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Robert E. Lee Died Today, 1870

Retired president of Washington College and former Commander in Chief of Confederate Armies, Robert Edward Lee, died at 9: 30 a.m., on Oct. 12, 1870, at his home on the college campus. He had collapsed while at tea on Sept. 28 and although he recognized those who came near, his mind also wandered back to the war years, calling for a general to visit him and for his tent to be struck.

VMI Cadet William Nalle, in writing to his mother a few days later, describes how VMI and Washington College and the town of Lexington, "looked as if they had been trying to cover everything with festoons of black cambric." He also comments on seeing Lee in his coffin.

By Linda Wheeler  |  October 12, 2009; 1:18 PM ET
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