Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee has always been thought by many as a god-like figure. To others he was a contradiction. Born on January 19, 1807 at Stratford, Virginia, Robert E. Lee was the fourth child of Revolutionary War hero, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, and Ann Hill Carter Lee. Raised mostly by his mother, Robert learned patience, control, and discipline from her. As a young man, he was exposed to Christianity and accepted its faith. In contrast to the strong example of his mother and the church, Robert saw his father go from failed enterprise to failed enterprise. As a result, young Robert tried harder to succeed.
Robert was accepted to the United States Military Academy and graduated 2nd in his class. But perhaps greater than his academic success, was his record of no demerits while being a cadet, which today has still not been equaled. Following his graduation, Lee, like most top classmen, was given a commission as an engineer. As Lt. Lee helped build the St. Louis waterfront and worked on coastal forts in Brunswick and Savannah. It was during this time he married Mary Custis, the granddaughter of George Washington and Martha Custis Washington.
In 1845, the war between the United States and Mexico broke out. Lee was given the important duties of mapping out the terrain ahead, dividing the line of advance for the U.S. troops, and in one case, leading troops into battle. Following the Mexican War, Lee returned to the service as an engineer. Now a Colonel, Lee was sent to put down a believed rebellion at Harperâs Ferry, Virginia, the site of a United States arsenal. A train rushed Colonel Lee and a young aide, Lt. Jeb Stuart, with a detachment of U.S. marines to Harper's Ferry where they were able to capture radical abolitionist, John Brown, and his followers. Lee next, offered his services to the newly elected President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis.
When President Davis accepted Leeâs offer, Lee was made a general in the CSA service. At first, General Lee served as an advisor to President Davis and the Secretary of War. His first campaign, in what later became West Virginia, was not successful. However, his boldness and strategy made him a formidable match for every general that President Lincoln sent against him until Grant defeated him in the Battle of Attrition.
Lee's greatest victory was the Battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863. Lee was faced with a larger army led by fighting Joe Hooker. Lee and his most trusted lieutenant, General Stonewall Jackson, divided their forces, and through a forced march around General Hooker, fell on his exposed flank, rolling it up, and defeating the union forces yet again.
The greatest land battle in the Western Hemisphere was fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of July, 1863. The Army of Northern Virginia, led by Lee, and the Army of the Potomac, led by newly appointed General George Meade, hammered each other. On the 3rd day of battle, General Lee, hoping to end the war, ordered the great frontal assault popularly known as Pickett's Charge. After the failure of the attack, General Lee blamed only himself, but Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia fought on for two more years. General Lee surrendered at Appomatox Court House on April 9, 1865. This effectively brought the American Civil War to an end as other Confederate field commanders followed Lee's example.
Following the war, Lee was almost tried as a traitor, but only had his civil rights suspended. Lee was offered the post of President of Washington University, where he served until his death in 1870. The school was later renamed Washington and Lee. As a final note, President Gerald Ford had Lee's citizenship restored.
General Lee was a great strategic war general. He won many great battles for the Confederacy. The biggest battle he won was the Battle of Chancellorsville, which was against a larger Union army. Lee was brave and never lost faith in his army.
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Robert E. Lee
One of the most iconic figures of the American Civil War has to be that of Confederate General Robert E. Lee who was the commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia during the war. He was known for leading a rag tag, under armed and poorly supplied army against a much larger foe and winning many battles. He was a graduate of West Point and one of the most highly regarded military minds when the war initially broke out. Lee was offered the post as the leader of all Union Army forces by Abraham Lincoln, and was sorely tested. However being from Virginia, he chose to throw his talent and support to the side of his home state.
Lee did not make this choice frivolously he definitely gave it a lot of thought, because he had been organizing and fighting for the United States for nearly thirty years. Lee was a highly decorated leader in the Mexican War and took great pride in training other officers to fill in the ranks. Leaving the Union was not a choice that he made easily because he believed in the concept of the United States. This was documented by his staunch support of the reconstruction efforts after the war was over.
General Robert E. Lee, had a home in Washington DC and he had to give this home up in order to lead the armies of the Confederacy. The northern politicians searched for a way to punish Lee for a traitorous act so they took his home and converted the grounds into Arlington National Cemetery, which to this day is the resting ground for those with military connections. In the Civil War there was a certain odd justice in turning the grounds around the home of Robert E. Lee into a cemetery. To this day the Lee home still stands, preserved as a constant reminder of the perceived treachery of Lee. What better reminder than the gravestones of those he was responsible for killing. As a military leader, it was hard to argue with the success of Lee. He was a leader that became an icon of the South during the war. Lee was able to use fast riding scouts to great effect, monitoring opposing troop movements and most always choosing the most advantageous locations for the military battles his army fought. So even though they were always outnumbered, they had the advantage of terrain and cover. With each victory, his troops gained a psychological edge over the Union and for years the outcome of the war was in doubt. In the end though, a lack of infrastructure for production and foreign allies, led to the fall of the South.
Robert E. Lee was a great general who led the Southern Armies in the Civil War. He was a great leader but was eventually overcome by a lack of resources and money that fueled the Northern war effort. His last act as leader was to surrender his army to General U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.