Friday, August 19, 2016

A Fierce Christian Warrior of Compassion and Humility

We Southerners and Christians have a vast army arrayed against us and it’s needful that we become fearless warriors to face the onslaught against our faith, our culture, our history, our traditions, our homes and our families.

By the same token we must be careful not to become the very thing that we fight against. In fighting the Empire we must not become ruthless, unfeeling and unprincipled yankees in the process.

We cannot do better than seeking to emulate the Christian character of General Robert E. Lee. There is much to be learned from his life and his words.

When facing an invading army, Lee’s desire was not for their demise, but rather that they would simply go home and tend to their own business. Unfortunately, it seems almost impossible for the yankee to mind his own business and when required Lee was certainly ready to send the invaders into the next world. Consider the following incident that took place in the context of the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Insight of the enemy on the Rapidan, General Lee was standing near his lines, conversing with two of his officers, one of whom was known to be not only a hard fighter and a hard swearer, but a cordial hater of the Yankees. After a silence of some moments, the latter officer, looking at the Yankees with a dark scowl on his face, exclaimed, most emphatically, “I wish they were all dead.” General Lee, with the grace and manner peculiar to him replied, “How can you say, General! Now I wish they were all at home, attending to their own business, and leaving us to do the same.” He then moved off, when the first speaker, waiting until he was out of  earshot, turned to his companion, and in the most earnest tone said, “I would not say so before General Lee, but I wish they were all dead and in hell.” When this “amendment” to the wish was afterwards repeated to General Lee, in spite of his goodness and customary reproof of profanity, he could not refrain from laughing heartily at the speech, which was so characteristic of one of his favorite officers. [almost certainly that officer was Lt. Genrl. Jubal A. Early]
      -- Life of Jefferson Davis: With a Secret History of the Southern Confederacy, Edward Alfred Pollard, p.427

I know that I too often demonstrate the spirit of General Early rather than that of General Lee, but we would all do well to cultivate General Lee’s compassion. It seems that there was not a vindictive bone in General Lee’s body, as further demonstrated by the following example. 

This story was relayed by a Union soldier. This incident happened at the battle of Gettysburg, sometime after the disaster of Pickett's charge:

"I had been a most bitter anti-south man, and fought and cursed the confederates desperately. I could see nothing good in any of them. The last day of the fight I was badly wounded as a ball had shattered my left leg. I lay on the ground not far from Cemetery ridge, and as General Lee ordered his retreat, he and his officers road near me. As they came along, I recognized him. And though faint from exposure and loss of blood, I raised my hands and looked Lee in the face and shouted as loud as I could, “Hurrah for the Union! Hurrah for the Union!”. "The General heard me, looked, stopped his horse, dismounted, and came toward me. I confess I at first thought he meant to kill me. But as he came up, he looked down at me with such a sad expression on his face that all fear left me, and I wondered what he was about. He extended his hand to me, grasping mine firmly and looking right into my eyes said “My son, I hope you will soon be well”. "If I live a thousand years, I shall never forget the expression on General Lee’s face. There he was, defeated -- retiring from a field that had cost him and his cause almost their last hope. And yet he stopped to say words like these to a wounded soldier of the opposition who had taunted him as he passed by. "As soon as the general left me, I cried myself to sleep there on the bloody ground."
      -- Memoirs of Robert E. Lee, General A. L. Long

And yet one more example that took place after the war when Lee was counseling one of his young students at Washington College:

“Perhaps there was never a better example of meekness under trying circumstances than the simple story of a sophomore who had been called before the president to be impressed with the fact that he must mend his ways or become a failure in life.   ‘But General, you failed!’ answered the youth (who, no doubt, regretted that thoughtless remark all through his after life). The great man of his day and generation answered without the least resentment: ‘I hope that you may be more fortunate than I.’”
      -- The Maxims of Robert E. Lee for Young Gentlemen

May we all seek to emulate the humility, compassion and gentleness of the Christian Gentleman, General Robert E. Lee, but let us never confuse meekness with weakness. Lee dearly loved his country (Virginia) and would fiercely oppose any who would do her harm. He ever remained the staunch advocate and defender of his Southland and the bitter enemy of those who would oppose it.

I close as we reflect upon the words of General Lee to Governor Stockdale of Texas at the conclusion of a meeting just shortly before Lee’s death: 
“Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand.”
      -- The Life and Letters of Robert Lewis Dabney, Volume 3, Page 499

By the Grace of God, may we strive to be honorable Christian Warriors in the mold of our great Chieftain, General Robert E. Lee. It is becoming increasingly evident that it we will be called upon to pick up that sword once again.

Deo Vindice!





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