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R.E. Lee’s Birthday Celebration

January 19, 2014 @ 9:30 am - 5:00 pm



Plan to visit on this special Sunday for a Stratford Hall offering of FOOD, FUN and HISTORY.  This annual celebration is FREE to the public from 9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.  Special attractions this year will include The Civil War HistoryMobile (an interactive mobile museum sponsored by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission), a  lecture by Donald Wilkinson, Civil War homefront depictions and artifacts on display, a wreath-laying at the Great House, and a book signing by Dr. James “Bud” Robertson in the Stratford Hall Gift Shop.

There will also be a living history portrayal of General Robert E. Lee by Al Stone, live musical entertainment by Marshall and Company, refreshments, and complimentary tours of the Great House.   Plan B Barbecue will be on site to sell delicious BBQs and other lunch items.

Gen. Robert E. Lee

The Commonwealth of Virginia’s HistoryMobile is truly a museum on wheels especially created for the Civil War sesquicentennial.  It draws together stories from all over Virginia and uses state-of-the-art technology to present stories of the Civil War from the perspectives of those who experienced it–young and old, enslaved and free, soldiers and civilians.  Many of the exhibits are geared specifically for children.

Schedule for the day:

9:30 a.m. Gate opens (FREE admission)

10:00 a.m. Virginia 150th HistoryMobile open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (parked near Visitor Center); Robert E. Lee re-enactor Al Stone on site until 5 p.m.; Civil War Civilians of Spottsylvania presents Civil War Homefront (living history scenarios) in Visitor Center until 4:30 p.m.; 53rd Mattaponi Guard re-enactors display Civil War artifacts in Preservation Gallery, and bivouac (weather-permitting) on Oval until 4:30 p.m.; birthday cake and refreshments in Visitor Center until 4:30 p.m.; Great House tours until 4 p.m.; Plan B BBQ in Visitor Center parking lot until 5 p.m.

11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The Marshall Group performs live music in Visitor Center

1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Donald Wilkinson lecture in duPont Library “The Most Good for the Confederacy: Captain John Wilkinson, CSN”

John Wilkinson’s CSS Robert E. Lee

3:00 p.m. – 5 p.m. Dr. James “Bud” Robertson meeting visitors and signing copies of his books in the Gift Shop

3:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. 53rd Mattaponi Guard wreath-laying ceremony at the Great House

5 p.m. Visitor Center closes

Marshall and Company – Doug Marshall and Lauren Smith have been playing 18th-century dance tunes and Civil war era music together for several years.

Robert E. Lee’s birthday is celebrated by many Americans every year. Events may include: marches, parades, wreath-laying ceremonies and musket salutes. Many publications run editorial notes to commemorate Robert E. Lee’s achievements on or around January 19. It is also customary for some state governors to proclaim the day a holiday to the general public.

Robert E. Lee was a commander of the Confederate army during the American Civil War (1861–1865). He was born at Stratford, Virginia, on January 19, 1807. His father, “Light Horse Harry Lee,” was a Revolutionary War hero. Robert E. Lee graduated second in his class at West Point, earning no demerits for discipline infractions during his years there.

Robert E. Lee’s first military action after graduation from West Point was in 1845 during the Mexican War.  At that time, Lee met, and worked with, later key players in the Civil War, including James Longstreet, Ulysses S. Grant, George Pickett and Thomas J. Jackson. Lee worked as an army engineer prior to the Civil War. He helped build the waterfront in St Louis and coastal forts in Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia. He was appointed superintendent of West Point in 1852 and is considered one of the best superintendents in the institution’s history.

Abraham Lincoln, who later became President of the United States, offered Robert E. Lee command of the Union Army in 1861, but Lee declined. He would not raise arms against his native state. Lee resigned his commission and headed home to Virginia. Lee served as adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and then commanded the Army of Northern Virginia. After four years of war, Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia.  Lee later advised those who wanted to continue hostilities toward the North, “Recollect that we form one country now. Abandon all these local animosities, and make your sons Americans.”

Lee was appointed President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, in 1865.  He died at Washington College on October 12, 1870, and is buried with other members of his family in a chapel on the school grounds.  The school was later renamed Washington & Lee in his honor.

Robert E. Lee’s birthday may not be an official public holiday in all states, but there are many people who remember his life and achievements on either the third Monday of January or January 19, which is his actual birthday.



January 19, 2014
9:30 am - 5:00 pm
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