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Robert E. Lee

Date of Birth:      January 19, 1807
Hometown:         Westmoreland County, VA
Education:           West Point, 1829
Final Wartime Rank:    General
Final Peacetime Rank:  N/A

Date of Death:     October 12, 1870
Place of Death:    Lexington, VA
Buried At:           Lexington, VA

Major Battles:        Cheat Mountain, Seven Days, Second Manassas, South Mountain, Antietam Campaign, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Overland Campaign, Siege of Petersburg, Appomattox Campaign

Interesting Fact(s):    Robert Edward Lee, was a direct descendant of the Revolutionary War generation.  His father was "Light-Horse" Harry Lee, famous for his Revolutionary War achievements.  Lee, would graduate from West Point, and further tie himself to famous Virginians, by marrying into the Custis family - his wife, Mary, being the daughter of Mary Washington's grandson, George Washington Parke Custis.  Lee would distinguish himself, during the Mexican War, winning brevet promotion to 2nd lieutenant, engineers.  After the Mexican War, Lee would be deployed on engineering duties at Forts Pulaski, Monroe and Hamilton.  He would then be promoted to superintending engineer, in St. Louis, where he was in charge of protecting the harbor, on the Missouri side, from sediment, threatening to make the port un-navigable.  It was during this time that Lee would marry Mary Custis.  In 1852, he would become superintendent of West Point, a position he would be well known for, with future officers in the Civil War.  In 1857, he would be sent to west Texas, as lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Cavalry.  He would be visiting Arlington House, the Custis Estate, when John Brown raided Harpers Ferry.  Lee would lead a detachment of Marines, to relieve the garrison, capturing John Brown with very little bloodshed.  With the deteriorating peace, between the country's sections, Lee remained staunchly pro-Union.  With the Secession Crisis in full swing, Lee would be brought to Washington DC, and offered command of the Union field forces.  Unfortunately, it had become clear to him that Virginia would not stay in the Union.  He would resign his U.S. Army commission and quickly be placed in charge of the state militia of Virginia.  In May, 1861, with the consolidation of the armed forces, into Confederate service, Lee would be appointed brigadier general.  In June, 1861, Lee would be made full general, ranking third in all the Confederate Army.  After equipping the Virginia troops, he was placed in charge of resisting the Union advances in northwest Virginia.  In March 1862, as advisor to President Jefferson Davis, Lee would devise a plan to keep reinforcements from reaching George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac, on the Virginia peninsula.  When Joseph Johnston was severely injured at the Battle of Fair Oaks (Seven Pines), Robert E. Lee would be placed in charge of the Army of Northern Virginia.  He would remain in command of this army for the remainder of the war, bringing many victories to the Confederacy - his first being the successful repulse of McClellan from the "Gates of Richmond."  His strategy of an offensive-defense, would serve him well.  Throughout the entire remainder of the war, Lee would face Union forces, equal or greater than his army - sometimes nearly 50% greater.  After the Seven Days, once Lee had determined that Richmond was safe from McClellan's departing army, he would split his forces, in an attempt to catch a smaller portion of John Pope's Army of Virginia, in the open.  The ensuing battle, at Cedar Mountain, would be a Confederate victory, and would lead to a severe Union repulse, by Lee, at Second Manassas.  Taking the Army of Northern Virginia, into Maryland, Lee would suffer a tactical draw along the Antietam Creek, before retreating into northern Virginia, ahead of the winter season.  Lincoln, trying to find a way to aggressively beat Lee, rid himself of McClellan, in favor of Ambrose Burnside.  Once again, Lee would be quicker than his opponent, and would be well entrenched, in the hills behind Fredericksburg, annihilating Burnside in December 1862.  The victories would continue for Lee with a very lopsided victory, north of Fredericksburg, at Chancellorsville, in May 1863, against another new northern general - Joseph Hooker.  Often considered Lee's greatest victory, Chancellorsville would be his most dangerous battle - once again, splitting his army in front of an adversary twice his effective size, sending Thomas Jackson's 2nd Corps on a long, flanking march, into Oliver O. Howard's Union XI Corps.  After Chancellorsville, to relieve the growing pressure on northern Virginia, he would push, once again, into northern soil.  From July 1 - 3, 1863, Lee would battle, often blindly (Jeb Stuart's cavalry was not with the army during the early part of the battle), the new commander of the Army of the Potomac, George Meade.  Often considered the "High Water" mark of the Confederacy, Lee would be harshly beaten at Gettysburg, and would retreat back through Maryland, into northern Virginia, leaving his dead, and wounded, where they had fallen.  In the spring, of 1864, R.E. Lee would have another Union commander to contend with - U.S. Grant.  In U.S. Grant, Lee would finally encounter a Union general that would not retreat across the Rappahannock River to "lick his wounds."  Starting in May, 1864, Grant would strike Lee in the Wilderness, northwest of Fredericksburg, and would continue to push Lee further, and further southwest, towards Richmond.  At successive battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, the North Anna River and Cold Harbor, the casualty lists would grow, for both armies.  However, Lee knew in this war of attrition, Grant had the edge - more available troops, and the ability to bring in new recruits.  He had warned Jefferson Davis that if the war turned to a siege, in front of Richmond, it would be a matter of time, before the Confederacy would be beaten.  It would become a siege, in front of Richmond, and Petersburg, during the summer of 1864 - a siege that would last ten months until Lee would be forced to abandon the capitol and try to retreat southwest, via the railroads, to link with Joseph Johnston, battling William Sherman, in North Carolina.  Unfortunately, for the Confederacy, Lee was unable to join forces with Johnston, and he would be forced to capitulate to Grant, at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, in April 1865.  Robert Lee, would then, as now, hold a place of reverence in the hearts of southerners.  After the war, Lee would be a soothing force, for the reunified country, encouraging his old countrymen to return to the U.S. flag.  Today, many of the major roads in Virginia are named after him.  Additionally, Lee's battlefield tactics would be considered some of the most brilliant, and aggressive, in the history of warfare.

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