Robert E. Lee is a Southern royalty, and despite his cause being a wrong one, few can deny his ability as a General.
Ironically, he fought for his state to protect it, but if he would have sided with the Union, the war would have ended much quicker and his state less ravaged.
Early Military Career
Robert E. Lee was appointed as a cadet at West Point on July 1, 1825, from Virginia. He graduated second in the class of 46 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. on July 1, 1829, in the Corps of Engineers. Robert was the first cadet to achieve the rank of Sergeant at the end of his first year.
While he was on leave, he experienced the trauma of having his mother die in his arms in August of 1829. Lee’s first army assignments were to help plan the construction of Fort Pulaski on the Savannah River in Georgia (1829–1831) and Fortress Monroe at Old Point Comfort in Virginia (1831–1834).
Lee went in August 1834 to Fort Calhoun on the Rip-Raps in adjacent Hampton Roads and then in October to the Corps of Engineers headquarters in Washington.
While in Washington, he was promoted to 1st Lt. on September 21, 1836. Robert then traveled to St. Louis in the summer of 1837 to superintend works protecting the harbor of the city from shifts in the channel of the Mississippi.
Except for occasional visits to Virginia, Lee remained in St. Louis until October 1840. He found the improvement of the Mississippi intellectually stimulating, and it brought him useful experience in cooperating with city officials. Meanwhile, he rose to Captain on July 7, 1838.
Captain Robert E. Lee entered Mexico on October 12, 1846, as a staff engineer with the column under Brigadier General John E. Wool. Captain Lee was ordered to join General Winfield Scott at Brazos, Texas, in January of 1847. He was the chief engineer for General Scott in the planned invasion of the Mexican coast.
Captain Lee found a way to get around enemy forces, which were instrumental in providing U.S. forces with a victory in the battle of Cerro Gordo on April 17-18. He was promoted to Brevet Major on April 18, 1847, as a result of that success.
At Churubusco, Lee again found a feasible route skirting a lava bed known as the Pedregal to permit another turning of the Mexican defenses.
Again, the outcome was a swift American victory at Contreras across the Pedregal and then at the main enemy position of Churubusco, both on August 20. As a reward, Lee received a brevet as Lieutenant Colonel.
Lt. Col. Lee was wounded at Chapultepec, Mexico September 13, 1847, while serving with General Winfield Scott.
After his service in the Mexican-American War, Lt. Col. Lee returned to Washington on June 29, 1848; Lee resumed duties at corps headquarters and on the coast defense board, whose business took him from Boston to Florida and Mobile.
His service in the Civil War is well known, and his tactical actions are respected. He took on an impossible task and managed to keep the army together and get close to defeating the Union despite the superior numbers.
In reality, although many want to romanticize Lee, once Ulysses S. Grant was put into command, it was only a matter of time. Grant knew how to win the Civil War as did William Sherman. Once the advantage was pressed on Lee, there was little he could do.
Lee's best hope was to wear the Union out, and hopefully, the Union would not have the resolve to see the war through, but they did.
Ulysses Grant gave Lee favorable conditions at Appomattox, which he always remembered.
See Article: Famous Civil War Generals
5 years after the war, Robert E. Lee died.
His parents were Henry Lee and Anne Hill Carter. His mother was the second wife of Henry Lee. Their home was a plantation with over 200 slaves.
Robert Edward Lee was the 5th child. The family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, in 1810. For an unknown period, Robert attended a school at Eastern View in Fauquier County that was run by the Carters for their children.
A Petition was filed in Charles City County, Virginia, in 1816 in which Bernard Carter and Ann H Lee asked to be allowed to sell the slaves left by their sister Mildred in trust for the benefit of Anne and her children Carter Lee, Anna Lee, Smith-Lee, Robert Lee, and Mildred Lee.
Robert married Mary Custis, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington and, who he had been courting for around 2 years. Lee's father, despite his reputation as a Revolutionary War hero, had problems as Virginia governor and was guilty of embezzling.
His wife's parents were hesitant to allow her to marry the General's son due to the embezzlement scandal of his father, but as time passed, they eased their reluctance and allowed Robert to marry their daughter.
The couple had seven children: 3 boys and 4 girls. Each of Robert E. Lee's daughters never married as their dad was very protective and did not see any man who was good enough for them. Each of his sons served in the military.
Family Tree Chart
Anne Hill Carter (1773 - 1829) - She was born before 1773, but her birthdate is questioned. She comes from a long line of Virginians that dates back to just after the founding of Jamestown.
Mary Ann Randolph Custis (1808 - 1873) - She was part of the Custis family that had ties to George Washington's wife Martha due to her first marriage. The Custis family was a wealthy Virginia family at this time.
George Washington Custis Lee (1832 - 1913) - He was a Civil War veteran of the Confederacy. He served as an aide-de-camp for Jefferson Davis. He was remembered as being Robert E. Lee's eldest son rather than for his accomplishments. He was an excellent engineer and became a professor later in life.
Mary Custis Lee (1835 - 1918) - She was the eldest daughter. She and her siblings moved from her birth home to Richmond during the Civil War. She lived until she was 82 years of age.
William Henry Fitzhugh Lee (1837 - 1891) - The second oldest son of Robert E. Lee and was also a Civil War veteran. He served at the Battle of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and many others.
Annie Carter Lee (1839 - 1862) - She was the only one of Lee's children to die before him. She died of typhoid fever during the Civil War. She was known as resilient, introverted, and Lee's favorite. He never got over losing her.
Eleanor Agnes Lee (1841 - 1873) - She was another of Lee's daughters who did not marry. She was known for her pleasant disposition and religious beliefs. She traveled with her father and often served as a nurse.
Robert Edward Lee Jr. (1843 - 1914) - He fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the war, including the Seven Days' Battles, Malvern Hill, the Chancellorsville Campaign, and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. After the war, he became a farmer.
Mildred Childe Lee (1845 - 1905) - Lee's youngest daughter, who also never married. She was very close to her father, as were all his daughters. She died in New Orleans and was returned to her father's grave.
Nathaniel Greene Lee (1784) - Named after General Nathanael Greene. He would not live past his first birthday.
Philip Ludwell Lee (1784 - 1792) - There is little known of him. He died before his 8th birthday.
Lucy Grymes Lee (1786 - 1860) - There is little known about her. She was the older sister of Robert E. Lee and died shortly before the Civil War.
Henry Lee IV (1787 - 1837) - He was a veteran of the War of 1812 and the father of a daughter. He died at 49 due to influenza while in France.
Algernon Sidney Lee (1795 - 1796) - The first child of Henry Lee's second marriage. He died as an infant.
Charles Carter Lee (1798 - 1871) - He was the first son of Henry's second marriage to live to adulthood. He had six children and would outlive his younger brother, Robert.
Anne Kinloch Lee (1800 - 1864) - She was the first daughter of Henry's second marriage and lived during a tumultuous time in American History. She did not live past the Civil War.
Elinor Lee (1800 - 1864) - She married and would survive until just before the Civil War ended. She died just before the Civil War ended.
Sydney Smith Lee (1802 - 1869) - He was Robert's older brother and would be a veteran of the Mexican-American War. He served in the Confederate Navy.
Catherine Mildred Lee (1811 - 1856) - The younger sister of Lee, who married and had one child. She died while in Paris, France.
James Jackson Lee (1819 - 1894) - He was the youngest and the last surviving Lee of the siblings. He married and had children.