Robert E. Lee
By: Fuller E. Winton

Early Life

Robert E. Lee was a general made famous fighting for the Confederacy during the civil war. Lee is a southern icon due to his brilliance in the battlefield, and for being one of the most signifigant tacticians in American History. Lee was born on January 19,1807 in Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was the son of famous Revolutionary War hero, Harry "Light Horse" Lee and Anna Hill Carter Lee. Robert E. Lee was one of six children, living a quaint life in a big house until tragedy struck at age eleven: Harry Lee (his father) died of an illness, and his mother too fell sick. All of Lee's brothers and sisters were grown and away from the house at this point, except for his youngest sister, who was too young to work, so Lee was left to take care of the entire household, his ill mother, and younger sister. After years of hardwork at his home, Lee finally left home, attending Westpoint Military Academy, one of the most prestigious schools in the country.
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Harry "Light Horse" Lee, Robert's father

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Robert E. Lee's childhood home


Military Career Before the Civil War

Lee graduated Westpoint second in his class, without a single demerit. He was also chosen to be apart of the honorary Cadet Corps' Adjutant. After this, Lee decided to focus on engineering, working on several projects Virginia and New York. However, the Mexican American War was quickly approaching, and Lee decided to offer his services to the US army, and served under John Wool and later, Winfield Scott. During this war, Lee distinguished himself as a phenominal military mind, winning three brevets throughout the duration of the war. Lee was beginning to be recognized for his ability to guide of troops and scout. After the war was over, Lee spent time at the Baltimore Harbor Military Base and was soon promoted to superintendent of the military academy there in 1852. In 1855, Lee was again promoted to leiutenant colonelcy of the 2nd Cavalry, dedicating himself to a military career, and abandoning his engineering. Lee spent several stints around the country, at different military outposts, until he was called to try and stop the Harper's Ferry Raid by John Brown, which he did.

Confederate or Union?

As a US army officer, Lee was never for a revolt against a country he swore oath to. However, the only possible way Lee would join the confederacy would be if his state, Virginia, seceded. In 1861, the South seceded. Just around this time, Lee was offered a position as a union general. As Lee was taking time to decide whether or not to accept that position, Virginia seceded. Lee didn't want to give up his career or loyalty to the country, but unfortunately chose to remain with Virginia, which was a place of his personal allegiance from his family's roots. Lee moved his family to Richmond, and was never to return to his home in Arlington.

The Seven Days Battles

Once Lee offered his services to the confederacy, he was immediatly placed in full control of all Virginian forces. Also, Lee soon became the personal military advisor to Jefferson Davis, president of the confederacy. in Spring, 1862, at the battle of "Seven Days", just outside of Richmond, the Confederate Capital, General Joseph Johnston (confederate) was severely wounded. As a result, Lee took his place at the head of Johnston's army, and renamed in "the Army of Northern Virginia". Lee was far outnumbered by opposing general, George Mclellan, and his Union forces. Lee was aggressive, constantly attacking Mclellan's army, losing many of the first scirmushes. However, Mclellan conservatively retreated, despite victories. Lee then combined forces with "Stonewall" Jackson's in the Shenandoah Valley. Lee continuosly drove Mclellan's forces towards the valley, making the amount of men less of an advantage for Mclellan, for he could no longer attack from all directions. Lee's tactics resulted in the confederate's stop of the largest threat to the confederacy, at that time in 1862.

Fredericksburg

For months, Lee continued to win battles against better equipped and manned armies, becoming a hero for the Confederates due his audacious and aggressive tactics that were making the South more of a considerable threat for the North. Then, in September, 20, 1862, Lee's outnumbered army evacuated Maryland after the battle on Antietam Creek leisurely preparing to fight Mclellan's army (union), who seemingly would not
attack, claiming if they crossed back to Maryland then they would fight. On October 6, Lincoln ordered Mclellan to attack “while the roads are good”. Mclellan refused, and notuntil 24 days later did he actually move. At this point, Lee and his army had rested, reorganized, and re-established communications with Richmond. Lee’s 100 thousand men began to cross the river and pushed Mclellan's over the Blue Ridge, but now unfortunately the Union men were between Richmond and Lee. On November 6, Mclellan was relieved of command and General Burnside replaced him. General Sumner (Union) called for the surrender of Fredericksburg. Lee tactically positioned his men around the high ground and hills in Fredericksburg, attempting to secure all entries/exits while having better positioning. General Burnside was eager to prove that he wasn't the same cautious general as Mclellan, so the overzealous Burnside sent the Union's forces to confront Lee, and Lee’s men. Aided by other southern forces, Lee waited atop the hills. The Union continued the surge, now across the river and in range, and Lee's men open fired. Burnside sent waves after waves of his men and Lee held ruthlessly strong on the better ground. Having positioned himself on the higher ground, behind stone walls, and across a river (not allowing his attacker an easy retreat) Lee showed another side to his tactics, not just aggression, but thoughtfulness.
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A picture representing the river and different elevations at Fredericksburg. Elevation: Neon Green - sea level Turqoiuse - a hilly incline (just over 500 feet Grassy Green - elevated hills Dirty Green- over 1000 feet
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A depiction of the Battle of Fredericksburg, and the Union soldiers charging up the hil


The Siege of Petersburg

Ulysses S. Grant, newly positioned head of Union forces knew he had to take out Robert E. Lee in order to win the wa rfor the Union, so he made headquarters in Virginia where he and Lee began months of strategical battling. Beginning on May 7, Lee’s and Grant's forces fought brutally; back and forth for weeks they went. Every offensive move Grant concocted, Lee deflected. Lee’s smaller forces took huge portions of the Union army out, but were still depleted in men and resources: Lee’s knew time was running out. While battling Grant, Lee also met other Union forces that were called in for backup. Grant decided to move his men from Richmond to Petersburg, a crucial home and base of Confederate railroads in an attempt to draw Lee away from the capital. Lee’s army arrived to stop these attacks that would be cutting off all resource movement for the South. Lee sent some of his army north to Maryland, to try and make some of Grant’s follow, and deplete his vast numbers. Lee knew his army couldn’t make it through a long seize so in March, 1865 ordered an attack on center of the Union siege line. Though this raid began successful, it was later destroyed by the fire power of the Union. Grant captured the last railroad into Petersburg. The Confederacy and Lee were over. Lee ordered his men to abandoned both cities of Richmond and Petersburg for their safety. Lee moved west, hoping to run into Joseph Johnston’s confederate forces. Grant caught up with Lee near the Appomattox Court House, where on April 9, 1865 General Lee signed terms of surrender to Grant in order to save his remaining 7,500 men (Grant and Lee were actually friends from Westpoint, so Grant made sure not to hurt Lee). Some Southerners bashed Lee , however, when he returned to his house in Richmond, many also praised him and offered financial help for his sick wife. In Autumn, 1865 Lee accepted the position of President of Washington University (now called Washington and Lee University). Lee continued to back and support President Andrew Johnson’s decisions for re-intergretation of the North and South and quietly encouraged veterans to return home and as Americans. He was all for the rebuilding of America as one country, and for this was called a traitor by many southerners.

Bibliography


"Battle of Fredericksburg." The Civil War. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/battle-fredericksburg.htm>.


"Biography of General Robert E. Lee." U.S. National Park Service - Experience YourAmerica. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/getttour/sidebar/leebio.htm>.

"Lee Boyhood Home." Alexandria City Virginia VA Website - Shopping, Dining, Restaurants, Lodging, Hotels, Real Estate, Salons, Schools, Sports, Automotive, Banking, Shops, Business, Healthcare, Relocation, Travel, Tourism, Vacations, Local, Best, Rated, Sale, Good, Coupon, Discount - Northern, Fairfax, Arlington, 22301, 22314, Tysons Corner, Herndon, Reston, City, McLean, Falls Church, Great Falls, Vienna, Oakton, Chantilly, Centreville, Centerville, Annandale, Springfield, Sterling, Burke, Baileys Crossroads, Prince William, Loudon, Reagan National, Dulles, Airport. Web. 17 May 2011.<http://www.alexandriacitywebsite.com/phototour/103.html>.

"Linux Outlaws 58 - Light Horse Harry — We Aim to Misbehave." Linux Outlaws — We Aim to Misbehave. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://linuxoutlaws.com/podcast/58>.

"Robert E. Lee and His Early Years." Robert E Lee the Man. Web. 17 May 2011.<http://roberteleetheman.com/My_Homepage_Files/Page1.html>.

"YouTube - Robert E. Lee." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 17 May 2011.<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Kp5W5bJLVM>.



Notes: Robert E. Lee




Early Life http://roberteleetheman.com/My_Homepage_Files/Page1.html
  • Was born January 19, 1807 at Stratford, Westmoreland County, VA
  • Was chilled of famous revolutionary general Harry Lee (nicknamed Light Horse Lee) and Anna Hill Carter Lee
  • At 11, his father died due to illness, and his delicate sister Anne was being treated in Philadelphia for illness
  • Also, his oldest brother Charles Carter was at Harvard
  • Older brother Sidney Smith was in Navy
  • Other sister Mildred was too young to help around house
  • As result, Robert was left to care house: housekeeper and look after ailing mother
  • After school, while others played, he would rush home and prepare his mother for her everyday trip and carried her to the car: responsible
  • July 25, 1825, Rob left for West Point

Military Career Before Civil War http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/getttour/sidebar/leebio.htm
  • Attended West Point, graduated second in his class w/out a single demerit
  • At Westpioint, served cadet corps’ adjutant
  • Before Mex. Am war , we worked on several projects as an engineer projects in VA, and NY
  • However, during the war he served under John Wool and Windfield Scott
  • Distinguished himself for scouting / guiding trrops
  • He won three brevets but was wounded at Chapultepec
  • Then spent some time in Baltimore Harbor and became superintendent of the military academy in 1852
  • In 1855 Lee became a lieutenant colonelcy of the 2nd Cavalry, abandoning his engineer career
  • Spent a number of other stints around the country in Texas and was then called on to help stop the raid at Harper’s Ferry by John Brown
  • As a army officer, never was for revolt, however, if Virginia seceded, then he may also follow his own state.

Confederate or Union? http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/getttour/sidebar/leebio.htm
  • During talk of secession, continued work as army commander/ work in Washington
  • IN 1861, the South seceded
  • Lee was offered a position as a Union General
  • Virginia soon followed
  • He didn’t want to give up his career/ loyalty to his country, but unfortunately chose to remain with VA, a personal allegiance developed from his family’s roots there
  • Lee moved his family to Richmond, and was never to return to his home in Arlington again

Early General Life in Confederacy/ the Battle of Seven Days http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/getttour/sidebar/leebio.htm
  • When Lee offered services to the state of Virginia, and was given command of all Virginian military forces
  • Lee became personal military advisor to Jefferson Davis
  • In Spring1862, The army of the Potomac commanded by general George Mclellan, on the outskirts of Richmond (the capital of the confederacy)
  • In the pattle at Seven Pines, General Joseph Johnston (confederate general) was wounded
  • As a Result, Lee was to take his place, and renamed army “the Army of Northern Virginia”
  • Lees army was far outnumbered by Mclellans, and lost most of the beginning battles
  • However, Mclellan kept retreating despite victories
  • Lee combined forces with Stonewall Jackson in Shenandoah Valley
  • Lee’s tactics included meeting the Union front in two places, driving them to the valley were numbers of men were increasingly less important
  • As a result of Lee’s tactics, he was able to stop the largest threat up until then during the civil war, and make a well accommodated army of over a 100K to retreat

(continued to win more victories against better equipped and manned armies, becoming a star in the confederate for his audacious and aggressive tactics that was making the South more of a considerable threat for the North)

Fredericksburg http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/battle-fredericksburg.htm
  • In September 20, 1862, Lee’s outnumbered army evacuated Maryland after the battle on Antietam Creek, leisurely preparing to fight for Mclellan (union), who seemingly would not attack, claiming if they crossed back to Maryland then they would fight
  • On Oct. 6, Lincoln ordered Mcleellan to attack “while the roads are good”
  • Mclellan refused, and not until 24 days later did he actually move
  • at this point, Lee and his army had rested, reorganized, and reestablished communications with Richmond
  • Lee’s 100kmen began to cross the river and pushed Mclellans over the Blue Ridge, but now unfortunately the Union men were now in b/2 Richmond and Lee
  • November 6, Mclellan was relieved of comman and Burnside replaced him
  • General Sumner (Unnion) called for the surrender of Fredericksburg
  • Lee positioned his men in a semi circle around Fredericksburg, securing all entries/exits
  • Unfortunately, the Union set flame to some of the town, and Lee’s men, aided by other southern forces battled
  • However, Lee’s forces and tactics pushed the union out, and forced a retreat of the Union

The Siege of Petersburg http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/getttour/sidebar/leebio.htm
  • Grant, newly positioned head of Union forces knew he head to take out Lee in order to win the war so made headquarters in Virginia where he and lee began months of strategical battling
  • Beginning in May 7, Lee’s forces and Granst fought brutally, back and forth weeks
  • Every offenseive move Grant had, Lee deflected
  • Lee’s smaller forces took huge portions of the Union army out, but were still less in men and resources
  • Lee’s resources and men were depleted, and he knew time was running out, he also met other Union forces that were coming for backup such as Army of the James
  • Grant decided to move his men from Richmond to Petersburg, a crucial home and base of Confederate railroads
  • Lee’s army arrived to stop these attacks, that would be cutting off all resource movement for the South
  • Lee sent some of his army north to Maryland, to try and make some of Grant’s follow, and deplete his vast numbers
  • Lee knew his army couldn’t make it through a long sieze so March 1865 ordered an attack on center of Union siege line
  • Though began successful, later this attempt was destroyed by the fire power of the Union
  • Grant captured the last railroad into Petersburg and it was over
  • Lee ordered his men to abandoned both cities of Richmond/Petersburg for their safety and moved west, hoping to run into Joseph Johnston’s confederate forces
  • Grant caught up near Appomattox Court House where on April 9, 1865 General Lee signed terms of surrender to Grant to save his remaining 7,500 (Grant and him were actually friends from Westpoint, so Grant made sure not to hurt Lee)
  • Southerners called him a traitor, however, when he returned to his house in Richmond many also praised him and offered financial help for his sick wife
  • Autumn, 1865 accepted to be Pres. Of Washington University (now called Washington and Lee Univ.
  • Backed Pres. Andrew Johnson’s decisions for reintergretation of the North and South and quietly encouraged veterans to return home and as Americans