A Monumental Mistake?

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Recently, along with some 40 acres at Antietam National Battlefield, the National Park Service acquired a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee ["Just in Case, South Rises in Defense of a Statue," Metro, June 29]. Now the Sons of Confederate Veterans are worried that the Park Service might remove the monument. The group says that would be a "travesty to history."

The monument, built by a private individual with private money, is in an area of the Antietam battlefield never occupied by Lee. Like thousands of other Confederate soldiers, Lee merely passed the spot on the way to Sharpsburg.

The likeness of Lee astride his horse also is incorrect. Because of an injury, throughout most of the Maryland campaign Lee had to ride in an ambulance with both hands splinted. He was unable to sit in the saddle until the day of the Battle of Antietam, and then he had to have someone hold the reins and lead him around the field.

Further, the monument commemorates a battle that Lee lost -- a battle that many of his officers (those who survived) thought never should have been fought. The Battle of Antietam forced the Confederate general to retreat to Virginia.

So the "historical travesty" is a monument in the wrong location, with an inappropriate likeness, dedicated to a commander who not only lost the battle but who may have squandered the lives of many soldiers. This inappropriate and inaccurate monument should be removed.

STEVEN R. STOTELMYER

Sharpsburg


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