of their country by making them masters of themselves.”

Later as Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and General-in-Chief of the Confederate Armies, one of the reasons for Lee’s spectacular success in motivating Confederate soldiers, who were often badly outnumbered, out-gunned, and coping with inadequate supplies and clothing, was that they knew his orders were not given to gain himself promotion, praise, or personal glory. He had the highest standards of duty and honor and that included responsibilities to his troops as well as cause and country.

Responding to public praise for his stunning military victories, Lee said:

“I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence expressed in me. I know too well my weakness, that our only hope is in God.”

When told that his chaplains were praying for him daily Lee responded:

“I can only say that I am nothing but a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone for salvation.”

John Brown Gordon, Confederate Lieutenant General and later Governor of Georgia and U.S. Senator, said this about Lee:

“Intellectually, he was cast in a giant mold. Naturally he was possessed of strong passions. He loved the excitement of war. He loved grandeur. But all these appetites and powers were brought under the control of his judgment and made subservient to his Christian faith. This made him habitually unselfish and ever willing to sacrifice on the altar of duty and in the service of his fellows…He is an epistle, written of God and designed by God to teach the people of this country that earthly success is not the criterion of merit, not the measure of true greatness.”

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

—2 Timothy: 2:3

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR   –  Mike Scruggs, Author and Columnist

a.k.a. Leonard M. Scruggs

 Mike Scruggs is the author of two books: The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths; and Lessons from the Vietnam War: Truths the Media Never Told You, and over 600 articles on military history, national security, intelligent design, genealogical genetics, immigration, current political affairs, Islam, and the Middle East.

He holds a BS degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Stanford University. A former USAF intelligence officer and Air Commando, he is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and Air Medal. He is a retired First Vice President for a major national financial services firm and former Chairman of the Board of a classical Christian school.

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