GENERAL LEE had nothing of nepotism about him, but meted out the evenest justice to all, except that he did not promote his relatives as rapidly as he did others.
His son Robert served as a private in the ranks of the Rock-bridge Artillery, sharing with his comrades of that crack corps all their dangers, hardships, drudgery, and priviations, when a hint from his father would have secured him promotion to some place of honor. The General told, with evident relish, that during the battle of Sharpsburg [September 17, 1862] he became very unesy about Robert–knowing that his battery had suffred severely, and not hearing anything from him. At last he made it convenient to ride up to the battery, which had just been relieved from a very perilous position, where it had suffered fearful loss, and had his fears increased by not recognizing his son among the men.
To the hearty greeting of the brave fellows, he replied,
“Well! You have done nobly to-day, but I shall by compelled to send you in again.” “Will you, General,” said a powder-begrimed youth whom he did not recognize, until he spoke, as his son Robert. “Well, boys, come on; the General says we must go in again, and you know he is in the habit of having his own way about such matters.”
Thus, the anxiety of the Commander-in-Chief was was relieved, and his son went gayly to work at his guns and contributed his full share toward “keeping those people [the General never referred to them as Yankees] back.”
— Rev J. William Jones, 1862