This blog is a project for Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial. As the sesquicentennial of the Civil War gets underway it becomes even more important to understand how people lived during, and reacted to, the Civil War. The Lee family is an interesting case study because of the juxtaposition of loyalties and values. Robert E. Lee’s father was a highly respected Revolutionary War Colonel and Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee’s great grandmother was Martha Washington wife of George Washington. Robert E. Lee was a highly thought of and well respected Colonel in the United States military himself. It is hard to image two people more devoted to the memory of George Washington or the idea of a united country.
As the Civil war got underway Col. Lee resigns his position with the United States military and soon after joins the Virginia forces. His decision to tie his fate with Virginia seals the fate of his wife. While much attention has been paid to General Lee, Mrs. Lee has been overlooked. Mrs. Lee is an interesting character in any time period. Less concerned about how she looked or if she was on time, Mrs. Lee made sure her children were raised well, went to church, and that the enslaved population on her family’s plantation were educated. By educating those enslaved the Lee family blatantly disregarded Virginia law. After doing some research one feels that nothing would have made her happier than to stay for forever at Arlington House with her husband and children.
This blog aims to historically and accurately interpret Mrs. Lee’s emotions during the Civil War. Mrs. Lee will begin blogging March 1st, 1861 when Colonel Lee returns from Texas. This date was chosen as Texas’s secession can be seen as the beginning of Mrs. Lee’s most difficult phase of life. After leaving Arlington she would never live in the house again, see her parent’s graves again, and she would have to cope with the death of her daughter, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, and husband all without the comforts of her one true home.