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February 20, 2024 68 mins

Robert and Prop continue the story of Bobby Lee to the climax of his life: his decision to turn traitor and fight for the Confederacy.

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
Media, what's losing my Civil War?

Speaker 2 (00:09):
I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.

Speaker 1 (00:11):
I didn't know how to I've got I've got one
for part four. I promise you got one for part four,
but I didn't have one for part three. Uh, this
is all behind the Bastards a podcast about Robert E.
Lee for the last week or so.

Speaker 2 (00:26):
Mister silver medal head ass, mister.

Speaker 1 (00:28):
Let's get I'll give me a bronze, right your bronze dude.

Speaker 3 (00:32):
My one of my favorite moments in history was the
first time I got to go to Crow Nation, Montana,
the like little big horn sitting bull monument, and that
this whole thing for General Custard, like this whole statue
for it, and I'm looking at him and I'm like,
this is a second place trophy that man lost, Like.

Speaker 2 (00:56):
Participation, you get statues for losing like anyway.

Speaker 1 (01:00):
I also, on a separate note, I think it's funny
that we ever give out bronze medals because like gold,
obviously precious, never tarnishes, silver a lot harder to tarnish,
also pretty precious, and then bronze, Like, come on, guys,
we stopped using that ship for swords, like two thousand
years ago. That's a team.

Speaker 2 (01:18):
It's named in age like it means a time.

Speaker 3 (01:21):
Yeah, the bronze age which medal, Yeah, we'll give We'll
give Robert E.

Speaker 1 (01:26):
Lee a bronze medals, bronze Welcome, Welcome back to the show.
Everybody say again, Jason Petty aka PROP. In our first
two episodes, we established the background and life of Robert E.

Speaker 3 (01:39):
Lee.

Speaker 1 (01:40):
In part two we talked about some pretty fucking unpleasant stuff.
And today we're we're answering the question. We're getting into
kind of the critical moment of Bobby Lee's life, right,
which is his decision to become a trader, to go
back on his oath to the United States and his
oath of loyalty in service to the military, uh, and

(02:02):
become a fucking trader. So that's that's what I do.

Speaker 2 (02:05):
Think he's a Bobby. I think he's a Robbie. You
think he's a Robbie instead, And Robbin said, because I
like to call you Bobby.

Speaker 1 (02:13):
And I don't want to, but I hate being called that.

Speaker 3 (02:16):
Yeah, but that's what's fun about it, and I don't
want the association. So I think he's a Robbie because
he's also he robs, he sucks, he does, he does suck,
And it couldn't be it couldn't be a better time
to talk about this, especially with what's going on in
the Supreme Court about like, yes, what is what is reason?
What is treason? What's a trader? Yeah, this law only

(02:38):
applies to everyone except for the highest office.

Speaker 2 (02:40):
I'm sorry, what.

Speaker 1 (02:41):
Well with Robert It's at least stay a clearer case
of treatretty because there's really there's really no other way
to look at this.

Speaker 3 (02:48):
But I don't nobody this article three is about you, bam. Yeah,
the law exists because of y'all.

Speaker 1 (02:56):
It's not a hard question like as to whether or
not this guy is guilty. And it's one of those
things where within kind of the Lost Cause mythology and
within all of like the coverage of Lee's life that's
sort of influenced by Lost Cause shit, this always still
gets softened. It's weird we have this like hatred in
the United States of actually calling traders traders if they're

(03:17):
like white conservatives. Yeah, and that does actually extend to
Bobby Lee. Like I just said, it was very clear,
but people still do this shit, and it kind of
make that case, I'm going to start again by reading
from our huge head on the cover children's book Who
was Robert E.

Speaker 2 (03:30):
Lee?

Speaker 1 (03:30):
Which I'm giving these books some shit. They're actually not
that bad. There's actually a decent amount of really good
historic information, and they come across as like pretty negative
towards the Confederacy. Why I keep bringing them up is
because they still include these bits like this one where
where they're taught they're introducing the concept of like the
Civil War that we had killed about a million people

(03:52):
and Robert's participation in it, and this is how they
describe it. Robert grew up with a great love for
his country, yet in eighteen sixty one, the country he's
so admired was torn apart by the start of the
Civil War. Robert was torn too. He wanted the country
to remain united. He did not want the South to
break away from the United States and form a separate country.
But that is what happened. And what they're doing there,

(04:13):
they're using that like special exonerative case of like English
grammar that you normally use for police or the IDF
where it's like the country was torn apart.

Speaker 2 (04:23):
Listen, who who torn it apart? Yeah?

Speaker 1 (04:26):
Who made that decision. Why wasn't torn apart?

Speaker 2 (04:29):
You know, it's like that's.

Speaker 1 (04:31):
Like, yeah, yeah, yeah, a kid in Chicago walked into
a police officer's bullet, Like how did that happen?

Speaker 2 (04:37):
Yeah, exactly that, And.

Speaker 3 (04:39):
I'm like, dude, just hearing them say it, it's like
I made the mistake because, again, the child of a
rather militant man that I thought, your children need to
know as quick as possible when they ready to know
the world they about to step into.

Speaker 2 (04:56):
So I had.

Speaker 3 (04:59):
No problem, I feel terrible about it now showing my
third grade daughter images of the Middle Passage and what
the what slave ships and how it looked and how
we was laid out. I had no problem showing her this.
My wife was like, Jason, she's eight years old. Maybe

(05:20):
there's a more sanitized way to reveal this truth to her.
And I was like, it's not sanitized. You can't clean
up even right. So I was like, no, you gotta
tell them, you know. Now, second time around, having another child,
I was like, yeah, this's probably a probably an age
appropriate way to like lay out this, you know. So

(05:41):
I'm saying that to say in on one hand, the
Big Head Books is like this is four children. There's
got to be a more age There's got to be
an age appropriate way to say what's going on. I'm
my argument is, I don't know if that's what they're
doing though, Like that's more lost cause z and sanitized

(06:02):
way to do it, you know.

Speaker 1 (06:05):
Yeah, yeah, it really is. And I'm frustrated by this,
but it also it's so consistent among the way people
talk about Lee and I go, you know, there is
one thing I do kind of I think is appropriate
about this, although I don't think it means to be,
which is one of the ways you do have to
look at from the perspective of people like Lee and

(06:26):
Lee is he's going to be an active player obviously
in the treason of the South, but he's not up
until the point that secession crisis starts, right He's not
a guy who's in politics. He's not a guy who's
advocating for secession prior to that. And for people like him,
which is most of the country, I think there is
actually a little bit in the way in which all

(06:47):
of this comes on like a storm, like a weather pattern,
and I think that those of us sitting in the
country right now watching shit escalate to who knows what
the fuck's gonna happen later this year with the election,
you can to some and empathize with, like, yeah, these
massive civil conflicts that up to a certain point, it's
a small chunk of the country that's actively ratcheting things

(07:08):
towards calamity and for the rest of us trying to
just trying to make rent, trying to like live your life.
It does feel like a fucking storm hitting right. I
don't say that to take any agency away from him,
but I did. I found myself kind of torn between
those two things right where I was just like, true,
I do kind of feel like that sometimes, like it's
a weather pattern that just moved in and you have
to just kind of brace for it.

Speaker 2 (07:29):
Braw feel you.

Speaker 3 (07:30):
Man. There's even when we get into the Lost Cause episodes,
the man, I keep going back to this. But the
more that I say it, as much as I am
a victim of that shit, it is it's so human,
like the way that it's snowballed into being what it
it's become, it's a human And then if you're not

(07:54):
one of the creators of it, it's just you're just
you just happen to live in Tuscaloosa.

Speaker 2 (08:01):
You know what I'm saying.

Speaker 3 (08:02):
You're just like, I mean, yeah, this is the air
we breathe, you know, it's so human.

Speaker 2 (08:09):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (08:09):
Yes, And that's kind of the only bits from Lee
that are a little bit understandable, where he's writing back
to his family as like stuff is escalating towards open
violence and is like I can't believe this is happening,
Like why is no one stopping this? Where it's like
he's on the wrong side of it, But that basic
emotion of like how the fuck is this happening? I

(08:29):
do actually understand to a degree of thanks. Yeah, It's
just it's one of those things I'm reading right now,
the book Nixon Land Again, which which covers like this
massive period, this very undercover period in US history where
all there was this unbelievable wave of violence towards the
anti war movement, people assassinated and murdered for handing out

(08:50):
pamphlets against the Vietnam War in the streets. That happen
over and over again. And there's almost a degree which
it's comforting, not because that's good, because it's terrible that
that happened, but because when I hear about the wave
of violence that's hitting us now, particularly over like the
anti war and Gaza movement, just to know that like,
all right, well this isn't a historic novelty, Yeah, this

(09:12):
is not This is something that happens again and again,
you know, And I guess just knowing people made it
like went through that before. It's not good, but it
is like, okay, we're not letting an unprecedented times exactly anyway.
So in other words, while Lee is going to exercise
a huge amount of agency from kind of the start
of hostilities on afterwards, he is kind of carried along

(09:35):
by the tide of history in the couple of years
prior to things. And he's going to spend the lead
up to the eighteen sixty election actually in San Antonio,
watching the Democratic Party shatter in the face of Lincoln's
campaign and this debate over what to do about slavery.
And it's this very interesting moment where he is like
put into conflict with secessionists.

Speaker 2 (09:55):
We don't live.

Speaker 1 (09:56):
This isn't really a period of Lee that I thought about,
but like, he is a federal officer in a state
that is actively preparing to secede, and he becomes the
target of secessionist anger, right, because he's this representative of
the federal government that he's going to wind up fighting against.
But that hasn't happened yet, and so it puts him
in this very conflicted position. The New York Times, kind

(10:18):
of echoing Lee's own thoughts in this period, writes that
extremists in the Democratic Party were delighted at the idea
of a Lincoln victory quote which will give them an
opportunity to rally the South in favor of dissillusion. In
other words, secessionists are being written about and discussed by
the centrists of the day as much as accelerationists are today,
right where there's this like attitude that will A lot

(10:40):
of secessionists want Lincoln to win because they think it's
going to inevitably provoke him this conflict that we have
to have, right, And Lee is diehard against Lincoln, obviously,
but he's and he's against Lincoln in part because he
wants He thinks that like he agrees with the accelerationists, Basically,
he doesn't want Lincoln to win, like the acceleration it's stupid.

(11:01):
He agrees that if Lincoln wins, the conflict is inevitable right.

Speaker 3 (11:05):
There's this thing like I'm thinking about I get this
sometimes I get this like anti feeling, like it's it's
very unique to my career. But like when you're backstage
at like a big event or a festival concert and
you see all the wires like all over there, like
I'm like, I'm antsy that I'm like, let's just get
it over with, and someone pull a chord, like just

(11:26):
rip it up, just get it over with, like just.

Speaker 2 (11:28):
Somebody do it.

Speaker 3 (11:29):
Somebody destroy it, like or like if you know, for
like some more violent stuff, when you're just like let's
just fight, let's just do it, Like waiting for it's worse.
It's like, let's just let's just fight. When you've been
in a lot of violent situations. Yeah, you understand this intimately,
which is that bracing for impact is worse than impact.

(11:49):
It's worse, yes, yes, it's more so worse. It's not
necessarily worse because you can die from impact. Yeah, but
it's more thinking about it. Yeah, your fear. You're just like,
it's just let's just do it. Let's get it over with.
You know.

Speaker 1 (12:02):
It's the same reason most Americans are more scared of
being on a plane than they are driving, even though
you're a thousand times in more danger while driving, but
you're in control of the car at least theoretically right now, realistically,
are you in control of some drunk eye smashing and
fucking miata. No, of course not, but in your head
at least your behind the wheel as opposed to sitting
in a jet where you're much safer, but you have

(12:24):
no agency on what's going to happen, right, And that
is that is like most of the country, including Roberty
Lee at this point, and for him it's it is
particularly I'm not trying to say like empathize with him,
but you need to understand where his head is. Right
after Lincoln wins, South Carolina authorizes a secession convention and
this really sparks secession fever across the South, where Lee

(12:46):
is a federal representative and he writes home to his family,
the lone Star is floating all over this state as
Texan independence becomes that people are like putting up lone
star flags around the fort that he's at rights and
that's a threat, right, you know.

Speaker 2 (13:00):
Yeah, that's that's pretty poetic to say it like that.

Speaker 3 (13:02):
The lone Star is floating all over the state, and
I'm like, yeah, I hate I hate that. That's kind
of poetic jerk.

Speaker 1 (13:07):
He's not a terrible writer. Most people were better writers
back then because you kind of had to be you
could write. Yeah, the discourse around all this was as
detached from reality as it is today, with one text
and paper shrieking the North has gone overwhelmingly for Negro
equality and Southern vassalage. Southern men, will you submit to
this degradation?

Speaker 3 (13:27):
So it is about oh whoa, oh so it is
about the negro Oh yeah, you just say there was
no debate about that at the time. Yeah, exactly. So
it's about so it's about the okay, got it? Yeah,
it really is some like white lives matter shit right,
very much so.

Speaker 2 (13:44):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (13:44):
And so by December, Texas hasn't started its own secession
convention and Lee when this happens. He writes home to
his wife and he's basically like, yeah, if they succeed,
I will head home, you know, I will, I will
like return, I promise, And he's it's because she's worried
he's going to get killed by some Texas you know.
That's and that's not an unrealistic threat. It started in

(14:05):
Fort Sumter, but it could have started in Texas. There's
no reason for it not to have, you know. And
so while Lee is in conflict with the secession is
at this point, he's also it's also very clear from
his letters that he was open, even at this early
stage to the idea of fighting against the United States
and breaking his oath. He expressed his wife a desire

(14:27):
to fight under no other flag than the Star spangled banner.
But he also said I would fight in defense of
Virginia and and what else could that mean but successionally?

Speaker 2 (14:36):
Right, Yeah, And.

Speaker 1 (14:37):
It's this The fact that he always phrases it that
way is evidence of a kind of wishy washiness that
is belied by his claims to be anti secession because
while secessionists are preaching nothing but revolution, and he says, like,
I think that's irresponsible, but he also consistently says I
would fight in defense of Virginia. He just doesn't have

(14:59):
the courage to admit I am, in fact, willing to.

Speaker 3 (15:02):
Say say you came in Oh yeah, yeah, just say it,
bro like it is what it is. And maybe it's like, yeah,
like the not to give him any grace, but yeah,
just the piece of him that's like still kind of
think this is stupid, but I'm definitely down, so like
this is the way I can make my brain get
around it.

Speaker 1 (15:22):
I kind of have more respect for that, like random
those like assholes in the Texas paper who are like,
this is a wall for white equality and we'll fight it,
because at least they're like, yeah, you're being honest about
what you're willing to do. You know, this is what
we're doing. Lee is just kind of pussy footing around it. Yeah,
and this continues. This is like a Lee family tradition
because fitz Hugh Lee's book, which I've quoted from several times,

(15:43):
written in I think eighteen ninety six, makes it clear
that Lee's decision to join the Confederacy wasn't just something
he did because he felt there were no other options.
It was based on his fundamental sympathy for the Southern cause,
which is the cause of slavery. Lee wrote, quote the South,
in my opinion, it's been aggrieved by the acts of
the North. As you say, I feel the aggression, and

(16:04):
I am willing to take every proper step for address.
It is the principle I contend for not individual or
private benefit. As an American citizen, I take great pride
in my country, her prosperity, and her institutions, and would
defend any state if her rights were invaded. And it's like, yeah, no,
you wouldn't.

Speaker 2 (16:20):
Enough because you could.

Speaker 1 (16:22):
You would not defend a state in which slavery was
illegal or if the Fugitive Slave Acts were forced off right,
which they were. You are not willing to actually defend
any state. You're willing to defend states who want to
have slaves. That's what you're willing to defend.

Speaker 3 (16:35):
The thought hasn't crossed my mind till literally right now
that he could have fought for the Union.

Speaker 1 (16:41):
Yeah, that was an option, and in fact, Lee is
a full bird colonel. By the time the war starts.
There were nine full bird colonels from Virginia at the
start of the Civil War. Eight of them sided with
the Union.

Speaker 3 (16:54):
Wow I could Yeah, yeah that like that just not
the wind at all, Like alle o, nah fam you
ai Yeah yeah, okay. I was like, so you're telling
me all the homies, all of them you wouldn't like.
So you you going against the grain, So you standing
all your all going against the grain, and you.

Speaker 1 (17:15):
Try to tell me you was conflicted about this. It
is as we'll get into. It's always portrayed. It's like, well,
he just felt like he had no option, you know,
once Virginia was involved, that's where his heart was, That's
where he had to go. That's not true.

Speaker 2 (17:25):
Well, first of all, he lived at Texas one, so
we'll get to that. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (17:31):
Eleven states voted to secede from the Union. They did
so under declarations that the heart of the issue they
were succeeding over was slavery. Right. South Carolina cited in
their secession and they're the first state to do its
sites in their secession declaration and increasing hostility on the
part of non slave holding states to the institution of slavery.
In Mississippi's declaration of secession, they stated, quote, there was

(17:53):
no choice less to us, but submission to the mandates
of abolition or a dissolution of the Union, which is
both untrue and what the whole crisis is about, because
like Lincoln, by the way, had absolutely no intention of
ending slavery. There was a desire to stop the expansion
of it to new states, right, like he was not
going like it's very clear. Yeah, yeah, he was not

(18:14):
willing to do that, you know, he was not that based. Now,
it is worth noting that Lee's sympathy for the Southern
cause still did not entirely at this point rule out
the chance that he might fight for the Union, and
in fact, if the war had started in Texas rather
than at Fort Sumter, I think he probably would have
sided with the Union purely because Lee is this kind
of guy. Again, he is willing to eventually resign his

(18:38):
commission and take up one in Virginia to fight for
the Confederacy. But if secessionists had marched on the fort
where he was stationed in Texas to try to take
their shit, he probably would have fought them purely because
that was personal.

Speaker 3 (18:53):
Yeah, and it was his job, man, Like, Yeah, how
DAREI fuck y'all doing?

Speaker 2 (18:57):
How dare y'all run up on me? You know? Well,
you know what? Because you running up on me? Yeah? Yeah.

Speaker 1 (19:02):
That is kind of an interesting counterfactual. If he would
have like wound up against his will fighting against who
would have been the new maybe Jackson or somebody. It
would have been the new Lee of the Confederacy, Yeah, Stonewall.
And it's interesting, Like, again, I don't give him like
much moral credit for that, but I think it is
a possibility for a while. However, fairly quickly it becomes
not possible, because, like, not long after he writes, you know,

(19:25):
some of these letters back to his wife, he's relieved
of duty at Fort Mason in San Antonio and sent
to Washington to report to the head of the US Army.
His journey north was awkward, to say the least. The
Texas Rangers were out in force and federal officials who
were leaving Texas because this is he's part of kind
of a flight where the government's like, well, we should
probably get our people out of here, like this is,

(19:46):
this is there's a good chance this is gonna go back.

Speaker 2 (19:49):
It's all bad, like feeling this.

Speaker 1 (19:51):
Yeah, he's not quite escorted underguard the entire way, but
he and the others who are kind of like bouncing
are are watched pretty carefully, and he's concerned enough for
his safety that in short order when he starts his journey,
he changes into civilian clothes. One colleague at the time
claims that he quote declared that the position he held
was a neutral one and that he intended to go home,

(20:12):
resign from the army and plant corn. The website American
Heritage Rights quote. When he drove away from Texas, a
fellow officer called after him, Colonel, do you intend to
go south or remain north? Lee stuck his head out
of the covered wagon and replied, I shall never bear
arms against the United States, but it may be necessary
for me to carry a musket in defense of my
native state, Virginia, in which case I will not prove

(20:33):
recreant to my duty. In another moment of surprise confliction,
Lee confusedly declared, while I wish to do what is right,
I am unwilling to do what is not, either at
the bidding of the South or the North. So he
just he can't. He's just kind of a kind of gormless.
He can't make take us. He's always saying I will
fight for the Confederacy if it comes to that, But
he's also never willing to say, yeah, I'm willing to

(20:55):
turn trader right.

Speaker 2 (20:56):
Yeah, it is such a weazly thing.

Speaker 1 (21:00):
Yeah, so it's when snitches for his courage.

Speaker 2 (21:02):
Yeah, it's when snitches and rats keep going. But I'm
not a rat.

Speaker 3 (21:05):
I'm not a snitch, And I'm like, you're currently snitching
at this very moment, you are snitching to make tween.

Speaker 1 (21:12):
Yeah, these January sixth insurrectionists who are like, h it
was Antifa. I got tricked. It was just we were
just sight seeing. And the ones who were like, yeah,
it was an insurrection and like, I'll go to prison.
I respect that, you know that's the plan. They're not
good people, and I want I want them to stop.
But like, of course that is at least someone who's
taking a stand and yeah, you.

Speaker 3 (21:33):
Got honest about the stand there take Yeah, you got
a code, man, I would say as as a side
note for everybody's life, kid, I think one of those
things is, yes, you should have a code. There should
be there's you should all and I don't I can't
tell you what that code is, but you should all
live by a code. To me, one of one of
my core values is I say what I mean.

Speaker 2 (21:51):
You know what I mean.

Speaker 3 (21:52):
So that's like a code for me that like, and
you stand on business. If I said something and it
was wrong, look I said it, you know what I mean.
Now it's time for me to be you feel me,
And I'm gonna take creacts correction because I don't like
being wrong. But another thing I've learned, and going back
to something that Robert E. Lee did, which was like
realizing when it was time to bounce. I think that

(22:13):
that's also a skill every person should develop, is being
able to know when it's it's probably time to slide.
We should probably leave right now. I say this in jest,
but I'm dead serious. You should know when it's time
to leave. Yeah, there's a good song about that and
about poker. You know you gotta gottaay.

Speaker 2 (22:37):
Now to run. Hey, I think it's time for us
to go.

Speaker 3 (22:40):
I don't get if you was in the middle of
giving your best game to that qube pot, like, look,
it's time to go. Fam you halfway through the greatest
cocktail you have add in your life.

Speaker 2 (22:49):
Sent that drink down.

Speaker 1 (22:51):
There's a bit in heat about that too, right, if
you're gonna be a fucking criminal, right, yes, you have
to have a line it which like no, I just bounce,
I pick up my bag, and I'm it's time to just.

Speaker 2 (23:01):
Leave everything, leave it all.

Speaker 1 (23:03):
Time to get Yeah, and Lee has now leaved it all.
I was trying to make that work, but it just
it simply did not. But you know what does work
prop the sponsors of this podcast. They're always working hard
to give you incredible value. We're back. You know, I

(23:26):
was thinking about what my line is, you know where
am I? And And honestly, I only have one moral
line in my entire life, and it's that I will
not sell baldness cures, you know, powers, won't do it,
simply won't do it. Just be honest, you know.

Speaker 3 (23:40):
And the truth is, like, dude, you you you can
look good bald like I can google so many men
who trick Stewart. They're good looking men. Yes, come on,
just commit, just commit, bro, like you look better. You
can own it. Like listen, it's it's almost seventy confidence

(24:01):
if you're just just rocket whatever you have rocket.

Speaker 1 (24:05):
Yeah, that's that's that's the message of this podcast.

Speaker 2 (24:08):
Yeah, it's all confidence.

Speaker 1 (24:09):
Lee comes back, returns to DC and he reports immediately
to the commander of the US Army at this point,
General Winfield Scott, who had been his commander during the
Mexican American War. Scott is the guy who's like, Lee
is the best soldier I've ever seen. Right, and by
the way, Lee is pretty famous at this point, and
there is huge buzz as it becomes clear that something

(24:31):
is going to happen that's probably going to require military
intervention as a result of the secession.

Speaker 2 (24:36):
Like James, like where you're going? Are you going to
take your talents to Miami?

Speaker 1 (24:40):
Because Field Scott is too old. Everyone knows like and
Scott knows this too unlike today. Old people back then
were like Scott's like, yeah, I can't fight a war
like not the other one, like an ancient oh no,
guy what they used to be. And so there's a
lot of talk that like, well, wh who should command

(25:01):
whatever we wind up needing to do, and like Lee
is kind of the front runner because he's like, he's famous,
he did really well in the Mexican American War. He's
a full bird colonel, so he's like right at the
point where he could be promoted to general. So there's
a lot of talk in the papers that like, well,
this guy could be kind of the savior of the union.
You know, he really has talked about that way for

(25:22):
a while. And so he gets invited to Winfield Scott's
office in Scott and then there's a couple of different meetings.
But the gist of these meetings is that Lee has
offered the command of a US Field Army. So that
means a promotion to general. And this is what he's
been waiting his whole career. For years. He's been writing
his wife letters being like, I don't think I'll ever
get promoted. This is so annoying. And he's offered the

(25:45):
promotion of a lifetime and this is kind of seen
as a fast track to well, yeah, there's a pretty
good chance this in not too much longer leads with
him just in command of the US Army. Right, he
could have had Grant's job. Maybe he wouldn't have been
good at it. I actually think he would have been
bad at it. Yeah, that in part four.

Speaker 2 (26:01):
But he could have had it.

Speaker 1 (26:02):
For a while, right, damn. So, the most commonly depicted
view at the heart of the Lost Cause is that
he turns down this job because he simply couldn't bear
to go to war with his home and his relatives,
and like that is not a good reason to support
the Confederacy. But I actually will say, I get how
a decent person could say I cannot participate in this

(26:23):
war because I simply can't shoot at my brother or cousins, right, Like,
that's that's understanding to see that and then be like
and also I find the cause of the South to
be untenable.

Speaker 3 (26:36):
Sure, and but like, man, really, like history really turns
on these like seemingly small decisions sometimes because like that's
a like you said, that's a very logical and understandable thing.
And then but then if you're like you're like seventh
generation war general going all the way back to like
the freaking norms, like the founding of England, you know

(27:00):
what I'm saying, and now probably the biggest war in
the history of your country. They've giving you a chance
to lead, and you're just gonna sit out. Yeah, it's
like you can't. You can't sit out it, you know
what I'm saying, because then you just broke tradition.

Speaker 1 (27:14):
Yeah, and he's he's not going to And I think
that the key point is that like this is portrayed
as Lee had to go with the South because he
couldn't fight against Virginia and he couldn't fight against his family,
and that is not true. There were men who were
in that position, and there were some officers in the
US Army prior to the war who didn't fight at
all because of.

Speaker 2 (27:31):
That, right, Yeah, they were like I can't do it.

Speaker 1 (27:33):
And I don't have an issue with that actually, Like
I get it's like, this is just an impossible choice
for me. I can't shoot my brother.

Speaker 3 (27:38):
That's what I'm saying, Like it should have been if
he's like if that was the case, that's what should
have been. But I'm saying, yeah, the wrinkle in his
brain is like, well, I'm not going to be the
first grandson. He'd not, you know what. I'm saying, like,
I ain't going to break this tradition, you know.

Speaker 2 (27:52):
And he doesn't.

Speaker 1 (27:53):
And here I want to to give you kind of
how these sympathetic sources tend to portray this decision. I
want to quote from again who who was Robert El
describing his decision not to take this position commanding a
US field army that would mean fighting against the South.
Robert was a conflicted man. Clearly he had a lot
to think about. He spent time with his family at Arlington,
he prayed, He stayed up late at night pacing the floors.

(28:15):
In the end, Robert reached an answer. He would resign
from the US Army that he had served for thirty years.
Although he said he would never bear arms against the Union,
his heart was with Virginia. He had to defend his
homeland by bearing arms against the Union.

Speaker 3 (28:27):
Right, it doesn't sound Yeah, that's that sentence. Don't even
sound right?

Speaker 1 (28:30):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (28:31):
And also side note, I feel like at some point
you should be able to like slap the shit out
of a cousin.

Speaker 2 (28:37):
Yeah, you know what I'm saying.

Speaker 3 (28:38):
Point this scenario is like, all right, I'm listen, let's
go to Granny's house and let's hash this out.

Speaker 2 (28:44):
You know what I'm saying.

Speaker 3 (28:45):
Like, I'm gonna say all my uncles, all my cousins
down and be like, fellas, y'all, like, listen, you're tripping,
and if you can't cross this line, listen, I'm gonna
sign up with the Union cause, like I'm telling you
right now, you're tripping, and righty.

Speaker 1 (29:00):
Say, this is again kind of what I'm building towards.
He's going to make that decision one way or the other.
The idea that he wasn't willing to fight his family
is untrue because he does choose to fight members of
his family. But the summary of events from that who
was Robert E. Lee book jives with one of the
on the ground accounts from somebody who was present at

(29:22):
some of these meetings with Lee and Scott and Lincoln. Right,
Montgomery Blair, who's Lincoln's postmaster general, the guy who has
been asked by Lincoln to like offer Lee command of
the army, and his son would later recall quote generally
said to my father, mister Blair, I look upon secession
as anarchy. If I own the four million of slaves
in the South, I would sacrifice them all to the Union.

(29:42):
But how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my
native state. Now this is you know, from a secondhand source.
But Blair will make some statements that back up this
account of events and Lee's account of events. However, that's
not necessarily the truth, because we get a very different
description of both the nature of the offer made to
Lee and his response to it from Simon Cameron, who

(30:03):
was the Secretary of War under Lincoln and absolutely would
have been a part of the discussions with Lee. From
the jump quote, General Lee called upon a gentleman who
had my entire confidence, and intimated that he would like
to have the command of the army. He assured that gentleman,
who was a man in the confidence of the administration
of his entire loyalty and his devotion to the interests
of the administration and of the country. I consulted with

(30:25):
General Scott, and General Scott approved of placing him at
the head of the army. The place was offered to
him unofficially with my approbation and with the approbation of
General Scott. It was accepted by him verbally, with the
promise that he would go into Virginia and settle his
business and then come back to take command. He never
gave us an opportunity to arrest him. He deserted under
false pretenses. I should have arrested him in a moment
if I had the chance at him, and I have

(30:46):
always regretted that I never did get that chance. I
think he behaved worse than any of the men who
have acted so treacherously to the government. And what so
Blair's account is that like, yeah, I offered him the
job and he said I just can't do it. I
can't fight against Virginia, which is like common narrative, it's
what you get for everything. What Cameron says is like no, no, no,
Lee said I want this job, give it to me.

(31:07):
We said the job is yours. He said, I'll take it.
And then he said, I just got to go back
home and settle some bitch and he bitched out and
turned trader, and he did this, he lied to them
to avoid getting arrested for treason. That's a really fucking
different story, right.

Speaker 3 (31:23):
So yeah, yeah, that's that is some whole ass shit.

Speaker 2 (31:28):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (31:29):
One of these shows a man torn by this just
the impossible choice to fight against your family and your state.
The other shows a betrayer of his oath making a
calculated decision, you know. And I will say, we simply
don't know which of these stories comports more with reality, right,
we never will, you know, you get there's actually these

(31:50):
are not even the only two accounts of that meeting.
I think these are kind of the two. One of
these two is probably more right than the other. I
will say, I tend to believe what fucking Simon Cameron
says because it comports with how weasily Lee is about
his description of all this and.

Speaker 3 (32:06):
The path of least resistance, Like you don't, like, no
one wants that type of confrontation to have to like,
you know, grow some ovaries and be like, yo, I'm
gonna stand on business. This is what I'm gonna do,
Thank you very much. I got a ride with Virginia,
you know what I'm saying, Or to be like, you know, dude,
you're right, I'm gonna do this. Let me at least

(32:28):
look my family in the face and tell them what's
going on, because both of them requires a certain type
of courage, again, a code.

Speaker 2 (32:35):
It requires you to have a code.

Speaker 3 (32:37):
To be able to be like, I'm just gonna do it,
and I'm gonna take whatever consequences come with it. No,
the path of least resistance is to lie. You know
what I'm saying, is to make y'all cool, get out
of this moment right now, and then which one of
y'all I feel like, are gonna hurt me the worse?

Speaker 2 (32:52):
Right?

Speaker 3 (32:53):
So, because if my family actually heard me say yes
to them, right, they would have been like stop back no,
what he means yes? And you can't be like no, no,
I'm just lying to him, because then they're gonna look
at you and being like, why are you being a
coward about it?

Speaker 2 (33:06):
Like, stand up? You know what I'm saying.

Speaker 3 (33:08):
So he did the path of Lee's resistance, which to
me is the most normal thing.

Speaker 1 (33:13):
Yeah, And in terms of backing up Simon Cameron's account.
In his biography of Lee, Alan Guelzo notes that Lee
has to have known secession was coming and have already
made his choice to fight against the union, Otherwise his
actions here simply don't make any sense. Quote. If Lee
believed there would be no conflict, that some way would
have been found to save the country from the calamities

(33:34):
of war, then there would have been no risk in
his mind that he would have to conduct any kind
of hostile campaign, and certainly not against Virginia, and the
golden prize of his professional life would fall neatly into
his lap. So again, if he even from this point,
if he has not already made the decision to turn trader,
why would he turn down the proportion he'd already wanted, Right.

Speaker 3 (33:53):
Yeah, that actually makes so much sense, like you said,
because it's like, if you already know we're not going
to really go to war, then dude, take the job.

Speaker 2 (34:00):
You know what I'm saying, It's take your dream. Yeah,
take it.

Speaker 3 (34:02):
That's what you always wanted. And it's like, oh cool,
we figured it out. And then it's like, yeah, problem solved.
I didn't have to fight against my I didn't have
to fight against my family. I didn't have to pretend
like I, you know, am loyal to anything.

Speaker 2 (34:13):
I just got the job and it's all good now.

Speaker 1 (34:16):
The idea that Lee just loved Virginia so much she
had no choice. This is how it was depicted to
me as a kid in Texas public schools.

Speaker 2 (34:23):
Right, and it was fright.

Speaker 1 (34:25):
The way this was framed to me is that like,
this is how everybody felt. Right, nationalism was not what
it is now, and it would become people just weren't
that loyal first to the US, that were loyal to
their state. And that's how everybody felt. And so it
was inevitable that a guy like Lee would side with Virginia.
And this is not fucking true. This is simply not
accurate to the way people were at the time. Welso

(34:48):
Puts paid to this very inaccurate view in a succinct
passage from Roberty Leo Life. The LEAs, however prominent they
had been in Virginia life, were mostly nationalists, Federalists, and Whigs. Moreover,
Virgini Hi he had not, strictly speaking, been Lee's native
state for most of his life his youth, from the
time the family moved to Alexandria, had been spent within
what werein the boundaries of the District of Columbia, and

(35:09):
his professional responsibilities had scattered him for thirty years from
Texas to New York. Arlington was his home, but not
his property, and it's facing across the Potomac River towards
the capital was a constant reminder of where the Custuses
always saw their loyalties residing. In other words, his family
politics were nationalists, his personal politics were nationalists, and he

(35:29):
barely fucking spent any time in goddamn Virginia.

Speaker 2 (35:33):
Now so funny.

Speaker 1 (35:34):
An account by Edward Townsend, who is the assistant adjutant
to Winfield Scott and a witness to Lee's visit with
the General, gives a quote by Lee that reinforces his
decision was made by the financial realities of his family
more than some kind of loyalty. And this is Lee
talking to Scott General. The property belonging to my children,
all they possess lies in Virginia. They will be ruined

(35:56):
if they do not go with their state. I cannot
raise a hand against my children. Now. First off, as
we'll cover that's still not true. But also if that
is an accurate quote that puts Lee's primary concern being
the wealth of his kids and how it's threatened by.

Speaker 2 (36:11):
War, which makes the most sense.

Speaker 1 (36:13):
Yeah, which makes the most sense, right, and is the
least defensible.

Speaker 3 (36:16):
Yeah, especially if you was willing to keep them slaves
on air after your own father or your own father
in law was like, yo, you gotta let them go.

Speaker 2 (36:23):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (36:23):
You know, he's like, nah, man, I'm look, We're gonna
make sure, we gonna make sure the legacy stays on yeaheah.

Speaker 1 (36:29):
And it's again that said properties still can't explain all
of this because Arlington is not just a valuable piece
of land, it is strategically critical from Arlington. You can
shell DC. That means the Union cannot allow Arlington to
wind up in control of the Confederacy. And given just

(36:51):
the way that things are laid out, it's also Arlington
happens to be an area the Union can very easily
get a lot of soldiers too faster. Lee is not
an idiot on military matters.

Speaker 2 (37:00):
He knows the.

Speaker 1 (37:01):
Confederacy simply is not going to be able to protect
Arlington at the early stage of the war, and Lee
is also aware of the North's superiority and manpower and
manufacturing capacity. When the war breaks out, his first thing
he does is he orders his wife to flee the property.
So he can't just be concerned about what's going to
happen to Arlington and be making his decisions based on that.

(37:23):
Otherwise he would have stayed with the Union, because that's
you know, unless the property he's most concerned about is slaves, right, yes, yes.

Speaker 2 (37:32):
You know now.

Speaker 1 (37:33):
Lee also tells one of his classmates from West Point,
I would give it Arlington in a moment and all
I have on earth if the Union could be preserved
in peace, which again means that either way, whichever of
these is true, he's lying to somebody. Right, If he's
willing to give up Arlington to preserve the Union, fear
that secessionists would take it can't be the driving force
behind his decision. And if he's willing to give up

(37:54):
Arlington to preserve the Union, then why doesn't he right Like,
why does that influence his decision at all? As I
noted earlier, the most understandable conflict that Lee expressed was
an unwillingness to fight against his family. But that's also
not something he could have avoided. Because a lot of
his family stay loyal. Now, John Fitzgerald Lee remains in

(38:16):
service to the Union Army as a judge advocate general
throughout the war. Samuel Phillips Lee, a Navy man, also
stays loyal, as does Robert E. Lee's cousin Robert Jones.
His cousin John Upsher, stays loyal despite what he referred
to as tremendous pressure from the Lee family, possibly also
including Robert. So again, when you're talking about like this

(38:37):
impossible decision not to fight your family, a bunch of
his families stay loyal, and they talk about how the
traders in their family, Like, I have a lot of
respect for John Upsher. Your whole family is saying, no,
we are going to fight against the Union, we have
to defend Virginia sovereignty. And you say, no, I'm going
to stay loyal to my oath. That's a fucking honorable decision.

Speaker 2 (38:57):
That's tough, dude. So he's the actual that's crazy in the.

Speaker 3 (39:01):
Hero the hero of storys like, yeah, that is moral courage, right,
wow wow.

Speaker 1 (39:08):
And I haven't even gotten to the end of the
Lee's who stay loyal? Right? Durrence Williams, one of his
wife's cousins is aide de camp to George McClellan, who's
gonna wind up running the whole fucking show for a while.

Speaker 3 (39:21):
It is that little imaginary story of like that I
made up, where it's like, Okay, I'm gonna go talk
to my family and be like, look, guys, I'm gonna
do this. They're all going, yeah, it's too a bunch
of them. Yeah, they're like, yeah, we're staying at what
are you talking about? Of course we're staying at the Union.

Speaker 1 (39:35):
This is not just one or two. This is a
significant chunk of the Lee family stays loyal.

Speaker 2 (39:40):
Yeah, they're like, we surprised you. Eve mapp asked, like, yeah. Now.

Speaker 1 (39:45):
It is often noted that a lot of Lee's loyalty
to his family, his unwillingness to fight them, is because
he has all these cousins who support his family after
his father dies, they support his mom. He's like, these
people they kept us, you know, afloat and fed and sheltered,
you know, in the most diff part. I simply can't
fight them. I can't betray them. My loyalty is to them, right.
This is something that Lee expresses, and it is a

(40:06):
lie because one of the cousins who supports his family,
who keeps it like the cousin who gives a huge
amount of money to his mother to keep her afloat,
is Philip Findall. Right, Philip Findall not only stays loyal,
but both of his two sons fight in the Union
Army against Robert E.

Speaker 2 (40:24):
Lee.

Speaker 1 (40:25):
American Heritage continues quote with great reluctance, Smith Lee became
a Confederate naval officer, where he served without enthusiasm and
is late in September eighteen sixty three still pitched into
those responsible for getting us into this snarl, saying that
both the Lees and his in laws had pressured him
with ideas that Virginia came first. He grumbled, South Carolina
be hanged. How what did I want to stay in

(40:46):
the old Navy? So there's even Lees that turned trader
and are like, I can't believe I let you guys
pressure me into this. This was the worst decision of
my fucking life. Fuck all of you now. It is
true that Robert Eli's three sons decided to fight for
the Confederacy. However, none of them stated a position on
secession until after Robert E. Lee made his decision, and

(41:09):
based on what we know of them and just what
we know about his family, I don't think any of
them would have chosen to fight for the Confederacy. If
Lee had stayed loyal, that simply wouldn't have happened. There's
no way his sons do that right. They were waiting
for their dad to make a call. I don't think
there's any validity in the claim that he had to
fight for the Confederacy because he couldn't fight his own

(41:30):
sons like he has a bunch of This is the
most fucked up part. It's not just a bunch of cousins.
His sister, Ann Lee Marshall lives in Baltimore and strenuously
supports the Union cause. Her husband, William Marshall, is a
Republican delegate who nominates Lincoln to the presidency during that
year's RNC Lee Robert E. Lee writes one of his

(41:54):
last letters before the war to his sister Anne, and
he again, this is such a fucking cowardly passage. I'm
going to read this last letter to his sister where
he's basically saying, yeah, you know, this thing that you
know is horrible and wrong. I'm going to do it. Quote,
I am grieved at my inability to see you, and
abhor myself more than ever for not having visited you. Now,

(42:17):
this had been well within his power to do. He
was too busy playing foot set with Scott and Lincoln
as the nation lange towards disaster. He admits to his
sister there's no necessity for Virginia to secede, but then claims,
I have not been able to make up my mind
to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home.
And again this is bullshit, and he's saying I couldn't

(42:39):
raise my hand against my relatives to his sister, to
my sisters, going to raise his hand against ye, He
concludes this scumfuck passage. I know you will blame me,
but you must think as kindly of me as you
can and believe that I have endeavored to do what
I thought right, to show you the feeling and struggle
it has cost me. I send a copy of my

(42:59):
letters General Scott, which accompanied my letter of resignation. I
have no time for more, and like, man, don't.

Speaker 3 (43:07):
Even like I don't send that letter, like just look man,
like whatever you're trying to do to scrub your little
conscious clean like keep it, bro turns out his suckcess.
Sorry yeah yeah, and like yeah who, Like it's totally like, man,
you ever had somebody apologize to you and you're thinking, man,
who is this for? Like you're you're not doing this

(43:31):
for me, you know what I'm saying this, You are
doing that for yourself. And all of us can hear it.
That's some bullshit. We can all hear as bullshit. I
hope you have brain. Your brain has twisted into a
pretzel enough to make you feel like you justified in
what you're doing because you show ain't do nothing to me.

Speaker 2 (43:46):
Yeah yeah.

Speaker 1 (43:47):
And for her credit, and by the way, pretty based,
she never forgives her brother. She just was like onto
this letter and she never talks to him again. She
dies in eighteen sixty four without attempting to resume contact.
Part of this is because her son Lewis, serves in
the Union Army fighting against Robert E.

Speaker 2 (44:06):
Lee.

Speaker 3 (44:06):
Yeah fucking nephew, you know, yeah, yeah, you finea murder
your own nephew, my son. We're done. We're done.

Speaker 2 (44:14):
Of course, we're done. We're done. And you had a choice.

Speaker 3 (44:17):
Like that's the part that's like I'm like really newly
getting angry about where I was like, you had a choice.

Speaker 1 (44:24):
Yeah, yeah, it is. It is fucking vile. And I
think in the end, again, it's not purely his property
that he's doing this for because he knows he's likely
to lose Arlington. It's certainly not because he's unwilling to
fight against his family, because he definitely does that now.
I think to an extent, the idea that he can't

(44:45):
bear fighting against Virginia is true, but not in the
way the Lost Cause for biographies make it seem, because
despite never expressing particular loyalty to Virginia over the Union before,
once a conflict breaks out over slavery, he is willing
to stand in defense of that institution and of white supremacy,
even though it meant drawing arms against his own blood relatives.

(45:07):
And this passage from American heritage makes it clear how
central the conflict over slavery is to his reasoning. He
resented the North's badgering and feared Southern impotence at the
hands of its majority population. He spoke out for the
Crittenden Compromise, which would have guaranteed the permanent existence of slavery,
declaring it deserved the support of every patriot, even though
the nation had been designed around perpetual union. He told

(45:29):
daughter Agnes, if the bond could only be maintained by
the sword and bayonet, its existence will lose all interest
to me. And the fact that secession can only be
carried out by the sword in the bayonet does not
seem to have occurred to him. Likewise, he's not troubled
by the fact that slavery can only be kept in
place by violence, which he knows because he's done that. Yeah,

(45:51):
like it is so fucked up.

Speaker 3 (45:55):
Yeah, there is a piece of me, like if I'm
being so reflective that is having to continue to remind
myself that to keep zooming out and saying, we're still
talking about my family here, Yeah, you know what I'm saying,
Like we're still talking about the institution of slay. I'm

(46:18):
getting into the story and stuff like that, and then
I'm almost even more resentful to this guy that you're
even making me forget that sometimes like that I'm forgetting,
like like forgetting to couch this in the reality of
we're still talking about chattel slavery here. Yeah, you know,
and it makes me even more pissed at him. On
April twentieth, a delegation of secessions showed up at his

(46:40):
home to ask Lee to travel to Richmond, where they're
having their big secessionist conference. Virginia is like late in
deciding this and actually they have a one vote to
secede that fails, Like it actually was kind of possible
that like Virginia might not have have gone with the
Confederacy almost or might have tried kind of a new
that's not what happens, but like almost Prince George, yeah

(47:02):
he was almost PGC. Yeah, you could have stayed that.
You could have had go go music. It could have
been great, but no, you want it smothered. Friedsess. Sorry
he is.

Speaker 1 (47:15):
He has offered a commission commanding Virginia State Forces, and
again Virginia has not decided to join the Confederacy yet,
but it's now that Lee is going to have to
make his final call. His wife basically claims that he
weeps tears of blood in this night of agony making
the decision. Yet his family recall him on the day
that he announces his decision to them as being calm
and collected, not exhausted and distraught.

Speaker 3 (47:37):
They're trying to the tears of You're trying to harken
back to Jesus, like you're trying to make him Jesus,
you know, in the garden of Guessemity here like yeah, praying,
you know, tears sweating, tears of blood, like come on, man.

Speaker 2 (47:49):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (47:50):
Anyway, we get one note from like an enslaved member
of the family, Jim Parks, who describes Lee as pacing
backward and forward on the porch, steadying himself. So, you know,
I'm sure he spends some time agonizing over this. I
don't think it's for moral reasons. I think it's like
what's gonna wind up better for us?

Speaker 2 (48:07):
You know?

Speaker 1 (48:08):
Yeah, but you get some stuff like that here. So
Lee is never able to work up the courage to
admit to his old boss and mentor, Winfield Scott, that
he has decided to turn trader. The last that reasons
to Scott comes after Virginia votes to secede near the
end of April, and all he says in it is
He's like, thanks for twenty five years of kindness and consideration.
You were always had my back, you know, great times

(48:32):
working with you. Buddy, and then he concludes they have
a great summer. Yeah, he concludes it with the same
old lie, save in defense of my native state, I
never again desire to draw my sword. And again it
was like, Okay, so you're saying you're willing to draw
your sword, You're going to fight as a trader. You
just can't even admit it to your old boss.

Speaker 2 (48:52):
Yeah, but you're about to do it though. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (48:56):
Yeah, this is why I buy Simon Cameron's claim, because
he's so weasily about this every time. Yes, and it's
also again for the whole Oh, he couldn't have betrayed
Virginia his boss Winfield Scott of Virginia.

Speaker 3 (49:09):
Yeah, he's so initiatively betraying Virginia.

Speaker 1 (49:13):
Yes, so is George Thomas, Lee's colleague in the army
back in Texas, like this guy who he's potentially about
to fight alongside when they're worried they might get attacked
by secessionists, and both Winfield Scott and George Thomas suffer
because of their decision to stay loyal. Scott is accused
of being a Free State pimp, and Lee does not

(49:33):
defend him, does not defend the honor of his boss
that he says has done so much to him, and
George Thomas's relatives who turned trader asked him to change
his name. Like these men make real sacrifices for the Union.
Fits you. Lee's biography, like most laws caused biographies likes
to depict what happens with like Lee, is basically guaranteed

(49:57):
just because everyone does this right. Everyone signs their state
quote almost acknowledged that no selfish or unpatriotic motive influenced
him in refusing to draw his sword against his native state,
to which from early boyhood he had been taught by
the wisest and the purest in the land. He owed
his first allegiance here. It is also just to remark
that all who resigned their commissions in service of the

(50:17):
United States to cast their lot with their native states
were influenced by the same pure and unselfish motives. You
want to hear the truth, forty percent of Virginia officers
stayed loyal forty forty And that doesn't mean sixty percent
turn trader because a bunch of them just chose not
to fight. Like Lee's old instructor Dennis Mann at West Point,

(50:38):
We're just like I can't be a part of it. So,
like it is not true that this was just how
everyone moved. A huge number of people knew this was
wrong and did the right thing.

Speaker 2 (50:49):
You know.

Speaker 1 (50:49):
Ye Lee chose the coward's way out, and that is
a huge and critical part of his story.

Speaker 2 (50:56):
I love this.

Speaker 3 (50:58):
Yeah, it's like, yeah, there's nothing valuant about his choices,
nothing diabolical. It's coward yeah, yeah, fucking coward.

Speaker 2 (51:09):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (51:09):
And you know what, credit to the memory of the
men who stayed loyal. That's a tough call. That's an
honorable fucking move.

Speaker 3 (51:16):
Yes, you are definitely going against the current. And and
you know, like part of me is like okay, bare minimum,
like all right, freaking Mike pints head ass, you finally
decided to do something right. But on the other hand,
it's like, no, for real, Like that was like when
it finally came down to it, you was like no,

(51:36):
I can't, yeah, I can't.

Speaker 2 (51:38):
Fam you just a moment for the mic head pace.

Speaker 3 (51:43):
At Mike pens Ass, like, oh, nigga, the last day
of the job, You're gonna finally do something that's yeah.

Speaker 1 (51:50):
Yeah, I would say the minimum is that minority of
guys who just decided not to fight, right, Yeah, that's
the minimum. Choosing to fight and stay loyal, I think
is a step beyond that. Okay, well I'll I'll give
him that. I'll give him. That's hard. And you see,
you see who people are in moments of crisis, and
Lee has made it very clear who he is. He's

(52:12):
a coward.

Speaker 3 (52:12):
Yeah, he saved his own ass, Like you're saving your
own ass, you're saving your reputation. You're afraid to fess up,
You're afraid to man up, You're afraid to stand on
your own square.

Speaker 1 (52:21):
Yeah, yeah, buck and coward. Now you know who's not
a coward? Prop Sophie Lickterman, that's true and the other
sponsors of our podcast Facts We are back. So Lee
resigns his commission and he travels to Richmond, and as

(52:43):
was a pattern he for him, he never quite has
the courage to admit that he's doing this to take
command of the Virginia State military. He would later claim
he was just visiting Richmond to look over family property,
but by the time he arrived, the State Commission had
voted him commander in chief of Virginia's military f forces,
and he has given George Washington's sword. Now, again, this

(53:04):
I think gets into one of the real reasons why
he does this. Remember, he's ashamed of his father and
he's obsessed with George Washington. Washington is the father he
wished he'd had, and Washington's is the legacy that he
wants to have for himself. I think being offered the
sword symbolizes to him finally taking on that heritage over

(53:25):
the legacy of his father. And this is also if
he leads secessionist forces to victory in a war of independence,
then he's the George Washington of the Confederacy. And I
think that, which is crude personal pride and benefit is
the primary motivating factor beyond everything else. White supremacy plays

(53:48):
into it. Obviously a desire to maintain his property, sure.

Speaker 2 (53:52):
But end of the day, I want to be the
man he.

Speaker 1 (53:55):
Wants to be fucking George Washington.

Speaker 2 (53:56):
Yeah, I want to be the man.

Speaker 1 (53:57):
This is not a uni Obviously this is not a
universal belief among historians, but this is very much Alan
Gwelso really kind of lands on this, and I like
his book a lot, and also Gwells is interesting. He
got some shit when it got anounced that he was
writing this book because he is like a conservative man.
Like politically he is a modern conservative today, he's taken
part in some like conservative like historical conferences. One of

(54:19):
the reasons why I think his book is valuable is
because writing as a conservative, he is unsparingly pro union
and unsparingly anti like like he is. He's very open
about like Lee was a fucking trader, right, love it,
And I think that's actually it's useful because you can
kind of get some of this shit across to people
who are not like politically liberal or on the left.

(54:42):
With Gwelso's biography, it's hard to argue.

Speaker 2 (54:45):
You can't.

Speaker 1 (54:45):
You simply can't argue with a lot of what the
man says.

Speaker 2 (54:48):
Yeah, I love that.

Speaker 1 (54:49):
Obviously, it is debatable. Does he do this because he
just wants to be his own? That is an arguable point.
I'm not saying that's absolute, but I buy Gwells's argument there.

Speaker 3 (54:58):
Yeah, I feel like that that The case you've laid
out to me is like, I mean, I still am
a firm believer that history is just us back then.
So if you're just thinking, like whoever, like what would
regular asks do do? And this is this is what
regular ass do would do, and it's like, so that's

(55:19):
probably what he did, you know, and all the different
layers that informed his decision. Nobody in I don't think
anybody is ever single minded and has and makes a decision,
you know, turning off one thing. There's multiple things at
various levels of importance or whatever. Right, But like when

(55:40):
you put it all together, at the end of the day,
you're making a particular call, and you understand that this call,
no matter how much you agonized it, you get that
once you make this call, all the implications come with it,
you know, and this is just what it is, and
you're willing to accept it.

Speaker 2 (55:58):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (55:58):
There were people who saw this who are close to
Lee and saw how self serving his decision was at
the time, including family who stayed loyal. I'm going to
quote again from American Heritage here. Upon learning that Lee
had spent two days prayerfully searching for a decision, a
cousin remarked acidly, I wish she had read over his
commission as well as his prayers. At West Point, someone
drew a picture of Lee with his head attached to

(56:19):
the body of a louse. I feel no exalt of
respect for a man who takes part in a movement
in which he can see nothing but anarchy and ruin.
And yet that very utteran scarce past Robert Lee's lips
when he starts off with delegates to treat with traitors
was the response of Francis Blair's daughter, who had married
into the Lee family right where he's like, he says
that this is he doesn't support seceession. It's a bad call,

(56:41):
it's disastrous. So why in the fuck is he doing
this right? And the only answer I see is personal benefit,
his own ego right.

Speaker 3 (56:52):
Another antidote from my grandma. She would always say you
already know what you want to do. No matter what
it was, you would always be like, you already know
what you want to do. Yeah, it's like, oh, you're
gonna pray about it. You're going to pray about it.
You know what you want to do.

Speaker 4 (57:05):
Yeah, you just want you just want to be all
able to argue that God told you to Yes, exactly.
She was like, you know what you want to do.
She used to always say that he know what he
want to do, you know, And I'm like damn. Now,
I'm like, wow, damn you right, mm hmm.

Speaker 2 (57:18):
Yeah.

Speaker 1 (57:19):
So Lee takes this job offered to him, commanding Virginia,
and again he's not yet a Confederate officer, right. The
Confederacy is starting to get like pulled together here, but
Virginia's has not committed to be a part of it yet.
So he is the He is at this point the
supreme commander of all of Virginia's military forces, which are
dog shit at this state. Right, these are just a

(57:39):
bunch of state militias, and like Lee had had to
deal with state militias while he was in the US Army,
they always suck ass, like they are incompetent, they're poor,
they're actually not all that different from a lot of
the malicious we have today. And he writes about them
that way, where like they're not willing to fucking do shit.
So this is a really stressful job, right, He's his
early gig is like he has to turn this into

(58:00):
a functional military and he's pretty good at this. Again,
this is Lee's period of competence. He knows how an
army is supposed to work, so he is able. He
promotes men to some of the jobs that they don't
exist in the militia that need to exist, and he
starts organizing this into something that's kind of functional. Now
he is in conflict regularly with the fact that the

(58:23):
militias are all like there's this fever to join the
Virginia military. When this all starts, like every man who
can hold a gun basically declares themselves part of Virginia's army.
But they don't actually like want to be real soldiers.
They just they're hoping this is going to be over
quickly and they can claim a little bit of glory.
So one of the first things that happens is Lee

(58:43):
is desperately trying to turn these militias into a functional army.
Is stonewall. Jackson takes a bunch of dudes with rifles
and occupies Maryland Heights without orders, and when Kay, here's this,
Lee is like, fucking retreat. Don't do Like they could
attack us, and they have an actual army. We don't yet,
Like we can't don't provoke them yet. We're not ready
to fight any kind of a battle. This is reasonable, right,

(59:06):
This is Lee is not bad at this sort of stuff.
He's absolutely right, Like Jackson has put them all in
a terribly dangerous position. But the fact that he is
consistently like, stop rattling your saber, stop trying to provoke
the North. We have to actually have an army before
we do any of this. This gets him in trouble
with his new found countrymen. As Alan Guelzo writes, complaints

(59:27):
about Lee soon blossomed in Virginia. No one admires General
Lee more than I do, wrote Albert Taylor BLEDSDA Jefferson
Davis on May tenth. But I fear he is too despondent.
His remarks are calculated to dispirit our people. I have
heard such remarks myself and energetically dissented from them. I
fear he does not know how good and how righteous
our cause is. Over exuberant Southerners began glancing over their

(59:48):
shoulders at Lee. One of Mary Chestnut's South Carolina notables
whispered that Robert E. Lee is against us that I know,
and another predicted that General Lee will surely be tried
for a trader. So because he's like, I don't care
how enthusiastic you are. If we don't have like supply
lines set up, and like, actually, if we're not organized
like a functional military, we're going to lose, and they're like,

(01:00:09):
but our cause is righteous.

Speaker 2 (01:00:10):
What are you what? Coward?

Speaker 1 (01:00:12):
Like he's being called a trader for being like, don't
start a war when we don't have an army.

Speaker 2 (01:00:16):
You get shits, you know?

Speaker 3 (01:00:17):
Yeah, you sound like I don't know, guys. Yeah, he
kind of sounds like a bitch. It's like, no, fellas
like you. No, I'm just saying.

Speaker 1 (01:00:28):
And this is he has found himself in a hell
utterly of his own making.

Speaker 2 (01:00:32):
Yeah, you did not have to do this.

Speaker 1 (01:00:34):
Yeah, maybe this is a sign you made the wrong
fighting choice, Robert.

Speaker 2 (01:00:38):
What have I got myself in?

Speaker 3 (01:00:40):
Yeah?

Speaker 2 (01:00:40):
What the fuck am I doing? Yes?

Speaker 1 (01:00:43):
So, Virginia votes to join the newly formed Confederate States
pretty shortly after this point, and Lee goes When this happens,
he goes from the supreme commander of an independent Virginia
to one more general under Jefferson Davis. Right, And this
is also the moment where he loses his house. Lincoln
is not stupid, and the Union waits to actually move

(01:01:03):
on Virginia until they commit to the Confederate States because
Ligan he's not going to like start a fight until
he knows he has to. He's not a reckless man
about this sort of shit. But as soon as Virginia's like, yeah,
we're the Confederacy now, the Union moves to occupy and
seizes Arlington. Right now. Lee is not at Arlington. He
has gone down to Richmond to take this job commanding

(01:01:25):
Virginia's army, and he never returns. He never will see
Arlington again. In letters, he's warning his wife as all
of this is building up, He's repeatedly like, you got
to get our shit and bounce take the silverware, Like
he knows what's going to happen, and he knows that
the Confederate military, the Virginian military, none of it's going
to be able to stop the Union from taking Arlington.

(01:01:46):
His wife holds out until the last minute and departs
right before the property could be occupied by Union forces.
And it's basically it's initially turned into like a forward
operating base. Fitz Hugh Lee frames this as an act
of courageous sacrifice by Lee rather than the inevitable result
of the Confederacy being a bunch of arrogant pricks who
launched a war they weren't ready to fight.

Speaker 2 (01:02:06):
Quote.

Speaker 1 (01:02:07):
In addition to the high position offered him, in the
United States Army. He yielded his private fortune with his
beautiful home Arlington, a home endeared by historic associations and
many years of happy married life, a home of unsurpassed beauty,
of situation, and adorned with all that midmost value, now
destined to be the sport of rude soldiers. It's priceless
relics scattered, it's beautiful surroundings desecrated, its choicest attractions destroyed.

(01:02:32):
And I think it's funny that fits you. Thirty years
after the war, is still sore enough to call Union
soldiers rude, Like, oh, they're putting their feet upon the tables,
this is matters. Yeah, it's not really true. And actually
the officers who occupy Arlington are like, if Mary Lee
had stayed, we'd have let her kept living at her house. Right,
We're not going to kick an old she's an invalid, Right,

(01:02:55):
she's sick, she can't really move very well. Like, these
guys are not going to kick a sick old woman
out of the house, right.

Speaker 3 (01:03:03):
So mama family, Yeah, it's fine, Yeah, Mama's fine.

Speaker 1 (01:03:07):
Yeah, yeah, but you know she bounces anyway. And I
will say, as the war goes on, these guys who
are initially like, yeah, we'd have let her stay, they
get angrier because all of their friends start getting killed, right,
and this gets us to one of the funnier side
stories of the Bobby Lee saga. So we're jumping ahead
a bit here, but by the summer of eighteen sixty two,

(01:03:29):
this is like a year or so into the act
actual fighting in the Civil War, Congress passes a law
to let them collect taxes on real estate and Confederate areas. Basically,
I know you're traders, but we don't recognize the Confederacy
as a separate state, so you still have to pay
your fusing property taxes. And the intention here is to
twist the screws in traders like Lee. Writing in Smithsonian Magazine,

(01:03:52):
Robert Pool states appropriating the homestead was perfectly in keeping
with the views of Lincoln, Secretary of War Edward M. Stanton,
General William T. Sher and Montgomery Meegs, all of them
believed in waging total war to bring the rebellion to
his speedy conclusion, make them so sick of war that
generations would pass away before they would then appeal to it.
Sherman wrote, and Mary tries to pay their tax bill.

(01:04:13):
She sends like a cousin who stays in the north
to like pay the bill on her behalf. But county
commissioners and Alexandria are like, now you got to pay
in person. Yeah, you can't do that, So they seize Arlington.
The government does and puts it up for auction. And
if you want to know how the process of auctioning
a property works, you can refer to the documentary Happy Gilmore.
But sadly, Roberty Lee is dog shit at golf, so

(01:04:36):
he's not able to get his property back.

Speaker 2 (01:04:39):
Yeah, rest in peace. It all comes back to comes
back to.

Speaker 1 (01:04:45):
We're going to talk more about what becomes of Arlington
in part four, and we're also going to take a
look at Lee's actual performance in the war and whether
or not he deserves to be remembered as the greatest
general of the war. Furthermore, we'll talk about the rumors
that he had an unhealthy love affair with his horse Traveler.
But yes, today I really wanted to you have to
kind of spend an hour talking about Whitedly turned trader

(01:05:07):
because there's so much disinfo about it and what we
do know, what we can verify is so fucking clear.
I feel like, yeah, I hope anyone who had any
lingering doubts about that has had them assuaged.

Speaker 3 (01:05:19):
At this point, you had some color to like a
narrative I understood, which I really appreciate. I do want
to go back to this, like the reality on the
ground of like the Confederate States, we're still paying taxes. Yes,
it's it reminds me of like you know, your kid
being like.

Speaker 2 (01:05:39):
Get out of my room.

Speaker 3 (01:05:40):
It's my room, stay out of my life, and then
they slam the door and then you're like, okay, cool,
I was just going to walk over to the router
and turn off the internet because I'm out of your life.
Apparently you know what I'm saying, Like you understand your
room is attached to my house, right, and then when
you come out of that room to try to go
to my refrigerator. Oh, I'm sorry, sweetheart, I'm out of

(01:06:01):
your life. This refrigerator full of food is for people.
That's part of my life. Yeah right, Oh you're gonna
eat it. Okay, cool, You're right, I'll get out of
your life now. I still expect the trash to be
emptied in the next, so you out of your fighting
as you empty in the trash. Maybe you still got
chores here cuz like I like you. Okay, I'm gonna

(01:06:21):
give you some space. Go ahead and give you some space.
It's still my house, right, So I think it's so funny.
It's like we're succeeding. Also, what's tax rate? Eight percent?

Speaker 1 (01:06:32):
Yeah, you still gotta pay your taxes. Gotta pay your taxes.
Fab now that that's definitely one of the more baller
moves of the Lincoln administration. Yeah, yeah, like all right,
well we simply don't care fifteen guys. Yeah, coming up,
you still gotta pay, still gotta pay fam uh huh,
all right, prop, where can the people find you? Should

(01:06:52):
then want to do this?

Speaker 3 (01:06:55):
Find me in the hood. I'm posted, I'm just playing.
You can find me prop hip Hop Talk Politics Pod.
You know, we really turned it up this year to
make sure that, like we're really giving y'all our a game.
Who Politics Pod is the Instagram prop hip Hop is

(01:07:16):
my everything?

Speaker 1 (01:07:17):
Excellent? Well, everybody, this has been behind the bastards. If
you want to get more from us, you can check
out Better Offline, our new tech Focus podcast covering the
disaster that is the tech industry and how it's fucking
up all of our lives with the great ed Zitron.
If you want to find my novel After the Revolution,
just type that into Google with ak press, or just

(01:07:40):
go to whatever bookseller and type it into their thing
and you can buy my book. This has been a
podcast I have been Robert Evans come back for part four.
We will answer the question on everybody's mind, did Bobby
Lee fuck that horse?

Speaker 2 (01:07:54):
The answer will surprise us all. Behind the Bastards is
a production of cool Zone Media. For more from cool
Zone Media, visit our website Coolzonemedia dot com, or check
us out on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever
you get your podcasts.

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