Civil War Interactive Discussion Board Home
Home Search search Menu menu Not logged in - Login | Register


Arlington ... - Robert E. Lee - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
 Moderated by: javal1
 New Topic   Reply   Printer Friendly 
 Rate Topic 
AuthorPost
 Posted: Mon Jun 17th, 2013 02:20 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
1st Post
Texas Defender
Member


Joined: Sat Jan 27th, 2007
Location: Texas USA
Posts: 920
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

  The events leading to the transformation of the estate at Arlington into a national cemetery have previously been discussed on this forum. But this excellent article is a worthy addition to the board:

How Arlington National Cemetery Came to Be | History & Archaeology | Smithsoni

  The article explains how the estate was confiscated at the beginning of the war, and how it was used as an instrument of revenge by Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs (who was a logistical genius). General Meigs' enmity towards Robert E. Lee (And all other Virginians who served the CSA) was probably unmatched among Union generals.

  The estate was converted into a cemetery in 1864, but in the end, many years later, the Lee family prevailed in the Federal Judicial System, and recovered the ownership of the property. Custis Lee chose to take a cash settlement, rather than having the already 20,000 buried there removed. It was the right decision for the Lee family, as the money was needed to restore the family fortune. However, I can't help but wonder if Custis Lee would have relished having all traces of federal occupation removed from the estate.

  As for General Meigs, he later joined his family members, being buried in a very prominent place on the property. One has to wonder what his reaction was when the Lee family prevailed in the USSC.

  As an aside, Mrs. Lee's young cousin, William Orton Williams, who told her in May of 1861 that she would have to leave her beloved home, soon became a CSA officer. Along with a fellow officer (Also a cousin), he set out on a bizarre scheme, impersonating a Union officer. He was soon recognized, captured, tried as a spy, and hung.

Col William Orton Williams (1839 - 1863) - Find A Grave Memorial

Robert E. Lee (by Freeman) — Vol. III Chap. 12 The story is discussed in this chapter by Freeman.

Last edited on Mon Jun 17th, 2013 02:23 pm by Texas Defender



 Posted: Mon Jun 17th, 2013 09:49 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
2nd Post
Hellcat
Root Beer Lover


Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 885
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

I'm gonna be honest here, TD, and say I haven't yet clicked a link. But do I remember correctly that the settlement was after Mrs. Lee' death?

On Custis Lee's potentially wanting all traces of the occupation gone I think that at the end of the war he might have wanted that. But by the time the settlement was completed I'd think that no matter how he would have felt that it probably no longer mattered beyond effectively being paid for the estate. You have to figure that the federal government had occupied the land for so long by the time of the settlement that there would likely always be a little anger over that and he probably also wouldn't want to be constantly reminded of that whenever he looked at Arlington House or the grounds.

What's most interesting is that she could have gotten the property back much sooner than her son go the payment for it. She did try paying the back taxes on it and the government refused to accept. That reminds me so much of Lee's citizenship papers going "missing" so he never regained his citizenship until over a hundred years after his death. I've never bought that whole missing bit, those papers were deliberately "misplaced" so as to punish him for his role in the war. And the refusal to accept the back taxes on the property was the same thing.



 Posted: Mon Jun 17th, 2013 10:18 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
3rd Post
Texas Defender
Member


Joined: Sat Jan 27th, 2007
Location: Texas USA
Posts: 920
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Hellcat-

  Mrs. Lee died in 1873 and the court case wasn't finally resolved until very late in 1882.

  As for the tax- the Congress authorized a special tax on property within districts that were in: "Insurrection." A tax was levied on Arlington, and Mrs. Lee, who was ill at the time, sent a relative to pay it. He was turned away by the authorities, who said that Mrs. Lee had to appear in person to pay the tax. The tax wasn't paid, which led to an auction in 1864. The Federal Government was the only bidder.

  As for Custis Lee, he had little money and no inheritance other than Arlington. Taking a cash settlement was the only reasonable option for him, since the Government apparently paid the fair market value for the property in 1883.

George Washington Custis Lee - Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial



 Posted: Thu Jan 30th, 2014 07:48 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
4th Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 105
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Texas Defender wrote:
...  The article explains how the estate was confiscated at the beginning of the war, and how it was used as an instrument of revenge by Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs (who was a logistical genius). General Meigs' enmity towards Robert E. Lee (And all other Virginians who served the CSA) was probably unmatched among Union generals ...


He was a Southerner who despised secessionists, an American first. Not sure if it was a desire for revenge or simply poetic justice, but his decision to make Arlington the National Cemetery was seminal (a subdivision of condos today if he hadn't? -- thank our lucky stars!). For me, Arlington is still the most reverent place in the entire United States, it breathes history from every stone, the last will and testament for too many (aye, some of mine are there). If she does not bring a tear to your eye, or put a lump in your throat, well ...

Meigs knew it way back then. Despite all that occurred during the war, I'll bet you even R.E. Lee, with that deepest well of character and magnanimity, a true Southern gentleman, would be damned proud of her legacy.

Last edited on Thu Jan 30th, 2014 07:59 pm by wondering



 Posted: Thu May 22nd, 2014 02:55 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
5th Post
Texas Defender
Member


Joined: Sat Jan 27th, 2007
Location: Texas USA
Posts: 920
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

wondering-

   I doubt that General Meigs had any idea in 1864 that the cemetery at Arlington would become what it has become 150 years later. His purpose then was to make the estate unlivable should the Lee family try to return to it after the war. It was also a convenient place to put thousands of bodies that needed to be buried somewhere.

   As soon as Virginia seceded, federal forces invaded the state and Arlington House was quickly occupied. The Federal Government declared itself the owner of the property in 1864. During the war, many priceless George Washington related artifacts that were collected by Mrs. Lee's father were stolen from the property, and many others were shipped to WDC. This injustice was partially remedied in 1901.

eHistory.com: The Life of Mary Custis Lee

   Arlington was General Lee's home for many years, but he did not own the property. Mrs. Lee was the owner, having inherited the estate from her father. The property was taken from her, and she did not live to see the USSC declare the Federal Government's previous actions to be illegal. She died almost ten years before the ownership of the property was returned to the Lee family.

   As for General Lee, I do not know how he would view the estate if he could see it today. Nowadays, the cemetery at Arlington is certainly the largest collection of prominent Americans buried in any one place. But there is no honor in how that place came to be a cemetery. I certainly can't regard that as: "Poetic justice."
Arlington National Cemetery, and the fight over Robert E. Lee’s home - The Was


   General Lee only had a few years left to live after the war ended, but more than once he was on a train that passed within view of Arlington. I have read that whenever he passed by, he made sure to look in the opposite direction.

   Early in the war, General Lee had written to his wife: "It is better to make up our minds to a general loss. They cannot take away the remembrance of the spot and the memories of those that to us rendered it sacred. That will remain to us as long as life will last, and that we can preserve."

 

 

 


Last edited on Thu May 22nd, 2014 03:40 pm by Texas Defender



 Posted: Fri May 23rd, 2014 04:25 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
6th Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 105
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Meigs "ruined" forever the property of his former mentor -- why? I admit "poetic justice" is inaccurate, despite one soldier's strategic significance in the loss of so many others, to the point they began burying them in his backyard. A war was on. Similarly he who stands up for guiding principles, takes the road less travelled, may also sacrifice much his heart holds dear in defence of liberty. It is poetry, but it was not just.

In war those of rank must take stands, and I confess I have pondered it awhile. Meigs felt justified. I do see the hurt he caused, inconscionable shenanigans, as did courts later. He didn't have to plant the rose garden, most probably shouldn't have. It was a personal attack, beyond the pale, sanctioned by committee.

War is hell: and unfortunately the side with the meanest Quartermaster often wins. I still believe R.E. Lee would be proud of Arlington today. He was blue chip, proved it -- not by forgetting, but by forgiving. I dare say Washington himself may well have approved such a resting place for soldiers sacrificed by his nation. Sadly, the history of the western world is primarily one big land dispute.

Thanks for keeping me honest, Tex.



 Posted: Fri May 23rd, 2014 05:39 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
7th Post
Hellcat
Root Beer Lover


Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 885
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

How much associated with the war was truly just or poetic? Sadly revenge is too often made noble by claiming it a just cause. I'm not saying everything about the war was about revenge, but there were a number of things that I would say were about revenge that were claimed to be about justice.



 Posted: Fri May 23rd, 2014 06:49 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
8th Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 105
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

How should I feel about Arlington? Washington and Lee were Americans, soldiers. Perhaps in the end, though unintended, Meigs paid his adversary a most bitter complement.



 Posted: Sun Jun 15th, 2014 11:11 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
9th Post
RebelRouser
Member


Joined: Tue Mar 18th, 2014
Location:  
Posts: 6
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Arlington +150

 

Arlington National Cemetery | ANC 150th Anniversary



 Current time is 09:30 pm
Top




UltraBB 1.17 Copyright © 2007-2008 Data 1 Systems
Page processed in 0.1690 seconds (13% database + 87% PHP). 25 queries executed.