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US & World

Prioleau Alexander: The Erasure Of Robert E. Lee

Inconvenient historical truths expose America’s selective revisionism …

West Point has begun the erasure of Robert E. Lee.

Not surprising, of course. Just as a house divided cannot stand, a philosophy divided can’t either. Our military is no longer committed to being a meritocracy, whose sole reason for existence is to train and promote the men most qualified to kill people and break things. Quite the contrary: Today’s military is about inclusiveness, individualism, and lowering the standards to whatever level ensures the weakest links can join in all the reindeer games.

But the public pays for the military, and the public in general believes Robert E. Lee should be erased. He was a traitor, right? And fought a war for the purpose of keeping black Americans enslaved, no? At least that’s what the public believes. That’s the “little learning” they were spoon-fed in school and via the media.

Sadly, and like usual, the public refuses to look an inch below the surface and explore the nuances of any issue. They’ve never read a book about the topic. They are likely unaware of the existence of a black scholar named Thomas Sowell, who’s debunked so many of the falsehoods regarding American slavery.

They don’t know Confederate officers were not tried for treason, because the Federal government didn’t want to address the Constitutionality of secession in court. They don’t know the Southern economy was paying more than 70 percent of all federal taxes leading up to the war, which was spent to industrialize the north.

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They don’t know whites in the north were every bit as racist their counterparts in the south, and widespread lynching of blacks occurred in NYC when it was discovered rich men could buy their way out of military service. They don’t know that no one in Congress put forth a bill to free the slaves in the 1850’s … because in the early1860s, everyone was racist as hell.  

And they somehow even ignore the fact that Abraham Lincoln wrote, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the union without freeing any slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

Many supporters of Lee are wont to say, “We shouldn’t tear down Lee’s statues. They’re part of history, and we need to learn from history.”

I think these supporters are misspeaking, as they don’t realize they’re saying “Robert E. Lee’s life was a mistake, and we need to learn from the poor example he set.”

Lee’s life was anything but a bad example. He was a gentleman of the highest order, a brilliant military strategist, and a leader the likes of which we see once a generation.

But what about the fact he led a secession from the federal government?

Consider this: Like all the Confederate generals who served under him, Lee was an up and comer in the U.S. military— and so admired that Lincoln offered him command of the Army of the Potomac in April of 1861. He was rich. He had a plantation called Arlington. Life was damn good.

(Click to view)

Robert E. Lee (Julian Vannerson)

Then, a decision was thrust upon him: Wage war on his state, neighbors, family, and friends … or defend them against that same war.

What would you do?

Would you be willing to kill all your adult male friends to restore abortion on demand? Universal healthcare? How about people in your family? Would you kill them over BLM grievances? Or maybe you’d have been in the 1 percent of America that cared about the plight of slaves in 1860. That must be it … your morality would’ve been 163 years ahead of its time. You’d have been on your horse, charging down the hill and using your saber to kill your best friend.

Seriously, think about it — there’s no political issue that would inspire you to kill friends and family. None.

Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B Stuart, George Pickett, A.P. Hill, James Longstreet were not stupid. They knew when choosing to defend their people the odds of victory were infinitesimal. They were outnumbered, outgunned, and facing a federal treasury that far, far exceeded their own funding. This wasn’t a bunch of rednecks driving around in a Camaro and yelling, “Yee-haw!” These men were West Point’s best and brightest, and had everything to lose.

Of course, this was at a time when a man’s honor mattered — in fact, death was preferable to dishonor. In America today, such a concept is something most people laugh at.

Does anyone believe Stonewall Jackson thought, when a bullet pulverized his arm, “Dammit! Now I’ll be less effective at keeping blacks in chains!”

Or that George Pickett led his men to almost certain death in Gettysburg to ensure his slaves remained human property?

Or that when Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Courthouse to save what was left of his army, he was disappointed because he couldn’t go home and whip his slaves?

Of course not — they were fighting because they viewed themselves first and foremost as Southerners, their homeland had been invaded, and the Constitution allowed for them to dissolve the union, just as they’d joined it.

(Click to view)

“Peace of the Union” (Thomas Nast)

And that’s why I believe the Southern generals should be remembered, and a holistic history about them taught. They gave up everything — their wealth, careers, and potentially their lives — to defend their homes and families.

Isn’t that what everyone should want their own children to be like?

Oddly, as Lee is being erased by West Point, William T. Sherman is still celebrated, despite being the cruelest military commander in American history. Regarding his infamous “march to the sea,” he once said “this war differs from other wars, in this particular – we are not fighting armies but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war.”

Uh, no General. You were not fighting “hostile people.” You were opposed only by women, children, the elderly, the infirm – and slaves. Except for an engagement outside Atlanta, only a few able-bodied men were arrayed against Sherman’s troops.

Under his orders, his soldiers murdered and raped women, children – and former slaves – burned homes and crops, and all but plowed salt into the earth. In Columbia, there are written eye-witness reports of his men throwing primitive grenades into groups of terrified women. And throughout the entire campaign, Sherman left millions of newly-freed slaves with nowhere to live – and no way to feed themselves.

A total of zero Confederate officers have ever been accused of such inhuman cruelty.

As the public is ignorant of Sherman’s character – and think his rape of the South was something he had to do – I’ll offer words he spoke and wrote about his next victims.

“The more Indians we can kill… the less will have to be killed the next war, for the more I see of these Indians, the more convinced I am that they all have to be killed or be maintained as a species of paupers,” he wrote. “We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children … during an assault, the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age.”

William T. Sherman (Matthew Brady)

“The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” he added.

Does that outrage you? Why don’t you change the word “Indian” to “black?” How about then? Does that change your opinion of this “Union war hero?”

Despite all this, there’s a towering statue of Sherman in Central Park, displayed as though he were a great man. He was not. He was an animal – operating beyond the pale of human decency even by 1860s standards.

Why is he not being erased? His actions violated every rule of war.

Well, it’s the same old story: Sherman’s side won, and the victors write the history.

It was not uncommon for Confederate Soldiers to weep when they had the chance to simply lay eyes on General Lee as he rode by. Do you think it’s because they were thinking, “There goes the greatest bigot of all time?”

Or do you think it’s because they thought, “There goes an officer and a gentleman. A man who thinks of us before he thinks of himself. A man who wants to ride towards the front of the column, despite the danger to himself.”

American businessmen resembling Sherman abound these days, while it’s extremely rare to find a Robert E. Lee. That’s because Lee embodied the thing that ages passed called a gentleman. Once at a function at Washington & Lee University, a professor spoke ill of General Grant. Lee informed him that if it happened again, he’d be dismissed from the college.

Robert E. Lee should not be erased. In fact, his statues should remain up throughout the South. Why? So that in decades to come, fathers of every race can take their sons to see them, and say, “There is a man, Son. Let me tell you about him.”   The last words of Robert E. Lee were, “Strike the tent,” the command given to the troops when it was time to pack up, and head on. I wonder if he ever thought that order would be given by his beloved West Point, and the striking would be done to his legacy, honor, and selflessness.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: Provided)

Prioleau Alexander is a freelance writer, focusing mostly on politics and non-fiction humor. He is the author of two books: ‘You Want Fries With That?’ and ‘Dispatches Along the Way.’ Both are available on Amazon. He hopes to have another title published soon, but that would require his agent actually doing his job, so it may be awhile.

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14 comments

Ian January 22, 2023 at 12:00 am

A rare word of truth in this seemingly never-ending ocean of lies about the war and the men who fought in it. Bravo

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Anonymous January 22, 2023 at 12:08 am

Thank you.

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Kathleen Bounds January 22, 2023 at 3:46 pm

Thank you for this eloquent tribute to General Lee, a true gentleman. I recommend a book by Richard Adams (author of “Watership Down”) – “Traveller”, the General’s horse. It tells the story of the Civil War from an equine perspective. Traveller is also mentioned in “John Brown’s Body”, a poem by Stephen Vincent Benet (1928).

Traveller died of tetanus not long after the General died – and is buried within yards of his master, in front of the Chapel at Washington and Lee University.

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Prioleau’s inbreeding and racism is showing January 22, 2023 at 10:31 pm

Good riddance to Lee, a traitor to this country and a slave owner.

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Observer January 23, 2023 at 1:06 am

Good to see more good people who appreciated Mr Alexander’s writing this time than the usual cacophony of liberal snowflakes who wish they could write one tenth as well as he.

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Ronald Brown January 24, 2023 at 10:07 pm

Alexander and Lee occupy the same plane of relevance….none.

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Observer January 23, 2023 at 1:08 am

Good to see more good people who appreciated Mr Alexander’s writing this time than the usual cacophony of liberal snowflakes who wish they could write one tenth as well as he.

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Lost Cause January 23, 2023 at 9:29 am

“Seriously, think about it — there’s no political issue that would inspire you to kill friends and family. None.”

First of all, wars are nothing if not political, especially civil wars. It’s extremely dangerous to pretend that someone wouldn’t turn to killing members of their community, even good friends or family, given a “good enough” reason to do so. This is how revolutions happen. This is how people become comfortable with concentration camps. This is how genocides start. These are how some cults end.

Secondly… Buddy, I don’t consider anyone who owns slaves, or promotes or defends the practice of slavery, as a friend or a family member. If someone I’m close to came out as pro-slavery that would be an immediate disown and disavow.

No matter how badly you want to pretend the civil war wasn’t about slavery, it was. Every Confederate soldier was on some level defending the institution of slavery. They picked up arms in defense of a nation that was explicitly founded on the protection of what was considered the god-given right of slavery, both in writing and by the leaders’ own words. They were willing to kill people to protect the bottom line of slave owners.

Honestly there’s a lot more problematic stuff in this post (surprise!) but I don’t see a point in engaging beyond this part.

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Ronald Brown January 24, 2023 at 10:09 pm

Bravo. Well said to the silly apologists for Lee.

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E Prioleau Alexander January 23, 2023 at 10:29 am

a) It wasn’t a Civil War. The South had no intention of overthrowing the Federal government and inserting themselves as the leaders of the union.
b) “disown and disavow” is far from shooting them in the face.
c) If you don’t even know what a civil war is, I’m not sure this would be a productive debate. I’d be happy to read a piece by you… maybe you could address more than one of my suppositions. Be sure to defend Sherman– compare him to the charges of war crimes levied against the Confederate officers.
d) Anyone who hides behind an anonymous handle doesn’t get to call me “Buddy.” If I don’t know your name, how can I know we’re buddies?

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Lost Cause January 24, 2023 at 3:00 pm

a) Great, the side that 100% wanted to continue the subjugation of what they deemed to be inferior races didn’t want to also subjugate the North. I guess that makes them 3/5ths wrong.

b) Someone who engages in the enslavement of others, or violently defends it, should be stopped at all costs. That includes violence. Condemning a slave or a freedom fighter for killing a slaver when America went to war with the British over less seems really bizarre. Give me freedom or give me death? Refreshing the tree of liberty? This isn’t a radical idea. Those who enslave or protect the practice of it should consider themselves in a perpetual state of FAFO.

c) Debate what? Sherman bad? Okay. Lee still bad.

d) You’ll be okay, buddy.

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Dianne Lopp January 23, 2023 at 4:55 pm

My great great grandfather, Alexander Covington Thomas, surrendered with Lee at Appomattox. My ancestors fought for the Confederacy and lost all their money and most of their land in the aftermath. I was brought up on the moonlight and magnolias myth of the Old South—which I swallowed hook, line, and sinker. My grandfather’s parents’ families owned plantations and slaves (in upstate South Carolina) and his grandmother never got over the fact that she was born “a lady”. Her youngest son, to save his sanity and marriage, put her on a train from Alabama to Oklahoma, where she landed on my great grandmother’s (an Arkansas farm girl) doorstep–not a happy occasion for anyone concerned. Anyway, as I said , I bought into it big time. Three events opened my eyes: the murder of George Floyd, a book called Jefferson’s Daughters and reading the contemporaneous documents and speeches of the founders of the Confederacy. Alexander Stephens leaves little room for nuanced interpretation when he states that whites are superior to “negroes [sic]” and slavery is a founding principle of the Confederacy. Thomas Jefferson’s disparate treatment of his children with Sally Hemings (all of whom were light skinned and most of whom eventually passed in to white society) is truly sickening. Example: his slave children got a set of new clothes once every three years. And Jefferson was well aware that had Hemings had her children in France—where he began his sexual relationship with her (his dead wife’s half sister and ostensible governess for his white daughters)—they would have been born free. Finally, the knee jerk defense of a lot of white Americans of the sociopath who killed Floyd in front a crowd that was literally begging him to stop–how could anyone defend such behavior? I’ll tell you how: by believing that Floyd, a large black man, was less than human. Where oh where did that idea come from?

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Congrats January 24, 2023 at 3:07 pm

Congratulations Dianne on your graduation from Snowflake Academy as Valedictorian! You learned well.0

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Stephen Guilfoyle January 24, 2023 at 3:47 pm

It’s amazing the number of self-delusions can be strung together.

“The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things,” Robert E. Lee wrote in defending slavery as an institution.

From an article in the Atlantic: “When two of his slaves escaped and were recaptured, Lee either beat them himself or ordered the overseer to “lay it on well.” Wesley Norris, one of the slaves who was whipped, recalled that “not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.”

Not only did Lee fight for slavery, he enslaved.
“During the invasion of Pennsylvania, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia enslaved free black Americans and brought them back to the South as property. Pryor writes that “evidence links virtually every infantry and cavalry unit in Lee’s army” to the abduction of free black Americans, “with the activity under the supervision of senior officers.”

And I always love the articles that talk about this “War of Northern Aggression” in which the South fired the first shots.

So when you ask if the Southern Generals thought they fought to ensure his slaves remained human property and some where disappointed because (they) couldn’t go home and whip … slaves?”

Yes. Yes I do. Maybe not those exact thoughts for those exact Generals. But those thoughts, in general. Lee, who wouldn’t allow black Union soldier POWs to be traded one for one with white Southerners? Who, again, enslaved any black person he could find when he invaded Pennsylvania? Who looked the other way when his troops slaughtered black POWs? There’s those atrocities you seem to think the Suth’n boys incapable of committing.
Andersonville. Yeah. Men of honor.
Fort Pillow. Honor was more highly prized?
Self-delusion.

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