I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home.

Robert E. Lee wrote to his sister on April 20, 1861:
“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.”

That same day Lee wrote a letter to General Winfield Scott, tendering his resignation of the U.S. Army:
“I therefore tender my resignation, which I request you will recommend for acceptance. It would have been presented at once but for the struggle it has cost me to separate myself from a service to which I have devoted the best years of my life, and all the ability I possessed.”

“Mr. Blair, I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four millions of slaves in the South, I should sacrifice all for the Union but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia?”

Recommend read:

Robert E. Lee: A Biography, Emory M. Thomas

Book description:

REL book jacket The life of Robert E. Lee is a story not of defeat but of triumphtriumph in clearing his family name, triumph in marrying properly, triumph over the mighty Mississippi in his work as an engineer, and triumph over all other military men to become the towering figure who commanded the Confederate army in the American Civil War. But late in life Lee confessed that he “was always wanting something.”

In this probing and personal biography, Emory Thomas reveals more than the man himself did. Robert E. Lee has been, and continues to be, a symbol and hero in the American story. But in life, Thomas writes, Lee was both more and less than his legend. Here is the man behind the legend.

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