Thank you! I am aware of the offer made by Custis to replace Rooney so that the latter could visit his ill wife and I thought it was chivalrous, magnanimous, incredibly considerate, and very 19th-century, to say the least. (Where did all of that valiance and courage go? Did it go down with the Titanic?!? Imagine a man of today's world making that sort of gesture. I cannot.)
My initial impression of Custis remains the same today: a Virginia aristocrat who was all too aware of his heritage and his duty to equal it, but who never had the chance to do so. I see a vacillating man: one who wanted battlefield glory much like his illustrious antecedents, but one who was a bit too uncertain about his own capabilities. I see a man who wanted a normal life, complete with wife and children, but a man who allowed the confiscation of the Arlington Mansion-and thus his heritage-to rob him of it. As this was an era in which what you had to offer in terms of home and possessions had as much significance in a marriage as romantic sentiments, G.W. Custis Lee had a major portion of his "identity", and likely some of his self-esteem, taken from him-OR SO HE BELIEVED. In reading about him, I recall that he had a withdrawn, silent, almost morbid personality and that he was prone to fits of depression. He had a serious countenance, a no-nonsense demeanor which perhaps made him less than magnetic and probably rather unexciting to women. I read that, upon his introduction to a young lady by his father, Custis was so awkward and shy that the vein in his forehead bulged. Other bits of information that come to mind include the fact that he remained still when with women so that he wouldn't have to worry about his hands and feet at the same time(!), but that he had a "low, musical voice." It seemed that on the whole, he wasn't charismatic or interesting to the ladies but rather restrained, self-contained, and unsure of himself. As historical personalities go, he is one of the most mysterious in some ways, isn't he.
You mentioned that the Lee family did not seem like a happy one, but I politely disagree. By all accounts, the union of Robert and Mary was a reasonably happy one, with trust and fidelity as well as love. The children seemed to have had a prosperous upbringing, with schools, tutoring, relatives, friends, loving parents, and doting grandparents. The resided in a manor home and enjoyed the life of highborn Virginia gentility. I realise that none of the four daughters married, which is another inexplicable topic, but one can conclude that having a father as reverred as Marse Robert was made other men pale in comparison. That may have played a role in it. And the reverse may have been true as well: Few men felt themselves worthy of the daughter of the General.
I could go on and on! I'm delighted to have found this discussion, as the subject matter is powerful...
Oh, and please accept my apologies for addressing you as "Mr. McParland." I shall now refer to you as Judi!