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Lee's Injuries

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Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee

I’m reading about a fall that Robert E. Lee took prior to Antietam. He injured his hands to the extent that he couldn’t hold the reins of his horse let alone write a dispatch. I’m on the hunt for more information about this and any other injuries he sustained while campaigning.

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3 thoughts on “Lee's Injuries

  1. Renee,

    Info from what I’m working on with references:

    Lee had Stuart pursue the retreating Federals early on 31 August in the middle of a heavy rainstorm. Stuart found heavy Union forces near Cub Run and was halted. As Lee anxiously rode forward to gain intelligence from his cavalry, he dismounted to talk with Jackson and Longstreet. As he was holding his favorite horse’s reigns, Traveller shied and Lee fell, tripping over his bulky raingear and seriously injured his wrists. His nephew, Fitzhugh Lee, said that “Most of the time he [Gen. Lee] was on foot….He was obliged to ride in an ambulance or let a courier lead his horse. In the tumult of battle he could ride but little along his lines on his famous war horse Traveler. So McClellan on that day had the advantage of him as he galloped about on his black charger Daniel Webster.” Lee sprained both wrists and probably broke some bones in his right wrist. He likely traveled mostly by ambulance until 16 September when on horseback, he was led by an orderly as noted by Fitzhugh. Compare the statement of his son, Robert, Jr., describing the famous incident on 17 September in which Gen. Lee addressed his artilleryman son without first recognizing him: “General Lee and staff galloped up…The general reined in “Traveller” close by my gun, not fifteen feet from me.” Gen. Lee certainly did not “gallop up” since if he were not being led, he was riding slowly and carefully. Thus the army commander, who in the next three weeks would need all of his faculties and personal mobility as he fought to save his army in Maryland, was confined to an ambulance.

    Harsh, Rising, 205-207; Shallows, 176, 193. Robert E. Lee, Jr., Recollections and Letters of Robert E. Lee, Old Saybrook, CT: Konecky & Konecky, 1998, 76-77. Fitzhugh Lee, General Lee: A Biography of Robert E. Lee, (New York, NY: D. Appleton and Company, 1894; reprint Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1994), 210. Fitzhugh probably did not witness most of his uncle’s actions on the 17th as Fitzhugh and his brigade was very busy on the Confederate left flank.

    Larry F.

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