“Marse Robert is Asleep”
“The thirtieth anniversary of Lee’s surrender (April 9, 1865) finds the character of the vanquished General a model to which all may refer with approval. “His modesty was his highest virtue,” said a learned critic. Gen. Winfield Scott, commander of the United States armies, under whom Lee served in Mexico, said, “He was the best soldier I ever saw in the field.”
When he surrendered the remnant of his army, which had been invincible so many years, Gen. Meade, in conversation with him, asked how many men he had at Petersburg, when his lines were broken, and Lee replied “Forty thousand.” Meade said, “I am amazed, and could not believe it were it not you who said it.” [Grant’s strength was at least 110,000 men]
When terms of capitulation were agreed upon, and the officer who had gone to take an inventory of Lee’s army, reported to Gen. Grant, stating that there were 8,000 men for duty, 120 cannon, etc., Grant refused to permit the firing of any salute of victory. In every way he showed his appreciation of the heroism and long persistence of Gen. Lee.
In a tribute to his character, Rev. Dr. Henry M. Field, who was reared in the Berkshire Hills of New England, a born abolitionist, but who venerates the memory of his “Black Mammy” as do Southerners, visited Lexington, Va., and concludes a tribute as follows:
“As I took a last look at the recumbent statue, I observed that its base bore no epitaph; no words of praise were carved upon the stone. Only above it on the wall was the name “Robert Edward Lee,” with the two dates, “Born January 19, 1807, Died October 12, 1870.”
That is all, but it is enough, for any eulogy would but detract from the spell of that single name: “One of the few, the immortal names, That were not born to die.”