Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Lee, Robert E. (Edward) 1807 -- 1870 Essay -- Essays Papers
Lee, Robert E. (Edward) 1807 -- 1870 General in chief of the Confederate armies in the American Civil War. Born in Virginia's Westmoreland County on January 19, 1807, the third son of Henry ("Light Horse Harry") and Ann Hill Carter Lee. Declining fortunes forced the family's removal to Alexandria, where Robert distinguished himself in local schools. His father's death in 1811 increased responsibilities on all the sons; Robert, especially, cared for his invalid mother. Lee graduated number two in his class from the U.S. Military Academy in 1829. Commissioned a brevet lieutenant of engineers, he spent a few years at Fort Pulaski, Georgia, and Fort Monroe, Virginia. At Fort Monroe on June 30, 1831, he married Mary Ann Randolph Custis, with whom he had seven children. Lee worked in the chief engineer's office in Washington, D.C., from 1834 to 1837. He was transferred to Fort Hamilton, New York, where he remained until 1846. In August 1846 Lee joined General John E. Wool's army in Texas. In the battle of Buena Vista, Lee's boldness drew his superiors' attention. Transferred to General Winfield Scott's Veracruz expedition, in the battle at Veracruz and in the advance on Mexico he won additional acclaim. Following American occupation of the Mexican capital, he worked on maps for possible future campaigns. Already a captain in the regular service, he was made brevet colonel for his gallantry in the war. Lee returned to engineer duty at Baltimore's Fort Carroll until 1852, when he reluctantly became superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point. In 1855 he was made lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Cavalry, one of the Army's elite units. The years 1857-1859 were bleak. Lee had to take several furloughs to deal with family business and seriously thought of resigning his commission. However, in 1859 he and his men successfully put down John Brown's insurrection at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. In 1860 he became commander of the Department of Texas. Talk of secession in the South grew strident during Lee's Texas sojourn. No secessionist, he was loyal to the Union and the U.S. Army; yet he had no doubts about his loyalties if Virginia departed the Union. Ties of blood bound him to the South. Lee accepted a commission as colonel of the 1st U.S. Cavalry in March 1861. But offered command of the entire U.S. Army a month later, he hesitated. If he accepted... ...in chief of all Confederate armies in February 1865, could give only general direction to lingering disaster. Sherman marched upward through the Carolinas, threatening Petersburg. Lee failed to split Grant's front. On April 2, Grant's attack snapped Lee's lines; the Confederates began evacuating Petersburg and Richmond. Lee was compelled to surrender his shadow force of no more than 9,000 soldiers at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. Arlington, the Custis family seat, was gone now; the Lees had no real home. They remained in Richmond, well treated by the Federals. In September Lee accepted the presidency of Washington College, in Lexington, Virginia, where he remained until his death. Devoted to education and to resurrecting the South, Lee became a symbol of reunification. He refused to abandon his distressed country, hoped for Southern reassimilation, and set a lofty example. Without bitterness, he obeyed the law and counseled all Southerners to do the same. Indicted for treason, he never stood trial; and although never granted a pardon, he lived in comfort and in great honor. In September 1870 he was stricken, probably with an acute attack of angina, and died on October 12.