In The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee, I discuss an important interview with Robert E. Lee that appeared in The New York Herald on Saturday, April 29, 1865, roughly three weeks after Appomattox. I've included it here in its entirety.
I am now sending back to Belle Plain all my wagons for a fresh supply of provisions and ammunition, and purpose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer.
Lieutenant-General Ulysses S. Grant wrote this line to the Chief of Staff of the Army on May 11, 1864 shortly after the battle of the Wilderness and during the opening days of the battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. During the previous six days of fighting, Grant estimated that he had lost roughly twenty thousand men.
Until recently, history had been kind to Robert E. Lee. Woodrow Wilson believed General Lee was a “model to men who would be morally great.” Douglas Southall Freeman, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his four-volume biography of Lee, described his subject as “one of a small company of great men in whom there is no inconsistency to be explained, no enigma to be solved.” Winston Churchill called him “one of the noblest Americans who ever lived.” For well over a century, we celebrated Lee’s memory across America. Monuments were raised in his honor, and schools were named after him. There’s even a stained glass window devoted to Lee’s life at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.