Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Lee of Virginia, Douglas Southall Freeman presents the story of Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy’s greatest military leader. Arranged chronologically, each of the book’s twenty-four chapters is organized around and given a title associated with the major events of Lee’s life. The book begins with his birth and ends with his death, at the age of sixty-three, in his beloved home state of Virginia. An interesting theme of Freeman’s work, not explicitly stated but certainly implied in the title, is the importance of Virginia to Lee and Lee to Virginia.

Freeman recounts episodes from the life of his subject that fall into four main groupings. First, Lee’s boyhood and early education are covered quickly in a chap-ter. Second, his West Point training and marriage to Mary Custis, of Arlington, Virginia, are treated in two chapters. Third, his military service on various assignments, including the Mexican War and culminating with his role as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia in the Civil War, are discussed in considerable detail. (This section serves as a compact history of the Civil War from a Southern tactical point of view.) Fourth, the activities of his final, postwar years, when he again immersed himself in the task of education as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, are given. Freeman’s book also contains six informative illustrations, including photographs of Lee and the places made more famous because of...

(The entire section is 535 words.)