Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 329

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 329


This is the grave of the traitor Fitzhugh Lee.

Born in 1835 in Claremont, Virginia, Lee was part of the famous elite Lee family that included the traitor general Robert E. Lee and Harry Lighthorse Lee, among others. Thus, he was destined for the military-political leadership that his class in the South so valued. He went to West Point and graduated in 1856. He fought against the Comanches in Texas and suffered a severe leg wound in doing so. In 1861, Lee committed treason in defense of slavery, resigning from his position at West Point he was given after his leg wound.

While Lee was not quite the military leader of his uncle, he played a major role in the war to defend slavery. He delayed the American army at Sharpsburg before the titanic battle at Antietam. He was highly acclaimed for his leadership at Gettysburg by J.E.B. Stuart, even though his troops fared poorly in the battle. His troops helped slow down Grant’s army between the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. He later served with David Hunter to slow down Sheridan’s advance in Virginia and with Jubal Early on his late war campaigns. Overall, Lee was a pretty good officer by most accounts, which makes it sad that he did so in order to enslave, torture, murder, rape, and steal the labor from black people, the entire point of the existence of his elite class.

After treason in defense of slavery was crushed, Lee played a relatively moderate role in politics, not with the hard-core bitterness of someone like Early. He knew slavery was dead and urged reconciliation of southern whites with this reality. He got involved with Democratic politics and served a term as Virginia’s governor in the late 1880s. He also was involved in the historical reconciliation processes of the nation, including giving a big speech in Boston for the centennial of the Battle of Bunker Hill. This was more reflective of the desire of northern Americans to forget about the Civil War and come back together with southern whites on southern terms rather than any great shakes on Lee’s part. He became a leading southern Democrat, close to Grover Cleveland, who named him consul-general in Cuba. He was still in this role when the USS Maine blew up, which the Spanish almost certainly had no part in. He resigned his position when the U.S. declared war on Spain and rejoined the American military, one of the only high-ranking Confederate military officers to again fight for the United States in a war. He didn’t actually fight in the war, which after all, didn’t really last very long, but was named military governor of Havana and the province of Pilar del Rio in 1899. He retired from the Army as a brigadier general in 1901.

Fitzhugh Lee died in 1905. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

This grave visit was supported by LGM contributions and I am tremendously grateful for it. If you would like this series to visit more treasonous southern officers, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. The vile Jubal Early is in Lynchburg, Virginia, while Wade Hampton, another general Lee served under, is in Columbia, South Carolina. Visiting either of these terrible people would lead to epic posts, so make it happen. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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