Quotations by Lee, Robert E.


It is well that war is so terrible, or we should get too fond of it.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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I was too weak to defend, so I attacked.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
(Attributed)

On his strategy at the Battle of Chancellorsville (1863).
Added on 25-Sep-14 | Last updated 25-Sep-14
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It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers! In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I’m readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I’ll, in turn, do my best for the cause by writing editorials — after the fact.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
(Attributed)

Variant: "We made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We appointed all our worst generals to command our armies, and all our best generals to edit the newspapers."

Generally cited as an 1863 statement, there are a number of variants (dating to the 1870s) and no actual writing by Lee has been found. More information here.

Added on 30-Sep-14 | Last updated 30-Sep-14
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True patriotism sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary, at one period, to that which it does at another, and the motive which impels them — the desire to do right — is precisely the same.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
Letter to Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard (3 Oct 1865)
Added on 7-Jan-08 | Last updated 7-Jan-08
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Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
Letter to his son (1860)
Added on 5-Oct-10 | Last updated 5-Oct-10
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But what a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world!

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
Letter to his wife (25 Dec 1862)
Added on 3-Oct-14 | Last updated 3-Oct-14
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Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom of opinion have always proved themselves intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
Letter to his wife (27 Dec 1856)
Added on 29-May-08 | Last updated 29-May-08
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