Friends comfort each other in hard times, and sometimes they bare their souls.  Robert E. Lee discussed his Unionist beliefs (held before and after the Civil War) with his friend, former Iowa U.S. Senator George Wallace Jones, who had two sons in the Confederate Army.

Political record

Lee wrote Jones on March 22, 1869:

… I was not in favor of secession and was opposed to war.  In fact, I was for the Constitution and the Union established by our forefathers.  No one now is more in favor of that Union and that Constitution, and as far as I know, it is that for which the South has all along contended; and if restored, as I trust they will be, I am sure there will be no truer supporters of that Union and that Constitution than the Southern people.

But I must not wander into politics, a subject I carefully avoid, and return to your letter.

Robert E. Lee in U.S. uniform (Library of Congress)

Lee added greetings and a benediction:

Please present my kindest regards to every member of your family, especially to your brave sons who aided in our struggle for States rights and Constitutional Government.  We failed, but in the good Providence of God, apparent failure often proves a blessing.  I trust it may eventuate so in this instance …

With my earnest prayers for the peace and happiness of yourself and all your family, I am with true regard, your friend and servant.

R.E. Lee

Robert E. Lee (Library of Congress)

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