Monday, October 15, 2007

October 12, 1870, Robert E. Lee's last day

Just because I forgot to post on the 137th Anniv. of General Lee's death here we go. Lee suffered a stroke on September 28th from which he never recovered. Lee died from the effects of pneumonia, a little after 9 a.m., October 12, 1870, two weeks after the stroke, in Lexington, Virginia. According to history his last words were "Strike the tent" and that he revisitied Virginia battlefields in his dreamish state. The stoke made speaking nearly impossible for Robert E. Lee. This was backed up by Mary Lee and others who were present at Lee's bedside. It is likely that his famous last words were conjured up by Lee supporters and Lost Cause leaders.

According to J. William Jones' Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee, his last words, on the day of his death, were:

"Tell Hill he must come up. Strike the tent."

Ken Burns film The Civil War uses Jones account. I do not know if Jones was at Lee's bedside and even if he was the family of Lee wrote of his passing. Again, Mary Lee and one of Lee's daughters wrote of Robert's death scene and neither of them make any mention of any last words. Furthermore, Lee's stroke caused Aphasia and this would have made communication impossible. Whatever you wish to believe General Lee died on his day. He was 63 years old or was he???? Read my other blog about General Lee's age at the time of his death.

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