History is best learned from those who witnessed it. General Lee: Southern Commander is the a two-volume work that includes a biography of Lee, originally published (with the General’s permission) in 1876, as well as a wonderful collection of letters published by his son and fellow Confederate soldier, Captain Robert E. Lee, Jr., in 1923.
The main text of this book is “A Life of General Robert E. Lee” by John Eston Cooke, originally published in 1876. As you will read in the introduction, Cooke actually submitted his manuscript to Lee himself for approval, and it was granted. It is a wonderful mix of war scenes and commentary on the General’s life and character. The book has been printed in its original form, including some old-fashioned spellings.
Woven throughout Cooke’s biography is “Recollections and Letters of Robert E. Lee” by Captain Robert E. Lee, his son who served in the Army of Northern Virginia under his father. Some sections have short pieces of letters and recollections, while the end of the book, after the war, includes many pages of these firsthand accounts.
This wonderful mix of biography and firsthand accounts skillfully tells of the life of Robert E. Lee, beginning with his ancestors, and trailing down the family tree to his father, Revolutionary war hero Harry “Lighthorse” Lee (with descriptions of many other illustrious freedom-fighters in his parentage). Cooke tells of his family’s long history in Virginia, their close ties with many of the Founding Fathers and their families (he married George Washington’s granddaughter), and his fierce devotion to the United States…until Virginia chose secession.
The book then weaves back and forth from military tactics and famous Civil War battles to personal details and character studies of Lee, his generals, and his opposition on the Union side. The recollections of Robert E. Lee, Jr.. appear throughout, along with General Lee’s letters to is family and others, adding a very human touch to a sweeping narrative of many major Civil War battles.
The last chapters of this book tell of Lee’s life after the war, infused with his many letters, as well the account of his death and multple tributes from around the United States and the world.
This Knowledge Keepers reprint is for the purpose of preserving American History in print for posterity. It includes the original text of both books, as well as their footnotes, and has the new addition of multple photos of Lee and many other personalities and places from the Civil War.