"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Henry Lee III

 "Light-Horse Harry."
This portrait of Henry Lee III, “Light Horse Harry”, attributed to Gilbert Stuart, hangs in the Stratford mansion in Montross Virginia. The Concise Dictionary of American Biography contains this entry:
 Lee, Henry (b. Prince William Co., Va. 1756; d. Cumberland Island Ga., 1818), soldier statesman. Better known as “Light-Horse Harry” Lee. Bother of Richard B. and Charles Lee (178-1815); father of Robert E. Lee. Graduated College of New Jersey (Princeton), 1773, Won fame in Revolution as commander of irregular cavalry known as “Lee’s Legion”; sent south to aid General Greene, 1780, his subsequent story is the entire history of the campaign in the South. Je was particularly effective at Guilford Courthouse 1781, and Eutaw Springs, September 1781; he was present at the siege of Yorktown and the surrender of Cornwallis. Active after the war as a Federalist politician in Virginia, he served as governor, 1792-95, and in 1794 was chosen to command the army assembled to put down the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania. Resolutions offered by John Marshall on Washington’s death, 1799, were drawn up by Lee and the contained the description “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” Harassed by debt post 1800, he was seriously injured in the Baltimore riot, 1812, during his attempt to help Alexander C. Hanson defend the Federalist press in that city against a mob. He was the author of Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department etc. (1812). -- Concise Dictionary of American Biography,  1964.
The National Portrait Gallery has this c. 1834 portrait by James Herring after Gilbert Stuart. The label discusses Lee’s role in the War of 1812.

The first casualties of the War of 1812 resulted from Americans fighting Americans. On the night of July 27, 1812, Baltimore erupted into violent riots against those who opposed the weeks-old war, including Revolutionary War hero “Light-Horse Harry” Lee. Lee found himself barricaded in a house with supporters of a Federalist newspaper editor who had spoken out against war. When the mob attacked, the besieged men defended themselves, causing the death of a ringleader and further inciting the pro-war mob. Near morning, city leaders finally intervened, escorting the Federalists to jail for their own protection. That night, angry citizens broke in and brutally attacked the men, killing sixty-year-old veteran James McCubbin Lingan. Lee was smuggled out of the city and survived, although he never recovered from his wounds. He died six years later, when his son Robert E. Lee was only eleven. – National Portrait Gallery
After this incident, Harry Lee wandered the Caribbean in hopes of regaining his health. On his way back to Virginia he stopped at Dungeness, General Nathaniel Greene's home on Cumberland Island Georgia.  Frederick  A.  Ober  describes the scene this way:
A youth was playing beneath the live-oaks at the landing — Phineas Miller Nightingale, a grandson of the famous General Greene, the “Washington of the South.” Calling him and learning his name, General Lee despatched him to his aunt, Mrs. Shaw, who then resided there, with the news of his arrival. “Tell her that the old friend and companion of General Greene has come to die in the arms of his daughter.” This brief, pathetic message brought a carriage to the landing, and the aged general was taken to the mansion-house, where everything was done for him that love and kindness could suggest. He lingered here, suffering intensely, for about two months, and then passed away, and was interred in the family cemetery, beneath the olive trees of “Dungeness.”

General Henry Lee died in the care of Nathaniel Greene's daughter Louisa C. Shaw, on March 25, 1818. 


Gen. Henry Lee
obit a
25th March 1818
Aetat 63

In 1913 his remains were moved to the crypt in the Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

Light-horse Harry was the father of Smith Lee and Robert E. Lee.

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