20 Apr 1861 — Richmond, Virginia
In a surprising move in military history, on Apr. 20, 1861, Robert E. Lee resigned his commission in the U.S. Army. He was appointed a commander of the forces of Virginia, who had previously seceded from the Union, prompting the beginning of the American Civil War. Lee was offered a position of high leadership in the U.S. Army, though felt obligated to Virginia and their loyalty to the confederacy. Despite being on opposite sides, military leaders from both the Union and Confederacy respected Lee and his capabilities as a general.
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