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Wartime Residence of Gen. Robert E. Lee - Richmond, Va. - April 1865

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posted by Paul Taylor alias civilwar3dhighdefwidescreen on Friday 4th of February 2022 12:53:07 PM

3D red/cyan anaglyph created from glass plate stereograph at Library of Congress - Prints & Photographs Online Catalog: LOC Title: Richmond, Virginia. Residence of Gen. Robert E. Lee. (707 East Franklin Street) Date: April 17, 1865 (LOC date on another, almost identical view.] Photographer: John Reekie [Identified by LOC as photographer on another, almost identical view.] Notes: Pictured here is a stereographic view of Gen. Robert E. Lee's residence in Richmond during the Civil War, 1861 - 1865. In 1864, he was joined here by his wife and daughters. There is a lot of history surrounding this house, and immense crowds of both civilians and soldiers have descended on and passed by it. For background, I searched the web for 19th century newspapers/ books with references to it, and how the Lee family came to occupy it, a sampling is transcribed below. ---------------- The New York Herald Tuesday, April 18, 1865 RICHMOND Arrival of the Rebel General Lee. HE IS ENTHUSIASTICALLY GREETED. Mr. William H. Merriam’s Despatch. New York Herald Rooms, Richmond, Va., April 16 – 2 A.M. Positive arrival of General R. E. Lee in Richmond. "General Robert E. Lee, lately commanding the rebel armies, actually arrived in Richmond yesterday at half-past three o'clock. The first intimation of the arrival of the General was the call made upon Lieutenant H. S. Merrell, Post Quartermaster of Richmond, for forage and stabling for twenty horses in behalf of General Lee. Shortly after three o'clock General Lee arrived on the pontoon bridge that spans the James between Richmond and Manchester, an opposite town. Here an immense crowd had collected to receive him, and he was greeted with cheers upon cheers, the acclamations of the people, so generously and heartily bestowed, visibly affecting him. Whenever he passed Union officers they raised their caps, in recognition of his great genius, no less than his regard for truth and consistency in refusing to draw his sword outside of his native Virginia. As he proceeded along the streets to his residence in Franklin street, the crowd increased in numbers, and the cheers grew louder. The General was accompanied by five members of his staff, General Lee and all wearing swords. As he dismounted at his residence the thousands of people who surrounded him again greeted him with acclaim, and so many as could get near his person shook him heartily by the hand. One rebel officer, failing to catch his hand, seized him by the extremities of his coat - "touching the hem of his garment." The good feeling in relation to General Lee was common to both Unionists and rebels, and was fully shared in by all. General Lee looked exceedingly robust, and is certainly a most splendid specimen of a soldier and gentleman, with fair forehead, gray hair, bronzed countenance and military beard. He will doubtless see the military dignitaries here, quietly, before he leaves the city again -the taking place of which latter event is not now positively known.” -------------------------  The Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser May 10, 1865 The Return of the U. S. Armies [From The Richmond Papers of Monday.] “Saturday was devoted to a military spectacle, the grandest, most imposing, of anything of 'the kind witnessed by the citizens of Richmond since the war began, the homeward march of a portion of the Army of the Potomac. According to the estimate of one of the general officers who was acquainted with the strength of the corps, the number of soldiers who passed through was between 45,000 and 50,000, The Army of the Potomac is composed of five corps; therefore the troops that have passed through compose only something over a third of the strength of that army. The entire line of the two corps was five hours and three quarters in passing a given point - from 9 1/2 A.M. to 3 1/2 P.M. The rear was well upon the suburbs of the city at sundown, and the army bivouacked for the night about ten miles east of Richmond, on its route to Washington. The march of the troops past the Libby prison, which was included in the route, in order to gratify the soldiers, was marked alternately by cheers and groans from those who, from time to time, in the progress of the war were so unfortunate as to be involuntary inmates of its inhospitable wards. Whether designedly or not, the programme of route took the line past Gen Lee's residence, Franklin street, and those of the soldiers who were aware of the probable proximity of that distinguished chief of the late Confederate forces, cheered lustily as the residence was approached and passed. It is said General Lee stood at the closed blinds of one of the windows, and viewed the pageant for a few minutes. Some idea of the immense business of the commissary department of a large army may be gained from the fact that the commissary of General Sherman's army had orders on Saturday to issue one million six hundred thousand rations for the sustenance of the army on its march from Manchester to Washington. Sherman's Army is on the march from Richmond, via City Point, and the van is expected to reach Manchester to day and pass through Richmond to day or tomorrow, en route for Washington. It is presumed the military authorities will accord them the same reception and escort which signalized the passage of the Second and Fifth Corps on Saturday.” -------------------------- GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE. Soldier, Citizen, and Christian Patriot Edited by R.A. Brock, Secretary Southern Historical Society Published 1897 Mrs. Lee During the War — Something About “The Mess” and its Occupants. By Sally Nelson Robins. "A stranger passing down Franklin Street, in the city of Richmond, Va., may wonder why carriages are halted before, and pedestrians continually stop and gaze at, a plain brick house between Seventh and Eighth Streets….… When General Lee came to Richmond in ‘61, this house was offered to him for his military home by Mr. John Stewart, a wealthy and worthy citizen of Henrico County. It was nicknamed “The Mess," and, before Mrs. Lee and her daughters arrived, was occupied by the General (when he was in town), General Custis Lee, Major Coxe, Captain Ferdinand C. Hutter, Robert Shirley Carter, Chapman Leigh and others — a merry party of young officers, who made the house ring with jest and song, and who scoffed at danger and defeat. The wrench from Arlington was not without tears …Arlington was the living record of Mrs. Lee and her ancestors; the museum of the most complete collection of Washington relics on the earth; the scene of Robert Lee's courtship and marriage; the birthplace of all of his children; but the grandeur of Arlington was over, the pall of war hung over the land… When Mrs. Lee left Arlington she went to “Cedar Grove, ” the plantation of a kinsman on the Potomac, where she remained for some time…. Afterward they went to “Chantilly, “one of the stately homes of Fairfax on their way to the “White House.” Mrs. Lee was then cheerful and confident of the success of the cause for which she had already made great sacrifice. It was not long before the “White House," in its exposed condition upon the Pamunky, and well in the lines of the United States army, was considered unsafe, and the little party started for Richmond. They were made prisoners of war at Hanover Courthouse, and detained there for one week. Before Mrs. Lee left the “White House” she tacked upon the front door a card bearing the request that Union soldiers would not desecrate the home of George Washington's wife. Mrs. Lee's experience as a prisoner was very dismal …she sent for General McClelland, and asked him to send her to Richmond. In consequence of this interview, her carriage was ordered…and a Union soldier mounted the boot and drove the ladies to the Confederate lines under a flag of truce. Then a Confederate soldier took his place, and drove Mrs. Lee into Richmond to 707 East Franklin Street. The moment she entered the door she became one of “The Mess; ” she was prepared to share a soldier's life…. ….“ No. 707" is a large brick house now considerably down town. During the war it was in the most fashionable part of Richmond, just two squares from the “Capitol Park” and St. Paul's Church. It was built by Norman Stewart, of Rothsay, Scotland, who came to this country early in the century, and settled in Petersburg. During the year 1812, he was banished to Columbia, lest, as a British subject, he might be dangerous to the State. After the war was over he came to Richmond and became a prosperous citizen. He purchased a tract of land on the outskirts of the city, on which he built a square of substantial brick houses, in the handsomest of which he lived with his servant Stephen. He was a quaint, intelligent, sturdy Scotchman, who, to the day of his death (1858), wore a brown wig, long black silk hose, with bright garter buckles; and in winter a cape or shawl worn after the manner of a shepherd. The house for its day was handsome and commodious, with walnut woodwork and big windows, wide halls, spacious rooms and broad verandas. When Mr. Norman Stewart died, he left the house to his nephew, Mr. John Stewart of “Brookhill,” through whose courtesy General Lee occupied it during the war; and since, in memory of General Lee, his widow and daughters have presented it to the Virginia Historical Society…. Soon after Mrs. Lee came to Richmond a merciless rheumatism bound her to her chair [wheel chair]. In the back room, opening on a veranda shadowed by ailanthus trees, her days were spent…. At the time of the evacuation, when Richmond was a maddening bedlam, Mrs. Lee alone was calm and perfectly helpless. People entirely frantic rushed from pillar to post, the streets ran with whiskey, and the mob got on its knees beside the gutters and sipped the fiery stream. Fire broke loose and the whole city was in danger. The fire reached Eighth and Franklin streets, and the house next door to “The Mess " caught. But Mrs. Lee would not move. Friends besought her to fly. Four times did a Union officer come , in a carriage and four horses, to take her away, and so eager was he to move her that he ordered the trunks to be thrown out of the window, but she refused to budge, ordered the soldiers out and made her daughter Mary keep the door of the house, which caught fire several times, but was promptly extinguished; and Mrs. Lee's own words were : “That it was impossible to exaggerate the kind attention of the Union soldiers to her.” When the warrior returned from Appomattox to “The Mess” she was waiting for him, and the comfort of the situation she lovingly administered. The fact that accentuates the interest of “707 East Franklin Street” is that General Lee came here from Appomattox, rode up to the door on “Traveller," walked up the broad, stone steps with head erect and a steady eye - upstairs to his wife's retreat - two chastened souls glorious amidst defeat! The eager mob encircled the house, friend and foe clamored to behold him, but the door was closed and guarded, and those only came in who were most dear. From that moment until the day he left Richmond he never went out of the house until after dark. Upon the back verandas he took his exercise, Here he was alone; he could ruminate and wonder if what was done had been wisely.” ----------------------------- RECOLLECTIONS AND LETTERS OF GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE BY HIS SON CAPTAIN ROBERT E. LEE With Photogravure Portraits Published 1904 CHAPTER VIII - THE SURRENDER “….After two weeks of marching and resting, I arrived in Richmond [April 1865] and found my father there, in the house on Franklin Street, now the rooms of the "Virginia Historical Society," and also my mother, brother, and sisters. They were all much relieved at my reappearance. As well as I can recall my father at this time, he appeared to be very well physically, though he looked older, grayer, more quiet and reserved. He seemed very tired, and was always glad to talk of any other subject than that of the war or anything pertaining thereto. We all tried to cheer and help him. And the people of Richmond and of the entire South were as kind and considerate as it was possible to be. Indeed, I think their great kindness tired him. He appreciated it all, was courteous, grateful, and polite, but he had been under such a terrible strain for several years that he needed the time and quiet to get back his strength of heart and mind. All sorts and conditions of people came to see him: officers and soldiers from both armies, statesmen, politicians, ministers of the Gospel, mothers and wives to ask about husbands and sons of whom they had heard nothing. To keep him from being overtaxed by this incessant stream of visitors, we formed a sort of guard of the young men in the house, some of whom took it by turns to keep the door and, if possible, turn strangers away. My father was gentle, kind, and polite to all, and never willingly, so far as I know, refused to see any one. Dan Lee, late of the Confederate States Navy, my first cousin, and myself, one day had charge of the front door, when at it appeared a Federal soldier, accompanied by a darkey carrying a large willow basket filled to the brim with provisions of every kind. The man was Irish all over, and showed by his uniform and carriage that he was a "regular," and not a volunteer. On our asking him what he wanted, he replied that he wanted to see General Lee, that he had heard down the street the General and his family were suffering for lack of something to eat, that he had been with "the Colonel" when he commanded the Second Cavalry, and, as long as he had a cent, his old colonel should not suffer. My father, who had stepped into another room as he heard the bell ring, hearing something of the conversation, came out into the hall. The old Irishman, as soon as he saw him, drew himself up and saluted, and repeated to the General, with tears streaming down his cheeks, what he had just said to us. My father was very much touched, thanked him heartily for his kindness and generosity, but told him that he did not need the things he had brought and could not take them. This seemed to disappoint the old soldier greatly, and he pleaded so hard to be allowed to present the supplies to his old colonel, whom he believed to be in want of them, that at last my father said that he would accept the basket and send it to the hospital, for the sick and wounded, who were really in great need. Though he was not satisfied, he submitted to this compromise, and then to our surprise and dismay, in bidding the General good-bye, threw his arms around him and was attempting to kiss him, when "Dan" and I interfered. As he was leaving, he said: Good-bye, Colonel! God bless ye! If I could have got over in time I would have been with ye! A day or two after that, when "Dan" was doorkeeper, three Federal officers, a colonel, a major, and a doctor, called and asked to see General Lee. They were shown into the parlour, presented their cards, and said they desired to pay their respects as officers of the United States Army. When Dan went out with the three cards, he was told by some one that my father was up stairs engaged with some other visitor, so he returned and told them this and they departed. When my father came down, was shown the cards and told of the three visitors, he was quite put out at Dan's not having brought him the cards at the time, and that afternoon mounted him on one of his horses and sent him over to Manchester, where they were camped, to look up the three officers and to tell them he would be glad to see them at any time they might be pleased to call. However, Dan failed to find them. He had another visit at this time which affected him deeply. Two Confederate soldiers in very dilapidated clothing, worn and emaciated in body, came to see him. They said they had been selected from about sixty other fellows, too ragged to come themselves, to offer him a home in the mountains of Virginia. The home was a good house and farm, and near by was a defile, in some rugged hills, from which they could defy the entire Federal Army. They made this offer of a home and their protection because there was a report that he was about to be indicted for treason. The General had to decline to go with them, but the tears came into his eyes at this hearty exhibition of loyalty…. CHAPTER IX - A PRIVATE CITIZEN My father remained quietly in Richmond with my mother and sisters. He was now a private citizen for the first time in his life. As he had always been a good soldier, so now he became a good citizen. My father's advice to all his old officers and men was to submit to the authority of the land and to stay at home, now that their native States needed them more than ever. His advice and example had great influence with all…. …..The house he was occupying in Richmond belonged to Mr. John Stewart, of "Brook Hill," who was noted for his devotion to the cause of the South and his kindness to all those who had suffered in the conflict. My brother Custis had rented it at the time he was appointed on Mr. Davis's staff. A mess had been established there by my brother and several other officers on duty in Richmond. In time, my mother and sister had been made members of it, and it had been the headquarters of all of the family during the war, when in town. My father was desirous of making some settlement with his landlord for its long use, but before he could take the final steps my mother received the following note from Mr. Stewart: . . . I am not presuming on your good opinion, when I feel that you will believe me, first, that you and yours are heartily welcome to the house as long as your convenience leads you to stay in Richmond; and, next, that you owe me nothing, but, if you insist on paying, that the payment must be in Confederate currency, for which alone it was rented to your son. You do not know how much gratification it is, and will afford me and my whole family during the remainder of our lives, to reflect that we have been brought into contact, and to know and to appreciate you and all that are dear to you. My father had been offered, since the surrender, houses, lands, and money, as well as positions as president of business associations and chartered corporations…..Until his death, he was constantly in receipt of such offers, all of which he thought proper to decline. He wrote to General Long: I am looking for some little, quiet home in the woods, where I can procure shelter and my daily bread, if permitted by the victor. I wish to get Mrs. Lee out of the city as soon as practical. It so happened that nearly exactly what he was looking for was just then offered to him. Mrs. Elizabeth Randolph Cocke, of Cumberland County, a granddaughter of Edmund Randolph, had on her estate a small cottage which, with the land attached, she placed at his disposal. The retired situation of this little home, and the cordial way in which Mrs. Cocke insisted on his coming, induced my father to accept her invitation. ….The latter part of June, my father, mother, brother Custis, and sisters went to "Derwent," the name of the little place which was to be his home for that summer….” ---------------------------- Red/Cyan (not red/blue) glasses of the proper density must be used to view 3D effect without ghosting. Anaglyph prepared using red cyan glasses from The Center For Civil War Photography / American Battlefield Trust. CCWP Link:

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