"Lee at the Alamo"  
Author Harry Turtledove
Publisher Tor.com
Reprinted No
Collected No
Illustrator John Jude Palencar
Genre(s) Alternate History
Publication date September 7, 2011

"Lee at the Alamo" is a short story by Harry Turtledove. It was published online at tor.com on September 7, 2011. It is a work of alternate history, with the point of divergence in December 1860, when General David E. Twiggs is unable to take command of the Department of Texas, leaving Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee as the commander. The story itself is set in February 1861 - just after Texas has voted to secede from the United States and join the Confederate States - through March 1861. Lt. Colonel Lee concludes that it is his duty to defend U.S. Army munitions and property in San Antonio, Texas, including the fabled Alamo, rather than allow their surrender to the seceding Texas government, as Twiggs did in OTL.

While Lee is forced to surrender to Benjamin McCulloch after several weeks of siege, he becomes a national hero. When Virginia does secede as it did in OTL, President Abraham Lincoln is able to convince Lee to stay in the Union's service by agreeing to send him west, where he will not be fighting against his fellow Virginians.


In his commentary on tor.com[1], Turtledove says that the story "springs from a speculation in Bruce Catton’s The Coming Fury". The relevant passage is found in Chapter Four, section 3: "A fascinating 'if' develops at this point. A few months earlier, in Twiggs’s absence, Lee had been acting commander of the Department of Texas. If the secession crisis had come to a head then, or if Twiggs’s return had been delayed past mid-winter, it would have been Lee and not Twiggs on whom the Texas commissioners would have made their demand for the surrender of government property. Without any question, Lee would have given them a flat refusal— in which case it might easily have been Lee, and not Major Robert Anderson, who first received and returned the fire of the secessionists, with San Antonio, rather than Fort Sumter, as the scene of the fight that began a great war. Subsequent history could have been substantially different."

The story was nominated for a Sidewise Award in 2012.

Turtledove previously used Robert E. Lee as a POV character in The Guns of the South and in one scene of The Great War: American Front.