Robert Edward Lee

Robert Edward Lee (born 19 January 1807 at Stratford Hall Plantation , Virginia , † 12 October 1870 in Lexington , Virginia) was until 1861, Colonel of the U.S. Army and the most successful general of the Confederate army . His most important command during the American Civil War (1861-1865) was the command of the Northern Virginia Army . Finally, he was appointed in January 1865 as commander of the Confederate Army. He established his reputation with numerous victories which he gained with inferior forces mostly by shifting the emphasis against superior forces.

After the Civil War he fought for reconciliation between the warring parties, and was president of a college in Lexington, Virginia. Lee is still honored as a hero, not only in the southern states .
Contents

Family life
parents, childhood and adolescence

Lee came from a long-established and highly respected family in Virginia. His father, Henry Lee , called Light Horse Harry had, in the Revolutionary War and received the recognition of George Washington won. He was also at times a member of Congress and Governor of Virginia. For financial reasons, Robert Edward Lee was not like his brother in Harvard study, but has been in private schools in Alexandria taught, Virginia, and specifically to the appointment to the Military Academy in West Point , New York prepared, was the 1825th
Marriage and children

1830 Lee learned during a home leave Mary Anna Randolph Custis , a granddaughter of Martha Washington’s familiar. Her father, George Washington Parke Custis was, the relationship with skepticism, because he knew the financial plight of the Lees and feared that his daughter Lee from the salary of a lieutenant could not provide the standard of living. The marriage took place on 30 anyway June 1831 instead. Lee lived with Mary and her father in the Custis Mansion on the banks of the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia, across from Washington, DC went from the marriage had four daughters and three sons.

Mary fell ill in 1850 difficult to rheumatoid arthritis and could not accompany her husband to his various locations. The marriage was as happy and give the two spouses as faithful to each other. During the Civil War, Mary moved with her daughters to Richmond and followed her husband after the war to Lexington. She died in 1873 and was buried beside her husband.

Lee’s oldest sons served in both the U.S. Army and the Army of the Confederacy: George Washington Custis Lee and William Henry Fitzhugh Lee as major generals of cavalry , and Robert E. Lee Junior as a captain of artillery . GW Custis 1871 followed his father as president of Washington College.

Because of the seven children five remained childless, in 2002 there were only 20 direct descendants of Robert E. Lee.
Career in the U.S. Army
West Point and at the time of the pioneers

During his studies at the Military Academy later learned Lee Confederate General Albert S. Johnston and later president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis , know. His classmates included among others included the future Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston , during which he Battle of Seven Pines was to follow as Commander of Northern Virginia Army. Lee’s performance at the Academy were outstanding. He graduated in 1829 from as second in his class and had been concerns in the years of his training no censure for improper conduct, which until then had never happened before at the Military Academy.

After graduation Lee was appointed lieutenant and promoted, also thanks to his good performance at the Academy, the Engineering Corps of the U.S. Army assigned. After 17 months at Fort Pulaski on Cockspur Iceland in the port of Savannah , Georgia Lee was transferred to Fort Monroe, Virginia.

1834 to 1837 Lee served on the staff of the Chief of Pioneers – assistant in the chief engineer’s office – in Washington, DC In the summer of 1835, he helped the national border between Ohio and Michigan set. In 1837, he finally received his first independent command.
Major Robert E. Lee
Frank Moorem in: ed Portrait Gallery of the War New York. D. Van Nostrand, 1865.

As lieutenant of the pioneers monitored Lee the work at the Port of St. Louis and on the upper reaches of the river Mississippi, and Missouri . In recognition of his work there, he was appointed captain promoted. 1841 Lee was to Fort Hamilton, in the port of New York , New York located, transferred and assumed responsibility for the construction of fortifications.
Mexican-American War

During the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848 Lee distinguished himself on the staff of General Winfield Scott from. Several victories were the result of his awareness; eg he put artillery in locations from the Mexican general Santa Anna had been called to impossible. During the war, Lee distinguished himself by extraordinary skill and bravery. He acquired the longstanding trust Scott, who loved the young officer and highly admired. Lee fought in the battle of Chapultepec , Contreras, Cerro Gordo and Churubusco , was wounded once and it was in recognition of his services three brevet promotions .
Director of West Point and service in Texas

After the Mexican-American War Lee spent three years in the construction of Fort Carroll at the port of Baltimore , Maryland . In 1852 he was appointed director of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was dedicated to the improvement of the buildings and courses as well as the personal contact with the Cadets, including his eldest son, George Washington Custis, was one of the graduated from school in 1854 as top of his class . A year later, in 1855, Lee was lieutenant colonel and deputy commander of the newly established second U.S. Cavalry Regiment, with which he participated in the Texas frontier settlers from attacks by the Comanche and Apache defended. Regimental commander was Colonel Albert S. Johnston, many later generals of the Confederacy were members of the regiment, for example, William J. Hardee , Earl Van Dorn , Edmund Kirby Smith , John Bell Hood and Lee’s nephew Fitzhugh.

These were not the happiest years of Lee because he spent a long time reluctant to separate from his family. When his wife was seriously ill in 1859 and Lee was on vacation in Arlington, attacked the radical abolitionist John Brown , the arms factory of the U.S. Army in Harpers Ferry , (now West Virginia ). Lee was ordered to arrest Brown and re-establish order. Once this was accomplished, he returned to his regiment back to Texas and after the defection of Texas’ recalled by the Union in early 1861 after Washington, DC. Lee was there to colonel and promoted to commander of the 1st U.S. Cavalry Regiment appointed.
Lee’s stance on secession and slavery issue

Lee had with the historical and legal foundations of secession employed extensively by individual states, because in 1814 New England states had threatened to secede. He was finally convinced that a state would have when joining the Union reserve the right to withdraw. [1]

“Virginia … that in seceding from the Union exercising the right which she had reserved when she entered it.”

Nevertheless, it was for him no greater tragedy than the dissolution of the Union. For the preservation of the unity of the nation, he would sacrifice everything except his honor, he wrote in a letter to his son on 23 January 1861. [2]

“But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union …. I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation.”

Lee was a dispute with the Southerners to the north taken by abolitionist measures were greatly affected. In a letter to his son on 14 December 1860, he nevertheless rejected the course of, Cotton States ‘especially against those border states’ from this move with threats to drop by the Union. [3]

“I am not pleased with the course of the ‘Cotton States’, as they term themselves. In addition to their selfish, dictatorial bearing, the threats they throw out against the ‘Border States,’ as they call them, if they will not join them, argue [sic] little for the benefit. ”

In the first-mentioned letter, he cited the secession a revolution, it is prepared to go with all the right steps to make amends. [2]

“I feel the aggression, and am willing to take every proper step for redress …. Secession is nothing but revolution.”

Only logical he stated that a union that could be held together only by swords and bayonets for him is not attractive. [2]

“Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets … has no charm for me.”

He wrote to his son on to say that, if resolved, the Union will split and the government, he would return to his home state and not to fight. [2]

“If the Union is dissolved, and the Government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people, and save in defense will draw my sword on none.”

The decision to remain neutral in case of conflict was so tight already in January 1861. Nevertheless, he found the final decision to quit the service, not easy. He emphasized in his negative answer to the offer to take over the command of the U.S. Army, on 20 April 1861. [4]

From the Virginia Convention on 23 April 1861 asked to take over the leadership of the Virginia militia and build new forces, he undertook this task conscientiously opposed to its original intent. In a letter dated 25 April, he expressed the desire that led him through the civil war, perform focused on defense policy, in order to withstand the attacks may allow the anger subside with time and reason would prevail. [5]

“I think our policy should be purely on the defensive, to resist aggression and allow time to allay the passions and permit reason to resume her sway.”

Lee grew up as a member of the Virginia elite. Dealing with slaves was familiar. By 1857 he had no own slaves, then he inherited from his father 63 slaves – men, women and children. An edition of the will, was this slave at the latest within five years to dismiss as free colored from slavery. Since Lee had to pay for the debts of his father, he decided to let the slaves shall be applied and the money we need. Than 1859 three slaves escaped and were recaptured, they were whipped by Lee supervision and rubbed their backs lacerated with brine. According to the Testament Lee dismissed the 1862 slaves to freedom.

This shows that Lee’s attitude toward slavery was very ambivalent. Be on 7 December 1856 letter written to his wife is often misquoted. He cleared it concedes that slavery a “moral and political evil” is, however, wrote a total of:

“It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it, however, a greater evil to the white than to the black race, and while my feelings are strongly interested in behalf of The latter, my sympathies are stronger for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially, and physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing is Necessary for their instruction as a race, and, I hope, will prepare and lead them to better things. How long their subjection may not be necessary is known and ordered by a wise and merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from a mild and melting influence than the storms and contests of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure. [...] While we see the course of the final abolition of slavery is onward, and we give it the aid of our prayers and all justifiable means in our power, we must leave the progress as well as the result in his hands, who sees the end and who chooses to work by slow things, and with whom a thousand years are but as a single day. ” [6]

“It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. But I think that it is a greater evil for whites than for blacks. And if I do have great sympathy with the latter, my sympathies are still with the former. The blacks are here [in North America] immeasurably better off than in Africa, morally, socially and physically. The painful discipline they have to submit here is useful for the advancement of their race, and they will, I hope, lead and prepare for better times. How long their subjugation is necessary to know only and can only be determined by the wise and gracious Voraussehung. Their liberation is likely to succeed by mild and gentle influence than through stormy disputes and quarrels. This influence, though slow, is sure. [...]. While we see that the abolition of slavery on the way and we support them with our prayers and all legal means, but it remains the process and its outcome in the hands of that, who knows the end, the work slowly and for a thousand years only one day. ”

Even his proposed 14 days prior to the war plan, slaves to fight for the South and let free after the war had probably nothing to do with his position on slavery itself. Rather, this was a last straw, with which he hoped to make the rapidly dwindling manpower his armies again.
American Civil War
determination for the south

On 18 April 1861, four days after the shots on Fort Sumter , the influential politician Francis Preston Blair Lee offered on behalf of President Abraham Lincoln in command of the Union army at. Lee declined the offer because of his close ties to his home state of Virginia, in the meantime had also resigned from the Union. His officer’s commission , he was on 23 April back, took his leave of his friends in Washington, DC, and returned to Virginia.

There he was, shortly thereafter, Commander appointed the Virginian army. As this part of the Confederate forces, was promoted President Davis Lee and four others to brigadier generals . The other four were troops commands, Lee had to organize the defense of the capital. After the first Confederate victory at Manassas was the rank of full general (four-star general) and Lee was created by Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston promoted as the third soldier of the Confederacy to this. The insignia of a Confederate General (three stars in oak wreath), he wanted to wear but never – he wore the insignia of a colonel in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States (PACS) – three stars, equivalent to his earned rank in the U.S. Army.
The first command in the Confederate army

Lee received his first command troops in the fall of 1861 in western Virginia. His offensive on Cheat Mountain failed, however, partly because of the unusual nature of its issue of orders, on the other hand, due to the error of his subordinates. After all, he managed to prevent the further advance of Union troops to east the western Virginia remained under control of the north and split in 1863 from the West Virginia.

After a brief use as commander of the Military District South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in 1862 by President Lee Davis was a military advisor – War Minister without skills – after Richmond called Virginia. After the severe wounding of Joseph E. Johnston at the Battle of Seven Pines on 1 June 1862, he assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia. As Major General McClellan stood at the gates of Richmond (see Peninsular campaign ), Lee put the soldiers of the Northern Virginia Army to improve the fortifications of the capital. The soldiers who found the burial as unworthy and dishonorable mocked him as the “King of Spades”. [7] (spade king / Eng. pun on “King of Spades”) Later, this mockery changed but in an honorable name, as the soldiers realized that burying especially during Grant’s overland campaign saved lives and helped to win.
From the Chickahominy at Antietam

Lee succeeded with his new command, what Johnston had been frustrated. In the seven-day battle , he drove McClellan with heavy losses on both sides of the Virginia Peninsula. The win reduced the risk for the City of Richmond greatly to be conquered by the Northern States. Lee’s victory was not as complete as he had hoped, since the implementation of the battles on the cumbersome implementation of its orders had been ruined by his subordinates. To improve the coordination of his army, Lee told them so in two large “wings” (“wings”) (later Corps on), whose commanders James Longstreet and Thomas Jonathan Jackson were. In the meantime, from the north by Major General John Pope and the threatened Virginia Army a new danger. Lee marched with his army against Pope and added him in the Second Battle of Bull Run to a devastating defeat.
General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia
Photograph of an engraving by John C. McRae, published in New York by T. Kelly, about 1867

These two great successes seemed to have turned the tide within two months. Lee took his part in the offensive and marched north into Maryland. He tried to persuade the inhabitants of the slave state of Maryland to withdraw from the Union, the farmers in northern Virginia permit to bring in their harvest and without interference by defeating England and France bring to recognize the Confederacy. The latter would have forced the union to make peace. Before the battle of Antietam he was in the battles at South Mountain and at Harpers Ferry his tactical skills. Outnumbered Moderately strong he was then of General McClellan and the Army of the Potomac attacked at Antietam and survive with difficulty. The high losses forced him to retreat to Virginia.
Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville

Lee got after the Battle of Antietam a new opponent – Major General Ambrose Everett Burnside was new commander of Army of the Potomac. Burnside ordered an attack across the Rappahannock at Fredericksburg . Due to delays in the supply of pontoon bridges and the inability Burnside, to develop another plan of operations, Lee won the time to prepare the defense. On 13 December 1862 carried out the attack Potomac army ended with heavy losses in a defeat of the Yankees. Lee commented on the heavy losses of the enemy with his famous sayings:

“It is well that was is so terrible – we should grow too fond of it!” [8] “It is well that war is so terrible -. perhaps we would not find pleasure in it”

After this defeat, Lincoln appointed Major General Joseph Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac, the proposed in May 1863 to get around Lee’s right and left flank at Chancellorsville attack. Lee defeated this intention by the decision to split the Northern Virginia Army and turn to attack Hooker’s right flank. An overwhelming victory of the South over the greater forces of the North, for Lee was however forced to pay a high price – in addition to the higher percentage losses he had to get over the loss of Stonewall Jackson, who had been in the months before his most capable subordinate , and of which he said he had with him his “right arm” [9] lost.
The Gettysburg Campaign and the fight against General Grant
General Robert E. Lee, 1863
Photographer: Julian Vannerson

After the victory at Chancellorsville, Lee gave his soldiers invincible. He therefore wanted to beat the Army of the Potomac on the territory of the Union to provide its Northern Virginia Army of the rich supplies of Pennsylvania, enable the farmers in northern Virginia undisturbed crop and move with a win the war-weary MPs in Congress to end hostilities .

Still incensed by the sack Frederick Burgs by Northerners Lee issued General Orders No.. 73 and ordered to refrain from any sort of looting and mistreatment of civilians. Lee marched out of the Army of the Potomac unnoticed for a second time on Union territory. At Gettysburg , Pennsylvania , he was due to poor education initially against his will for three days of battle forced, which he accepted on the morning of the second day, however. The Army of the Potomac, now under Major General George Gordon Meade fought off all attacks. Significantly was here that Lee on the second evening bitterly about the inability of his subordinates complained to carry out his orders as he introduced the. Lee suffered heavy losses and was forced to move to Virginia. As the Northern Virginia after Antietam Army was not this time pursued vigorously enough. On 8 August 1863 because of the defeat Lee sent a letter of resignation to President Jefferson Davis. Who declined Lees request.

Beginning of 1864, Ulysses S. Grant , the victor of Vicksburg and Chattanooga , the new commander of the U.S. Army appointed. He set up his headquarters in the field on at Meade’s Army of the Potomac, with which he wanted to destroy Lee’s army. Lee did succeed in stopping every advance in Grants, but remained steadfast in its war goal and it had enough troops to the attack again and again to renew elsewhere. In the Wilderness , at Spotsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor took place in bloody battles that each time had the same result: Grant was repulsed with heavy losses on both sides, did not depart from but but took little later the Northern Virginia Army elsewhere in again.
Siege of Petersburg and the war

After the defeat at Cold Harbor, Grant, the Northern Virginia Army decided on the important railway junction Petersburg , Virginia attack. The capture of Petersburg by Union armies but failed, and it came to the siege of Petersburg , which lasted from June 1864 to April 1865. During this time, Grant made his numerical superiority advantage and extended its lines is increasing. Since Lee, 31 January 1865 Commander of the entire Confederate army was thus forced to thin out his lines.

Lee saw the end coming and his army of the Confederacy. Early 1865, he urged the adoption of a has often raised, but until now always rejected plan that would allow slaves to serve in the Confederate army. As an incentive, they should in turn can get their freedom. This plan was, however, in the short time that remained of the Confederacy still, never entered into force. Virginia just passed a law and set up two companies. Freedom should not receive the soldiers. [10] After Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had been worn in months of fighting, the Union troops took on 2nd April 1865 St. Petersburg a. Lee gave up the defense of Richmond and General Joseph E. Johnston attempted Tennessee Army in North Carolina to join. His troops were surrounded by the combined Union armies (see Appomattox campaign ) and he surrendered to General Grant on 9 April 1865 in the village of Appomattox Court House , Virginia.

While the capitulation of Lee explained honor for himself and his soldiers, never again raise his hand against the United States. In return, they guaranteed Grant not to be prosecuted by the United States authorities, so long as they adhered to the word of honor and the laws in force. [11] Lee then went home, as after the war, the call arose, was him and others provide high-level Confederate court, this was thwarted by, among other things, the promises given by Grant.
Post-War Period
To the death
Robert Edward Lee at war’s end

All members of the Army of Northern Virginia had initially dismissed the status of prisoners of war on parole. On 29 April 1865 President Johnson allowed them to get back through the bars of a loyalty oath to the Union’s civil rights. Like many others, Lee requested this amnesty too. It was he, however, never granted because the then Secretary of State William H. Seward application directly to the files submitted, he probably assumed that the case was already being processed. Lee interpreted the absence of a response in such a way that the government wants to reserve the right to put him at a later date in court. The error cleared up only when the document was found decades later. Lee’s example to apply for amnesty, was an encouragement to many other Confederate to accept the outcome of the war and again citizens of the United States.

Lee had lived before the war with his wife in her family home, the Custis-Lee Mansion. The property was confiscated during the war by Union troops in 1864 turned into a cemetery, it is now part of Arlington National Cemetery . 1882, after Lee’s death, ruled the Supreme Court that the expropriation was illegal. Lee’s son, GW Custis sold, then the property for $ 150,000 to the U.S. government.

On 2 October 1865, Lee was president of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University ) in Lexington, Virginia. Under his leadership, the Washington College was one of the first in the U.S., which offers courses in business , journalism and Spanish offered. Robert Edward Lee died on 12 October 1870 in Lexington from heart disease.

1970 was an employee of the National Archives of the minutes of the work done by Lee Treueeids. So President pardoned Gerald Ford 1975 Robert E. Lee posthumously and awarded him again his full rights as citizens.
Lee as a commander

Because of his military decisions and actions, Lee is considered one of the great generals of history. Although hampered by the lack of material and political constraints, his action was always daring, and he never hesitated to take serious risks. Most went on this concept also, but failed at Gettysburg. On the battlefield, he was persistent in attacks forcefully and in defense. He was popular with his soldiers. Lee dominated the event on the battlefield and his extraordinary skills were coming into the last desperate battles of the war expressed. [12]

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