The Heart of a Warrior

lee saying goodbye to soldiers

General Lee taking leave of his men

On Christmas Day, 1862, from Fredericksburg, VA, Lee wrote the following:

“Oh, if our people would only recognize it (God’s protection) and cease from self-boasting and adulation, how strong would be my belief in the final success and happiness to our country! But what a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world!”

 Man of Prayer

Sixteen months later, General Lee issued orders for the troops to observe a “day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer.” This is part of that proclamation:

“Soldiers! Let us humble ourselves . . . asking through Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, beseeching the aid of the God of our forefathers in the defense of our homes and our liberties, thanking Him for His past blessings, and imploring their continuance upon our cause and our people.”

 Robert E Lee believed that intercessory prayer is “our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today,” and he urged the men to pray:

“Let there be prayer at sunup . . . at noonday . . . at sundown . . . at midnight. Pray for our churches . . . our children. . . our youth . . . our aged . . . our pastors . . . our homes . . . ourselves . . . our nation . . . those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love . . . for moral forces everywhere . . . for our national leaders.”

“Let prayer be our Passion. Let prayer be our Practice.” 

The Theory of Evolution

The chaplain overheard some soldiers talking around a campfire one night about the recent invention of the theory of evolution. One soldier spoke up: “Well, boys, the rest of us may have developed from monkeys; but I tell you, none the less than God could have made such a man as Marse Robert.”

In June, 1865, eyebrows raised and gasps shuddered through the room when a Negro man went forward for communion in a church service. Robert E. Lee, in his usual dignified and self-possessed manner, walked to the communion table and knelt to partake of communion near the man. Ever the receiver of respect and carrier of the scepter of liberty, General Robert E. Lee, the man, was loved by soldier and citizen, free and bound.

The End of War Looms

Near the end of the war, when one of Lee’s generals suggested rallying more recruits to the Confederate cause, General Lee had this to say:

“General, you and I as Christian men . . . must consider its effects on the country as a whole. Already it is demoralized by four years of war. If I took your advice, the men . . . would become mere bands of marauders, and the enemy’s cavalry would pursue them and overrun many wide sections . . . We would bring on a state of affairs it would take the country years to recover from.”


The arrest of Robert E. Lee

The arrest of Robert E. Lee

June, 1865, Robert E. Lee was indicted for treason by the United States Grand Jury in Norfolk, Virginia. When friends responded in indignation, ever the gentleman, Lee responded calmly:

“I have fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South dearest rights. But I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings, and have never seen the day when I didn’t not pray for them.”



Historical accounts have a way of elevating individuals to the top, to set an example for the rest of us. So too, accounts are ever-so-capable of fanning the flames of indignation and agendas that often change like the bend of the wind. Our country and society have transformed with such drastic morbidity that we no longer recognize the value of by-gone mores and the sentiments of good men for what they are: paths, traces, highways—with ROAD CLOSED and DETOUR signs that leap from the landscape. What is to become of us? I close with a quote that loomed large and convicting in the front of my classroom in years past:

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

                                                                       —George Santayana






 HISTORY              ROBERT E. LEE                  CIVIL WAR           WAR OF NORTHERN AGGRESSION

GENERAL LEE     PRAYER                               GOOD MEN          AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

WAR                       FAMOUS GENERALS

Bibliography: America’s God and Country, WJ Federer


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