Blue Ridge PBS's Civil War Series
Hosted by Dr. James I. Robertson
For information on ordering The Civil War Series
Episode Nine - Robert E. Lee: His Life and Legacy
James I. Robertson, Jr. and William C. Davis, Virginia Tech's distinguished author/historian team, trace the life of a man who lived by a simple code: Honor-Duty-Valor. His God of Man also became his God of battle.
Virginia had been in existence for 180 years when the United States was created. Lee family roots had been planted deep in Virginia soil for 130 of those years. Lee's father had signed the Declaration of independence; yet when the son had to make a decision between state and nation, Robert E. Lee could not forsake his birthright.
Follow the brilliant, sad, inspirational journey of Lee in this documentary. The West Point years and engineering accomplishments precede extraordinary courage in the Mexican War. It was Lee who commanded troops sent to subdue John Brown at Harper's Ferry in the 1859 raid that many consider the first shots fired in the Civil War. When that war came 18 months later Lee turned down command of all Union forces because he could not wage war against his beloved Old Dominion.
In the spring of 1862, Lee took command of the Confederate's premier fighting force. He and his Army of Northern Virginia made unforgettable history. Undersized, ill equipped, poorly fed but superbly led, "Lee's Miserables" waged one of the most valiant defenses in the history of warfare. The Seven days, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Spottsylvania to Petersburg and Appomattox - all comprise a story of bravery and sacrifice now an integral art of the American heritage.
When the cause was lost, Lee the soldier sought reconciliation by becoming Lee the educator. He accepted the presidency of impoverished Washington College in Lexington. In five years Lee made the school one of the finest liberal arts colleges in existence. Small wonder that at Lee's death in 1870, the whole nation mourned.
To this day, the Virginia soldier and American citizen remains one of history's most respected figures.