Biography of General Robert E. Lee
Celebrated Americans

GENERAL ROBERT EDWARD LEE, one of the most conspicuous Confederate generals during the Civil war, and one of the ablest military commanders of modern times, was born at Stratford House, West moreland county, Virginia, January 19, 1807. In 1825 he entered the West Point academy and was graduated second in his class in 1829, and attached to the army as second lieutenant of engineers. For a number of years he was thus engaged in engineering work, aiding in establishing the boundary line between Ohio and Michigan. and superintended various river and harbor improvements, becoming captain of engineers in 1838. He first saw field service in the Mexican war, and under General Scott performed valuable and efficient service. In that brilliant campaign he was conspicuous for professional ability as well as gallant and meritorious conduct, winning in quick succession the brevets of major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel for his part in the batties of Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Cherubusco, Chapultepec, and in the capture of the city Mexico. At the close of that war he resumed his engineering work in connection with defences along the Atlantic coast, and from 1852 to 1855 was superintendent of the Military Academy, a position which he gave up to become lieutenant colonel of the Second Cavalry. For several years thereafter he served on the Texas border, but happening to be near Washington at the time of John Brown's raid, October 17 to 25, 1859, Colonel Lee was placed in comrnand of the Federal forces employed in its repression. He soon returned to his regiment in Texas where he remained the greater part of 1860, and March 16, 1861, became colonel of his regiment by regular promotion. Three weeks later, April 25, he resigned upon the secession of Virginia, went at once to Richmond and tendered his services to the governor of that state, being by acclamation appointed commander in chief of its military and naval forces, with the rank of major general.

He at once set to work to organize and develop the defensive resources of his state and within a month directed the occupation in force of Manassas Junction. Meanwhile Virginia having entered the confederacy and Richmond become the capitol, Lee became one of the foremost of its military officers and was closely connected with Jefferson Davis in planning the moves of that tragic time. Lee participated in many of the hardest fought battles of the war among which were Fair Oaks, White Lake Swamps, Cold Harbor, and the Chickahominy, Manassas, Cedar Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Malvern Hill, Gettysburg, the battles of the Wilderness campaign, alt the campaigns about Richmond, Petersburg, Five Forks, and others. Lee's surrender at Appomatox brought the war to a close. It is said of General Lee that but few commanders in history have been so quick to detect the purposes of an opponent or so quick to act upon it. Never surpassed. if ever equaled, in the art of winning the passionate, personal love and admiration of his troops. he acquired and held an influence over his army to the very last, founded upon a supreme trust in his judgment, prescience and skill, coupled with his cool, stable, equable courage. A great writer has said of him: As regards the proper measure of General Lee's rank among the soldiers of history, seeing what he wrought with such resources as he had, under all the disadvantages that ever attended his operations, it is impossible to measure what he might have achieved in campaigns and battles with resources at his own disposition equal to those against which he invariably contended."

Left at the close of the war without estate or profession, he accepted the presidency of Washington College at Lexington, Virginia, where he died October 12, 1870.

A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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