Life of Robert E. Lee as General in the Confederate Army
Henry E. Shepherd

LIFE OF ROBERT E. LEE—1807–1870.


Born at Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia, January 19, the son of “Light Horse Harry” Lee and Annie Carter Lee, his second wife.


His family removes to Alexandria, Virginia.


His father dies in Georgia, when Lee was at school, and just eleven years old.


Enters the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.


Graduates with second honor in a class of forty-six. Death of his mother. Is assigned to duty at Hampton Roads, Va.


Is married June 30, to Mary Randolph Custis, heiress of Arlington, and great-great-granddaughter of Mrs. George Washington.


Is assistant to the Chief Engineer of the Army. In 1837 is placed in charge of the work intended for the improvement of the Mississippi River at St. Louis.


Is advanced to the rank of Captain of Engineers.


In charge of harbor defenses at Fort Hamilton, New York.


Engages in the war with Mexico; Chief of Staff for General Scott.


In charge of the defenses of Baltimore. Lives at 908 Madison avenue.


Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In 1855 is made lieutenant-colonel of the Second Cavalry.


Is engaged against the Indians in Texas. In October, 1859, suppresses the John Brown insurrection at Harper’s Ferry.


Is in charge of the Department of Texas, remaining until February, 1861.


Returns to his home at Arlington, March 1. March 16 is made colonel of the First Cavalry. April 18 is offered the command of the armies of the Union. April 20 resigns his commission in the Regular Army. General Scott entreats him to remain in the service of the Federal Government. April 23 accepts the command of the Virginia forces. From May to July directs the organization of troops and acts as adviser to President Davis. August to October, conducts a campaign in West Virginia. Is in charge of the coast defenses in the Carolinas and Georgia, and returns to Richmond as military adviser to the Confederate Government in March.


June 1, he assumes command of the army in front of Richmond, General Joseph E. Johnston having been disabled.

June 25–July 1, the Seven Days’ battle. McClellan is repulsed and retires to Harrison’s Landing on the James River. The siege of the Confederate capital is raised. August 30, Lee routs Pope at Bull Run or Manassas. September 5, his army crosses the Potomac and advances into Maryland. September 17, battle of Antietam or Sharpsburg. December 13, wins victory over Burnside at Fredericksburg. Military operations suspended until spring of 1863.


Defeats Hooker at Chancellorsville, May 2–3. “Stonewall” Jackson is wounded, May 2, dies May 10. Invades Pennsylvania in June, is repulsed at Gettysburg, July 3, and retreats into Virginia. October and November, campaign of Mine Run. Military operations suspended until the spring of ’64.


May 5–6, battle of Wilderness; Grant in command of the Union army. Almost continuous fighting in the country around Spottsylvania Court House, May 8–18. Grant is repulsed May 12. Active operations on interior lines, May 22–June 1. Grant repulsed with heavy loss at Cold Harbor. June 3. June 14, 15, Grant crosses the James River, and the siege of Petersburg begins, June 17, 18. The Union forces driven back at the battle of the Crater, July 30.


Lee is made commander-in-chief of the Confederate forces, February 2. Evacuates Petersburg, April 2. Richmond and Petersburg fall into the hands of the Union army, April 3. Surrenders the fragment of his army to Grant, about 9,000 men in ranks, at Appomattox Court House, April 9. Issues his Farewell Address to his troops, April 10. Is elected President of Washington College, Lexington, Va. (now Washington and Lee University), August 4. Enters upon his duties September 18. Declares that he will never forsake the South.


Publishes a new edition of the memoirs of his father, “Light Horse Harry” Lee.


He visits the South in the spring, March and April, to recover his health. His special desire is to see the grave of his daughter. Goes to Cumberland Island, Ga., where his father is buried. Visits the early home of his mother, Shirley, on James River. Dies at Lexington, October 12.

Return to Life of Robert E. Lee as General in the Confederate Army