Death of Lee Shocked the City As No Other
Richmond Virginia


News of the death of Robert E. Lee, beloved chieftain of the Southern army, whose strategy mainly was responsible for the surprising fight staged by the Confederacy, brought a two-day halt to Richmond's business activities.

The general died in the peace of his home at Lexington at 9:30 A. M., October 12, 1870. His end marked the close of his efforts, as president of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University, to educate the youth of the country, a task he selected above all others after the surrender at Appomattox.

Died Paroled Prisoner

Five years had passed since he last gave orders to his army, but Lee never was pardoned by the Federal Government. He died a paroled soldier of a quondam enemy force.

During his last few years, the white-haired old man manifested no bitter feeling for the North. In fact, he tried whenever opportunity afforded to restore peace and harmony, urging people of the South to forget their Lost Cause and to work diligently to restore the country which the enemy had torn down.

Lee never took the oath of allegiance. He once told General Meade he had no personal reasons for not doing so, but that he did not intend to end his standing as a paroled prisoner of war until he knew what policy the Federal Government would pursue toward the South.

Then came President Jackson's proclamation, offering amnesty and pardon to all except a few who were required to make special application. Lee was among this latter group. Accordingly, he wrote both General Grant and the President, but his pardon did not come.

Crepe on Every Door

Richmond was affected deeply by the death of the man who had kept the Yankees away from her door for so long a time. Public buildings were draped and almost every home in the city had crepe upon its door. The United States Flag was placed at half mast here.

Although the burial was held at Lexington on October 15, Richmond observed the day as if interment were to follow here. Bells were tolled from morning until night.

The City Council held a special session and asked that Lee's body be brought to Hollywood, where already lay several other heroes of the Confederacy, but the remains were kept at Lexington and later were placed in a crypt at the Lee Memorial Chapel on the campus of Washington and Lee, where they lie beneath the recumbent statue of the great soldier prepared by Edward V. Valentine, Richmond sculptor.

 

 

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  This site  was last updated 06/10/2004 09:32:38 AM CDT

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