Robert E. Lee Biography

Robert E. Lee was the famous confederate general, commander of the Northern Virginian army, during the American Civil war. This biography includes a detailed account on the life and achievements of Robert E. Lee.

Quick Facts

Birthday: January 19, 1807

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By Robert E. Lee Soldiers

Died At Age: 63

Sun Sign: Capricorn

Born in: Stratford Hall

Famous as: Confederate General in the American Civil War


Spouse/Ex-: Mary Anna Custis Lee

father: Henry Lee III

mother: Anne Hill Carter

siblings: George Washington Custis Lee, William Henry Fitzhugh Lee

children: George Washington Custis Lee, Jr., Robert E. Lee, William Henry Fitzhugh Lee

Died on: October 12, 1870

place of death: Lexington city

Personality: ISFJ

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Robert E. Lee was the famous confederate general, commander of the Northern Virginian army, during the American Civil war. His brilliance in war waging strategies, his vigor and achievements during the Civil War, makes him an iconic figure. He belonged to a family of ruling class in Virginia and joined the American army at West Point, Virginia, very early in age. He passed with a second position in the engineering studies headed by the Army Corps of Engineers. His active participation in the American civil war, his growth in the Northern Virginian army, his continuous growth and promotions in his career, forms a remarkable story. His contribution in the American history is undeniable and it is celebrated in many ways. His birthday is celebrated in different parts of America as a public holiday, predominantly the parts he influenced with his army forces. Many memorials and statues have been erected in his remembrance, such as: Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, University of Texas has his statue at the main mall, Liberty issue postage stamp has also honored Lee. His contribution as President of The Washington College, Virginia has been of utmost prominence.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Robert Edward Lee was born on 19 January 1807 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to Major General Henry Lee III, also known as the ‘Light Horse Henry’, and his second wife, Anne Hill Carter. He belonged to the ruling class of Virginia, with several members of his family at powerful positions in the Virginian government. His father was the Governor of Virginia and one of his great grand parents was a prominent Virginian colonist.
  • Robert Lee attended school at Eastern View, Fauquier County and shifted to Alexandria Academy where he developed a liking for mathematics. In 1824, Robert Lee was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, on the recommendation of his relative, William Henry Fitzhugh.
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  • In 1825, Robert Lee started his study in American army at the West Point. The focus of the studies was on engineering, headed by the Army Corps of Engineers. He graduated with second position in his class, without incurring even a single demerit during his course of study.
  • In 1829, Robert Lee was ordered to build a fort on the marshy island of Cockspur, Georgia. The mission was unsuccessful and he was transferred to Fort Monroe, Virginia Peninsula.
  • In 1834, Robert Lee was transferred to Washington to assist General Gratiot. But, in 1835, he was transferred again to survey the southern border of Michigan, in order to be Andrew Alcott’s assistant.
  • In 1837, he supervised the engineering work at St. Louis harbor. He was promoted to the position of a captain because of his devotion and brilliance in work, over there. In 1842, Captain Robert Edward Lee arrived as Fort Hamilton’s post engineer.
  • From 1846 to 1848, he worked as a chief aid to Winfield Scott in the Mexican-American War. Due to his exceptional performance in the war, he was promoted as brevet major and with the course of time, received additional brevet positions, but his permanent rank was still the Captain of Engineers.
  • From 1848 to 1851, Robert Lee served at Fort Carroll in Baltimore harbor. In 1852, he was appointed as a Superintendent of the Military Academy, West Point. During his course at West Point, he spent time training the cadets and improving the curriculum of the training courses for the army.
  • In 1855, he was promoted as the second-in-command of the Second Cavalry regiment, Texas. It meant heading the combat command.
  • In 1859, President James Buchanan ordered Robert Lee to command the forces in suppressing the slave rebellion in federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. The mission was a success under his supervision.
  • In March 1861, he was appointed as Colonel of the First Regiment of Cavalry, by President Abraham Lincoln. In a short span of time from there, he was promoted as Major General and was given the responsibility to expand the army to fight the Southern states. He commanded for the last time with the United States Army at Fort Mason, Texas.
  • In April 1861, Robert Lee resigned from the Army and commanded the Virginia state forces. He was defeated in his first field assignment at the Battle of Cheat Mountain. He was then demoted and sent to organize the Carolina and Georgia seaboards.
  • In 1862, he again took the command of the Army of Northern Virginia. A lot of press at the time criticized his passive style of command and called his army ‘Granny Lee’. But the series of successes achieved by Robert Lee and his army changed the popular public opinion. After the ‘Seven Days Battles’, his men started addressing to him as ‘Marse Robert’, out of respect and honor.
  • In 1863, Robert Lee fought the three-day Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. This battle caused the largest number of causalities in the history of American Civil War. His men lost the battle to the union forces under George G. Meade. As a consequence, he sent a letter of resignation to President Davis, but Davis refused his resignation.
  • In 1865, Union general-in-chief, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant started a battle to destroy Robert Lee’s army. Robert Lee, cornered in the capital city of Richmond, resisted the attacks in full vigor and a number of battles were fought in the process: Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor. During the same time, he was promoted to general-in-chief of the Confederate forces. Lee’s inadequate army couldn’t fight these battles much longer and he finally surrendered.
  • In 1865, Robert Lee was appointed as the president of Washington College, Lexington, Virginia and he continued in this position until his death. He worked towards changing the image and scope of the college and added subjects in commerce, journalism and law.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • In 1831, Robert Lee got married to Mary Anna Randolph Custis, while he was stationed at Fort Monroe. The couple had seven children together, three boys and four girls.
  • He died on 12 October 1870, at the age of 63, after suffering a stroke two weeks earlier.

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- Robert E. Lee Biography
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Last Updated
- March 28, 2017
Robert E. Lee

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