Research Exercise: Rumor at Arlington

Some blogs like to start things off with a bang, and this just may be the case with a new one, called civilwarhistorian.  For in only the second post on this blog, we find the following except from an 1863 Massachusetts newspaper, publishing the comments of a member of the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry about a visit to Arlington, the home of Robert E. Lee:

“At the cook house for the overseer’s family I noticed an octoroon, nearly white, with fine features. She told me that her mother, long since dead was a quadroon and Gen. Lee’s housekeeper at Arlington, and to the question, ‘Was your father a colored man?’ she answered without hesitation ‘No,–master’s my father.” And this father and master now leads an army, the sole purpose of which is to establish a government founded on an institution which enslaves his own children, making his own flesh and blood saleable property!”

Okay, folks … what do you make of this?  How would you go about finding out exactly what’s going on?

UPDATE:  Just in case you were wondering, our intrepid blogger, Colin Woodward, has also posted the answer to that question, an answer which you can encounter in the comments section below.  Tony Gunter and Andy Hall get a gold star.  I would have sent them a t-shirt from The History Channel, but the publicist who promised me some swag does not seem to have come through.