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February 10, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

The Last Camp of General Lee

Gen. Rb E Lee

In 1906, attorney and politician Camm Patteson wrote a warm and lengthy tribute to General Robert E. Lee.  Printed in The Times-Dispatch, it began at an old white oak, just east of Buckingham Courthouse:

Less than two miles from Buckingham Courthouse, there stands a white oak tree, even now not more than a foot in diameter, under which General Robert E. Lee camped the night after his famous battle at Appomattox.  The second night he stopped at the house of his brother, Mr. Charles Carter Lee. When he left the tree near Buckingham Courthouse, he left it never to camp again.  It stands about one hundred yards from the house of the late William Shepherd, a good old Virginian, who then owned the land. Mr. Shepherd, with true hospitality, invited General Lee to spend the night at his house. The General thanked him but stated that he believed he would camp with the boys; his staff accompanied him. The weather was comparatively warm and pleasant.  As he composed himself to rest upon this, his last camping ground, who can fathom his thoughts? . . .

Patteson’s reverie covered most of four columns and, in the end, he came back to the oak.

The tree in Buckingham to which I have adverted, was called to my attention by my friend and old comrade, Judge George J. Hundley, as gallant a Confederate soldier as ever drew a blade in defense of constitutional liberty.

We went into the army at the same time; we are about the same age, and belong to the same profession.  He knows the tree well which I have described, and it was mainly at his request that I have written this paper.  Old Confederates like us must be allowed the “garrulity” of age.  All that we can do, like that old veteran described in that famous work, “Old Mortality” written by Sir Walter Scott, is to re-write the inscriptions upon the tombstones of the past, and try to keep green and fresh the memory of the cause we loved so well.


Buckingham County, Va., April 13, 1906


Leave a Comment
  1. DVF / Feb 11 2014 8:13 am

    Hi….I believe that George Shepherd, Sr. or George Shepherd, Jr. donated that piece of land for a park in honor of Lee/Encampment. At the moment, I can’t remember which person donated the land. I find this to be interesting for many reasons, but one in particular, is the fact that this land was donated via People of Color….donating land ref the Confederacy….I have a feeling that this family witnessed Lee’s last stand…..

    • Joanne Yeck / Feb 11 2014 8:55 am

      Thanks for your thoughts. We look forward to more details about the establishment of Lee Wayside. Joanne

  2. Gene / Feb 10 2014 7:16 pm

    Any information as to exact location or if this tree still exists?

    • Gene / Feb 10 2014 7:17 pm

      Nevermind – did not see the earlier post……

      • Joanne Yeck / Feb 10 2014 7:19 pm

        Gene, I’m working on the question. Watch for a follow up post. Joanne

  3. Dave George / Feb 10 2014 1:12 pm

    Hi Joanne, Does anyone have the exact location of the tree? Is it at the Robert E Lee Wayside? If so, we need a picture of what that space looks like today, for those of us that don’t live in the county now. Thanks, cuz Marion

    Sent from my iPad


    • Joanne Yeck / Feb 10 2014 2:33 pm

      Marion, I will inquire about the oak. Coz. Joanne


  1. Buckingham County: Lee’s Last Camp | slate river ramblings . . . .
  2. Lee Wayside and Shepherd’s Tavern | slate river ramblings . . . .

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