Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee

Born: Jan 19, 1807 in Stratford Hall, VA
Died: Oct 12, 1870 (at age 63) in Lexington, VA
Nationality: American
Famous For: Leading the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War

Robert E. Lee was a famous American career military officer best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War.

Early Life and Career

Robert was born on January 19, 1807. He was the youngest son of Henry Lee and Anna Hill, and he grew up as a member of the Virginia gentry. After the death of his father in 1818, his family moved to Alexandria where he was educated at the Alexandria Academy. He proved to be a very smart and gifted student. He applied to the US Military Academy and was accepted in 1825.

At the academy, Lee impressed his instructors and he became the first cadet to reach the rank of a sergeant by the end of the first year. He graduated in 1829 with a distinction of having no demerits on his record. He was commissioned as a brevet second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. He was later dispatched to Fort Pulaski in Georgia.

In 1831, he was ordered to Fortress Monroe on the Virginia Peninsula. He played a great role in the completion of the fortifications there. While working at Fortress Monroe, Robert E. Lee married Mary Anna, his childhood friend, on June 31, 1831. Together, they had seven children. In 1842, Robert, now a captain, was assigned as a post engineer to Fort Hamilton in New York.

Leadership in Mexico

In January of 1847, Lee left northeastern Mexico and joined General Scott’s staff. He aided in the successful siege of Veracruz and even took part in Scott’s advance on Mexico City. He also played a very important role at the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18. This was when he discovered a trail that allowed American army to attack the Mexican army’s flank. For his service in Mexico, he received a promotion to lieutenant colonel and then colonel.

Leadership during Peace

After conclusion of the war in 1848, Robert was posted to supervise the construction of Fort Carroll in Baltimore. After three years in Maryland, he was made superintendent of West Point. He served for three years and modernized the academy’s facilities and curriculum. He also worked to protect settlers from Native American attacks.

Leading in the Civil War

In October of 1859, Robert E. Lee was given a task of capturing John Brown who had raided the arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. He led a detachment of US Marines and managed to accomplish his mission. With the situation in Arlington under control, he returned to Texas. In Texas, Abraham Lincoln was appointed president and the secession crisis started. In February of 1861, Robert returned to Washington where he was promoted to colonel. He was given command of the 1st US Cavalry.

At first, Lee was assigned to Western Virginia where he was defeated at Cheat Mountain in September. After assuming the leadership of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862, he started a seven-day battle on June 25. He defeated Union Major General George and then started to plan how he would invade Maryland. Robert won his most stunning victory at Battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863.

Lee’s Last Days

On April 1, 1865, Grant launched a massive attack on Petersburg. Lee was compelled to retreat and he was therefore forced to abandon Richmond. He was vigorously pursued by the Union forces and was forced to surrender. He was given generous terms by Grant and he moved into a rented home in Richmond. He died on October 12, 1870.