With all the unwelcome attention Fort Lee, N.J., has received lately, people might wonder why a Northern town carries the Southern-sounding name Lee. It is indeed named for a high-ranking general from Virginia — but not the obvious one. This one is buried right here in Philadelphia.
Charles Lee was a frustrated British army officer who came to America in 1773 after being repeatedly passed over for promotions in London. After buying a home in Berkeley County, Va. (now in West Virginia), he schmoozed his way into a major general’s commission from the Continental Congress. Like that of an out-of-control rock star, his career soared to stratospheric heights and then plummeted to the lowest of depths in just a few years.
Though he could be charming, Lee was not a good man. His approach to military discipline was to “flog them in scores.” Though he hated King George III, a relative of Lee’s wrote, “I think His Majesty and poor Mr. Lee are much upon a par; they are both vain and obstinate.”
...continue to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
[Note: Since this essay first appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 2, 2014, new research by Mark Edward Lender and Garry Wheeler Stone (Fatal Sunday) and Christian McBurney (George Washington's Nemesis) have painted a more positive picture of General Lee's conduct at Monmouth,]
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is researching the history of the Revolutionary War's 8th Virginia Regiment. Its ten companies formed near the frontier, from the Cumberland Gap to Pittsburgh.
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