The Robert E. Lee legacy

Washington Times:

Winston Churchill called him "one of the noblest Americans who ever lived," and Theodore Roosevelt called him "the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth."
But has political correctness turned Robert E. Lee into a villain? That will be the question explored by six historians this weekend at a symposium commemorating the bicentennial of the Confederate commander's birth.
"We were afraid that Lee would not receive the honors he should get because of the prevailing political correctness," says Brag Bowling, a Richmond resident who helped organize Saturday's event at the Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington.
Lee, the son of Revolutionary War hero "Light Horse Harry" Lee, was born in Westmoreland County, Va., and graduated from West Point. He served more than 30 years in the U.S. Army, distinguishing himself in the Mexican War as an aide to Gen. Winfield Scott.
Lee, who freed the slaves his wife inherited from the Custis family, called slavery "a moral and political evil" and opposed secession. After Virginia seceded in 1861, he resigned his commission in the U.S. Army rather than bear arms against "my native state."
Hostility to Confederate heritage "has really gotten bad in the last decade," says Mr. Bowling, who says that political correctness in academia and in the press often leads to "dishonoring Confederate soldiers and ignoring the true reasons why the South wished to secede."
Lee was somewhat successful because many of the Union generals he faced were incompetent such as McClellan. He acknowledged that his Gettysburg campaign was a disastrous mistake. Most historians now believe that the best Confederate general was Stonewall Jackson who recognized how the machinery of warfare had changed both tactics and strategy and took full advantage of it. He saw the advantage of letting the enemy forces attrite themselves in the attack against dug in positions then launching a furious counterattack against the weakened forces of the enemy. He was also a master of maneuver warfare.


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