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Robert E. Lee was the best General for the South, and out witted every Union General that was put against him. To Southerners, General Robert E. Lee is like a god figure to them. He inspired southerners even when the North dominated on the battle field, and is still praised by some radical believers in the confederate states. To the North, Robert E. Lee was a traitor to the United States and even lost his citizenship. Although he lost the war, Robert E. Lee is still a major face in history.
Robert E. Lee was born in Stratford, Virginia. Robert was the fourth child of Major General Henry Lee III, Governor of Virginia, and of his mother, Anne Hill Carter who was an ancestor of Thomas Moore and King Robert II of Scotland through the Earls of Crawford.(Brasington Jr.,Larry) Robert was mainly brought up by his mother who taught him about authority, tolerance, and order. Robert was exposed to Christianity at an early age and learned to accept it devotedly. In 1825, Robert was accepted to West Point. There he learned about warfare and how it was fought. In 1829, Robert graduated 2nd of 46 in his class, but even more extraordinary is that he never got a demerit while attending West Point. Afterward, Lee was appointed to Superintendent at West Point from 1852 to 1855. After he served his appointment, Lee left West Point to become a Lieutenant Colonel in the 2nd Calvary of the Lone Star State (Texas).
(Robert E. Lee. The National Archives) John Brown was an abolitionist who wanted to kill as many slave holders as possible and create an anti-slavery army. On October 16, 1859, John Brown seized the federal armament of 100,000 muskets and rifles from Harper’s Ferry, modern day West Virginia. Within 36 hours, Robert E. Lee was at Harper’s Ferry where he attacked and captured John Brown and the other rebels. This was a major victory for Robert E. Lee and would open up many opportunities for him.
After Harper’s Ferry, Robert was assigned to General Winfield Scott as a staff officer. In 1845, the United States of America and Mexico went to war. Lee’s duties as staff officer were to map the landscape ahead and separate the line of advancement for the United States troops.
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In 1848, the American & Mexico War was over. America had won and had received a large amount of land. After the war, Lee returned to service as an Army engineer. Lee liked to spend as much time as he could in Washington, D.C. and moved into a local residence called the Curtis Mansion. This mansion is now a monument and it over looks Arlington Cemetery.
General Lee’s first military campaign was in West Virginia during the Civil War. There he commanded the Eastern Army of Virginia only after General Johnson was injured. Lee was greatly out numbered by the northern Union Army. Lee decided to make up for his numbers by attacking General McClellan’s army with audacity. In the next several days there were a number of skirmishes between Lee’s advancing forces against McClellan’s retreating army which became know as the Days Battle. After Lee’s success at the Days Battle, Lee gained control of the Northern Virginia Army, the biggest army in Virginia.
The battle of Chancellorsville was considered by many to be Lee’s greatest victory that showed his cunning and tactical mastermind on the battlefield. In May of 1868, Lee was facing a larger army led by Joe Hooker. Lee and his most trusted Lieutenant Stone Wall Jackson divided their forces between themselves and marched around Hooker’s flanks and attacked his vulnerable rear. This victory and Lee’s many successes led Lee to consider a second invasion of the north.
The battle of Gettysburg was the greatest land battle in the Western Hemisphere. It was fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 1st through July 3rd, 1863. The two armies that fought in the battle of Gettysburg was the Army of Northern Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee and the Army of the Potomac led by the newly appointed General George Meade. The battle began with an encounter between Lee’s advanced brigade and a federal cavalry division. The fighting was inconclusive and the federal troops retired their forward positions to Culp’s Hill. On day 2 of the battle, General Meade took up defensive positions running from Culp’s Hill southward along Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top. Lee had tried to flank General Meade to his right. Lee advanced his troops on the hill but could not take it because Meade had his reserves sent to the hill. This battle became known as the Battle of Little Round Top. (“Robert E. Lee” Wikipedia.). On the 3rd day, Lee ordered a charge on the center of Meade’s front line that became known as Pickets charge. Picket’s Charge ended in disaster for the south and weaken the already out numbered Southern Army. After the Battle of Gettysburg was lost, Lee retreated to the south.
In 1864 the newly appointed General-in-chief of the Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, sought to destroy the last of Lee’s army. Grant pinned Lee down at the Confederate’s capital, Richmond, Virginia. Lee repelled each attack that Grant sent against him, but with superior numbers and reinforcements Lee was fighting for a lost cause. Lee repelled an attack by Grant to capture Petersburg, a major supplier to Richmond. Lee entrenched himself around Petersburg. Lee attempted to end the stale mate by sending Judal A. Early on a raid through the Shenandoah Valley to Washington D.C.. On the way he was defeated by Philip Sheridan. The seize on Petersburg lasted from June 1864 until April 1865. On January 31, 1865, Lee was promoted to General-in-chief of the Confederate forces. With a Union attack on Petersburg on April 2 1865 forced Lee to abandoned Richmond and retreated west. His forces were surrounded. Lee with overwhelming odds surrendered to Grant on April 9th 1865 at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. After Lee surrendered to Grant other Confederate armies followed suit and the war came to an end.
After the war, Lee was tried as a traitor by the Union but after his trail he only got his civil rights taken from him. Lee took the post as President at Washington University, where he served until his death in 1870. The school is now renamed Washington and Lee. On September 28,1870, Lee suffered a stroke that made him unable to speek. On October 12, 1870, two weeks after Lee’s stoke, Lee died at Lexington, Virginia due to effects of pneumonia. Lee was buried underneath Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University where his body remains today.