Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 20, 1864: Judith White McGuire sees General Lee in Church


Judith White McGuire encountered General Robert E. Lee at church and found herself more than a little "star struck."
March 20th, 1864.

Our Lent services in St. Paul's Lecture-room, at seven o'clock in the morning, are delightful. The room is always crowded to overflowing — the old, the young, the grave, the gay, collect there soon after sunrise; also military officers in numbers. When General Lee is in town, as he now is, he is never absent, and always one of the most devout worshippers. Within a few days I have seen General Whiting there; also Generals Ransom, Pegram, and others. Starred officers of all grades, colonels, majors, etc., together with many others belonging to the rank and file; and civilians of every degree. It is delightful to see them, all bending together before high Heaven, imploring the help which we so much need.

The Transportation Office is just opposite to us, where crowds of furloughed soldiers, returning to their commands, are constantly standing waiting for transportation. As I pass them on my way to the office in the morning, I always stop to have a cheerful word with them. Yesterday morning I said to them: “Gentlemen, whom do you suppose I have seen this morning?” In answer to their inquiring looks, I said: “General Lee.” “General Lee,” they exclaimed: “I did not know he was in town; God bless him!” and they looked excited, as if they were about to burst forth with “Hurrah for General Lee!” “And where do you suppose I saw him so early?” “Where, Madam where?” “At prayer-meeting, down upon his knees, praying for you and for the country.” In an instant they seemed subdued; tears started to the eyes of many of those hardy, sunburnt veterans. Some were utterly silent, while others exclaimed, with various ejaculations, “God bless him!” “God bless his dear old soul” etc. As I walked away, some followed me to know where he was to be seen. One had never seen him at all, and wanted to see him “monstrous bad;” others had seen him often, but wanted to see him in town, “just to look at him.” I told them where his family residence was, but as they feared that they could not leave the Transportation Office long enough to find “Franklin Street,” I dare say the poor fellows did not see General Lee. This morning I had almost the same conversation with another crowd in the same place. It is delightful to see how they reverence him, and almost as much for his goodness as for his greatness.

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