Robert E. Lee

1130 Words5 Pages
Robert E. Lee In 1861, on the eve of civil war, President Abraham Lincoln tapped I, Robert E. Lee to take command of the United States Army. being The fifty-five year old silver-haired veteran that had graduated second in my class at West Point, served valiantly during the Mexican War under General Winfield Scott, and had, with his forces, put down the insurrection at Harper’s Ferry, capturing abolitionist John Brown. By all accounts, i was the man to lead the Army, as renowned for his gentlemanly character as for his military skill and sense of duty. It came as no surprise however, that following the secession of his home state, Virginia, Lee declined the Appointment and resigned. He had written to his family, .With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen; I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home... Although opposed to secession, he would .return to [his] native state and shares the miseries of [his] people, and saves in defense. Draw [his] sword on none. His home, his relatives, and his children, all were rooted in a Virginia that had grown strong from the seeds planted by the American Revolution. Two of his ancestors had signed the Declaration of Independence. His father had eulogized George Washington as .first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen... (The actions of both men left indelible marks on Lee’s character. His debtor Father embodied the traits he would shun; Washington. Duty bound, disciplined, and humble.he sought to imitate.) On April 9, 1865, Lee and his men faced certain defeat in the misty dawn at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. He had commanded the Army of Northern Virginia since the beginning of the war. He had been appointed General in Chief of the Confederate States Army in February. His ragtag veterans, depleted corps once 70,000 strong, had tenaciously held. And at points, advanced. The line for four years against Union forces. Lee refused a persistently defensive posture. They had waged a bold, scrappy, underdog war, exacting victories at Seven Days, Chancellors Ville, Fredericksburg, and Cold Harbor. There had been staggering losses on both sides. Gettysburg handed them their most devastating defeat. (.It was my Fault, Lee humbly declared in the aftermath.) Now, they were hunkered down an... ... middle of paper ... rations. It was a generous and gentlemanly agreement, one that would allow agnation ravaged by war to begin to bind up its wounds. Lee stayed in Appomattox for the laying down of arms. He stayed long enough to commend his army’s unsurpassed courage and fortitude, and explain his desire to .avoid the useless sacrifice. Of more confederate lives. He bid an .affectionate farewell... With great weariness and sadness he was escorted part of the way back to Richmond. He received a hero’s welcome along the way. Later indicted for treason (a charge that was never pursued), and passed over for a pardon during his lifetime, Lee nevertheless remained a great man in the eyes of both the North and South. By deciding to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee had single-handedly set in motion the events that would signal the end of the war, the end of his military career, and the beginning of peace andreunification.Many years later, Woodrow Wilson voiced the widely-held view: .We use the word .great. Indiscriminately. But we reserve the word .noble. Carefully for those whose greatness is not spent in their own interest. That was the characteristic of General Lee’s life...

More about Robert E. Lee

Open Document