The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee: The Forgotten Case Against an American Icon


Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
6.3 X 1.0 X 9.2 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

For over twenty-five years, John Reeves has been working to make complex subjects more interesting and accessible for students and general readers. For 15 years he taught European and American history at colleges in Chicago, the Bronx, and London. More recently, as an editor and writer at The Motley Fool, he produced investing-related content for millions of readers. He resides in Washington, D.C.


This fine book delivers a great deal more than promised by the title. It not only clears up misconceptions about the aborted indictment of Lee and other Confederates for treason; it also offers incisive treatments of Lee's connections to slavery, secession, postwar Reconstruction, and the Southern cult of the Lost Cause.--James M. McPherson, Princeton University
In John Reeves' remarkable book, we see a telling and striking portrait of Robert E. Lee after the Civil War. Unheard of to many, this accurate portrayal of a murky character and time in our nation's history should be read and consumed by all.--The Reverend Robert W. Lee, IV, Professor and Pastor, Collateral Descendent of Confederate General Robert E. Lee
More so than any previous writer, Reeves makes clear that following the Civil War northerners held Lee accountable for all manner of sins--not only treason and disunion--but also for the abuse of white and black Union troops held in Confederate prisoner of war camps. Lee's ascension into the pantheon of Civil War icons, at least in the North, thus was a slow process. This is an important assessment.--John David Smith, author of An Old Creed for the New South: Proslavery Ideology and Historiography, 1865-1918
At a time when memorials to Lee arouse controversy, John Reeves reminds us that Lee aroused bitter disagreement during his own lifetime. Delving into the circumstances surrounding Lee's little remembered indictment for treason after the Civil War, Reeves weaves a timely and fascinating story of Lee's actions and reputation, the definition of treason, and the eventual elevation of the former Confederate to the pantheon of American heroes. Anyone interested in the roots of our contemporary debates would do well to reflect upon the history so ably recounted in the Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee.--W. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In this well-crafted narrative, Reeves demystifies the Confederate general Robert E. Lee and the reasons he was given amnesty after the Civil War.... Reeves offers a timely portrait of how the cults of Lee and the states' rights lost cause became firmly entrenched in American culture within only 25 years of the Civil War--and still haunt 21st-century debates over Confederate monuments and battle flags.--Publishers Weekly
Perhaps nothing demonstrated the unwillingness of Americans to come to terms with the bloody history of 1861-1865 so well as their veneration of Robert E. Lee. For decades (and without a sense of irony), northerners and southerners acclaimed the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia as an authentic national hero. . . . John Reeves' new book, however, "tells the story of the forgotten legal and moral case that was made against the Confederate general in the days after the Civil War." In his lively and accessible narrative, Reeves relates "the history Americans tried to forget."--New York Journal of Books
A provocative work of history and cultural analysis.... Mr. Reeves, a journalist and former history teacher, does an able job of untangling the shifting public sentiment, tactical misjudgments and legal ordeals that shaped the indictment and ultimately crippled it.--The Wall Street Journal
"Reeve's study of the abortive Lee treason prosecution offers fresh insight into the tortured ending of the Civil War, the movement toward white sectional reconciliation at the expense of African American rights, and the construction of the Lost Cause, of which Lee is both an essential figure and initial architect."--CHOICE
John Reeves titled his introduction to this work "Reevaluating Robert E. Lee" but The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee is a reevaluation of many things. Reeves reevaluates Robert E. Lee after 1865, the attempted legal case against him and other former Confederates, and Lee's views on slavery, the war, and Reconstruction. He also reevaluates Andrew Johnson's role in punishing former Confederates, the attempt and failure to secure punishment against Confederate leaders, and the creation of the Lost Cause in the aftermath of the war. Overall, The Lost Indictment is a fascinating and enjoyable read that untangles many questions about the transition from war to peace after the destructive Civil War.--Civil Discourse