Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee (1807 - 1870)
all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed,I hope I may never be called on to draw my sword....."
Lee in a letter to his sister, April 20, 1861
Thanks to Rick Timmons for the use of this magnificent art work.
Robert Edward Lee was born on January 19, 1807, at "Stratford" in
Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was the fifth child born to Henry
"Light-Horse Harry" Lee and his second wife, Ann Hill (Carter) Lee. He
grew up in an area where George Washington was still a living memory.
Robert had many ties to Revolutionary War heroes.
Educated in the Alexandria, Virginia, schools, he obtained appointment
to West Point in 1825. In 1829, Robert E. Lee graduated second in the
class without a single demerit against his name. He was commissioned a
brevet 2nd Lieutenant of Engineers.
On June 30, 1831, he married Mary Ann Randolph Custis. They had seven
children. All three of their sons served in the Confederate army.
George Washington Custis and William Henry Fitzhugh ("Rooney") attained
the rank of Major General and Robert E. Lee, Jr., that of Captain. The
latter served as a private in the Rockbridge Artillery at the Battle of
During the Mexican War, Robert E. Lee was promoted to Colonel due to
his gallantry and distinguished conduct in performing vital scouting
1852, he became Superintendent of the Military Academy. In 1855,
Secretary of War Jefferson Davis transferred Lee from staff to line and
was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel 2nd Cavalry. He was then sent to
West Texas, where he served from 1857-1861. In February of 1861,
General Winfield Scott recalled Lee from Texas when the lower South
seceded from the Union.
Politically, Robert E. Lee was a Whig. Ironically, he was attached
strongly to the Union and to the Constitution. He entertained no
special sympathy for slavery.
Virginia withdrew from the Union, Lee resigned his commission rather
than assist in suppressing the insurrection. His resignation was two
days following the offer of Chief of Command of U.S. forces under
Scott. He then proceeded to Richmond to become Commander-in-Chief of
the military and naval forces of Virginia. When these forces joined
Confederate services, he was appointed Brig. Gen. in the Regular
Lee returned to Richmond in March of 1862 to become military advisor to
President Davis. Whenever he had a plan, General Lee took the
initiative and acted at once. Cutting off supplies and reinforcements
executed by Jackson at Seven Pines was a successful Confederate
venture. He also stopped McClellan's threat to Richmond during the
Seven Days Battle (June 26-July 2, 1861). At the Battle of Second
Manassas, Lee defeated Pope. At the Battle of Antietam, his Northern
thrust was checked by McClellan; however, he repulsed Burnside at
Fredericksburg in December of 1862. In May of 1863, Gen. Lee defeated
Gen. Hooker at Chancellorsville, but was forced onto the strategic
defensive after Gettysburg in July. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered
to Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House.
surrender, Lee returned to Richmond. He assumed the presidency of
Washington College (now Washington and Lee University). His example of
conduct for thousands of ex-Confederates made him a legend even before
his death on October 12, 1870. General Robert E. Lee is buried at
�National Park Service Park Net�
Music: The background
music is Bonnie Blue Flag,
composed in tribute to the flag of secession.