Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 40/Dr. Andrews on General Lee
|Southern Historical Society Papers
Dr. Andrews on General Lee
320 SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS.
DR. ANDREWS ON GENERAL LEE.
The Chcago Times-Herald says that Dr. E. Benjamin An- drews, president of Brown University, proclaimed Gen. Robert E. Lee the most valiant and most heroic military genius of mod- ern times from the stage of Central Music Hall in a lecture the night of December 6th. "He did not discredit the bravery and valor of the leaders under whom he himself fought," says the Times-Herald. "He gave the head of the Confederate army more glory because he had to face killing problems in addition to the ordinary puzzles of the severest fight that history knows. The oration was one of masterful eloquence, delivered by a man built for an orator, with a rolling voice and the presence of a giant. He spoke with the air of powerful and firmest conviction. There were many in the audence who saw readily hyow he stood before the trustees of his institution last summer and told them he would recall his resignation and become president again, with the understanding that he was to think and act as he had thought and acted or might think or act in the future on matters of public interest. The trustees agreed.
"Dr. Andrews talked in Evanston in the afternoon. His theme there was General William Tecumseh Sherman. He took occasion to give the man who was called crazy at the beginning of the war the honor of executing its culminating features the march to the sea. He praised General Lee in equal terms at the night lecture, pictured the great intellect of the lost cause as one of the most powerful of all American history. He thought the General carried out the instinct which was born with him the love for the art of war and the heart to carry on war inherited from an ancestry which could be traced tar one of the fiercest of the companions of William, who sailed away from the shores of Normandy and conquered England.
"General Lee joined the Confederacy because Virginia asked him to,' said the doctor. 'He was a Virginian. The call of Virginia to any of her sons is the voice of law and duty.
DK. ANDREWS ox GENERAL LEE. 32.1
He had the faith of the crusader; his letters would make a guide to holiness. He was always a soldier, never impure in thought or act, never profane or obscene. He did not touch the cup, as did Grant, Hooker or Phil Sheridan, and when he lost a fight it was never said of him that the defeat was due to the habit which makes men's heads into muddles. He was never out- generaled by Grant in all the campaign from Rappahannock to James River, never trapped and never caught napping. It usually happened that when the men on our side ordered a march at 5 in the morning they never made more than half the distance be- tween the two armies. Lee had ordered an advance at 4:30.
"I fail to find in the books any such masterful generalship as this hero showed, holding that slim, gray line, half starved, with no prospect of additions, and fighting when his army was too hungry to stand and the rifles were only used as clubs. His courage was sublime. He was as great as Gustavus Adolphus, or Napoleon, or Wellington, or Von Moltke. His cause was not the lost cause so much as is suspected. All that was good in his cause has been grafted into our laws and our constitu- tion. The doctrine of State's rights as now interpreted by the Supreme Court is in exact accordance with his claims on the point. General Lee lost at Gettysburg because the Federal troops had received a new motor of tremendous strength whose power no one knew General Hancock. He also lost because Meade's men* were fighting on Union soil almost within hear- ing distance of the prayers of their wives and children for vic- tory. They were at their hearthstones. Men are tigers when wives and families are the inspiration in war.'
"Dr. Andrews blames General Burnside for throwing away the battle of Fredericksburg and General Pope for losing ground because of bombast at the first -try for Richmond.
"The summary of his estimate of Lee compared with the Federal generals is that he was as brave, more watchful and doubly skillful, in addition to having his head filled all the time with miseries and disappointments which did not exist on the other side of the line. He concluded bv declaring that he was glad the republic is getting into that state of mind where it is beginning to give credit to manhood and valor without regard to section, boundaries or parties."