And due in no small part to Lee's military style, hundreds of thousands of Southern men marched to their deaths through Napoleonic-style frontal assaults that, when viewed again through the modern-day lens, could largely have been prevented if Lee eschewed the Union's war of attrition in favor of limited engagements on southern soil.
But perhaps most telling of Lee's character is his position on slavery.
Despite hardened Lost Cause claims that Lee personally opposed the institution of slavery, his family accounts document that Lee vigorously fought in the courts the freeing of the Custis slaves that he'd inherit if he could nullify the codicil in his father-in-law's will that promised their freedom.
Even after the war, Lee proved to be supremely racist to the bitter end when through the thin veil of reconciliation he and former Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens assembled their generals and crossed over into West Virginia to issue the White Sulphur Manifesto in 1868.
"The idea that the Southern people are hostile to the negroes, and would oppress them if it were in their power to do so, is entirely unfounded ... (but we are) opposed to any system of laws which will place the political power of the country in the hands of the negro race."
Further, "... negroes have neither the intelligence nor other qualifications which are necessary to make them safe depositories of political power," stated the Manifesto.
West Virginians, with our proud heritage of secession from the Confederacy, needn't further the myths of the Lost Cause.
Swint is a commercial property broker and political activist in Charleston.