By John Esten Cooke
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At least this was the impression which he produced upon those who saw him in public at this time. The writer's design, here, is to indicate the personal appearance and bearing of General Lee on the threshold of the war. It may be said, by way of summing up all, that he was a full-blooded "West-Pointer" in appearance; the _militaire_ as distinguished from the civilian; and no doubt impressed those who held official interviews with him as a personage of marked reserve. The truth and frankness of the man under all circumstances, and his great, warm heart, full of honesty and unassuming simplicity, became known only in the progress of the war.
If a friend asks a favor, you should grant it, if it is reasonable; if not, tell him plainly why you cannot: you will wrong him and wrong yourself by equivocation of any kind. Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so, is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly, but firmly, with all your classmates; you will find it the policy which wears best. Above all, do not appear to others what you are not. If you have any fault to find with any one, tell him, not others, of what you complain; there is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man's face and another behind his back.
General McClellan, who had now been removed from his post of commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States, and assigned to the command only of the army to operate against Richmond, landed his forces on the Peninsula, and, after several actions of an obstinate description, advanced toward the Chickahominy, General Johnston, the Confederate commander, deliberately retiring. Johnston took up a position behind this stream, and, toward the end of May, McClellan crossed a portion of his forces and confronted him.
A life of Gen. Robert E. Lee by John Esten Cooke