Wednesday, December 25, 2013

General Robert E Lee and Santa Claus

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful day with family and friends. Thank you for taking a few minutes to share with me and the CFHS bloggers.

I recently came across an interesting Christmas-y story about General Robert E Lee. I am not sure the story is true, but I found it interesting, so I thought I would share it with you. The story was written about by Louise Clack in her 1867 book titled General Lee and Santa Claus: Mrs. Louise Clack’s Christmas Gift to Her Little Southern Friends.

As the story goes, sometime after the end of the Civil War, three young southern girls were confused as to why no Southern children received toys at Christmas during the war years. Their aunt suggested that the reason was because General Lee would not allow Santa to cross the lines into territory held by the South. The inquisitive girls took it upon themselves to write General Lee and find out if, in fact, this was the case. They greased the wheels by complimenting Lee, saying he was the “goodest man that ever lived” and that he “always spoke the truth.” Their letter continued as follows:

“Please tell us whether Santa Claus loves the little rebel children, for we think he don't; because he did not come to see us for four Christmas Eves. Auntie thinks you would not let him cross the lines, and we don't know how to find out unless we write and ask you. We all love you dearly, and we want to send you something; but we have not anything nice enough; we lost all our toys in the war. Birdie wants to send you one of our white kittens—the one with black ears; but Auntie thinks maybe you don't like kittens. We say little prayers for you every night, dear General Lee, and ask God to make you ever so happy.”

They signed the letter with “Your little friends, Lutie, Birdie, and Minnie.”

According to Mrs. Clack, General Lee wrote the little girls back, thanking them for their prayers, and explaining to them what happened to their toys. His letter stated the following:

“The first Christmas Eve of the war I was walking up and down in the camp ground, when I thought I heard a singular noise above my head; and on looking to find out from whence it came, I saw the queerest, funniest-looking little old fellow riding along in a sleigh through the air. On closer inspection, he proved to be Santa Claus.

Halt! Halt!, I said; but at this the funny fellow laughed, and did not seem inclined to obey, so again I cried Halt!. And he drove down to my side with a sleigh full of toys. I was very sorry for him when I saw the disappointed expression of his face when I told him he could go no further South; and when he exclaimed, Oh, what will my little Southern children do! I felt more sorry, for I love little children to be happy, and especially at Christmas. But of one thing I was certain—I knew my little friends would prefer me to do my duty, rather than have all the toys in the world; so I said: Santa Claus, take every one of the toys you have back as far as Baltimore, sell them, and with the money you get buy medicines, bandages, ointments, and delicacies for our sick and wounded men; do it and do it quickly—it will be all right with the children.”

Lee continued his letter, stating that Santa saluted, drove away, and returned before dawn with not only the requested supplies, but much more for the sick and wounded men, and that Santa did this every Christmas Eve during the war. Lee closed his letter by inviting the three girls to write him again and signed off with, “Your true friend, General Robert E. Lee.”

I have no proof that these letters were ever truly written or exchanged. Whether they were real or simply a work of Mrs. Clack’s imagination, I thought they gave an interesting perspective on that period in our nation's history. I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I did.

© Jenny Rollo
And I pray you all will remember the true meaning of Christmas, as detailed in the Bible in Luke Chapter 2. It is my family’s long-standing tradition to read the story of Christ’s birth on Christmas morning and consider the greatest gift we’ve ever been given—a baby in a manger, who would grow into the Savior, crucified to pay the price for our sin, in order that we can have relationship with God.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV)

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won the 2012 CWOW Phoenix Rattler, 2012 ACFW First Impressions, and 2013 FCWC contests, all in the historical category. She is also the winner of the 2013 Central Florida ACFW chapter's "Prompt Response" contest. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite--full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenaged son, and four fur children.


  1. Thats an interesting story and even if its not true its moving and a great thing for the kids to know the toys were being used to help others even if they missed out.
    thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Jenny! I believe that's what I liked best about the story--that these children were being taught to think beyond themselves and what they wanted. It's a good message we all need to be reminded of from time to time. Thanks for sharing a few minutes of your Christmas with me! Blessings today and all year.

  2. Merry Christmas Jennifer, I too think true or not makes a wonderful story for today to be shared. I kind of like thinking it was true and that after the 4 yrs those little girls got lots of toys at Christmas. great story- glad you found it

    Paula O.

    1. That would be a nice end to the story for the little girls, Paula. Merry Christmas! :)

  3. I enjoyed this story a lot, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. An interesting story about Robert E Lee and Santa Claus and some lost toys. Merry Christmas! sharon, wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com