Summary

The top Confederate general during the Civil War, Lee is famous for commanding the Army of Northern Virginia and surrendering to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.

Conflict Period:
Civil War (Confederate) 1
Branch:
Confederate Army 1
Birth:
19 Jan 1807 1
Westmoreland County, Virginia 1
Stratford, VA 1
Death:
12 Oct 1870 2
28 Sep 1870 1
Lexington, VA 1
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Pictures & Records (44)

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Robert E Lee
Robert E Lee
Robert E. Lee resignation.gif
Robert E. Lee resignation.gif
Robert E Lee
Robert E Lee
In uniform, 1863
Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
31-year-old Lee, a Lieutenant of Engineers in the U.S. Army (1838)
Robert E.Lee (Just a few days after Surrender).jpg
Robert E.Lee (Just a few days after Surrender).jpg
Confederate General
The Tomb of General Robert E.Lee
The Tomb of General Robert E.Lee
The tomb of General Robert E. Lee at Lee's Chapel in Lexington, Virginia.
The Tomb of General Robert E. Lee
The Tomb of General Robert E. Lee
The tomb of General Robert E. Lee at Lee's Chapel in Lexington, Virginia.
Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
A protrait of General Robert Edward Lee, the Commander of Army of Northern Virginia.
robert e lee.jpg
robert e lee.jpg
general-robert-e-lee.jpg
general-robert-e-lee.jpg
Gettysburg Stamp.gif
Gettysburg Stamp.gif
Appomattox Stamp
Appomattox Stamp
Battle Of The Wilderness Stamp
Battle Of The Wilderness Stamp
1955 Robert E Lee Stamp.gif
1955 Robert E Lee Stamp.gif
Washington & Lee University.gif
Washington & Lee University.gif
Robert E Lee & Stonewall Jackson.gif
Robert E Lee & Stonewall Jackson.gif
Battle of Chancellorsville.gif
Battle of Chancellorsville.gif
Battle Of Gettysburg.gif
Battle Of Gettysburg.gif
1995 Robert E. Lee.gif
1995 Robert E. Lee.gif
Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis & Stonewall Jackson.gif
Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis & Stonewall Jackson.gif
Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Gettysburg.png
Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Gettysburg.png
Fnal Meeting of Robert E Lee & Stonewall Jackson.jpg
Fnal Meeting of Robert E Lee & Stonewall Jackson.jpg
State of Virginia Monument at Gettysburg Closeup.png
State of Virginia Monument at Gettysburg Closeup.png
State of Virginia Monument at Gettysburg Robert E Lee.png
State of Virginia Monument at Gettysburg Robert E Lee.png
State of Virginia Monument at Gettysburg.jpg
State of Virginia Monument at Gettysburg.jpg
Lee To The Rear Monument
Lee To The Rear Monument
The State of Texas monument and the "The Texans Attack" wayside marker are nearby. Both provide more details to the 'Lee to the Rear' story, where the men of the Texas Brigade refused to launch a desperate counterattack so long as Lee sought to lead them. Lee was persuaded to go a short distance to the rear and the attack was launched, halting a Union breakthrough at the cost of half the brigade
Confederate Memorial Carving
Confederate Memorial Carving
B-1564 Robert E Lee
B-1564 Robert E Lee
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Robert Edward Lee 2
Also known as:
Robert E Lee 2
Birth:
19 Jan 1807 2
Westmoreland County, Virginia 1
Stratford, VA 2
Male 2
Death:
12 Oct 1870 3
28 Sep 1870 2
Lexington, VA 2
Cause: Stroke 2
Burial:
Burial Place: Lee Chapel Museum, Lexington, VA 2
Edit
Birth:
Mother: Anne Hill Carter Lee 1
Mother: Ann Hill Carter 2
Father: Major General Henry Lee III (Light Horse Harry) 2
Marriage:
Mary Anna Rudolph Custis 2
30 Jun 1831 2
Arlington County, Virginia 1
Fort Monroe VA 2
Spouse Death Date: 1873 2
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Civil War (Confederate) 1

Branch:
Confederate Army 1
Service Start Date:
23 Apr 1861 1
Service End Date:
09 Apr 1865 1
Rank:
General 1
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Quote:
"I suppose there is nothing for me to do but go and see General Grant. And I would rather die a thousand deaths." 2
Occupation:
Confederate General 2
Religion:
Anglican/Episcopalian 2
Race or Ethnicity:
White 4
Race or Ethnicity:
English 2
Employment:
Employer: United States Military Academy 5
Position: Superintendant 5
Place: West Point, NY 5
Start Date: 1852 5
End Date: 1855 5
Employment:
Employer: Brigadier General Charles Gratiot 1
Position: Assistant 1
Place: Washington, D.C. 1
Start Date: 1834 1
End Date: 1837 1
Education:
Institution: : US Military Academy 2
Place: West Point NY 2
From: 1825 2
To: 1829 2
Battles with Lee as Commanding Officer:
Antietam, inconclusive: 31 Dec 1969 1
Appomattox (campaign), defeat & surrender: 29 Mar 1865 1
Chancelorville, victory: 01 May 1863 1
Cheat Mountain, defeat: 31 Dec 1969 1
Cold Harbor, inconclusive: 01 Jun 1864 1
Deep Bottom, victory: 14 Aug 1864 1
Fredericksburg, victory: 11 Dec 1862 1
Gettysburg, defeat: 01 Jul 1863 1
Second Manassas, victory: 31 Dec 1969 1
Seven Days, strategic victory: June 25 – July 1, 1862 1
South Mountain, defeat: 14 Sep 1862 1
Spotsylvania, inconclusive: 12 May 1864 1
Wilderness, inconclusive: 05 May 1864 1
Civil War:
From: 1861 1
Joined Confederacy: 23 Apr 1861 1
Position: Commander, General, general-in-chief, military adviser 1
Resigned from U.S. Army: 20 Apr 1861 1
Surrender to Grant: 09 Apr 1865 1
To: 1865 1
Mexican-American War:
Connections: Lee first met and worked with Ulysses Grant during this conflict 1
From: 1846 1
Position: Brevet major, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel, Brevet Colonel, Captain of Engineers 1
To: 1848 1

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Stories

General Robert E Lee

No man proved a more worthy opponent to Ulysses S. Grant than Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Lee was born the fourth child of Colonel Henry Lee and Ann Hill Carter on January 19, 1807. Lee's father, also known as "Light-Horse Harry," had been a cavalry leader during the Revolutionary War. Henry Lee had also served as governor of Virginia.

Despite their position in Virginia's ruling elite, the Lee family did not enjoy fantastic wealth. Without the money to attend a university, young Robert E. Lee instead entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. There, he quickly rose in the ranks and graduated second in the class of 1829.

Lee first saw battle in the Mexican War, fought in 1846-48. He served as captain under General Winfield Scott. Later, Scott would write about Lee's remarkable performance in that war, calling him "the very best soldier I ever saw in the field." In October of 1859, Lee was called upon to stop John Brown's attempted slave insurrection at Harper's Ferry, Virginia. It took Lee only an hour to put an end to Brown's raid.

Such early successes made Lee a leading candidate to command Union forces against the South once it decided to secede. Reluctant to engage in a war against the South, Lee turned down an offer of command of the Union forces. On April 18, 1861, the Virginia Secession Convention, made up of the state's ruling elite, voted to join the Southern states in secession. As practical issues, Lee did not oppose either slavery or secession. Although he felt slavery in the abstract was a bad thing, he blamed the national conflict on abolitionists, and accepted the pro-slavery policies of the Confederacy. He chose to fight to defend his homeland. He resigned from the army he had served for 36 years, and accepted the command of Virginia's forces.

After an initially unsuccessful foray as a field commander in western Virginia in 1861, Lee supervised the preparation of coastal defenses along the South Atlantic seaboard before being called to Richmond to serve as military advisor to President Jefferson Davis. He assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia in May 1862, replacing the seriously wounded Joseph E. Johnston, and immediately embarked on a series of skillful offensive operations that repelled the Union forces outside Richmond in the Seven Days Battles in June and July 1862. Lee followed this with an offensive drive northward that culminated in victory at Second Manassas in August 1862.

However, his effort to carry the war across the Potomac nearly led to disaster when he barely fended off Union assaults at Antietam. Retreating back to Virginia, Lee again displayed deft generalship by checking Union offensives at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville; in the latter battle he prevailed, despite being outnumbered two to one, by dividing his army, outflanking the enemy, and delivering a smashing attack.

Lee followed up this triumph with another invasion of the North, this time suffering a major defeat at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from July 1 through July 3, 1863. Skilled as he was in repelling Union offensives and outfoxing his Northern counterparts, Lee's preference for battle cost his army dearly. By the time he confronted Ulysses S. Grant in 1864, the drain upon his manpower was noticeable. Despite waging an adroit defensive campaign, he was unable to halt Grant's drive southward or to prevent him from laying siege to Richmond and Petersburg by the summer of 1864. Efforts to divert Union forces with operations in the Shenandoah Valley, including several strikes northward across the Potomac, forced Lee to contemplate how best to continue the war by abandoning the Confederate capital.

By the beginning of April 1865, Grant's armies broke through what remained of the Confederate defenses, and Lee evacuated Richmond and Petersburg on the evening of April 2. A week later, he surrendered what remained of his army to Grant at Appomattox Court House. After the war, Lee accepted the presidency of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, where he died on October 12, 1870.

Robert Edward Lee

Born to Revolutionary War hero Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee in Stratford Hall, Virginia, Robert Edward Lee seemed destined for military greatness.  Despite financial hardship that caused his father to depart to the West Indies, young Robert secured an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated second in the class of 1829.  Two years later, he married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, a descendant of George Washington.  Yet with for all his military pedigree, Lee had yet to set foot on a battlefield.  Instead, he served seventeen years as an officer in the Corps of Engineers, supervising and inspecting the construction of the nation's coastal defenses.  Service during the 1846 war with Mexico, however, changed that.  As a member of General Winfield Scott's staff, Lee distinguished himself, earning three brevets for gallantry, and emerging from the conflict with the rank of colonel.

From 1852 to 1855, Lee served as superintendent of West Point, and was therefore responsible for educating many of the men who would later serve under him - and those who would oppose him - on the battlefields of the Civil War.  In 1855 he left the academy to take a position in the cavalry and in 1859 was called upon to put down abolitionist John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry.

Because of his reputation as one of the finest officers in the United States Army, Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the command of the Federal forces in April 1861. Lee declined and tendered his resignation from the army when the state of Virginia seceded on April 17, arguing that he could not fight against his own people.  Instead, he accepted a general’s commission in the newly formed Confederate Army. His first military engagement of the Civil War occurred at Cheat Mountain, Virginia (now West Virginia) on September 11, 1861. It was a Union victory but Lee’s reputation withstood the public criticism that followed. He served as military advisor to President Jefferson Davis until June 1862 when he was given command of the wounded General Joseph E. Johnston's embattled army on the Virginia peninsula. 

Lee renamed his command the Army of Northern Virginia, and under his direction it would become the most famous and successful of the Confederate armies.  This same organization also boasted some of the Confederacy's most inspiring military figures, including James Longstreet,Stonewall Jackson and the flamboyant cavalier J.E.B. Stuart.  With these trusted subordinates, Lee commanded troops that continually manhandled their blue-clad adversaries and embarrassed their generals no matter what the odds. 

Yet despite foiling several attempts to seize the Confederate capital, Lee recognized that the key to ultimate success was a victory on Northern soil.  In September 1862, he launched an invasion into Maryland with the hope of shifting the war's focus away from Virginia.  But when a misplaced dispatch outlining the invasion plan was discovered by Union commanderGeorge McClellan the element of surprise was lost, and the two armies faced off at the battle of Antietam.  Though his plans were no longer a secret, Lee nevertheless managed to fight McClellan to a stalemate on September 17, 1862.  Following the bloodiest one-day battle of the war, heavy casualties compelled Lee to withdraw under the cover of darkness.  The remainder of 1862 was spent on the defensive, parrying Union thrusts at Fredericksburg and, in May of the following year, Chancellorsville.  

The masterful victory at Chancellorsville gave Lee great confidence in his army, and the Rebel chief was inspired once again to take the fight to enemy soil.  In late June of 1863, he began another invasion of the North, meeting the Union host at the crossroads town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  For three days Lee assailed the Federal army under George G. Meade in what would become the most famous battle of the entire war.  Accustomed to seeing the Yankees run in the face of his aggressive troops, Lee attacked strong Union positions on high ground.  This time, however, the Federals wouldn't budge.  The Confederate war effort reached its high water mark on July 3, 1863 when Lee ordered a massive frontal assault against Meade's center, spear-headed by Virginians under Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett.  The attack known as Pickett's charge was a failure and Lee, recognizing that the battle was lost, ordered his army to retreat.  Taking full responsibility for the defeat, he wrote Jefferson Davis offering his resignation, which Davis refused to accept.

After the simultaneous Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of the Federal armies.  Rather than making Richmond the aim of his campaign, Grant chose to focus the myriad resources at his disposal on destroying Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.  In a relentless and bloody campaign, the Federal juggernaut bludgeoned the under-supplied Rebel band.  In spite of his ability to make Grant pay in blood for his aggressive tactics, Lee had been forced to yield the initiative to his adversary, and he recognized that the end of the Confederacy was only a matter of time.  By the summer of 1864, the Confederates had been forced into waging trench warfare outside of Petersburg.  Though President Davis named the Virginian General-in-Chief of all Confederate forces in February 1865, only two months later, on April 9, 1865, Lee was forced to surrender his weary and depleted army to Grant at Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the Civil War.

Lee returned home on parole and eventually became the president of Washington College in Virginia (now known as Washington and Lee University). He remained in this position until his death on October 12, 1870 in Lexington, Virginia.

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