Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 2, 2011

Robert E. Lee brings history home

By MATT CHRISTIAN
Princeton Times

PRINCETON — A piece of the Confederacy’s past came to Princeton Tuesday, as the Mercer County Historical Society’s History House played host to Al Stone, a 16-year veteran at portraying Robert E. Lee.

Stone said, “I like the opportunity to present a great American to the public. I just don’t think that people have enough good knowledge of the man.”

Stone also shed some light on his approach to the portrayal.

He said, “What I try and do is to provide some insight into his thoughts and actions ... I portray Lee in the fall of 1867, when the War Between the States was over and during the period of reconstruction when Lee was president of Washington College.”

Washington College was renamed in Lee’s honor after his passing, to become the more familiar Washington and Lee.

Most of Stone’s presentation focused on Lee’s decision to join the Confederacy, as opposed to the United States army before the Civil War, and the question-and-answer session that followed focused on his decisions at Gettysburg, Pa.

It was Lee, himself, who said, “I shall never bear arms against the Union, but it may be necessary for me to carry a musket in the defense of my native state, Virginia, in which case, I shall not prove recreant to my duty."

Stone reasoned that the Confederate soldiers fell at Gettysburg due to a lack of communication between the elements of his attacking force.

He speculated, “I suspect that one day, you will have better ways to communicate than that, but it was what we had in 1863.”

After his presentation ended, Stone revealed that he would be heading to Savannah, Ga., in a few days.

“I’ve been invited to go to Savannah to speak in front of several generals and admirals and several leaders of countries that have recently had a civil war,” Stone said. “They know we are coming, but the leaders don’t know that we will be in uniform, so to speak.”

— Contact Matt Christian at mchristian@ptonline.net.