I recently moved from the Northeast to South Carolina. I have been reading about the movement to destroy statues of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate soldiers. Perhaps the opinions of two men who fought against the South in that awful contest would be worth consideration.
First, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant: He wrote of his feelings at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. “What General Lee’s feelings were I do not know ... but my feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly.”
Maj. Gen. Joshua Chamberlain was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic defense of the Union position at Little Round Top at Gettysburg. He was in charge of the federal troops who were to accept the surrender of the Confederate soldiers at Appomattox. Here is his description of his feelings that day as he viewed the Rebels arrayed before him: “Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from them their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond.”
I believe that if Grant and Chamberlain could talk, they would say, “Leave the statues of these brave men alone.”
Thomas H. Macmanus
Golden Bear Drive