Edward G. Longacre, the author of General John Bradford (2003), Joshua Chamberlain (2004), The Cavalry at Gettysburg (1993) and others has written this biography of Fitzhugh Lee, the nephew of Robert E. Lee and the eventual successor of J.E.B. Stuart as commander of the cavalry of his uncle’s army. Longacre states in his preface that his main purpose in this biography of Lee is to cover areas of his life that others have neglected; other biographies have mainly covered Lee’s life after the Civil War. Longacre makes up for this by devoting many chapters to this part of his life and spending only two chapters on his life after the Civil War, when he was elected governor of Virginia. He was then appointed general consul to Cuba before the Spanish-American War, was made a general in the United States Army and served as a military governor of part of Cuba after the War.
Longacre uses various primary and secondary sources for this biography. His bibliography includes these, and they are extensive. There are several maps of the Civil War battles that Lee was in, and there are plates of photos and other illustrations.
After Lee resigned from the U.S. Army, he was commissioned an officer in the Confederate cavalry and eventually reached the rank of major general. He was involved in several skirmishes and battles under the command of J.E.B. Stuart. This biography shows how human and imperfect Lee was; he blundered a few times during the Civil War and did not always have an explanation. Sometimes he was blamed for other people’s blunders.
His main opponent in the Confederate cavalry was Wade Hampton, the richest man in the South, but after the War they reconciled. Fitz Lee did not surrender at the Appomattox Courthouse with his uncle - he and others escaped. They thought they could continue to fight for the cause, but they eventually realized it was over and surrendered; he eventually received a presidential pardon from Andrew Johnson. He became the most famous Lee after his uncle’s death and, at times, he had to defend his uncle’s memory. He tried many times to be elected or appointed to the U.S. Congress or Senate but never succeeded. His major success was being elected governor of Virginia. He was not a great politician - he was too honest. He helped to reconcile the South with the North by going on lecture tours and by writing about the Civil War. He died in 1905 and was given a hero’s funeral in Richmond, Virginia.
Longacre’s book on Fitz Lee belongs in any collection on the Civil War. It is an interesting book to read, neither too academic nor too leisurely. It is just right.