General Lee’s Greatest Victory

“It’s a warm spring Sunday at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. As the minister is about to present Holy Communion, a tall well-dressed black man sitting in the section reserved for African Americans unexpectedly advances to the communion rail; unexpectedly because this has never happened here before. The congregation freezes. Those who have been ready to go forward and kneel at the communion rail remain fixed in their pews. The minister stands in his place stunned and motionless. The black man slowly lowers his body, kneeling at the communion rail. After what seems an interminable amount of time, an older white man rises. His hair snowy white, head up, and eyes proud, he walks quietly up the isle to the chancel rail. So with silent dignity and self-possession, the white man kneels down to take communion along the same rail with the black man. Lee has said that he has rejoiced that slavery is dead. But this action indicates that those were not idle words meant to placate a Northern audience. Here among his people, he leads wordlessly through example. The other communicants slowly move forward to the altar with a mixture of reluctance and fear, hope and awkward expectation. In the end, America would defy the cruel chain of history besetting nations torn apart by Civil War.”

From “April 1865: the Month that Saved America”

Published in: on November 24, 2009 at 6:49 am  Comments (6)  


  1. What a wonderful story. Lee was a class act. A man of true integrity and dignity. Something is wrong with our counrty today, when we idolize celebrities and sports figures as heroes instead of a true hero and role model like Robert E. Lee.

  2. General Lee was a man of integrity. He should be admired for it. General Lee never fought for slavery he fought for states rights.

  3. This is the kind of thing that makes General Lee so incredibly admirable. On the wrong side of the war, but one of the finest Americans in our history.

  4. General Lee was a very great general, but he was something even rarer: a very good man. There have been greater generals than Robert E. Lee; there have been very few better men.

  5. Thank you for this anecdote. I never knew much of Lee the man outside of his military service.

  6. A story about charity toward one’s neighbor indeed. Hoewever true Christian charity only exists in the one true Catholic Church. So, unless those souls in General Lee’s church died in the one true Faith, in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church,(read Cantate Domino,1441,Pope Eugene IV,it was indeed in vain. Sad but true!

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