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Lee and Jackson. Lsn 8. Lee: Boyhood. Born in 1807 Son of Revolutionary War hero Light-Horse Harry Lee Harry ran up huge debts, went into exile in the West Indies, and died on a voyage back home when Robert was 11

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lee boyhood
Lee: Boyhood
  • Born in 1807
  • Son of Revolutionary War hero Light-Horse Harry Lee
    • Harry ran up huge debts, went into exile in the West Indies, and died on a voyage back home when Robert was 11
    • Robert was very much influenced by his mother Ann who taught him a code of honor, self-control, and responsibility that his father did not embody

Lee’s boyhood home in Alexandria, Virginia

lee boyhood3
Lee: Boyhood
  • Entered West Point in 1824
  • Graduated second in the Class of 1829 with no demerits
  • Commissioned in the engineers which was then the elite branch
  • Classmates included Joe Johnston and Theophilus Holmes
    • Others at West Point at the same time included Jefferson Davis, John Magruder, and Lee’s future chief of artillery W. N. Pendleton
lee early army career
Lee: Early Army Career
  • Served in a variety of engineering positions
    • Fort Pulaski, Georgia
    • Fort Monroe, Virginia
      • While at Fort Monroe he married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, great grand-daughter of Martha Washington
    • Assistant in the chief engineer’s office in Washington
    • St. Louis Harbor
    • Fort Hamilton, New York

Lee in 1838

lee mexican war
Lee: Mexican War
  • Lee served as an engineer under Winfield Scott in Mexico
  • Scott landed at Vera Cruz and then began moving through the interior of Mexico to Mexico City
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Lee: Mexican War
  • Scott wanted to avoid costly frontal assaults by executing turning movements
  • To do so he would routinely send engineers such as Lee on reconnaissance missions to find a way around the enemy
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Lee: Mexican War
  • The Mexican commander Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had assembled a 25,000 man army to block Scott’s advance
    • Santa Anna established a defense at Cerro Gordo
    • Scott pitched his camp on April 14 and immediately ordered a careful reconnaissance of the Mexican positions
    • He soon realized that a frontal assault would be suicidal, and directed his engineers under Lee to check out the Mexican left flank
lee mexican war8
Lee: Mexican War
  • Santa Anna had positioned three artillery batteries on prominent cliffs to command the National Road approach
    • His main defensive position was on the hill of Cerro Gordo, a couple of miles behind these artillery batteries
    • Americans approaching Santa Anna along the National Road would be exposed to deadly fires
lee mexican war9
Lee: Mexican War
  • Lee summarized the problem writing that “The right of the Mexican line rested on the river at a perpendicular rock, unscalable by man or beast, and their left on impassable ravines; the main road was defended by field works containing thirty-five cannon; in their rear was the mountain of Cerro Gordo, surrounded by intrenchments in which were cannon and crowned by a tower overlooking all-- it was around this army that it was intended to lead our troops”
lee mexican war10
Lee: Mexican War
  • The defense however had one weakness
  • To Santa Anna’s left or north flank there was an extensive tract of wilderness, the vegetation being so thick that Santa Anna had no reasonable observation in that direction
    • His flank was thus vulnerable, but he was willing to accept this risk because he considered the tangled woods impassable.
    • Santa Anna’s subordinates did not share this confidence, but, in spite of their pleas to defend the flank, Santa Anna sent only an observation post.
lee mexican war11
Lee: Mexican War
  • Slowly Lee worked his way up the ravines north of the river.
    • The terrain was difficult, but Lee thought it would not be impossible to construct a crude road over it.
  • At one point Lee had to hide behind a large brush-covered log to avoid detection by the Mexicans
  • Mexican soldiers even sat on the log Lee hid behind, and he had to wait until darkness to escape
lee mexican war12
Lee: Mexican War
  • Upon returning to American lines, Lee compared notes with Major Smith who, on his own reconnaissance, had come to similar conclusions as Lee.
  • Scott directed them to continue their reconnaissance the next day and detailed to Lee a work party to cut a trail.
  • By the end of that day, Lee and his crew had prepared a passable new trail up the ravine
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Lee: Mexican War
  • Not only was Lee responsible for finding the route and building the road, Scott also entrusted him with serving as guide for Brigadier General David Twiggs’s division in the conduct of the attack
  • Lee led Twiggs’s men up the ravines that passed around Santa Anna’s left, emplaced an artillery battery, and guided a brigade around the northern flank of Cerro Gordo with the intention of cutting off the enemy retreat
lee mexican war14
Lee: Mexican War
  • Lee’s work allowed Scott to outflank the Mexican defenders, bypass the main defensive positions, and strike the Mexican rear
  • Cerro Gordo was the first of many turning movements Scott executed in his march to Mexico City
    • To make these movements possible Scott relied on the reconnaissance of Lee and other engineers
  • Scott wrote that Lee was “indefatigable during these operations, in reconnaissance as daring as laborious, and of the utmost value.”
    • Lee was brevetted to major “for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Cerro Gordo”
lee mexican war15
Lee: Mexican War
  • Scott would later describe Lee as “the very best soldier I ever saw in the field,” and suggested that in the event of war, the government should insure Lee’s life for $5 million a year
  • In addition to proving Lee’s skill as a soldier, Mexico taught him the value of reconnaissance and the turning movement
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Lee: Mexican War
  • “The relation of careful reconnaissance to sound strategy was impressed on Lee by every one of the battles he saw in Mexico... Lee had shown special aptitude for this work and he left Mexico convinced for all time that when battle is imminent a thorough study of the ground is the first duty of the commanding officer. Reconnaissance became second nature to him”
    • Douglas Southall Freeman
lee after mexico
Lee: After Mexico
  • Fort Carroll in Baltimore Harbor
  • Superintendent of West Point (1852-1855)
    • Cadets under Lee’s superintendency who went on to be Civil War generals included his son G. W. Custis Lee, his nephew Fitzhugh Lee, Archibald Gracie, Stephen D. Lee, John Pegram, W. D. Pender, Jeb Stuart, and J. B. Villepigue (Confederate) and Phil Sheridan, Henry L. Abbot, and O. O. Howard (Federal)
  • 2nd U.S. Cavalry (under the command of Albert Sidney Johnston) on the Texas frontier
  • Was home at Arlington in 1859 when he was summoned to put down John Brown’s rebellion at Harper’s Ferry
lee early civil war
Lee: Early Civil War
  • On the eve of the Civil War Lee was offered command of the Federal Army but declines
  • Appointed commander of Virginia’s forces when Virginia seceded and then became one of the first five full generals of the Confederacy
  • Initially commanded Confederate forces in western Virginia and then coastal defenses in the Carolinas
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Lee: Early Civil War
  • Became Davis’s official military advisor in March 1862
    • Had a close, deferential, and influential relationship with Davis
  • Assumed command of what he names the Army of Northern Virginia on June 1, 1862 after Joseph Johnston was wounded at Seven Pines
    • Johnston said, “The shot that struck me down was the best ever fired for the Confederacy, for I possessed in no degree the confidence of the government, and now a man who does enjoy it will succeed me and be able to accomplish what I never could.”
lee jomini
Lee: Jomini
  • Strong Napoleonic-Jominian influence
    • Checked out Montholon’s Memoirs of Napoleon, Light’s Histoire de Napoleon, and Segur’s Expeditions de Russie as a cadet at West Point
    • Witnessed Scott in Mexico
    • As superintendent participated in Professor D. H. Mahan’s “Napoleon Club” and checked out 15 books from the library on warfare, seven of which concerned Napoleon
    • Owned a copy of Jomini’s Precis de L’art de la Guerre
    • Offensive-minded and audacious
lee virginia
Lee: Virginia
  • Strong Virginia influence
    • Son of Ann Hill Carter of the Virginia King-Carter line and Lighthorse Harry Lee, Revolutionary War hero and intimate of George Washington
      • Lee’s father called Virginia “my native country”
    • Robert E. Lee felt secession was “anarchy” and considered slavery “a moral and political evil” yet could not fight against Virginia
      • “I still think… that my loyalty to Virginia ought to take precedence over that which is due to the federal government… If Virginia stands by the old Union, so will I. But if she secedes…, then I will follow my native state with my sword, and, if need be, with my life.”
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Lee: Virginia
  • Virginia influence on Lee led him to support the departmental system because it gave him the opportunity to concentrate his efforts on Virginia, freed him from unwanted and complicated operations in other parts of the Confederacy, and put a premium on the strategic defensive
  • The departmental system allowed Lee to prevent a concentration in the West at the expense of Virginia
lee virginia23
Lee: Virginia
  • Lee has been accused of surrounding himself with Virginians and sending low performers West
    • By the beginning of May 1864, Lee had 15 corps and division commanders of which nine were Virginians
    • When Lee reorganized the army after Stonewall Jackson’s death, James Longstreet complained “the fact that the new Lieutenant Generals were Virginians made the trouble more grievous… General D. H. Hill’s… record was as good as that of Stonewall Jackson, but not being a Virginian, he was not so well advertised”
lee virginia24
Lee: Virginia
  • Lee did not consider the western theater as important as Virginia
    • “Virginia is to be the theater of action”
    • “the great effort in this campaign will be made in Virginia”
  • Lee decided to invade Gettysburg rather than reinforce Vicksburg because invading Gettysburg would relieve pressure on Virginia
    • Sending men west would force “a question between Virginia and Mississippi”
lee virginia25
Lee: Virginia
  • “A Virginian first, far more so than an American, Lee strode into the war never forgetting that he was a Virginian, and though he led the Confederate cause it was for Virginia he fought and for Virginia that spiritually he died.”
  • Lee’s “thoughts were always concentrated on Virginia; consequently he never fully realized the importance of Tennessee, or the strategic power which resided in the size of the Confederacy.”
    • J. F. C. Fuller
lee limitations
Lee: Limitations
  • Refused to make the connection between war and statecraft
  • Did not use his close relationship with Davis to influence the political aspects of war
  • More comfortable with the discretionary orders that worked well at the operational level than the more detailed orders necessary at the tactical level
    • Example of his inexact orders to Ewell at Gettysburg
jackson boyhood
Jackson: Boyhood
  • Born in Clarksburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1824
  • Had a hard childhood
    • First his father, then his mother died
    • Went to live with his uncle
  • Had a difficult time academically at first, but worked his way up to graduate 17th in the West Point Class of 1846
jackson mexican war
Jackson: Mexican War
  • Served as an artillerymen in Mexico
  • Learned the offensive power of the artillery at Chapultepec
    • Technological advances in the rifled musket would make this difficult to repeat in the Civil War
  • Began to become seriously religious
jackson vmi
Jackson: VMI
  • Resigned from the Army and took a position teaching natural philosophy and artillery at the Virginia Military Institute
  • His stern demeanor and eccentric behavior made him not very popular with the cadets
    • Nicknames included “Square Box” (because of his large shoe size), “Old Jack,” “Tom Fool,” and “Old Hickory”

Jackson’s Statue at VMI

jackson religion
Jackson: Religion
  • While at VMI, Jackson joined the Lexington Presbyterian Church in 1851
  • Jackson embraced Christianity fully and it defined every aspect of his life
    • Served as a church deacon
    • Taught a Sunday School for blacks
    • During the Civil War several revivals would break out in his camps and he did much to encourage these
    • Was very conflicted about having to fight at Kernstown on the Sabbath but decided the risks of postponing the battle justified his actions although he wrote, “I hope and pray to our Heavenly Father that I may never again be circumstanced as on that day”
jackson early civil war
Jackson: Early Civil War
  • When Virginia seceded, Jackson’s first duty was to take the VMI cadets to Richmond where they would serve as drillmasters for the influx of new recruits
  • His first command for Virginia was as a colonel at Harpers Ferry which was an important arsenal
    • However that position lasted only four weeks
    • After Virginia became part of the Confederacy General Joseph Johnston assumed command
    • He continued on as Johnston’s subordinate
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Jackson: Early Civil War
  • Harpers Ferry was considered indefensible and Johnston’s command moved to Winchester
  • Johnston was to defend the Shenandoah Valley and support Beauregard at Manassas Junction if necessary
  • This is where Jackson was on the eve of First Manassas
jackson becomes stonewall
Jackson: Becomes “Stonewall”
  • Jackson had moved his brigade to Henry Hill where he met his fellow brigade commander Bernard Bee
  • Bee excitedly told Jackson the Federals were driving the Confederates back
  • Jackson calmly began to establish a position on the southeast slope of the ridgeline about 400 yards from the Henry House

After giving Jackson his famous nickname Bee was killed at First Manassas

jackson becomes stonewall34
Jackson: Becomes “Stonewall”
  • Bee at some point reportedly said, “There stands Jackson like a Stonewall. Rally around the Virginians!”
  • The Confederates were able to defeat the piecemeal Federal attacks while their own reinforcements were steadily arriving
  • The Federal army began to disintegrate and First Manassas became an important Confederate victory

Jackson Monument at Manassas

jackson relationships with subordinates
Jackson: Relationships with Subordinates
  • Jackson was a stern disciplinarian and extremely secretive
  • This combination often did not sit well with his subordinate generals
    • James Robertson calls Jackson’s relationship with A. P. Hill “one of the Civil War’s most heated and damaging feuds”
jackson relationships with seniors
Jackson: Relationships with Seniors
  • Lee and Jackson proved to be one of the most effective command combinations in American history
    • Jackson said Lee’s “perceptions are as quick and unerring as his judgment is infallible”
    • When Jackson had his arm amputated, Lee said, “He has lost his left arm; but I have lost my right arm” and when Jackson died, Lee said, “I do not know how to replace him.”
  • With Jackson, Lee could give the broad, discretionary orders he preferred

Lee, Jackson, and Davis by Mort Kunstler

jackson relationships with seniors37
Jackson: Relationships with Seniors
  • “In the ten months that Lee and Jackson were together, delegation of authority had been so lenient– orders permitting a wide latitude in execution so regular– as to create one of history’s greatest military partnerships.”
    • James Robertson
jackson limitations
Jackson: Limitations
  • Jackson is often criticized for being unable to operate well in conditions in which he had to conform his actions to those of others
    • White Oak Swamp in particular and the Seven Days in general are the most cited examples
  • This and his frequent quarrels with subordinates make it an interesting debate whether or not Jackson could have commanded a large independent army
jackson tactics
Jackson: Tactics
  • Was offensively oriented
    • Served as Lee’s hammer while Longstreet was the anvil
  • Master of interior lines and forced marching
    • In the Shenandoah Valley Campaign fought six battles between March 23 and June 9 and his “foot cavalry” covered 676 miles in 48 marching days; an average of 14 miles a day
jackson tactics40
Jackson: Tactics
  • In combination with Lee, showed mastery of the envelopment and turning movement
  • Lee told Jackson it was “to save you the abundance of hard fighting that I ventured to suggest for your consideration not to attack the enemy’s strong points, but to turn his position… I would rather you have easy fighting and heavy victories.”
    • Brilliantly executed at Second Manassas and Chancellorsville
jackson impact of death on lee
Jackson: Impact of Death on Lee
  • Lots changed in the Army of Northern Virginia after Jackson died
  • Leadership styles
    • Delegative
    • Directive
    • Participatory
  • Without Jackson Lee had no one he could effectively delegate to
    • He tried to do it all himself and it did not work
jackson impact of death on lee42
Jackson: Impact of Death on Lee
  • Without Jackson, Lee never again attempted the spectacular dividing of his army in the face of numerical superiority or the sweeping flanking movements he had done before
    • Much of this was due to declining numbers after Gettysburg, but Jackson’s loss had a lot to do with it as well
jackson impact of death on lee43
Jackson: Impact of Death on Lee
  • “Jackson represented Lee’s mobility, the prime ingredient the Southern army had to have for survival. Without it, the Civil War in the East became a slugging match that the Confederacy could not hope to win.”
    • James Robertson
jackson impact of death on lee44
Jackson: Impact of Death on Lee
  • Lee felt, “If I [would have] had Stonewall Jackson at Gettysburg, I would have won that fight.”
  • When A. P. Hill launched a series of piecemeal attacks at Hanover Junction, Lee complained, “Why did you not do as Jackson would have done, thrown your whole force upon those people and driven them back?"
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Next
  • Fort Donelson and Shiloh
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