Robert Edward Lee was sixty-three years old when he died on October 12, 1870, in Lexington, Virginia, just one hundred and fifty years ago. He had once been a strikingly handsome man, “a model of all that was noble, honorable, and manly” in the eye of a British visitor to his headquarters in 1862. Eight years later, Lee had aged dramatically. Photographs taken of him that summer capture a tired, stooped posture, deep, exhausted facial lines, and an utter absence of light in his eyes. And no wonder. Lee had begun suffering the first evidences of heart disease as early as June 1860, when he began complaining of pain from “rheumatism.” His health was not improved by the stress of leadership during the Civil War, especially since Lee was fifty-five when he assumed command of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, significantly older than almost all the great campaigners of the nineteenth...

 

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