Robert Edward Lee
Posted On July 4, 2020
General was a military officer and a hero of therevolutionary war. That was one of the indications that he wasdestined to a career in the troops. Sure enough, he went ahead andjoined the United States Military Academy. After graduation, Robertspent almost two decades in the engineering department. The onlybattle he took part was the Mexico war where he gained the rank of acolonel. However, the steps he took during the Confederate warwatered down any claim that he was a great general. Some of thefailures that he made in his career are range from the battle of theCheat Mountain to that of Antietam, which are a clear indication that was not a great general.
TheDecline for a Federal Post in the Army
RobertLee had the reputation of being among the best soldiers in thecountry. Therefore, it did not come as a surprise when the thenpresident, Abraham Lincoln, appointed him to a command post where hecould serve to quash the Confederates (Lewis 139). Any great soldierfights for the benefit of his country. Despite his earlier positionthat he was in support of a unified nation, he did not fight for thatcause. On the contrary, he chose to compete for a section that hesaid was a revolution and unconstitutional. In his words, allowingthe Confederates to secede could set a bad precedence where each ofthe states could follow the same route if allowed. Turning down anoffer to fight for a cause he believed in was not only cowardly, buta betrayal of the country.
TopRanking Soldier from Virginia
Virginiawas one of the seceding states. They were against the freeing ofslaves and remaining in the union. Robert Lee was among the manysoldiers who were from the state. At the same time, he was one amongthose who had declared their support for a unified country. That didnot act as deterrence to him from going ahead and leading an armyfrom Virginia to fight the federal government (Lewis 141). It was notonly wrong for a soldier to fight his country, but he set a badexample to his juniors from his country. In fact, there are those whorefused to follow in his footsteps. Although they are unsung heroes,they remained true to their beliefs and country. That is whatdetermines a great soldier. Robert Lee failed to demonstrate that andto lead by example.
Battleof Cheat Mountain
Duringthe Confederate War, the battle of Cheat Mountain was the first lossthat Robert Lee and his men suffered. It is one of the proofs that hewas not a great soldier. Despite having served in the army for manyyears, there are many assumptions that he made before going into thebattle that made the war a disaster for the Confederates.
Thefirst is that there was a failure in scouting. There are allegationsthat Robert Lee personally scouted the area where the Union soldiershad set camp. The reconnaissance was a failure in that it did notreveal facts that led to the winning of the battle. The topography,the forest, and climate escaped the eyes of the celebrated general.When they went to battle, his army could hardly move due to the denseforest. At the same time, the area was foggy, which made visibilityimpossible. The acts are unlike any great general who takes greatpain when preparing for a battle (Prior et al. 114). The other aspectwhich led to the loss of the battle is that the general relied onunconfirmed information. Prisoners who had escaped from the Unionsoldiers volunteered information to the Confederate soldiers. Thegeneral did not take the time to scrutinize the information. On thecontrary, he went ahead and made plans based on that information.When they went to the battle, the information proved to be wrong.
Thesame battle was also to witness the application of a weak strategywhich saw the Confederates lose one seventy of its soldiers. The planto attack did not have fine details of the area as well as thecomposition of the enemy. There was also poor communication among theconfederates (Prior et al. 116). The result was a loss of a battle toan army which had fewer soldiers. The federal soldiers were also notfamiliar with the geography and topography of the place. It is anindication that the leadership of the Confederate soldiers waswanting.
TheBattle of Antietam
Theinitial plan of this battle by Robert Lee was to have a surpriseattack on the Union soldiers. The goal of the battle was to shiftfocus from Virginia. However, the element of surprise was lost whenthe Union soldiers discovered the plan before the attack (Carter 77).Under such circumstances, a great soldier could have made changes tothe plans. The strategy of the battle should have been completed whenthe surprise element was lost. However, that was not the case withRobert Lee. Despite changes on the side of the target, he insisted ongoing ahead with the battle. The battle only took a day with heavycasualties. He was forced to withdraw which is a sign of a loss.Moreover, it opened the Confederates to constant attacks from theUnion soldiers and remained with the duty of defending.
Justlike in other battles, he made a mistake of making assumptions.Before this battle, he had seen union soldiers cower and run at thesound of gunfire. However, Gettysburg this was not the case. Thecircumstances were different, and the soldiers put on a spiritedfight against the Confederates (Prior et al. 117). Even when theywere in the battle, Robert Lee failed to read the strength and themood of the Union soldiers. Due to that, he made the decision toorder his soldiers to make a frontal attack. That spelled a deathknell for them. The pricket’s charge ordered by the leader who wasRobert Lee was a total failure. The withdrawal order was too late,and they suffered greatly. It did not only mean the loss of thatbattle but of the war. On realizing that he was a weak soldier, hetendered his resignation after this battle. The resignation was neveraccepted, and he went ahead to another battle where he surrenderedand called for reconciliation thus bringing the war to and.
Thereare many aspects that make a soldier great. Planning and determiningthe strength of an opponent are some of them. When a soldiercontinually fails to determine the strength of the enemy, the resultis casualties for his soldiers. That was the case with Robert Lee inthat in several occasions, he led his soldiers to losses due to theuse of assumptions and hearsay to make his plans. It is no wonderthat despite his high rank, he was never a great soldier.
Carter,Thomas Henry. AGunner in Lee`s Army: The Civil War Letters of Thomas Henry Carter.UNC Press Books, 2014.
Lewis,Aaron. Chainof Command: An Analysis of Robert E. Lee and His Corps Commanders inthe Civil War.Diss. Bowling Green State University, 2016.
Prior,David M., Robert E. Bonner, Sarah E. Cornell, Don H. Doyle, NielsEichhorn, and Andre M. Fleche. "Teaching the Civil War Era inGlobal Context: A Discussion." TheJournal of the Civil War Era 5.1(2015): 97-125.