Biography of Robert E. Lee


ROBERT EDMOND LEE, son of Henry Lee, a distinguished American general, was born in Virginia about the year 1810, and like his ancestors, enjoyed largely the honors and emoluments disbursed by the United States government. He entered West Point as a cadet in 1825, from which he graduated in 1829, and entered the service as brevet second-lieutenant of engineers; assisted in fixing the boundary between Ohio and Michigan, in 1835; was promoted to first lieutenant in 1836, and to captain in 1838. In the war with Mexico, he served as chief engineer of the army commanded by Brigadier General Wool, and was brevetted major "for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Cerro Gordo," April 18th, 1847; lieutenant colonel: "for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco," August 20th, 1847; and colonel "for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Chepultepec," September 13th, 1847, in which he was wounded. He was superintendent of the military academy at West Point from September 1st 1852, to March, 1855, on retiring from which he was appointed lieutenant-colonel 2nd Cavalry, March 3rd, 1855. On the breaking out of the rebellion, he resigned his commission in the service of his country, and accepted the position of "Commander of the Military and Naval Forces of Virginia," and when the state joined the Confederacy, he was appointed to the rank of general and selected as commander-in-chief by Jefferson Davis. General Lee was in immediate command of the Confederate forces in and around Richmond, and throughout Northern Virginia for the most part, during the war, and the success of the Confederate forces on the battlefields of the Peninsula, Fredericksburg and Bull Run compel a recognition of his military ability, in spite of the disastrous repulses suffered by his troops at Antietam and Gettysburg. Early in life he married the adopted grand-daughter of Washington, by whom he had five sons. Soon after the close of the war, he was chosen President of Washington College, Lexington, where he died, October 12th, 1870.