Reflections of a Civil War Historian: Essays on Leadership, Society, and the Art of War

By Herman Hattaway | Go to book overview

STEPHEN D. LEE AND THE
GUNS AT SECOND MANASSAS

This essay was read at the 1989 Deep Delta Civil War
Symposium and appeared in the annual volume that results
from the symposium's proceedings; this particular volume
was subtitled Themes in Honor of T. Harry Williams.

It is now twenty-seven years since I first began investigating the life and career of Stephen D. Lee, and thirteen years since my biography of him initially appeared in print.1The book was the first, and I would imagine in all likelihood forever to be the only, fulllength biography of this remarkable man to be published, and he was the last Civil War general of his rank to have his biography written. There are a number of reasons that Lee was for so long passed over by scholars, and eventually not even noticed by most students and buffs, and I went into some explanation of these in my book. One of those reasons was not, I am sure, that S. D. Lee was the dullest of all the Confederate generals (nor is that even true, although I was tempted to begin my narration with that statement, in a mock opposite to the way that my mentor T. Harry Williams began his colorful work on that most colorful figure, P. G. T. Beauregard). What happened that allowed S. D. Lee to be all but forgotten until my biography was, I honestly think, mainly accidental. That, and the fact that the relevant primary sources were so widely scattered.

This essay appeared in Leadership during the Civil War: Themes in Honor of
T Harry Williams, ed. Roman J. Heleniak and Lawrence J. Hewitt (Shippens-
burg, Pa.: White Mane, 1992).

1. Herman Hattaway, General Stephen D. Lee (Jackson: University of Missis-
sippi Press, 1976). It seems pointless to repeat the documentation from the book;
hence I have footnoted only the passages that are not specifically documented
in the book.

-18-

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