Praise For Lee And Jackson
By Pastor Chuck Baldwin
January 16, 2007
January is often referred to as "Generals Month" as no less than four
famous Confederate Generals claimed January as their birth month: James Longstreet
(Jan. 8, 1821), Robert E. Lee (Jan. 19, 1807), Thomas Jonathan Jackson (Jan. 21,
1824), and George Pickett (Jan. 28, 1825). Two of these men, Lee and Jackson,
are particularly noteworthy. This is especially true, as this year will mark General
Lee’s two hundredth birthday.
Without question, Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson were two
of the greatest military leaders of all time. Even more, the Lee and Jackson
tandem is regarded by many military historians as having formed perhaps the
greatest battlefield duo in the history of warfare. If Jackson had survived
the battle of Chancellorsville, it is very possible that the South would have
prevailed at Gettysburg and perhaps would even have won the War Between The
In fact, it was Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the British armies in the
early Twentieth Century, who said, "In my opinion, Stonewall Jackson was
one of the greatest natural military geniuses the world ever saw. I will go
even further than that-as a campaigner in the field, he never had a superior.
In some respects, I doubt whether he ever had an equal."
While the strategies and circumstances of the War Of Northern Aggression can
(and will) be debated by professionals and laymen alike, one fact is undeniable:
Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson were two of the finest Christian gentlemen
this country has ever produced. Both their character and their conduct were
Unlike his northern counterpart, Ulysses S. Grant, General Lee never sanctioned
or condoned slavery. Upon inheriting slaves from his deceased father-in-law,
Lee immediately freed them. And according to historians, Jackson enjoyed a familial
relationship with those few slaves which were in his home. In addition, unlike
Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Grant, neither Lee nor Jackson ever spoke disparagingly
of the black race.
As those who are familiar with history know, General Grant and his wife held
personal slaves before and during the War Between The States, and even Lincoln’s
Emancipation Proclamation did not free them. They were not freed until the Thirteenth
Amendment was passed after the conclusion of the war. Grant’s excuse for not
freeing his slaves was that "good help is so hard to come by these days."
Furthermore, it is well established that Jackson regularly conducted a Sunday
School class for black children. This was a ministry he took very seriously.
As a result, he was dearly loved and appreciated by the children and their parents.
Furthermore, both Jackson and Lee emphatically supported the abolition of slavery.
In fact, Lee called slavery "a moral and political evil." He also
said "the best men in the South" opposed it and welcomed its demise.
Jackson said he wished to see "the shackles struck from every slave."
To think that Lee and Jackson (and the vast majority of Confederate soldiers)
would fight and die to preserve an institution they considered evil and abhorrent
is the height of absurdity. It is equally repugnant to impugn and denigrate
the memory of these remarkable Christian gentlemen.
In fact, after refusing Abraham Lincoln’s offer to command the Union Army in
1861, Robert E. Lee wrote to his sister on April 20 of that year to explain
his decision. In the letter he wrote, "With all my devotion to the Union
and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been
able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children,
my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the army and save in defense
of my native state, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be
needed . . ."
Lee’s decision to resign his commission with the Union Army must have been
the most difficult decision of his life. Remember that Lee’s direct ancestors
had fought in America’s War For Independence. His father, "Light Horse
Harry" Henry Lee, was a Revolutionary War hero, Governor of Virginia, and
member of Congress. In addition, members of his family were signatories to the
Declaration of Independence.
Remember, too, that not only did Robert E. Lee graduate from West Point at
the top of his class, he is yet today the only cadet to graduate from that prestigious
academy without a single demerit.
However, Lee knew that what Lincoln was about to do was both immoral and unconstitutional.
As a man of honor and integrity, the only thing Lee could do was that which
his father had done: fight for freedom and independence. And that is exactly
what he did.
Instead of allowing a politically correct culture to sully the memory of Robert
E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson, all Americans should hold them in a place of highest
honor and respect. Anything less is a disservice to history and a disgrace to
the principles of truth and integrity.
Accordingly, it was more than appropriate that the late President Gerald Ford,
on August 5, 1975, signed Senate Joint Resolution 23, "restoring posthumously
the long overdue, full rights of citizenship to General Robert E. Lee."
According to President Ford, "This legislation corrects a 110-year oversight
of American history." He further said, "General Lee’s character has
been an example to succeeding generations . . ."
The significance of General Lee’s (and Thomas Jackson’s) life cannot be overvalued.
While the character and influence of most of us will barely be remembered two
hundred days after our departure, the sterling character of these men has endured
for two hundred years. What a shame that so many of America’s youth are being
robbed of knowing and studying the virtue and integrity of the great General
Robert E. Lee and General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
© 2007 Chuck Baldwin