Making Sense of Robert E. Lee- page 5 | History | Smithsonian
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Lee's father, Maj. Gen. "Light-Horse Harry" Lee fought in the Revolutionary War. (Robert E. Lee Memorial Association, Stratford)

Making Sense of Robert E. Lee

"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it."— Robert E. Lee, at Fredericksburg.

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(Continued from page 4)

Thomas Morris Chester, the only black correspondent for a major daily newspaper (the Philadelphia Press) during the war, had nothing but scorn for the Confederacy, and referred to Lee as a “notorious rebel.” But when Chester witnessed Lee’s arrival in shattered, burned-out Richmond after the surrender, his dispatch sounded a more sympathetic note. After Lee “alighted from his horse, he immediately uncovered his head, thinly covered with silver hairs, as he had done in acknowledgment of the veneration of the people along the streets,” Chester wrote. “There was a general rush of the small crowd to shake hands with him. During these manifestations not a word was spoken, and when the ceremony was through, the General bowed and ascended his steps. The silence was then broken by a few voices calling for a speech, to which he paid no attention. The General then passed into his house, and the crowd dispersed.”

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