Archive for the ‘Lee’ Category

Primary Source Analysis

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Lee, Robert E.  Recollections and Letters. New York: Doubleday Pages and Co, 2004.

      The primary source, Recollections and Letters, penned by Robert E. Lee represents a compilation of the thoughts and writings of the Commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia.  Even though there does not exist one definitive author for this source, General Robert E. Lee wrote this collection of letters throughout his life; and upon, his death in 1870, his son, Captain Robert E. Lee, compiled his father’s writings. In fact, the twenty-five chapters in the book cover Lee’s entire military career, as well as his occupations and mindset subsequent to the Civil War.  The book, Recollections and Letters, does not identify a specific date when it was actually composed; however, its first publication appeared in 1904.  While the writings of General Lee virtually comprise the entire text, his son, Captain Lee, organized the letters into cohesive units.  Additionally, the source contains an introduction by Ben Wynne who briefly expounds upon Lee’s career as a soldier in both the United States Army and the Army of Northern Virginia.  Robert E. Lee served as an officer in the United States Army prior to the commencement of the Civil War.  After being offered command of the Union forces, he declined stating that he could never raise his sword against his native state of Virginia.  Nevertheless, he served as one of the five full generals in the Confederate Army; and in 1862, he assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia. Through his personal recollections and letters, readers begin to understand the true character of a man who chose to defend his state, as well as the citizens’ right to be free. I plan to use this primary source for my paper in order to gain insight into the mid of a military genius.  Additionally, as of result of analyzing Lee’s own words and thoughts, I will obtain an enhanced appreciation and understanding of the man, as well as his military accomplishments and defeats.  The source will also help me to delve into the mindset of the Commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia.  After reading this primary source, one of the potential problems that I foresee pertains to the possibility of relying too heavily upon the letters of General Lee rather than utilizing the General’s thoughts in conjunction with battle reports, correspondence, and auxiliary first-hand accounts.

Musings about Lee and Pickett’s Charge

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

After researching Pickett’s Charge, I decided to analyze and ponder the reasons General Robert E. Lee utilized when he ordered his men to attack fortified Union troops on July 3, 1863 near the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Through the usage of primary accounts and secondary sources, I hope to shed light upon the possible positive outcomes as seen from the Confederate perspective, as well as the eventual defeat of the Army of Northern Virginia.  Considering Lee’s experiences at the battle of Malvern Hill where his men held the high ground and the Union charged against the Confederate position, why did he order his men forward into a known Union onslaught? Based upon his own military experiences, as well as those of his subordinates, should Lee have ordered the Army of Northern Virginia to attack? After marching in a near perfect line that measured almost a mile wide while continuously being bombarded by artillery and small arms fire, did the commander of the Confederate forces ultimately believe that his brave troops could defeat and rout their enemy?  Throughout my in-depth research, I anticipate the intelligent answers to these questions and additional ponderings that will arise while analyzing the thought processes of General Lee before, during, and after issuing the orders to charge the Union position.

Pickett’s Charge, July 3, 1863

The above link will direct the viewer to a map of the early morning hours of Pickett’s Charge.