FRAMED PHOTO OF ROBERT E. LEE WITH WALTER TAYLOR & SON CUSTIS LEE BY MATTHEW BRADY

$2,500.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 573-58

Early, original copy of the photo of General Robert E. Lee taken in Richmond just after the end of the war by the famous Civil War photographer Matthew Brady. Photograph shows Lee seated between his son, G. W. C. (Custis) Lee on his right and Lt. Colonel Walter H. Taylor on his left. The photograph was taken by Brady in April 1865 below the back porch of Lee's Franklin Street home in Richmond, Virginia.

After he surrendered the remains of the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee stayed at Appomattox until the last of his troops had given up their arms and been paroled on April 12. Along the way to Richmond he spent one final evening at the camp of his top commander, Lieutenant General James Longstreet, and another night at his brother’s farm, where out of habit or solidarity with his dispersing army he slept outside in his tent. As he went he took in the war’s destruction, from burned-out farmhouses to downed bridges to animal carcasses in the road. His army had destroyed the two bridges over the James River into Richmond, so when Lee finally reached the former capital of the Confederacy on the afternoon of April 15, he crossed a pontoon bridge put up by his recent enemy. It had rained that morning, and both Lee and his beloved horse, Traveller, were spattered with mud. They first passed through the part of Richmond that burned when the Confederates had fled, the streets displaying piles of charred rubble. When they reached beyond the fire line, word spread that Lee was back, and the people came out to greet him. As Douglas Southall Freeman puts it in his biography, “Along a ride of less than a mile to the residence at 707 East Franklin Street the crowd grew thicker with each block. Cheers broke out, in which the Federals joined heartily.” Lee acknowledged these displays of affection and respect by doffing his muddy hat. When he arrived at the rented brick house where Mrs. Lee was living, he had trouble getting down from Traveller, overcome either by the emotion of the moment or the weariness of the years of war. One woman who looked on felt that his body simply would not do what he asked of it. Once dismounted, Lee struggled through the well-wishers who surrounded him, shaking hands, and then entered the house and his new life as a civilian.

Matthew Brady had been in Richmond for several days, making nearly 60 photographs of the ruined city. He got wind of Lee’s return and asked an old acquaintance, Confederate Colonel Robert Ould, to appeal to the general to have his photograph taken. Brady said in a newspaper interview late in life that both Ould and Mrs. Lee had helped him persuade the general to submit to the camera, although as Brady put it, “It was supposed that after his defeat it would be preposterous to ask him to sit.” But, Brady continued, “I thought that to be the time for the historical picture.” Apparently Lee agreed, because it was arranged that Brady could come to the house and make his pictures. The next day, Easter Sunday, Brady took six photographs in all: four of Lee alone and two of him with his aide, Colonel Walter Taylor, and his oldest son, Major General Custis Lee, who had been captured only three days before the surrender.

Lee’s youngest son, Rob, would write years later of his father, “I believe there were none of the little things in life so irksome to him as having his picture taken in any way.” But Lee had a fine sense of history, for instance wearing for the surrender his best uniform and a dark red silk sash—Grant says in his memoirs that “General Lee was dressed in a full uniform which was entirely new, and was wearing a sword of considerable value.” However much Lee disliked posing, on this Sunday morning he once again put on a clean uniform and wore well-shined black shoes, but he left aside the sash and the sword and the boots. Charles Bracelen Flood in his book, “Lee: The Last Years” points out that this uniform also had “no braid on the sleeves.” Lee was acutely aware of his power to set an example for the South and had urged his former troops to swallow their anger and return home to rebuild their lives. In the wake of Lincoln’s death the day before, and the charges that the South was responsible, Lee might also have chosen to pose in the domestic setting of his home—a leader still in his uniform, but sans sash, braid, sword, and boots, visibly morphing into a civilian—as a symbol of stability and responsibility in very dangerous and uncertain hours. Lee was already a beloved figure, and not only in the South, as those applauding Union soldiers on the streets of Richmond attest. “The people of Virginia and of the entire South were continually giving evidence of their intense love for General Lee,” Rob Lee wrote. “From all nations, even from the Northern States, came to him marks of admiration and respect.” But these photographs—in which the physically and morally exhausted general, at the age of 58, summons the strength of his unusual personal dignity for Brady’s camera, showing no trace of the humiliation of defeat but only a self-possessed seriousness—gave the South a hero to cling to in those dark days after the war, and for decades to come.

Photo and mount measures 7 ¼” x 9 ½”. Bottom of mount is marked, “M.B. BRADY & CO. WASHINGTON, D.C.” and is dated 1866. Some light surface scratches and creases are present on photo. Frame measures 14 ¾” x 16 ¼”.  [sm]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

THIS ITEM, AS WITH ALL OTHER ITEMS AVAILABLE ON OUR WEB SITE,

MAY BE PURCHASED THROUGH OUR LAYAWAY PROGRAM.

FOR OUR POLICIES AND TERMS,

CLICK ON ‘CONTACT US’ AT THE TOP OF ANY PAGE ON THE SITE,

THEN ON ‘LAYAWAY POLICY’.

THANK YOU!

Inquire About FRAMED PHOTO OF ROBERT E. LEE WITH WALTER TAYLOR & SON CUSTIS LEE BY MATTHEW BRADY

should be empty

featured item

THREE PIECE PRESENTATION COIN SILVER TEA SERVICE

Produced by Monell & Williams, New York, circa 1823.  This superb set consists of a teapot, covered sugar and creamer, with elaborate sheaf-of-wheat finials, on lobed bodies.  Each piece carries the inscription, “Presented by the Boston Light… (30-1856). Learn More »

Upcoming Events

17
Oct

Coming up Oct. 27-28: Autumn Gettysburg Show, Allstar Events Complex at the Eisenhower Inn Learn More »