Robert E. Lee and Joseph Johnston
Original Author: David J. Ryan
Created: 1870
Medium: Albumen silver photographic print
Publisher: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

Robert E. Lee and Joseph Johnston

Robert E. Lee, at right, with pen in hand, sits at a table with his old comrade-in-arms, Joseph E. Johnston. The two former Confederate generals were photographed in April 1870, in Savannah, Georgia, where an ailing Lee had traveled with his daughter Agnes. As the pair went south by train from Richmond, they were greeted at the stations along the way by adoring crowds. (Among those in the throng at Augusta, Georgia, trying to get a peak at the Confederate war hero was thirteen-year-old Woodrow Wilson). Agnes wrote of the "affection and feeling shown" toward her father, and some of the curious encounters they had: "Namesakes appeared on the way, of all sizes. Old ladies stretched their heads into the windows at way stations, and then drew back and said 'He is mightily like his pictures.'" Lee, who was seeking rest and warm weather for his deteriorating health, was less enamored of the reception than his daughter. "I have had a tedious journey upon the whole," he wrote, "and have more than ever regretted that I undertook it."

During the course of his stay in Savannah, Lee met with Johnston, who was then living in that city and working in the insurance business. The two gray-beards, both sixty-three years old, had not seen each other since the end of the Civil War; the event was captured by photographer David J. Ryan. On April 12, Lee and his daughter left Savannah by steamboat and visited Cumberland Island where Lee's father, Revolutionary War cavalry hero "Light Horse Harry" Lee, was buried. Agnes decorated the grave and Lee paid a "tribute of respect" to his father who had died when the younger Lee was eleven. Six months later, Robert E. Lee died in Lexington, Virginia.

Copies of this photograph were subsequently sold to aid the Ladies' Memorial Association of Savannah which was raising funds for a Confederate monument.

Sponsors  |  View all