The Haunted Homes of Robert E. Lee

Portrait of General Lee and the generals of the Army of Northern Virginia

Portrait of General Lee and the generals of the Army of Northern Virginia

During my extensive research for Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War, strangely enough, I never came across references to any ghostly sightings of Robert E. Lee, the venerable commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and central figure in the pantheon of the Lost Cause.

Curiously, however, at least three of the homes the general lived in life have had verified accounts of them being haunted by one or another Lee family member. While I devote an entire chapter to Lee’s haunted homes in Dixie Spirits, I thought I’d update that with a blog and post some photos to go along with it.

When one thinks of General Lee and his family, one naturally thinks of a dignified Southern gentleman coming from an honored and venerable First Family of Virginia (FFV for short).

While Lee always conducted himself with dignity, his venerable family was chock full of scandal, extending through several generations. His father, for example, the war hero Light Horse Harry Lee, while a hero of the American Revolution was also something of a hell raiser.  A gambler, a drinker and much else, he was constantly in debt–at one time he was even thrown into debtor’s prison. After Light Horse Harry died, his widow and children were left destitute and dependent on the charity of other family members–and they too had their scandals–notably their relative “Black Horse” Harry Lee, who was guilty of a dalliance with his wife’s sister.

The best known Lee home is, of course, Arlington, now located in the middle of Arlington National Cemetery. Seized early in the war, it became a last resting place for Union war dead. The mansion itself is also an abode of the dead–who at times get a mite restless. Several Lee family ghosts have been sighted in here.

Arlington, General Lee's home seized by the Yankees.  Photo taken during the war.

Arlington, General Lee’s home seized by the Yankees. Photo taken during the war.

Stratford Hall, the ancestral home of the Lees, was built in the early 1700’s and so it naturally has several generations of Lee ghosts, including old “Black Horse” Harry who had an affair with his wife’s sister while his spouse lay sick abed.

Stratford Hall, ancestral home of the Lees and the scene of family secrets--and family ghosts.

Stratford Hall, ancestral home of the Lees and the scene of family secrets–and family ghosts.

Then there is the “Lee Boyhood Home” in Alexandria, Virginia. After their father died deep in debt, Robert and his mother had to move about to their financial situation. Nonetheless, General Lee always had fond memories of this place and it was here he returned briefly right after the surrender–and who knows he may still be there.  Numerous sightings have been reported, both as a private residence and as a public museum.

Lee's boyhood home as it looked ca. 1908.  It too is said to be haunted.

Lee’s boyhood home as it looked ca. 1908. It too is said to be haunted.

There are a few other old Virginia manse’s associated with the general—all of them reputedly haunted. For more on the tragic haunted history of the Lees see Dixie Spirits, chapter 31.

General Lee photographed by Matthew Brady, probably on the steps of his boyhood home in Richmond, ca. April, 1865.

General Lee photographed by Matthew Brady, probably on the steps of his boyhood home in Richmond, ca. April, 1865.

You may also take a tour of the homes; most are open to the public for the price of admission.

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About Christopher Coleman

I am an author, lecturer, and sometime instructor. My interests span a variety of subjects, including Southern tales of the supernatural, American history and folklore, military history in general, as well as archaeology, anthropology, plus various and sundry things that go bump in the night. I currently have six books in print: Strange Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground, Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War, Dixie Spirits, Ghosts and Haunts of Tennessee and The Paranormal Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, a factual history of some more esoteric--and hitherto overlooked--aspects the sixteenth President. My book is Ambrose Bierce and the Period of Honorable Strife, published in hardcover by the University of Tennessee Press and chronicling the wartime experiences of young Ambrose Bierce, noted American author. Bierce has been called many things by many people, but idealist, hero and patriot are terms that should be added to the list after reading this book. I am currently at work on several projects, some dealing with the American experience but also several fiction and non-fiction works looking into the Age of Arthur.
This entry was posted in Civil War History, Civil War Leaders, Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee, The American Civil War, The Army of Northern Virginia, Ulysses S. Grant and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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