Trump’s blundering into the Confederate statues debate has unleashed quite a backlash against Lost Cause history. I am all for reversing the yellow history, but I’m not sure swinging the pendulum entirely the other way is going to accomplish much. Did Lee make mistakes? Without question, especially at Gettysburg. But to suggest that he was utterly without merit as a commander is as questionable as revering the Marble Model.
To Edward Bonekemper III, the author of “How Robert E. Lee Lost the Civil War” and several other books on the war, Lee is not the humble, proud battlefield loser presented by documentarian Ken Burns and other popular works of history, but a bumbling strategist and the central character in “the most successful propaganda campaign in American history.”