General Robert E. Lee explains the concept of “sacred geography” | YouTube

Sacred geography… one’s home territory, one’s homeland… the “soil” half of “blood and soil,” the two-pronged basis of nations and peoples, as they have been historically understood and experienced. The place one is willing to fight and even die for, because of what it means, the connection one feels for it, the history one shares with it. Even “liberals” of an earlier time – and not so much earlier, either, I’m talking the 1980s and even ’90s – would have understood, if you called it a “sense of place,” or “connection to one’s bioregion.”

We all have such a place. For many of us, it is the region in which we have grown up; to which we are joined not only by our own experiences, but those of our ancestors:

Sometimes, just our immediate family (I was the first of my family to be born in Maryland, but most of my life has been spent here, my parents lie in the ground here, and I deeply grieve at what it has become, and the thought that I might one day have no choice but to leave it… it will be a kind of exile, no matter where I end up); and sometimes, many generations of our forebears, as Gen. Lee speaks of in the clip above.

One’s sacred geography, one’s “home range” (to use an ecological term), should be source of comfort, reassurance, and stability. But when it has suffered disruption, and particularly when one is pondering the prospect of departing from it because of that disruption, to seek a place where one can find fertile ground to plant and tend the seeds that one is endeavoring to salvage from the wreckage, it can be a source of deep pain.

But either way, I pity those who do not have such a sense, of such a place. They are rootless and groundless, indeed.


N.B. What is “blood and soil”? Stephen Clay McGehee explains, from the perspective of Southern Agrarianism:

“Southern Agrarianism is a Blood and Soil movement. It takes in two of the most basic concepts in all of history: Our People, and the soil that provides the food that feeds our people. It means that, while we wish all the best toward others, our immediate family comes first, followed by ever larger circles of extended family, and then on out from there.”

In other words, it is not a concept / movement that teaches hatred toward others, nor does it seek supremacy over others. It simply places our priorities where they should be: on those closest to us, and on the land that supports us and them: the sacred geography of our homeland.

Ten Things You Don’t Know About Robert E. Lee | Abbeville Institute

Source: Ten Things You Don’t Know About Robert E. Lee | Abbeville Institute

General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, CSA (and later and for a time, all Confederate forces), was one of my first heroes and role models, and he remains so to this day. He was not only a great general (if I ever speak of “the General,” without further modification, I am speaking of Lee), but a great Christian gentleman.

But although he was a great man, he was not a perfect man: those who do not understand how both statements can be true understand little of human nature, or indeed of the nature of reality. The linked article does not whitewash the General, but it definitely shows his greatness. Well worth a read, and I commend it, dear readers, to your attention.

One note: I am not a huge fan (to put it mildly) of Federal Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He permitted, if not actually enabled, the horrific actions of Sherman and Sheridan; and he was little more caring for his own men than for his opponents, being willing to sacrifice his own soldiers in a most callous fashion to obtain his victories: it is not without reason that he was nicknamed “Butcher Grant,” by Northern journalists.

But he was not entirely without honour, either, at least toward people he considered to be personal friends – as he apparently did General Lee, with whom he had served in the Mexican War. It is well-known that he gave honourable terms to the surrendering Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, even allowing the Confederate soldiers to keep their rifles (a major concession, for a defeated army).

What is less well-known is his personal intervention on Lee’s behalf, after the War, as recounted here:

“Later, when Lee was indicted for treason by a federal grand jury, with the threat of arrest and possible execution hanging over him, he appealed to Grant, noting that the terms of his army’s surrender included the stipulation—drafted by Grant himself—that ‘each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.’

“Grant concurred with Lee’s interpretation and urged Lee to apply for a federal pardon, which Grant said he would endorse. Lee did so, sending the documents to Grant, who indeed forwarded them on to President Andrew Johnson with his endorsement. (The application would be ‘lost,’ and Lee’s citizenship would not be restored until 1975—but that is another story.) What Lee did not know was that Grant quietly let it be known that he would resign from the army if Lee were to be arrested.”

I believe in giving credit where due, and this action is certainly to Grant’s credit. I will only add that it’s a shame his sense of honour was not a bit more general. But, again, human nature is what it is…

 

Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee | Crisis Magazine

The acting assumption seems to be that if only we can erase any memory of the Confederacy and slavery, racism will finally be a thing of the past… [However,] it’s worth pointing out that before we tear men apart, or tear down their statues, we are duty bound to know the facts of the case, no matter our personal feelings toward, or disagreements with, the male in question.

Source: Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee – Crisis Magazine

Today marks the anniversary of the passing of General Robert E. Lee – “Marse Robert” (“Master Robert”), to his devoted men – in 1870, just over five years after he had reluctantly surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, in the realization that he had done all he could do, and prolonging the conflict any further would simply result in still more senseless death and destruction.

Although he was the greatest of many great Southern generals (and indeed, among the greatest military leaders of any land and of any time), he had never been a secessionist, and only reluctantly resigned his commission in the United States Army when it became clear that he would have to choose between what he – along with many, both North and South – saw as a voluntary Union of sovereign States, and his beloved home state of Virginia, “the Old Dominion”: it would not be possible to remain loyal to both.

He also was personally opposed to slavery, holding it to be a “great moral and political evil,” but believed that its abolition should be gradual and equitable to all parties concerned – rather than the sudden, violent, and disorganized way in which it actually occurred, which has contributed to both resentment, and many practical problems, ever since. In this, I think he was rather prescient. Continue reading “Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee | Crisis Magazine”

Bishop: Tree plaques in Brooklyn honoring Gen. Lee to be removed | Newsday

Plaques memorializing Gen. Robert E. Lee mark a

Two plaques honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that mark a maple tree outside a Brooklyn church will be removed Wednesday, the spiritual leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island said Tuesday.

Source: Bishop: Tree plaques in Brooklyn honoring Gen. Lee to be removed | Newsday

Sadly, the Episcopal Church is showing its recurrent idiocy and lack of both historical perspective and breadth of vision once again. The attacks on General Lee, of which this is but the latest of many, are particularly unjust and absurd, given the actual and expressed beliefs of the man himself.

Here, for a more balanced view, are a few excerpts from an essay entitled “The Real Robert E. Lee,” from the website of the Abbeville Institute’s “Review”:

• “First, Lee deplored slavery, describing it as a ‘moral and political evil’ in a letter to his wife, Mary Anna. Lee told her that they should give ‘the final abolition of human slavery…the aid of our prayers and all justifiable means in our power,’ praying for ‘the mild and melting influence of Christianity’ over ‘the storm and tempest of fiery controversy’ driving America to disunion. Lee elsewhere called slavery a ‘national sin’ for which he feared America would be punished.”

• “Second, Lee initially opposed secession, but his loyalty to his native state – the Commonwealth of Virginia – surpassed his loyalty to the abstraction of the Union…. Although Lee considered secession to be wrongful, he could not countenance a government based on force of arms rather than consent of the governed.”

• “Third, Lee did not believe he was fighting for the particular issue of slavery, but for the foundational principles of American freedom – self-government, independence, and the constitutional rights of the states. As the Confederacy rejected three offers from Lincoln to exchange submission to the Union for the protection of slavery, Lee’s convictions were confirmed. ‘Our sole object,’ Lee wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, ‘is the establishment of our independence and the attainment of an honorable peace.'”

“Before his very first battle at Cheat Mountain, Lee did not encourage his men to fight for slavery, but for home, hearth, kith, and kin. ‘The eyes of the country are upon you. The safety of your homes and the lives of all you hold dear depend upon your courage and exertions. Let each man resolve to be victorious, and that the right of self-government, liberty, and peace shall find in him a defender.’

“Lee supported states’ rights not because they protected slavery, but because, as the Founding Fathers understood, they were the ‘safeguard to the continuance of a free government’ and ‘the chief source of stability to our political system.’ As Lee explained to Acton, ‘The consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.’

“Lee further noted that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom were secessionists in their day, opposed ‘centralization of power’ as the gateway to ‘despotism.’ According to Lee, ‘The South has contended only for the supremacy of the Constitution, and the just administration of the laws made in pursuance to it.’”

This is a man who should be honoured, and whose thoughts, expressed in his writings, should be taught to generations of school-children! As President (and former 5-star General and Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during WW II) Dwight D. Eisenhower put it, in a letter to a correspondent questioning Eisenhower’s admiration for General Lee,

“General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history. 

“From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.”

Nor was Eisenhower alone in his esteem for Lee. As the Abbeville article recounts, President Theodore Roosevelt – one of the more famous American progressives, albeit one who has also been attacked, in recent times – described Lee as “the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth.” Prime Minister Winston Churchill referred to Lee as “the noblest American who had ever lived and one of the greatest commanders known to the annals of war.” And according to another staunchly progressive / liberal President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We recognize Robert E. Lee as one of our greatest American Christians and one of our greatest American gentlemen.”

Lee was not perfect, of course; there has been precisely one perfect Man, and he was born in Bethlehem and died on the Cross on Calvary. But that makes it all the more sad that, instead of using the present controversy as a “teachable moment” to show forth the truth that in God’s Providence, great men can be flawed and flawed men can be great, the Episcopal Church has chosen instead to kowtow to – nay, to embrace – willful historic ignorance, presentism (see also this), and political correctness.

We are all, present and future generations, impoverished by such choices.