BORN: 1807 in Westmoreland City, VA.
DIED: 1870 in Lexington, VA.
CAMPAIGNS: Seven Days, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Court House, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Richmond, Petersburg and Appomattox.
Lee, Robert Edward (1807-1870) Confederate General: Robert Edward Lee was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on January 19, 1807. He was the child of Revolutionary War cavalry hero Henry Lee. Young Lee's family was shaken when his father was put in debtor's prison; and the situation worsened when Lee's father died from wounds sustained in an attempt to suppress a riot in Baltimore. Lee and his siblings were raised by their widowed mother in Alexandria, Virginia. Young Robert Lee developed into a handsome, intelligent young man, full of character and skilled in leadership. He was appointed from the US Military Academy, and became corps adjutant, the major post of honor for a West Point cadet. Graduating second in the class of 1825, he was commissioned a 2d lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. He married Mary Custis, the great granddaughter of Martha Washington and an heiress of several estates, with whom he had seven children. In the Mexican War, Lee was assigned to the staff of Gen. Winfield Scott. Wounded and brevetted for heroism in the war, Lee became superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point. At West Point, he reorganized the curriculum and formed deep friendships with the students. Lee's wife's health and the management of her estates were of primary concern to Lee in the 1850s. While serving with the cavalry in Texas in 1856 - 57, he took a leave to go to his wife's family seat, "Arlington." While on leave, Lee was placed in command of a contingent of marines which was sent to Harpers Ferry to recapture it from John Brown and his followers. Lee was on cavalry duty in Texas early in 1861, then returned to "Arlington" when Texas seceded from the Union. After the fall of Fort Sumter, while Lee waited for further developments, President Lincoln offered Lee field command of the armies of the US. Indeed, Lee was a brilliant military man, and was personally opposed to slavery and secession. Nevertheless, Lee felt that his duty to Virginia would not allow him to accept Lincoln's offer. He resigned his commission in the US Army, accepted command of the defenses of Virginia on April 23, 1861 and was promoted to full general on August 31, 1861. Serving as special military advisor to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Lee could not prevent Union forces from taking sections of western Virginia, but he succeeded in helping set up coastal defenses in South Carolina and Georgia. At the end of May, 1862, Lee took command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army, which Lee named the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee reorganized the new army, and brought Maj. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson from the Shenandoah Valley and launched the Seven Days' Campaign. Despite high casualties, the Confederate troops were able to defeat the Union forces. Lee led the Confederacy to victory again in the Second Battle of Bull Run. When Union General McClellan obtained a copy of one of Lee's orders to Confederate officers, called "Lee's lost order," Lee was forced to change his plans and take up a defensive position along Antietam Creek. This area, slightly north of the Potomac River, was the site of the bloodiest day of the war, September 17, 1862. While Lee won a tactical victory there, he lost strategically by retiring to Virginia. In December, Lee and his troops defeated Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside and the Army of the Potomac at Fredericksburg. While Lee won an even clearer victory over the Union forces at Chancellorsville, he suffered an terrible loss when his chief lieutenant, "Stonewall" Jackson, was accidentally mortally wounded right after the battle. Within a few weeks, Lee was able to reorganize the army and create a new plan to invade the North. By the end of June, 1863, he had occupied the whole Cumberland Valley, as well as other parts of Pennsylvania. At Gettysburg in July, however, Lee suffered his first serious defeat. He led his army to Virginia in retreat. In the spring of 1864, Lee was able to slow Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's progress at the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna and Cold Harbor. Nevertheless, by the summer, Lee was backed into a defensive stance to protect Richmond and Petersburg. As Union General Sherman led troops through Georgia and South Carolina, Confederate morale waned. Confederate President Davis appointed Lee commander of all Confederate armies, too late to turn the war into a Confederate victory, and the Confederate Congress authorized the recruitment of black slaves. By this point, however, it was only a matter of time before the Confederacy's lack of troops and materials brought it to the point of surrender. In addition, Lee had become ill. By April of 1865, when Lee and his troops met Grant and the Union forces at Appomattox Court House, Lee felt that there was nothing to be gained by continuing. He surrendered his ill-fed, ill-clothed army of only 28,000 on April 9, 1865. Although he was the leader of the Confederate army, his personal strength of character and integrity was respected by Americans both north and south of the Mason-Dixon line. Nevertheless, many Americans found it hard to understand why Lee had chosen the path that he followed. After the Civil War, he received many prestigious job offers, but declined them all in favor of becoming president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, with a salary of $1,500 per year. His efforts resulted in a new curriculum and the nation's first departments of journalism and commerce. Although his American citizenship had been taken away, he urged former Confederates to move beyond bitterness and return to being loyal Americans. Lee died in Lexington, Virginia, on October 12, 1870.