General Lee's Final Bivouac


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Oct 11, 2016
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#6
So I must confess to being a bit confused here.

In the narrative, Lee is a) riding all alone b) riding with his son and c) sleeping in his tent for the last time.

Tents in those days were quite bulky, so presumably it wasn't strapped to his saddle. How did it get there?

Who is it exactly that pitched the tent?As noted they were unwieldy and heavy. Lee wouldn't have pitched it himself in any case, and his son (are we talking Custis who had been captured at Saylors Creek 3 days before the surrender?) couldn't have done it by himself.

Where was his son when all of these people saw him riding "all alone" without even a body servant or orderly or an escort of any kind.

Lee would have had a lot of gear; clothes, camp desk, papers, all the rest. We know he had an entire wagon on campaigns to carry his personal baggage. Where were his things? We know he didn't just abandon them when he rode off. One would have assumed that the tent and the rest were in his wagon but that doesn't jibe with the story.

How to reconcile these things? One suspects that much of this narrative amounts mostly teary-eyed sentimental rubbish, embellished over time.
 
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#9
So I must confess to being a bit confused here.

In the narrative, Lee is a) riding all alone b) riding with his son and c) sleeping in his tent for the last time.

Tents in those days were quite bulky, so presumably it wasn't strapped to his saddle. How did it get there?

Who is it exactly that pitched the tent?As noted they were unwieldy and heavy. Lee wouldn't have pitched it himself in any case, and his son (are we talking Custis who had been captured at Saylors Creek 3 days before the surrender?) couldn't have done it by himself.

Where was his son when all of these people saw him riding "all alone" without even a body servant or orderly or an escort of any kind.

Lee would have had a lot of gear; clothes, camp desk, papers, all the rest. We know he had an entire wagon on campaigns to carry his personal baggage. Where were his things? We know he didn't just abandon them when he rode off. One would have assumed that the tent and the rest were in his wagon but that doesn't jibe with the story.

How to reconcile these things? One suspects that much of this narrative amounts mostly teary-eyed sentimental rubbish, embellished over time.
I think you have some good points, but there could be any number of explanations, me I reckon its possible he had some of his staff following with the gear, and Lee himself could have been simply riding ahead wanting to be alone, I know I would want to be if I had just had to throw in the proverbial towel, and him re-joining his "party" after awhile.

As for the site of the "Last Bivouac" its an interesting story I've not heard, and in a lot of ways symbolic.
 
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Oct 9, 2017
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#12
So I must confess to being a bit confused here.

In the narrative, Lee is a) riding all alone b) riding with his son and c) sleeping in his tent for the last time.

Tents in those days were quite bulky, so presumably it wasn't strapped to his saddle. How did it get there?

Who is it exactly that pitched the tent?As noted they were unwieldy and heavy. Lee wouldn't have pitched it himself in any case, and his son (are we talking Custis who had been captured at Saylors Creek 3 days before the surrender?) couldn't have done it by himself.

Where was his son when all of these people saw him riding "all alone" without even a body servant or orderly or an escort of any kind.

Lee would have had a lot of gear; clothes, camp desk, papers, all the rest. We know he had an entire wagon on campaigns to carry his personal baggage. Where were his things? We know he didn't just abandon them when he rode off. One would have assumed that the tent and the rest were in his wagon but that doesn't jibe with the story.

How to reconcile these things? One suspects that much of this narrative amounts mostly teary-eyed sentimental rubbish, embellished over time.
You raise good questions. The second marker is badly deteriorated but indicates that several members of General Lee's staff were traveling with him, and that they were also accompanied by Major Giles Cooke, who was in an ambulance. So that suggests to me that there was at least one wagon, which would likely contain their personal effects and tent.
 
Joined
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Messages
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#14
I didn't realize Lee had a brother. Did the brother participate in the war or was he much older?
General Lee's brother Charles Carter Lee was 63 years old when the war began (7 years older than Robert), so he was too old to participate. He was a lawyer.
He had another brother, Sydney Smith Lee. (He mostly dropped the Sydney and was known as "Smith" Lee.)

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He was Lighthorse Harry's oldest (surviving) son, and the father of famed cavalry commander Fitzhugh Lee. (Everybody knows he was R.E.L.'s nephew but few remember who his father was)

He had been superintendent of the Philadelphia Naval Yard and Commandant of Annapolis, and commanded the USS Mississippi as part of Commodore Perry's fleet when he sailed into Tokyo Bay.

Served in the Confederate Navy, reportedly quite reluctantly: as late as 1863 he was quoted as angrily denouncing South Carolina for "getting us into this snarl" of secession and complaining that Robert and his family had persuaded him to act against his love of the US Navy.

He held various commands including the Gosport Naval Yards and also the guns on Drewry's Bluff. He ended the war as a Captain in Richmond running the naval supply service (I'm guessing that at that point there wasn't a heck of a lot to do) and, presumably, still deeply regretting letting his brother Bob talk him into joining the Confederacy.
 
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