• Fitzhugh Lee Provides Wonderful Details Of Riots During Spanish-American War, Gen. Blanco Must Abdicate -- Two Lee Signatures

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    FITZHUGH LEE (November 19, 1835 – April 28, 1905) was a Confederate cavalry general in the Civil War, the 40th Governor of Virginia, diplomat, and United States General in the Spanish-American War, which was an armed conflict between Spain and the United States. Hostilities began in the aftermath of an internal explosion of USS Maine in Havana Harbor in Cuba, leading to U.S. intervention in the Cuban War of Independence. Lee was the son of Sydney Smith Lee, a captain in the Confederacy and nephew of General Robert E. Lee. Fitzhugh Lee was the grandson of “Light Horse Lee,” a nephew of Robert E. Lee. Fitzhugh had an impressive record in the Civil War. He led a brigade in Jeb Stuart’s ride around the Union Army in the Gettysburg Campaign. He took part in Gen. Jubal A. Early’s campaign against Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley. He led the last charge of the Confederates on April 9, 1865, at Farmville, VA.  In April 1896, Lee was appointed consul-general at Havana by President Cleveland, with duties of a diplomatic and military character added to his usual consular business. In this post (in which he was retained by President McKinley until 1898) he was from the first called upon to deal with the situation of great difficulty, which culminated with the destruction of the warship USS Maine.

    5 pp, 8 x 10, in pencil, Friday Night, December 14, 1898, to his wife in which Lee provides extraordinary detail regarding riots in the streets, an attack on the palace, verbal attacks on Gen. Blanco, who served in the Spanish government and in the Philippines before he was selected to replace Valeriano Weyler as Captain General of Cuba.

    Lee writes, “...We have had a high old time here since Wednesday morning last...mobs-riots – streets filled with excitement. People yelling death to Blanco...The [fight] was started by Spanish officers, some 50 in number...broke into a newspaper office... a newspaper in favor of autonomy. A large crowd followed with them & they then came upon the ‘La Discussion’ paper...It was formerly an insurgent paper or leaned that way...Its editor flew out of the country & returned going with the insurgents...[The] paper start[ed] up again in the interest of autonomy. By this time, these officers had quite a [group] behind them—the foremost men rushed right into the building over some of the police & tore up everything in it & the crowd yelling & shouting muerta Blanco – muerta autonomy...Then they started for the palace & had another high old time...Blanco must abdicate. The streets are [full] of the regular soldiers – Infantry & Cavalry & every other...Wednesday night, Thursday, Saturday night, it looked very serious...There is a strong undercurrent of feeling & excitement [regarding] Blanco & autonomy...I feel very sorry for old Blanco because he has been sent here to do the impossible...His own troops – regulars will not support him...The total defense...are very bitter. He had when the palace, strong by guarded soldiers he placed inside has yelled...death to Blanco...These fellows...are the extreme Spaniards...Whatever may be the outcome of all this, it demonstrates the failure of autonomy...We are living the era of something interesting...In front of the hotel as I write is a line of Cavalry dismounted – [Gen.] Arolas body guarded...”

    In pencil. Bold Fitzhugh Lee signature with an insignificant cut at the bottom. Paper is slightly fragile. A couple of edge chips. Small archival tape repair. Lee’s writing is a bit challenging to decipher. Still a fine letter of content.  Cover from the U.S. Consulate General at Havana addressed to Lee’s wife in his hand, adding a second Lee signature to this lot. The one on the cover is quite large and boldly executed.

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