Magazine October 5, 2020, Issue

The Mystery of Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee (Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images)
He prized self-control above all, but did not always achieve it

No one who ever met Robert Edward Lee — whatever the circumstances of the meeting — failed to be impressed by the man. From his earliest days as a cadet at West Point, through 25 years as an officer in the U.S. Army’s Corps of Engineers and six more as a senior cavalry officer, and then as the supreme commander of the armies of the Confederacy, Lee’s dignity, his manners, his composure, all seemed to create a peculiar sense of awe in the minds of observers. In the midst of the battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, Lee astonished Francis

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Allen C. GuelzoMr. Guelzo is the senior research scholar in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University and the director of the James Madison Program’s Initiative on Politics and Statesmanship.

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