Robert E. Lee
In 2003, Roy Blount Jr. published the book Robert E. Lee through the Penguin Group Inc. This book is different then other books published about Lee due to the fact that this book looks behind the man in uniform, and shows how Lee became the legend that we know today. Blount brings an element of humor that some would not expect to find when writing about Lee. Through this type of writing, Lee transforms into the everyday person who we all can relate to.
Blount takes the reader through the life of Robert E. Lee. However, Blount dances to a different beat while telling the story of Lee. There are some details about Lee that have been overlooked or ignored by other writers that Blount made prominent in this biography. One of these is Lee's humor when it comes to the word "Pussyism" (57). This word was used when referring to the Oxford movement in the Church of England. Lee walked into conservation between two junior officers and declared, "Beware of Pussyism! Pussyism is always bad, and may lead to unchristian feeling; therefore beware of Pussyism!"(58). Lee is brought alive into the readers mind by this type of humor.
Blount begins the journey through Lee's life with Lee's father, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee. Henry was a Revolutionary War hero who went bankrupt and disgraced the Lee name. When Robert was a young child his father went to Baltimore to assist in the defense of a newspaper that was opposed to the war of 1812 and was under attack by a vicious mob. While in Baltimore, Henry was beaten badly by a man named Mumma. While unconscious Mumma tried to cut off his nose but failed. By the grace of God Henry made it back to Virginia but never fully recovered. This had a tremendous effect on Robert's upbringing because his mother raised him for most of his life and she stated "How can I live without Robert? He is son, daughter and everything to me!"(34). Robert was a mama's boy who without family connections would not have been the historical figure he is today. Robert went to school at West Point with the backing of the Secretary of War, a Senator and several congressmen to become a Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. Robert later referred to this as "the greatest mistake of his life" (34).
After graduating West Point, Robert got married and had children. Blount describes the effort made by Lee to stay close to his family while working all over the nation. Lee started his military career in the Mexican War. It is during this point that the courageousness of Lee was discovered. He proved to be invaluable by scouting enemy positions and leading the way to victory. Blount the focuses on the missions that Lee went on after the war, although not as important as the Civil War, Blount shows the transformation of an engineer to a military General. During the Civil War, Lee turned down an offer made by President Lincoln to lead the Union in order to command the Confederates. Blount makes some connections that seem to connect Lee's childhood to his defeat at Gettysburg. Blount takes into account three factors that might have mentally hurt Lee at the battle. First, Lee was about the same age of his father when he was beaten in Baltimore which weighed heavily on his thoughts. Second, the Union's headquarters was about 1000 yards from Baltimore Pike which also brought back his father's memory. Finally, Lee's headquarters was also about 1000 yards from Mammasburg Road which brings back the memory of the man who almost killed his father, Mumma.
Blount goes on to show the man behind the uniform by focusing on Robert as a person and not a military great. Blount goes into detail about how Lee was average height but smaller then average feet. Blount explains that this feature made Lee feel inferior and affected his personality. He then concludes with Lee's thoughts about slavery. Lee assumed that they were not ready for freedom, which was contradicting to his idol George Washington who believed that "[…] slavery was keeping them [African Americans] from developing