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General Robert E. Lee

"Save That Of Honour"
Gen. Robert E. Lee
Image Size 11" x 15"
Release Date: March 2001
Edition size 500: 50 A/P: 25 P/P

Price: Regular edition of 500: $140.00 Unframed plus $10.00 Flat shipping

Price: Regular edition of 500: $300.00 Handsomely and professionally Framed plus $40.00 shipping

General Robert E. Lee, CSA
USMA, Class of 1829

“There is no sacrifice I am not ready to make for the preservation of the Union, Save that of Honour.”

Robert E. Lee was born of the aristocracy and the slave-holding class of Virginia and the South. His sense of honor and his devotion to his home state would not allow him to lift up arms against her. After the opening shots of the Civil War on Fort Sumter in April of 1861 Lee met with Winfield Scott and Francis Preston Blair, Sr. Empowered by Lincoln and Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, Blair and Scott were instructed to offer Lee the command of the new volunteer Army then being raised to put down the Southern rebellion. Meeting with each man separately, Lee declined their offer, stating that although he opposed secession he could not lift his sword against his fellow southerners.

The most difficult decision of his distinguished military career would ultimately shape the history of the American Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg. Lee’s generalship would achieve legendary status and make him an icon of both America and “The Lost Cause” of the Confederacy.

Lee was born in Virginia on January 19, 1807. His father was Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, a heroic cavalry officer during the American Revolutionary War. Other relatives had signed the Declaration of Independence, served in George Washington’s Cabinet and served in Congress. He was instilled with a strong sense of duty toward his Country, a deciding factor in his and his family’s choice to secure him an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Lee began his long career as a soldier in 1825. His time at West Point was exemplary. He never received a demerit and maintained an excellent academic record. He graduated in 1829, second in his class of 45 members. He received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers on July 1, 1829.

For the next 30 years he would serve his country well at various posts around the U. S. This time would include exemplary service during the Mexican War in 1846 and 1847. Under the command of General Winfield Scott, Lee participated in the campaign from Vera Cruz to Mexico City. He fought meritoriously in the battles at Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Churubusco and Chapultepec. From 1852-1855, Lee served as Superintendent of the Academy at West Point

It was Colonel Robert E. Lee who directed a Marine detachment to secure the fire engine house at the U S Armory at Harper’s Ferry on October 17, 1859. Abolitionist John Brown had raided the Armory there and was holed up with hostages in the firehouse. The Marines assaulted the house, freed the prisoners unhurt and killed all of the raiders but John Brown and three others.

The highest rank that Robert E. Lee would hold in the US Army was that of Col. of the 1st Cavalry. He tendered the resignation of that commission on April 20, 1861 after his meetings with Blare and Scott. 3 Days later on April 23, he accepted an offer from his native state’s Governor, John Letter, to take Command of Virginia’s military forces with the rank of Major General.

In the Portrait “Save That Of Honour” I have striven to capture the quiet dignity of General Robert E. Lee. I have always felt that there is a sadness in his eyes, seen in most of the photographic portraits taken of him during the Civil War. Although he loved his native state and fought for her and the Confederacy, I have always felt that he was torn between that allegiance and his allegiance to the United States and its army that he served so well and for so long. Above all, Robert E Lee was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.

“Save That Of Honour” is my tribute to Robert E. Lee and his deep sense of honor. That honor sustained him and carried him well throughout the turbulent Civil War years, right up to his noble and dignified surrender at Appomatox Court House in April of 1865.

Paul R. Martin III
January, 2000

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