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The Monument to General Robert E. Lee.

History of the movement for its erection.

[Compiled from accounts in the Dispatch and Times newspapers of Richmond.]

In all our eventful history, perhaps, nothing has stirred the heart of the South like the death of General Lee. It came not as a shock; it had been expected for many months; the whole people knew that he had gone to Charleston for his health, and it was generally known, too, that there was little hope of benefit to the journey. It came in due season; the last few years of honored and honorable retirement had afforded to the o'erfraught heart of the Southern people an opportunity for relief in the expressions of love and reverence and consolation that crowded upon the hero in his mountain home from day to day. Lexington had become a shrine, and all sections of the country turned to it with veneration. Moreover, the life was complete; the work lay open to the world; the example had been shown; the precepts uttered; the blessing bestowed. The mourning, therefore, was without bitterness, but it was no less tender and deep; it was for the loss of a father rather than of a leader. [188]

General Lee died at 9 o'clock A. M. on the 12th of October, 1870. On that day there was a meeting in the town of Lexington, of citizens, and of those who had served under him in the field, who at once took steps to organize the

Lee Memorial Association,

which prosecuted their labors and desires to a consummation at once noble and appropriate, in placing over the tomb of the hero, at Lexington, Valentine's majestic ‘Recumbent Figure,’ which is regarded by authority and held by general acclaim to be one of the grandest works of art in this country.

The Ladies' Lee Monument Association.

A few days after the movement at Lexington, a few ladies, members of that noble and devoted body, the Hollywood Memorial Association, met in a private parlor in Richmond and organized the Ladies' Lee Monument Association. Their design was to erect a monument to the great chieftain in this city, and to collect funds for the purpose throughout the South.

The organization was constituted as follows:

President, Mrs. William H. Macfarland; vice-presidents, Mrs. George W. Randolph, Mrs. James Lyons, Mrs. William Brown; treasurer, Miss Elizabeth Byrd Nicholas; secretary, Miss Sarah Nicholas Randolph.

Despite the prevailing poverty of the people of the South, and the entire prostration of their resources resultant from the war, the success of the ladies was highly creditable in their speedy collection of fully $15,000—a tribute of devotion met by personal sacrifice.

Lee Monument Association.

The next move towards the monument was instituted by Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early, the senior surviving officer of the Army of Northern Virginia, in the following address, which appeared in the public prints October 25th, 1870:

To the Surviving Officers and Soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia:
Comrades—The sad tidings of the death of our great commander came at a time when, by the interruption of all the ordinary [189] modes of traveling, very many of us were debarred the privilege of participating in the funeral ceremonies of attending the burial of him we loved so well, or by concerted action of giving expression to our feelings on the occasion. While the unburied remains of the illustrious hero were yet under the affectionate care of friends who were bowed down with a sorrow unutterable, the hoarse cry of ‘treason’ was croaked from certain quarters for the vile and abortive purpose of casting a stigma upon his pure and exalted character. His fame belongs to the world and to history, and is beyond the reach of malignity; but a sacred duty devolves upon those whom, in defense of a cause he believed to be just, and to which he remained true to the latest moment of his life, he led so often to battle, and for whom he ever cherished the most affectionate regard, we owe it to our fallen comrades, to ourselves, and to posterity, by some suitable and lasting memorial, to manifest to the world, for all time to come, that we were not unworthy to be led by our own immortal chief, and that we are not now ashamed of the principles for which Lee fought and Jackson died. Already some steps have been taken by some Confederate officers and soldiers, assembled at Lexington, the place of General Lee's death and burial, to inaugurate a memorial association; and being, as I believe, the senior in rank of all the officers of the Army of Northern Virginia now living in the State, I respectfully suggest and invite a conference at Richmond, on Thursday, the 3d day of November next, of all the survivors of that army, whether officers or privates, in whatever State they may live, who can conveniently attend, for the purpose of securing concert of action in regard to the proceeding contemplated. I would also invite to that conference the surviving officers and soldiers of all the other Confederate armies as well as the officers, sailors and marines of the Confederate navy. The call would have been made sooner, but for my absence, up to this time, in a country where there are no railroads or telegraphs, and where I was detained by imperative duties.

Your friend and late fellow-soldier,

Jubal A. Early. Lynchburg, Va., October 24, 1870.

Pursuant to this call there assembled at the First Presbyteriar Church, in Richmond, on Thursday evening, November 3d, 1870, the grandest gathering of Confederate soldiers which had met since the war. This church then stood upon the upper portion of the site now occupied by our imposing City Hall. [190]

Among the leading officers who participated in the meeting were Generals Early, John B. Gordon, Edward Johnson, I. R. Trimble, W. B. Taliaferro, William Smith, W. N. Pendleton, Fitz. Lee, M. Ransom, William Terry, Benjamin Huger, Robert Ransom, L. L. Lomax, George H. Steuart, C. W. Field, W. S. Walker, B. T. Johnson, J. D. Imboden, R. L. Walker, Harry Heth, Samuel Jones, John S. Preston, Henry A. Wise, George E. Pickett, D. H. Maury, M. D. Corse, J. H. Lane, James L. Kemper, J. A. Walker, and others; Colonels Thomas H. Carter, Hilary P. Jones, Thomas L. Preston, Robert S. Preston, William Allan, William Preston Johnston, Charles S. Venable, Charles Marshall, Walter H. Taylor, Henry E. Peyton, and Robert E. Withers; Commodore M. F. Maury, Captain R. D. Minor, of the Confederate States Navy, and scores of others of our leading officers, and hosts of the ‘ragged veterans’ of the rank and file.

The meeting was called to order by

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