October 23, 2012 Thirteen Days of Halloween, Post 5
During my research for Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War, strangely enough, I never came across references to any ghostly sightings of Robert E. Lee, the venerable commander of the Army of Northern Virgina. Curiously though, at least three of the homes he lived in life have had verified accounts of them being haunted by one or another Lee family member. While I devote an entire chapter to Lee’s haunted homes in Dixie Spirits, I thought I’d update that with a blog and post some photos to go along with it.
When one thinks of General Lee and his family, one naturally thinks of a dignified Southern gentleman coming from an honored and venerable First Family of Virginia (FFV for short). While Lee always conducted himself with probity, his venerable family was rife with scandal through several generations. HIs father, war hero Light Horse Harry Lee, although a hero of the American Revolution, was something of a hell raiser; a gambler, a drinker and much else, he was constantly in debt–at one time even thrown into debtor’s prison. After he died, his widow and children were dependant on the charity of other family members–and they too had their scandals–notably their relative “Black Horse” Harry Lee.
The best known Lee home is, of course, Arlington, now located in the middle of the National cemetary. Seized early in the war, it became a last resting place for Union war dead. The mansion itself is also an abode of the dead–who at times are a mite restless. Several family ghosts have been sighted here.,
Stratford Hall, the ancestral home of the Lees, was built in the early 1700’s and so it naturally has several generations of Lee ghosts, including old “Black Horse” Harry who had an affair with hs wife;s sister while his spouse lay sick abed.
Then there is the “Lee Boyhood Home” in Alexandria, Virginia. After their father died in debt Robert and his mother had to move about a bit due to their financial situation. Nonetheless, General Lee always had fond memories of this place and it was here he returned briefly after the surrender–and who knows he may still be there.
There are a few other old Virginia manse’s associated with the general—all of them reputedly haunted. For more on the tragic haunted history of the Lees see Dixie Spirits, or else take a tour of the homes; most are open to the public for the price of admission. Happy haunting!