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"American Experience" Robert E. Lee (2011)

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American Experience: Season 23: Episode 1 -- From PBS and American Experience - Robert E. Lee is celebrated by handsome equestrian statues in countless cities and towns across the American South and by no less than five postage stamps issued by the government he fought against during the four bloodiest years in American history.


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Original Air Date:
3 January 2011 (Season 23, Episode 1)
From PBS and American Experience - Robert E. Lee is celebrated by handsome equestrian statues in countless... See more » | Add synopsis »
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Gentleman Warrior. See more (4 total) »


 (Episode Cast)

Jason Alan Carvell

Kara Jackson ... Mary Lee
Michael Murphy ... Himself / Narrator

Episode Crew
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Mark Zwonitzer 

Produced by
Susan Bellows .... series producer
Sharon Grimberg .... executive producer
Hazel Gurland .... associate producer
Susan Mottau .... coordinating producer
Mark Samels .... executive producer
Mark Zwonitzer .... producer
Original Music by
Joel Goodman 
Cinematography by
Michael Chin 
Film Editing by
Bruce Shaw 
Production Design by
Akeime Mitterlehner 
Art Direction by
R. Mark Hughes 
Production Management
Deborah Clancy Porfido .... production manager (as Deborah Clancy)
Nancy Sherman .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Mark Kaufmann .... assistant director
Art Department
Kirk Graves .... property master
Jeremiah Hornbaker .... set dresser
Alison Kennedy .... designer
Ann-Ruffin Minarik .... art production assistant (as Ann Minarik)
Bruce Shaw .... motion graphics
John Sicoransa .... production illustrator
Sound Department
Coll Anderson .... sound re-recording mixer
Coll Anderson .... supervising sound editor
James Briggs III .... dialogue editor
John Chiarolanzio .... assistant sound editor
Sara Chin .... sound
Benjamin Clore .... sound
John Jenkins .... sound mixer
Shayne Parden .... sound
Matt Snedecor .... sound effects editor
J.T. Takagi .... sound recordist
Camera and Electrical Department
Greg Andracke .... additional photography
Charles Bevan .... grip
Joshua Cross .... key grip
Andrew Eckmann .... grip
Marc Labbate .... gaffer
Paul Marbury .... assistant camera
Todd Ranson .... gaffer
Robert Spencer .... best boy electric
Hektor Stockton .... electrician
Travis Tomlinson .... gaffer
Jonathan Weaver .... assistant camera
Tim Wicks .... best boy grip
Animation Department
Alisa Placas Frutman .... animator (as Alisa Placas)
Aaron Nee .... animator
Editorial Department
Martin Benn .... colorist
Martin Benn .... on-line editor
Vanessa Ezersky .... post-production assistant
Glenn Fukushima .... post-production assistant
Spencer Gentry .... on-line editor
Greg Shea .... post-production assistant
Paul Taylor .... senior editor
Music Department
Peggy Baldwin .... musician
Kevin Bluhm .... music editor
Joel Goodman .... composer: theme music
Diego Morales .... musician
John Rodd .... music mix engineer
Anatoly Rosinsky .... musician
Andrew Shulman .... musician
Richard Todd .... musician
Philip Vaiman .... musician
John Wittenberg .... musician
Other crew
Jon Allen .... production assistant
Jessica Barbosa .... production intern
Rob Barnett .... production intern (as Robert Barnett)
Sean Cleary .... marketing
James E. Dunford .... series manager
Eric Eaton .... production assistant
Susana Fernandes .... project administration
Jay Fialkov .... legal
Janice Flood .... legal
Pamela Gaudiano .... project administration
Tiffany Hagger .... production intern
Wesley Hevia .... production intern
Molly Jacobs .... production assistant
Maureen Jordan .... legal
Scott Kardel .... legal
Timothy Messler .... production coordinator
Jacob Pooler .... production assistant
Lauren Prestileo .... publicist
Gratianne Quade .... production intern
Rob Rapley .... additional researcher
Colleen Sackheim .... transcriber
Jane Sakowski Bell .... craft service
Tory Starr .... production assistant
Tom Trigo .... location manager
Jamila Wignot .... recreations director
Patricia Yusah .... project administration

Series Crew
These people are regular crew members. Were they in this episode?
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Stephen Fitzmeyer  developer
Henry Hampton  creator

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details



This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Gentleman Warrior., 19 July 2015
Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA

Robert E. Lee was born into a distinguished family of Virginia planters whose Dad squandered most of the family's money. It didn't detract unduly from their aristocratic status. "Lighthorse Harry" Lee had been a hero in the American Revolutionary War. Robert was a handsome young graduate of West Point, graduating high in his class, excelling at math, and a gentleman to boot. So it probably was class endogamy rather than just money that prompted him to pursue and marry Mary Custis, another aristocrat who was a descendant of George Washington. There's more to being upper class than simply wealth.

It was a pleasant enough life for the Lees. Their estate was called Arlington, just across the Potomac River from Washington. Plenty of room, plenty of slaves. It later became Arlington National Cemetery. But Mary, alas, didn't find it pleasant to accompany her husband to his various rough posts and she stayed mostly at home, nagging Lee for not spending more time with her and the kids.

The secession of South Carolina from the Union didn't catch Lee by surprise. He was stationed at an outpost in Texas at the time, doing nothing much more than holding courts martial and chasing Comanches. He was a patriot but Virginia came before the Union. He saw Virginia as very much the embodiment of Thomas Jefferson's notion of the ideal society: a landed gentry ruling the state, the unpropertied whites in a sort of peonage, and obedient slaves happily toiling away under benevolent masters. Those slaves, by the way, weren't so happy at the Lee estate because the money had run out, and so did some of the slaves. Lee, a soldier, demanded obedience and didn't hesitate to have runaways whipped, sometimes dealing out the punishment in person.

The film doesn't mention it but when war came, Lee was called back to Washington, where Lincoln offered him command of the entire union army. But Lee had a hell of a time getting from Texas to Washington because he was in union uniform and was stopped at the state border, where he had to talk his way out of the bind. In any case, he turned down the offer of command, asked to be allowed to sit out the war, and when that was denied, he resigned from the U. S. Army. He never did refer to the Union Army as "the enemy." He just called them "these people." The pinnacle of his military career -- of his entire life -- was his command of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. There were setbacks and many casualties but he achieved one victory after another against the Union Army, victories that were helped no doubt by the assorted beef-brained egomaniacs that Lincoln had been forced to put in command.

Nevertheless, after Chancellorsville, where he daringly split his smaller force not just into two independent units but an unthinkable THREE and won the day, both he and his men felt they could accomplish almost anything. He was a kind of Rommel of the time. Sentiments aside, though, the North had the industry and the men, if not the leadership, while the South was consistently losing its manpower and its supplies. Lee was disabused of the notion of infallibility later at Gettysburg, where the Confederate loss was not so much the fault of a brilliantly led opposition but of misjudgment by Lee himself. He was devastated by the slaughter and blamed himself.

Worse was to come. Ulysses S. Grant was made commander of the Union Army, which outnumbered Lee's rebels by two to one, and at their first engagement, the federals were driven back. Ho hum, said the soldiers. Licked by Robert E. Lee once more. But Grant, an ex-alcoholic slob and no brilliant strategist, wasn't stupid or timid either. He reorganized his men and went around Lee's flank. Grant followed Lee through Virginia,. battling him as necessary, regardless of cost, for seven weeks until the worn-out Confederate Army was dug in around the capital of Richmond and the supply center of Petersberg.

There was nothing left for Lee but to surrender his army, bedraggled and starving but still angry and defiant. Lee himself admitted no guilt. The cause was just and the morality was on our side. The wrong side won. We were just outnumbered. The "outnumbered" comment was certainly true. He died of a stroke five years later and became a Southern icon -- even a national one.

The program itself, with stills, narration by James Woods, and expert talking heads is evenly balance. This is a fine series and some episodes ought to be shown in every high school.

One of the things I took away from watching it, without really thinking about it, was that being a great leader doesn't necessarily involve being a bombastic loudmouth and an uncivil and hateful individual. Heroes can be thoughtful and reserved too. And Lee was both. "It is well that war is so terrible, or we should become too fond of it," he told a subordinate at the Battle of Fredericksburg, which he won. He always hoped for a negotiated settlement. He never said anything like, "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out."

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