Forthcoming Non Fiction: Robert E. Lee Indicted For a Variety of Sins During June 1865 by the Citizens of Norfolk, Virginia
The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee: The Forgotten Case against an American Icon, John Reeves, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 270 pages, $27.00, Publication Date: July 15, 2018.
From the Publisher: History has 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.” Until recently, there was even a stained
glass window devoted to Lee's life at the National Cathedral in
Immediately after the Civil War, however, many
northerners believed Lee should be hanged for treason and war crimes.
Americans will be surprised to learn that in June of 1865 Robert E. Lee
was indicted for treason by a Norfolk, Virginia grand jury. In his
instructions to the grand jury, Judge John C. Underwood described
treason as “wholesale murder,” and declared that the instigators of the
rebellion had “hands dripping with the blood of slaughtered innocents.”
In early 1866, Lee decided against visiting friends while in Washington,
D.C. for a congressional hearing, because he was conscious of being
perceived as a “monster” by citizens of the nation’s capital. Yet
somehow, roughly fifty years after his trip to Washington, Lee had been
transformed into a venerable American hero, who was highly regarded by
northerners alike. Almost a century after Appomattox, Dwight D.
Eisenhower had Lee’s portrait on the wall of his White House office.The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee
tells the story of the forgotten legal and moral case that was made
against the Confederate general after the Civil War. The actual
indictment went missing for 72 years. Over the past 150 years, the
indictment against Lee after the war has both literally and figuratively
disappeared from our national consciousness. In this book, Civil War
historian John Reeves illuminates the incredible turnaround in attitudes
towards the defeated general by examining the evolving case against him
from 1865 to 1870 and beyond.
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