The Making of Robert E. Lee
by Michael Fellman
is a biography of the famous Confederate general. It looks mostly at his character and beliefs. It says relatively little about the details of particular battles, though it speculates about why he may have made particular choices.
Fellman describes Robert E. Lee's singular position as the son of Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee
, a hero of the American War of Independence
. His relatively impoverished upbringing, after his father lost most of his fortune and suffered injuries that later killed him after being attacked by a mob in Baltimore
. But how he remained part of the close-knit elite of Virginia.
Young Robert E. Lee made a great impression as a cadet at West Point
. Despite his lack of wealth he married Mary Anna Randolph Custis
, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington and step-granddaughter of George Washington
. And the problems he had when he had to manage her father's plantation after she inherited it. Fellman discusses the accusations made that Lee had had some runaway slaves whipped, and reckons them to be broadly true.
Fellman argued that Lee successfully modelled himself on the ideal of George Washington, achieving a very high degree of self-control according to the ideals of the southern gentry. That though Lee had reservations about slavery, he was against abolishing it and wished that all freed blacks could be sent back to Africa. Fellman also argues that Lee was out of tune... Read More