Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee
The Army of Northern Virginia

Links to Documents on the GDG Site

> Orders to JEB Stuart January 20, 1864 (The Official Records)

Report To Jefferson Davis June 23, 1863 (The Official Records)

Funeral of Robert E. LeeVol.41 p.188, Southern Historical Society Papers

Letters To Jefferson Davis July 4-July 16, 1863 (The Official Records)

Lee's Farewell from the collections of Stratford Hall

Orders to JEB Stuart January 20, 1864 (The Official Records)

The Pardon of Robert E. Lee

Writing by Members of the GDG

Robert E. Lee: A Life Portrait by Dave Eicher

Discussions by Members of the GDG

Lee's Health at Gettysburg - Heart Attack? Too many Cherries?
Turning Points At Gettysburg - From High Tide to Ebb Tide
Lee's Retreat - Meade's Pursuit?
Lee Considered - Again

From: (John Blair)
Subject: Lee's condition at Gettysburg

This was sent several days ago but I have not seen it echoed back. If this is a repost - my appologies.

Here are a couple of things from Glen Tucker's "High Tide at Gettysburg" regarding Lee's physical condition.

On page 49 (June 27) he says

In Maryland and Pennsylvania Lee apparently made the mistake of eating an abundance of fresh fruit. The entire army indulged in the cherries. On his earlier invasion of Maryland a lad named Leighton Parks had met him and now Parks returned with a quantity of raspberries for the General. Fresh raw fruit undoubtedly was the cause of Lee's partial indisposition on the second day of the battle of Gettysburg.

Later on page 88 (June 29) Tucker is discussing Lee's aggravation regarding the missing Stewart.

Lee's apprehension extending almost to physical agony, impressed itself forcibly on Dr. J. L. Suesserott, one of Chambersurg's leading physicians, although the doctor did not understand its cause. He went to Lee on Monday, June 29, to obtain an exemption of his neighbor's blind mare form seizure. While Lee had the paper prepared, the doctor studied the features and movements of the noted commander. He said he had never seen so much emotion depicted on a human countenance as on Lee's. "With his hands at time clutching his hair, and with con- tracted brow, he would walk with rapid strides for a few rods and then, as if he bethought himself of his actions, he would with a sudden jerk produce an entire change in his features and demeanor and cast an in- quiring gaze on me, only to be followed in a moment by the same con- tortions of face and agitation of person" Even if allowance is made for some exaggeration, it is clear that Lee was deeply disturbed or Physically unwell.

Imagine that Lee is so distracted that he momentarily forgets that there is another man in the tent with him. He paces, turns and realizes now that he is not alone. He is focused on, or perhaps obsessed with Stewart's whereabouts. Now re-read the Dr's quote. He (Lee) sees that he is not alone. He "casts an inquiring gaze" and may be about to ask, "Can you tell me where Stewart is?", or some such. Before he speaks he knows that his guest will know nothing about Stewart and begins his pacing anew. As I read the Dr's words I see Lee repeating this behaviour over and over again. The commander of the Army of Northern Virginia probably has an upset stomach with diarrhea, may be mentally unbalanced, is certainly distracted at this moment atleast, and probably was suffering the effects of a heart condition. Now the question is not whether Sheen did justice to Lee, the question is, how the HELL did Lee manage to do so well at Gettysburg? ('scuze me, ladies) This raises another question. If Lee had decided to temporarily relieve himself from command, who would he have placed in his stead, (my guess is Longstreet), and how would the new commander have behaved differently than Lee? (or is it "differently from"?)

One of my facinations with history is how fragile, for lack of a better word, the reality is. What tiny events can conspire to change all of history. The famous three cigars of Sharpsburg, for instance. If the two enlistedmen had taken a break just 10 yards distant from those cigars....... If Lee had not had a couple of handsfulls of probably not quite ripe rasspberries..... If it had not been foggy on the Gulf of Tonkin -- yea, I know, Johnson would have found another excuse - the ba@#$^^! But I digress.

John Blair