Monday, January 21, 2019, is a state holiday and is celebrated across the state of Alabama as General Robert E. Lee’s birthday.
The Virginian commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the War Between the States.
Lee was born on January 19, 1807 the son of Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee III and Ann Hill Carter. Lee’s ancestor, Richard Lee, immigrated to Virginia from Shropshire, England in 1640 with the First Royal Governor Sir Richard Wyatt when the population of Virginia was approximately 8,000. Wyatt appointed Richard Lee as a court clerk. From there he rose to Attorney General, a member of the House of Burgesses, high sheriff, Virginia Militia Colonel, and a member of the Council of State. Subsequent generations of Lees excelled in political and military affairs in Virginia. Two of Robert E. Lee’s cousins were signers of the Declaration of Independence and one was President of Congress under the Articles of Confederation. There were Lee family members as leaders in both the Federalist and Anti-Federalist camps on ratifying the Constitution.
Robert E. Lee was born in the luxurious historic Stratford Hall Plantation, which his father General Henry “Light horse Harry” Lee III had inherited from his first wife and cousin, Matilda Lee. The senior Lee had served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the American Revolution where he mastered both cavalry and guerilla tactics, before guerilla tactics were even known as such. After the British surrender at Yorktown he resigned his commission and served in the Continental Congress; three terms in the Virginia House of Delegates; three one year terms as Governor of Virginia; in the U.S. House of Representatives; and was summoned by President George Washington to serve as a general in the Whiskey Rebellion, recommissioned a Major General in the U.S. Army by President John Adams (F) when war with France appeared imminent, and by President Thomas Jefferson (D) when war with Great Britain appeared likely. Congress asked him to deliver the official eulogy for President George Washington. By the time of Robert E. Lee’s birth however the boldness that had served Light Horse so well in the Revolution as a cavalry officer and later as a politician failed him in real estate speculation. In 1809 the senior General Lee was imprisoned in a 9’ x 12’ cell in debtor’s prison where he wrote his memoirs on the southern campaign of the Revolution. After getting out of prison in 1811, he moved the family from Stratford to Alexandria. In 1812 he was savagely beaten by a mob in Baltimore defending a friend and freedom of the press. He never fully recovered from those injuries and died in Georgia at the home of his friend and wartime commanding officer General Nathaniel Greene in 1818 when Robert E. Lee was just 11. Henry had nine children; but the eighth, whom he only mentioned once in his letters, would become the greater legend.
Robert E. Lee’s older half brother Henry Lee IV lost Stratford after being sued by creditors, most notably a judgement for mishandling his teen sister-in-law Betsey McCarty’s inheritance and having an affair with the girl. Nicknamed “Black Horse Harry” after the affair, the scandal was a costly embarrassment to the family and Henry IV died in exile in Paris in 1837.
By the time Robert E. Lee was ready to attend college in 1825, securing an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point was the only option as the family had no money left. Robert E. Lee finished second in his class and did not receive one demerit in his four years there. He then embarked on a lifetime of military service.
Robert married childhood friend Mary Ann Randolph Custis in 1831. Her father was Martha Washington’s grandson and George Washington’s adopted grandson. Arlington was her family estate. They had four children. Lee, an engineer, spent much of his early military career designing, building, and improving military fortifications. From 1834 to 1837 he served as an assistant to the Chief Engineer of the Army. He was promoted to captain in 1838. In 1846 he was ordered to Mexico in the Mexican-American War. There his abilities were recognized by General Winfield Scott and he became a member of the General’s staff in the War. Lee reluctantly accepted the assignment as the Superintendent of West Point from 1852 to 1855. The cadets he trained there would become key officers on both sides of the Civil War. In April 1855 Lieutenant Colonel Lee left the Engineers Corps when he was given a promotion to second in command of the U.S. Second Cavalry where he fought Indians in Texas from 1855 to 1859. In October 1859, while Lee was back home at Arlington, the radical abolitionist, John Brown led a force of 21 abolitionists who seized the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in order to launch a slave revolt. President James Buchanan (D) gave Lee command of a hastily assembled force of soldiers, militia, and Marines to respond to the crisis. Lee quickly defeated Brown and rescued the hostages in just three minutes of fighting. John Brown’s raid failed to incite a slave insurrection; but it greatly heightened the tension between North and South. In February 1860 the Army gave Lieutenant Colonel Lee command of U.S. forces in Texas, where he negotiated an agreement with the Mexican government that they would restrain Mexican rancher Juan Cortina from leading paramilitary raids into Texas, ending the First Cortina War. When Texas seceded from the Union in February 1861, Lee’s commanding officer General E. Twiggs surrendered Lee and all 4,000 U.S. troops there to the Confederacy. Lee then returned home.
The Commander of the U.S. Army General Scott told President Abraham Lincoln (R) that he needed Lee. Lee ignored an offer of a command from the new Confederate State of America. On March 28, 1861 Lee accepted a promotion to Colonel and was given command of the U.S. First Cavalry by Pres. Lincoln (R). On April 12, 1861 Confederate forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. On April 17, a Second Virginia convention on secession voted in favor of secession. On April 18th, with Civil War now a reality, on April 18 a presidential advisor offered Lee a “major command in defense of the U.S. Capitol.” Lee said that he could not raise his sword against his native Virginia. On April 20 Lee resigned his position in the U.S. Army. His mentor, General Scott, told him that he had made the greatest mistake of his life. Lee accepted an invitation to speak to the Virginia convention on secession. Before he got there, they voted to give him command of all Virginia forces. When he arrived at the convention they presented him with George Washington’s sword and the command on April 23, 1861.
Lee began assembling and training Virginia’s army, while advising President Jefferson Davis C.S.A. Lee correctly predicted a long, bloody, disastrous war……a minority and unpopular opinion among the Confederate leadership at the time. When the CSA Army was organized, Lee was one of five full generals along with: Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph E. Johnston, and Pierre G.T. Beauregard, with Lee being third in seniority.
In his first action of the war, in September 1861 Lee tried to dislodge a Union force from their position on Cheat Mountain in what is today West Virginia and failed in the effort. Lee was heavily criticized for his conduct of the campaign and was reassigned to improving the coast defenses of South Carolina and Georgia. There Lee lost Fort Pulaski to Union forces, but prevented a larger Union force from taking Savannah. Lee was widely criticized for the mixed results and was then appointed as military advisor to President Davis.
In the Spring of 1862 the powerful Union Army of the Potomac under General George McClellan began making a methodical and concerted drive toward the Confederate Capitol of Richmond. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was under the command of General Joseph E. Johnston. General Johnston however was wounded in the Battle of Seven Pines on June 1, 1862. With the South teetering on the brink of losing the War between the States, Davis gave Lee the command. The move was widely condemned by Southern editorial writers who felt Lee was not dynamic enough. After digging in around Richmond for three weeks for what everyone was expected to be a long siege, Lee unexpectedly launched a series of savage counter attacks against the superior Union force. Confederate casualties were enormous; but McClellan, misjudging the size of the opposing Confederate force, gave up his effort to take Richmond and ordered a hasty retreat 25 miles away to the James River. The Peninsula Campaign was a Confederate victory that arguably should never have happened.
On August 28-30 Lee defeated a much larger second Union force under General John Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run. In just nine weeks time, the front had moved from just six miles from Richmond to 20 miles from Washington D.C.
Lee then invaded Maryland. McClellan captured the Confederate plans so his 87,138 troops met the Confederate invasion force of 38,000 near Sharpsburg, just 70 miles North of Washington. Along Antietam Creek, 23,000 Americans died on both sides on the day of April 17, 1862. Because the South withdrew back to Virginia and Washington was saved, the battle was a tactical Union victory; but Lincoln’s dream of winning a quick decisive victory were dashed by the events of those 90 days.
Because Lee had escaped, Lincoln replaced McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac with General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside attacked Fredericksburg, Virginia; however after he crossed the Rappahannock River he was unable to dislodge Lee from his prepared positions. 122,009 troops with the Army of the Potomac were repulsed by 78,513 Confederates under Lee. Burnside withdrew after taking over 12,000 casualties on December 15, 1862.
In May 1863, the Army of the Potomac under General Joseph Hooker forced battle with Lee at Chancellorsville. They were thoroughly routed even though Hooker had 133,868 men to Lee’s 60,298. It was Lee’s finest victory. Afterwards, the New York Tribune’s Horace Greeley wrote, “My God! It is horrible—horrible; and to think of it, 130,000 magnificent soldiers so cut to pieces by less than 60,000 half-starved ragamuffins!” Lt. General Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, who commanded Second Corps (and was arguably Lee’s most capable commander) died from his wounds at Chancellorsville.
In June 1863, Lee invaded the north again. Hooker moved to ignore Lee and move on Richmond; but Lincoln overruled that decision. General George Meade met Lee at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July. After three days of intense fighting that produced over 48,000 combined casualties, Lee was forced to withdraw although he withdrew in good order with only limited efforts at pursuit by Meade. Worse the decision to gamble everything on the invasion meant that the Confederacy failed to devote enough resources to break through to relieve Vicksburg, Mississippi which fell to General Ulysses S. Grant while Lee was battling Meade at Gettysburg. The west was now cut off from the rest of the South. Realizing the extent of the debacle, Lee offered his resignation to Davis; but Davis refused it.
In October 1863 Lee and Meade clashed again in the Bristow Campaign; but there was no decisive outcome. On November 27 Meade attempted to cut off Ewell’s Second Corps; but the planned forced march was too slow so Lee was able to react and fend off the effort in the five day battle.
On May 5-7, 1864 Lee fought Grant’s much larger force in the Battle of the Wilderness. On May 8-21 Lee engaged Grant and Meade again in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. The Union force was much bigger; but Lee simply could not be outflanked even with superior force. The Confederate Cavalry commander, Major General James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart was killed on May 11 at the Battle of Yellow Tavern. As the furious fighting deeper into Confederate territory continued, the Union force in the field grew smaller and the Confederate force grew larger with reinforcements. By the Battle of North Anna River on May 23-26 Grant had 68,000 (down from 130,000 three weeks earlier) to Lee’s 53,000. More battles followed through June 24 as Grant sought to outflank Lee in the campaign culminating in a Confederate Victory at the Battle of Cold Harbor from May 31 to June 12 with the heaviest fighting on June 3 and Grant’s decision to order a frontal assault of his II Corps that was comparably as futile and bloody as Pickett’s Charge for the Confederates at Gettysburg. After two months of intense fighting in the Wilderness/Overland campaign Grant had lost 7 ,621 troops, 38,339 were wounded, and 8,966 were captured or missing. Lee had lost 4,352, 19,130 were wounded, and 10,164 were captured or missing; but the South could not replace those losses.
In June the siege of Petersburgh, Virginia began. The two armies would fight trench warfare, presaging World War I through April 1865.
As part of the Siege of Petersburgh, on July 30, 1864 General Burnside’s IX Corps mined under the Confederate defenses and exploded the mine. In the Battle of the Crater Burnside’s force tried to rush through the breach; but were ultimately repulsed by Lee.
On August 4, 1864 Lee repulsed an effort by Major General Winfield Scott Hancock to break through Confederate lines to Richmond.
On February 9, 1865 Lee was made Commander-in-Chief of all Confederate forces.
On April 2, 1865 the decimated Confederate force retreated from their lines around Petersburg. On April 3 Richmond fell. Lee was seeking to march his army south to join General Johnston’s when his battered army was finally surrounded on April 9, 1865, by General Grant’s Army of the Potomac. General Lee chose to surrender at Appomattox Courthouse rather than fighting to the death.
Lee broke the news to his troops with this address:
“I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.”
“By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from a consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a Merciful God will extend to you His blessings and protection.”
“With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.”
Lee returned home from the war on parole. He was indicted for insurrection, but never brought to trial. His beloved Arlington estate was seized by federal authorities and turned into America’s premiere military cemetery during the war. The family would not be compensated until years after Lee’s death. Lee applied for a pardon, but that was “lost” until 1975. In August 1865 Lee was elected the president of Washington College in Virginia – now known as Washington and Lee University. He accepted an invitation to visit President Grant (R) in the White House. He died on October 12, 1870 in Lexington, Virginia.
Lee’s birthday is a state holiday. It and Martin Luther King Day are celebrated on the same day.
Some in the civil rights community object to the state honoring Lee with a state holiday.
Wikipedia and the Stratford Hall website were consulted for this article.
Jones criticized for voting to limit Trump’s war powers authority
Thursday, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) voted in favor of S.J.Res.68, a resolution which directs the removal of United States military from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have not been authorized by Congress. Jones have been criticized by Republicans for voting to limit President Donald J. Trump’s war powers on Iran.
“Before a President can lead us into war, he or she must first earn the support of the American people and also fulfill their solemn constitutional obligation to seek approval from Congress,” Sen. Jones said in a statement. “While the President has the power to protect Americans in the case of an imminent attack, that authority does not extend to committing our service members to long-term hostilities unilaterally. This resolution sends a strong message that we will follow the Constitution and we will not send our troops into harm’s way without the serious consideration and consent of the Congress.”
Trump Victory National Finance Committee member Perry O. Hooper Jr. released a statement in response.
“Senator Jones once again turned his back on Alabama and voted as the leftwing Democrats commanded. He has no regard for the values, opinions or views of Alabamians,” Hooper said. “He sees us as deplorables just like the elites of the Democratic party who have funded 80 percent of his doomed campaign for re-election.:
Hooper stated, “I whole heartily support the President who stated ‘We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness… If my hands were tied, Iran would have a field day. Sends a very bad signal. The Democrats are only doing this as an attempt to embarrass the Republican Party.’”
“The Commander-in-chief must be free to work with his staff and his military leaders to conduct covert operations like the one that eliminated Iran’s terrorist-in-chief General Soleimani,” Hooper added. “You can’t micromanage the war on terrorism. The Democrats in Congress are so filled with Trump Derangement Syndrome that no matter how much it would benefit our country and the world; they would never give Trump a “victory”. If it came down to it, they would leak everything to the media no matter what the consequences.”
Senator Jones is a cosponsor of the legislation and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Eight moderate Republicans voted with the Democrats on the resolution.
Senator Jones has also been criticized by Republicans for his comments that he was “appalled” by Pres. Trump’s actions following his acquittal on both Articles of Impeachment.
“Newsflash for Senator Doug Jones: Most Alabamians have been appalled by his actions his entire time in office,” former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “It’s about time we send Doug home, and replace him with someone who understands our values. Alabamians deserve a Senator they can be proud of again.”
Sessions is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Jones’ Senate seat.
The Republican primary will be on March 3.
Moore says the Constitution is under God’s laws
Saturday, Senate candidate former Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) presented his views on the Constitution and the sovereignty of God to attendees of the Conservative Leadership Conference in Florence.
“The form of government is both the Declaration and the Constitution,” Judge Moore said.
Moore argued that the rights granted to the citizens in the Bill of Rights do not come from the Constitution itself; but rather from God and the Constitution is there to protect those rights that God has ordained.
“The Constitution is the supreme law of the land; but the Constitution is under the rule of God,” Moore stated. “We as Americans, as Republicans as Democrats should go back to the Constitution.”
“Democrats are trying to move us toward a socialist government,” Moore warned. “The same people who want to take our guns away want to take prayer out of schools.”
“Most Christians do not understand the Ten Commandments,” Moore said. The first four are the duties that we owe to God and the last six are the duties that we owe to each other.
Moore quoted from Washington, Blackstone, and the 1954 legislation that inserted “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance.
Moore said that Project Birmingham used Russian style tactics to undermine the support for Roy Moore and build up support for Doug Jones. Moore also blamed Richard Shelby for his defeat.
Moore said that Democrats have used similar smears liked the ones used against him in 2017 against Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas.
“When you vote is stolen from you by tactics that is wrong,” Moore said/
Moore warned that the greatest threat to this nation is the decline in morality. “We are at a critical point in our history.”
Moore warned that no nation could take us down from without; but that we could fall from within and warned of the growing agenda of the LGBTQ community.
“We are starting to recognize transgender rights above the right of your rights,” Moore warned.
“We are five votes (in the Senate) away from overturning everything our country is founded upon,” Moore warned if the Equality Act is passed. The Equality Act, “Which sounds good is about to take away the most precious thing our country is founded upon: our freedom of conscious.”
Moore warned that the legislation would lead to men in girls’ bathrooms and in girls’ sports.
Moore said that when man invents rights that are not from God it leads to problems. The right to privacy was invented and from that came the right to abortion, which has resulted in the deaths of millions, the right to sodomy, and the right to gay marriage. Now we are about to create a right of transgenderism.
Moore said that marriage was ordained by God as between one man and one woman. “If you can make it between two men you could make it between five men and between a man and a horse.”
“How do you correct it?” Moore asked rhetorically. “You recognize the sovereignty of God.”
“I have been mocked and removed from office twice,” Moore said.
“I am sick of seeing politicians carrying Bibles and doing nothing,” Moore said. The national debt was $5 trillion in 2005 now it is $23 trillion. They say they are Pro-Life and yet Planned Parenthood continues to get taxpayer dollars.
“We keep quiet because we are afraid it is going to offend anybody,” Moore said. “I couldn’t keep quiet about Obergefell. I wrote an opinion in API.”
Moore is a candidate for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary on March 3.
McCutcheon is in “wait and see mode” on medical marijuana bill
Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) last Thursday was asked by reporters where he stood on pending medical marijuana legislation.
“I am in a wait and see mode,” McCutcheon told reporters. “The sponsor of the bill has done a lot of work.”
On Tuesday, State Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) introduced a bill to legalize tightly controlled medical cannabis. The Medical cannabis bill introduced on Tuesday is Senate Bill 165.
“We have a letter from the Attorney General,” recommending that the legislature reject the bill.
Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) is arguing that while marijuana remains a federally controlled substance the legislature should not pass a state law that would be noncompliant with federal law. Marshall believes that if medical marijuana has any medical benefit then the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be the appropriate authority to approve such legislation and the state should wait for FDA to act.
33 states already have legalized medical marijuana.
“It brings up a legal question when you get a legal opinion from the attorney general office,” McCutcheon explained. “It answers some of my questions and also on the pro and the con there were some questions raised in the legal community.”
McCutcheon said, “That is why we are in the mode that we are in.”
Melson introduced a medical marijuana bill last year during the 2019 regular session. That bill passed the Senate; but had difficulty getting out of committee in the Alabama House of Representatives. Instead of passing medical marijuana legislation the legislature passed a bill extending Leni’s Law and Carly’s law and establishing the Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission tasked with making a recommendation to the legislature.
The Alabama Medical Cannabis Study Commission was chaired by Sen. Melson and met monthly from August to November. In December, the commission voted in favor of a draft proposal recommending that the state allow licensed medical providers to prescribe marijuana based medications to patients with a demonstrated need. The state would create the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission to regulate medical cannabis in the state. Farmers, processors, transporters, and dispensaries would have to get a license from the Commission and product would be strictly regulated.
Despite the Commission’s recommendation, SB165 remains highly controversial in the legislature and there is expected to be considerable opposition to the bill. SB165 is 82 pages long.
SB165 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judiciary Committee Chairman Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) told the Alabama Political Reporter that there will be a public hearing on SB165 on Wednesday, at 8:30 a.m. in the Alabama Statehouse room 825. Opponents and proponents will both be given the opportunity to voice their opinions.
Thursday was the fourth day of the 2020 legislative session.
Congressional candidates call on Sessions, Byrne to stand up for South Alabama
At a rare joint press conference, the Democratic Candidates for the First Congressional District called on Rep. Bradley Byrne and former Sen. Jeff Sessions to stand up for South Alabama following the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut nearly $300 million slated for projects awarded to Austal.
“The current administration’s decision to divert that funding from Austal to build the border wall is harmful to our community and will potentially put good jobs at risk,” said Dr. James Averhart, CW05, USMC retired. “This is nothing more than a political stunt on the backs of the hard-working men and women of South Alabama.”
Over the years, South Alabama has become a hub for shipbuilding and defense projects developing ships and planes for the United States military.
“While the President may be comfortable playing political games with our communities, our representatives must stand strong against this disastrous decision,” said Dr. Kiani Gardner, a scientist and professor. “We are grateful Senator Jones is speaking out against it and the devastating impacts it could have on our communities.”
This matter transcends partisan politics, our Republican representatives must stand with Senator Jones and tell President Trump to find a better way to protect our Southern border,” said Rick Collins, a longtime Mobile businessman.
This is only the latest Trump Administration proposals that could have devastating impacts for the local economy. Recently, the administration proposed new tariffs that would have a significant impact on Airbus’ local operation.
Jones criticized for voting to limit Trump’s war powers authority
Moore says the Constitution is under God’s laws
McCutcheon is in “wait and see mode” on medical marijuana bill
Congressional candidates call on Sessions, Byrne to stand up for South Alabama
Ophthalmologists concerned over questionable Senate Health Committee vote
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