Robert E. Lee Jr. Encounters His Father on the Battlefield | HistoryNet MENU

Robert E. Lee Jr. Encounters His Father on the Battlefield

By Melissa Winn
November 22, 2017 • Civil War Times

Robert E. Lee Jr. was the youngest son of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and the only one of his three sons that wasn’t initially interested in a military career. In 1860, he enrolled in the University of Virginia. But by 1862, he had decided to join his two older brothers and father in the Confederate Army, and enlisted as a private in the Rockbridge Artillery. As part of the Army of Northern Virginia, he occasionally saw his father, the commander-in-chief, but rarely had a chance to speak to him, Lee Jr. later wrote in his memoirs. On several occasions when he did, however, his father barely recognized his war weary son and did not suppose to use his prominence to shelter his son from harm any more so than the rest of his soldiers. Of a meeting at Sharpsburg, Lee Jr. wrote:

“Captain Poague, commanding our battery, the Rockbridge Artillery, saluted, reported our condition, and asked for instructions. The General [Robert E. Lee], listening patiently looked at us—his eyes passing over me without any sign of recognition—and then ordered Captain Poague to take the most serviceable horses and men, man the uninjured gun, send the disabled part of his command back to refit, and report to the front for duty. As Poague turned to go, I went up to speak to my father. When he found out who I was, he congratulated me on being well and unhurt. I then said: ‘General, are you going to send us in again?’

‘Yes, my son,’ he replied, with a smile, ‘You all must do what you can to help drive these people back.’

All four Lees survived the Civil War.

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