Robert Edward Lee was a Confederate general during the American Civil War and also served as the overall commander towards the end of the war. He is well-known for leading the Army of Northern Virginia, the most successful Southern army.
Lee uttered numerous memorable quotes about the war that influenced the masses and also inspired his army. This article will share with you the 50 best quotes by Robert E. Lee that he vocalized during the Civil War.
1. “Do your duty in all things, like the old Puritan. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less.”– Robert E. Lee
2. “You can have anything you want – if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, have anything you desire, accomplish anything you set out to accomplish – if you will hold to that desire with singleness of purpose.”– Robert E. Lee
3. “The education of a man is never completed until he dies.”– Robert E. Lee
4. “Get correct views of life, and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret.”– Robert E. Lee
5. “To be a good soldier, you must love the army. To be a good commander, you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love.”– Robert E. Lee
6. “Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or to keep one.”– Robert E. Lee
7. “A Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets has no charm for me. If the Union is dissolved and the government disrupted, I shall return to my native state and share the miseries of my people, and save in defense will draw my sword on none.”– Robert E. Lee
8. “If you have any fault to find with anyone, tell him, not others, of what you complain; there is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man’s face and another behind his back.”– Robert E. Lee
9. “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution is a moral & political evil in any country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages.”– Robert E. Lee
10. “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”– Robert E. Lee
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11. “The war… was an unnecessary condition of affairs, and might have been avoided if forbearance and wisdom had been practiced on both sides.”– Robert E. Lee
12. “In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”– Robert E. Lee
13. “I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.”– Robert E. Lee
14. “What a cruel thing war is… to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors.”– Robert E. Lee
15. “The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy.”– Robert E. Lee
16. “A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.”– Robert E. Lee
17. “I think it better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to incur the reproach of our consciences and posterity.”– Robert E. Lee
18. “I have fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South its dearest rights. But I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings, and I have never seen the day when I did not pray for them.”– Robert E. Lee
19. “I have been up to see the Congress and they do not seem to be able to do anything except to eat peanuts and chew tobacco, while my army is starving.”– Robert E. Lee
20. “We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing.”– Robert E. Lee
21. “We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters.”– Robert E. Lee
22. “We have fought this fight as long, and as well as we know how. We have been defeated. For us as a Christian people, there is now but one course to pursue. We must accept the situation.”– Robert E. Lee
23. “You must study to be frank with the world: Frankness is the child of honesty and courage.”– Robert E. Lee
24. “If a friend asks a favor, you should grant it if it is reasonable; if not, tell him plainly why you cannot: You will wrong him and wrong yourself by equivocation of any kind.”– Robert E. Lee
25. “I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence expressed in me. I know too well my weakness, that our only hope is in God.”– Robert E. Lee
26. “The devil’s name is dullness.”– Robert E. Lee
27. “We should live, act, and say nothing to the injury of anyone. It is not only best as a matter of principle, but it is the path to peace and honor.”– Robert E. Lee
28. “Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted you mean to do right.”– Robert E. Lee
29. “While we see the course of the final abolition of human slavery is onward, & we give it the aid of our prayers & all justifiable means in our power, we must leave the progress as well as the result in his hands who sees the end; who chooses to work by slow influences; & with whom two thousand years are but as a single day.”– Robert E. Lee
30. “My chief concern is to try to be an humble, earnest Christian.”– Robert E. Lee
31. “The doctrines & miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small part of the human race, & even among Christian nations, what gross errors still exist!”– Robert E. Lee
32. “So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained.”– Robert E. Lee
33. “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know where it is today.”– Robert E. Lee
34. “There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil.”
35. “Remember, we are all one country now. Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring them up to be Americans.”– Robert E. Lee
36. “A land without memories is a people without liberty.”– Robert E. Lee
37. “Mr. Blair, I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four millions of slaves in the South, I would sacrifice them all to the Union; but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native State?”– Robert E. Lee
38. “I have always observed that wherever you find the negro, everything is going down around him, and wherever you find the white man, you see everything around him improving.”– Robert E. Lee
39. “The consolidation of the states into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that preceded it.”– Robert E. Lee
40. “I think it better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to incur the reproach of our consciences and posterity.”– Robert E. Lee
41. “I believe it to be the duty of everyone to unite in the restoration of the country and the reestablishment of peace and harmony.”– Robert E. Lee
42. “All that the South has ever desired was that the Union, as established by our forefathers, should be preserved, and that the government as originally organized should be administered in purity and truth.”– Robert E. Lee
43. “Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.”– Robert E. Lee
44. “My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.”– Robert E. Lee
45. “Act with a determination not to be turned aside by thoughts of the past and fears of the future.”– Robert E. Lee
46. “I was too weak to defend, so I attacked.”– Robert E. Lee
47. “All I ever wanted was a Virginia farm, no end of cream and fresh butter and fried chicken – not one fried chicken, or two, but unlimited fried chicken.”– Robert E. Lee
48. “The dominant party cannot reign forever, and truth and justice will prevail at last.”– Robert E. Lee
49. “No day should be lived unless it was begun with a prayer of thankfulness and an intercession for guidance.”– Robert E. Lee
50. “The enemy never sees the backs of my Texans!”– Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee Role In The Civil War
Robert E. Lee was a Confederate general who played a significant role in the American Civil War. He is best known for commanding the Army of Northern Virginia and for his tactical brilliance in several key battles. Lee was born in Virginia in 1807 and graduated from West Point in 1829. He served in the U.S. Army for more than 30 years, including during the Mexican-American War.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Lee was offered command of the Union Army but chose instead to side with his home state of Virginia and join the Confederacy. He quickly rose through the ranks and was named commander of the Army of Northern Virginia in June of that year. Under his leadership, the Confederate army won several major battles, including the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the Battle of Chancellorsville.
However, Lee’s fortunes began to decline after the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, when his army suffered a costly defeat. Despite this setback, Lee continued to lead his army until he surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War.
Lee’s legacy is complex and controversial. Some see him as a brilliant military strategist who fought for what he believed in, while others view him as a traitor who fought to uphold slavery and the Confederacy’s racist ideology. Nevertheless, his role in the Civil War and his place in American history remain significant.
Robert E. Lee Fun Facts
- Robert E. Lee was actually offered command of the Union army by President Abraham Lincoln at the start of the Civil War, but he declined and instead joined the Confederacy.
- Despite being a famous military general, Lee had no prior combat experience before the Civil War. However, he had served in the U.S. Army for more than 30 years and had experience in engineering and logistics.
- Lee’s horse, Traveller, became famous during the war and was known for his loyalty to Lee. After the war, Traveller accompanied Lee to his job as president of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and was even buried near Lee.
- Lee was known for his humility and often slept on the ground with his troops during the war.
- Lee suffered from heart trouble throughout his life and experienced several heart attacks in the years leading up to his death.
- After the war, Lee opposed Confederate memorials and advocated for reconciliation between the North and South. He also worked to establish educational institutions in the South.
- Lee’s former home, Arlington House, was seized by the Union army during the war and later became Arlington National Cemetery.