09 April 2008

Chamberlain on Lee

Today is the 143rd anniversary of Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Most readers will recall that General Joshua Chamberlain was chosen by Union General Ulysses S. Grant to receive the first flag of surrender at Appomattox Court House. The defeated Confederates, under the command of General John B. Gordon, dreaded this ultimate humiliation. But instead, they were met with a soldier's due honor by Chamberlain. For his conduct, Gordon would remember the Union general in his memoirs as "one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal Army." I would most certainly agree with Gordon's assessment of Chamberlain.

Chamberlain would later write this fitting description of Lee at Appomattox:

“I turned about, and there behind me, riding between my two lines, appeared a commanding form, superbly mounted, richly accoutered, of imposing bearing, noble countenance, with expression of deep sadness overmastered by deeper strength. It is none other than Robert E. Lee! … I sat immovable, with a certain awe and admiration.” ~ Union General Joshua Chamberlain at Appomattox.

(Just another sappy, sentimental lost-causer I suppose.)


Print by Mort Kunstler.

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