Men Of The Revolution: 4. Charles Lee


Lee’s capture effectively ended his career, and there is no saying what might have happened had that event not occurred. He had been chafing for months about his subordinate role, he had the bit in his teeth and was lining up allies for what appeared to be a final power struggle with Washington, and on the strength of their respective achievements to that moment, it is quite possible that the Virginian might have lost out. Had Lee instead of Washington received credit for the victories that came later, at a time when many Americans were seriously questioning Washington’s military capabilities, it is not easy to say what the consequences might have been then, or after the war’s end. For Lee was scornful of Washington’s considered habit of deferring to Congress, he had no use whatever for the principle of military subservience to a civilian government, and in hindsight it maybe asked whether the removal of this power-hungry egocentric from the center stage may not have been the luckiest possible break for the country.

Richard M. Ketchum