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Gen. Robert E. Lee





Born: January 19, 1807

Strafford Hall, Virginia

Died: October 12, 1870

Lexington, Virginia


1829: Second Lieutenant

1836: First Lieutenant

1838: Captain

1847: Brevet Major

1847: Brevet Lieut. Colonel

1855: Lieut. Colonel


1861: Colonel

1861: Resigned U.S. Army

​1861: Major General

​1861: Brigadier General (CSA)

1861: General (CSA)

1829: West Point Graduate - 2nd out of 45 - finished with no demerits during his four years of study

1829: Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in Corps of Engineers

August 11, 1829: Ordered to Cockspar Island, Georgia

Was involved in the early stages of construction of what was to become known as Fort Pulaski

1831: Transferred to Fort Monroe at the tip of Virginia Peninsula - Duties ranged from budgeting to designing buildings

1834: Transferred to Washington, D.C. as Gen. Gratiot's assistant

Mid 1835: Was assigned to assist Andrew Talcott surveying Michigan's southern border

Summer of 1835: Helped lay out the border between Ohio and Michigan

October 1836: Promoted to 1st Lieutenant

1837: Surveyed for the St. Louis harbor for the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers

August 1842: Promoted to Captain

Mexican-American War

One of General Winfield Scott's chief aides

April 18, 1847: Battle of Cerro Gordo - Promoted to Brevet Major

August 19, 1847: Battle of Contreras

August 20, 1847: Battle of Churubusco

September 13, 1847: Battle of Chapultepec

Received additional Brevet promotions to Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel, but his permanent rank was Captain with the engineers

After the war, spent 3 years at Fort Carroll in Baltimore which was interrupted by surveying and updating maps of Florida

In 1849, Lee was approached by Cuban Revolutionary Narcisco Lopez to forcibly liberate Cuba from Spain, but Lee denied as it was inconsistent with his duties

1852: Appointed Superintendent of  the Military Academy at West Point. Lee call the academy a "snake pit," but the War Department insisted and he obeyed

While at West Point, Brevet Colonel Lee improved the buildings and courses

Lee's son George Washington Custis Lee graduated in 1854

Received a promotion as 2nd in command of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment

Served under Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston at Camp Cooper, Texas

1857: Father-in-Law died creating a crisis with Lee being the executor of his will, which consisted of hundreds of slaves against massive debts. The will stated the slaves were to be emancipated over the next five years.

Lee wanted to hire an overseer who could handle the plantation, be an energetic honest farmer and would be considerate and kind to the Negroes. Lee failed to find the right man for the job.

Took a two-year leave of absence to run the plantation himself. Lee was more strict and gave harsher punishments. Almost led to a slave revolt as the slaves expected to be freed.

October 1859: John Brown seized the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, VA. trying to incite a slave rebellion

Lieut. Stuart was in Washington, D.C. at the time Brown invaded Harper's Ferry and was sent by Secretary Floyd to retrieve Lee to ask for assistance at Harper's Ferry

Lee took the train to Harper's Ferry. By the time Lee had arrived, the local militia had surrounded Brown and the armory. At dawn, Lee sent Stuart to the doors of the armory requesting Brown's surrender. Stuart recognized Brown and a short fight followed.

Lee's report concluded that Brown was deluded.

February 1861: Texas seceded and General David E. Twiggs surrendered the U.S. forces in Texas numbering about 4,000 men. Lee went back to Washington

March 1861: Appointed Colonel of the 1st Regimental Cavalry which was signed by President Lincoln

March 5, 1861: Lee visits General Scott and discussed the prospects with other officers

Lee demanded to see Gen. Scott alone as Scott's military secretary secretary stated Lee had concurred with Twigg's surrender in Texas. This insinuation was an insult to Lee.

From the outset of the crisis, Lee had said "I wish no other flag than the 'Stars Spangled banner,' and no other hail then 'Hail Columbia'

As Fort Sumter was bombarded, the war had begun Lee's first feelings were for the Union

April 18, 1861: Lee met with Francis Blair for a long interview. Blair explained Gen. Scott's age rendered him unsuitable for field command and that Pres. Lincoln had chosen Lee. Lee told Blair he looked upon secession as anarchy

To save the Union, it might mean conquering Virginia, something Lee could not do

Lee went to see General Scott out of respect and gave him his decision. "Scott told Lee that he made the greatest mistake of his life, but I feared it would be so."

Alexandria Gazette stated, "There is no man who would command more of the confidence of the people of Virginia, than this distinguished officer."

April 20, 1861: Lee send in his letter of resignation after holding it for two days

April 22, 1861: Richmond convention elect Lee as Commander of Virginia State forces - the Provisional Army of Virginia

Was appointed Major General by the Virginia Governor, but with the formation of the Confederate States Army, he was named one of five full generals

September 10-15, 1861: Battle of Cheat Mountain - with his defeat, he was blamed for Confederate setbacks

Sent to organize the coastal defenses along the Carolina and Georgia seaboards

November 5, 1861: Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida

After the fall of Fort Pulaski on April 11, 1862, put in place a defense which proved successful blocking the Union advance on Savannah

Appointed military advisor to Pres. Jefferson Davis

June 1, 1862: Battle of Seven Pines - President Davis with General Lee went to investigate what Gen. Johnston was doing. Gen. Johnston was wounded and Pres. Davis placed Lee in charge of the Army of Northern Virginia

Confederate newspapers did not like Lee being placed in charge as they felt he would be passive to any Union attack. What Lee was truly doing was strengthening the defenses around Richmond

June 25 - July 1, 1862: Seven Days Battles

June 25, 1862: Battle of Oak Grove

June 26, 1862: Battle of Mechanicsville

June 27, 1862: Battle of Gaines Mill

July 1, 1862: Battle of Malvern Hill

August 29-30, 1862: 2nd Battle of Bull Run

Special Orders 191

September 14, 1862: Battle of South Mountain

September 17, 1862: Battle of Antietam

December 11-15, 1862: Battle of Fredericksburg

April 30-May 6, 1863: Battle of Chancellorsville - Lost his right army in Lieut. Gen. Stonewall Jackson

June - July 1863: Gettysburg Campaign

July 1-3, 1863: Battle of Gettysburg

          Essay on why Maj. Gen. Stuart was not

          available for the first days of the battle

July 3, 1863: Pickett's Charge - As the fight was ending, Lee came up and took the blame for the loss of men in the charge

August 8, 1863: Sent a letter of resignation to Pres. Davis, but Davis refused his resignation

October 13 - November 7, 1863: Bristoe Campaign

November 27 - December 2, 1863: Battle of Mine Run

May 4 - June 24, 1864: Overland Campaign

May 5-7, 1864: Battle of the Wilderness

May 9-21, 1864: Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

May 11, 1864: Battle of Yellow Tavern - Although Lee was not involved in the battle, he lost another trusted lieutenant in Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart

May 28-30, 1864: Battle of Topotomoy Creek

May 31 - June 12, 1864: Battle of Cold Harbor

June 9, 1864 - March 25, 1865: Siege of Petersburg

July 30, 1864: Battle of the Crater

August 14, 1864: Battle of Fussell's Mill

August 14-20, 1864: 2nd Battle of Deep Bottom

September 29-30, 1864: Battle of Chaffin's Farm

October 7, 1864: Battle of Darbytown and New Market Roads

April 9, 1865: Appomattox Court House - Surrender Documents

October 1865 - till his death: President of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University)

Boatner, Mark M. III. The Civil War Dictionary. New York: David McKay, 1967. p 476-477

Davis, Burke. Gray Fox Robert E. Lee and the Civil War. Short Hill, NJ: Buford Books, 1956.

Dowdey, Clifford & Louis H. Manarin, eds. The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1961.

Freeman, Douglas Southall. Harwell, Richard. Lee, Abridgement of 4-Volume Biography. New York: Touchstone Book, 1991.

Glatthaar, Joseph T. General's Lee Army From Victory to Collapse. New York: Free Press, 2008.

Helper, Hinton Rowan. The Impending Crises of the South: How to Meet It. New York: A. B. Burdick, 1860. p 361, 365

Horn, Jonathan. The Man Who Would Not Be Washington Robert E. Lee's Decision that Changed American History. New York:

          Scribner, 2015.

McGlone, Robert E. John Brown's War Against Slavery. New York: Cambridge University, 2009. p 246-275, 295-300

Pryor, Elizabeth Brown. Reading the Man A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private  Letters. New York: Penguin Book,


Thomas, Emory M. Bold Dragoon, The Life of J.E.B. Stuart. New York: Harper & Row, 1986. p55-59

Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State, 1992. p 179-183

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