Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“Lee at the Alamo”

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 8, 2011

Alternative history is pretty far down the reading list for me. But this “what if” from Harry Turtledove, based on a germ of an idea tossed off decades ago by Bruce Catton, is a fun one. Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee, acting in stead of the ailing General David Twiggs, finds himself in command of the U.S. Department of Texas at San Antonio when Texas secedes from the Union in February 1861:

Lee frowned at the needless profanity, but agreed with the sentiment. “Well, then, ah, Colonel” —he used the rank and denied it at the same time— “perhaps you will be so good as to tell me what I can do for you. Since you say you do not need the Army’s help, I cannot imagine that you were looking for me in particular.” A genuinely modest man, he meant that.

“I don’t need the U.S. Army’s help, Colonel Lee,” McCulloch said, his voice deep and raspy and fierce. “I need the God-damned U.S. Army gone.”

“I beg your pardon?” Lee knew—knew only too well—that Texas was in the process of dissolving the bonds linking her to the Union. He knew as much, yes. That a jumped-up militia colonel should dare to speak to him so took him aback all the same.

“Gone,” McCulloch repeated, as if to a simpleton. “If you will surrender your forts and your guns and muskets and munitions without kicking up a fuss, you and any of your men who don’t care to join the great Southern cause can march on out of Texas, and nobody will touch a hair on your head. But if you say no, sir, I cannot answer for the consequences, and that is the Lord’s truth.”


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