Biographical essay on Confederate General Robert E. Lee
The liberal media has tried to demonize Robert E. Lee, contrary to what you might read else where, here is his true story. Robert E. Lee was born to a hero in the Revolutionary war named Light-Horse Harry Lee in Stratford Hall, Virginia. He also married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who was a descendant of George Washington’s adopted son, John Parke Custis. So it goes without saying that from the very beginning, Robert E. Lee was destined to be one of the greatest people America has ever known. Due to financial hardships, the father of General Lee departed to the West Indies where Robert despite being young at the moment secured an appointment at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He excelled in the Academy and graduated second, and without any demerits, in the 1829 class. Before he ever stepped foot on the military field, Lee made a name for himself serving as an officer in the Engineers’ Corps for seventeen years. He was mainly involved in supervising and in inspecting the construction of the Coastal defense forces of the nation. During the 1846 Mexican war, he was a member of General Winfield Scott’s staff where he distinguished himself and earned himself three brevets for gallantry and emerged as a colonel (Rable & Thomas, 1996).
The period 1852 to 1855, Lee was serving as a West Point superintendent and had the responsibility of educating many men who were seen later to serve under him and some who opposed him during the Civil War. The year 1855 saw him leave the academy for a position in the Cavalry and was later called upon during John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. In April 1861, he was offered the command of the Federal forces by Abraham Lincoln due to his reputation as one of the very best officers at the time in the United States of America Army. This was a great conflict for the General, as he had to choose between his beloved country and remaining loyal to his state of Virginia. After praying for many days however he resigned from the army on April 17 when Virginia seceded. He took the General’s Commission instead in the Confederate army that had been newly formed at the time (Woodworth & Thomas, 1997).
The very first Military engagement for General Lee during the Civil War was in West Virginia formerly Cheat Mountain in 11th September 1861 where he lost to the Union for which he received heavy criticisms, and mockingly earned the nickname Granny Lee. Lee was then reassigned as a military advisor to President Jefferson Davis till the year 1862 when he was made to command the embattled army of General Joseph E Johnston who was wounded at the moment on the Virginia Peninsula. Given the command, he renamed it the Army of Northern Virginia. It was then that General Lee turned the Army of Northern Virginia into one of the most successful of the Confederate armies. So famous in fact that their Battle Flag soon became a symbol for Southern pride and heritage. Facing multiple battles in which he was outnumber almost always two to one, and facing armies that were always better supplied and equipped with better weaponry. He used very aggressive tactics to utterly humiliate his enemies, his army was in shock that the man who was mocked as “Granny Lee” had so much bravado. The public opinion of the Confederate citizens and soldiers quickly turned and the General quickly earned a new nickname, “Marse Robert”, a term of respect and affection. With the hope of shifting the focus of the war from Virginia, Lee launched an invasion to Maryland in 1862. Lee saw a series of victories from the victory at Chancellorsville to the victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, then Mississippi where afterwards a new command of the Federal armies assumed office by the name Ulysses S. Grant. Grant known as “The Butcher” chose to focus on destroying Lee’s Northern Virginia Army at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives. Grant knew that the South couldn’t replace as many lives as the North and used this to wear down Robert E. Lee’s army in the bloodiest part of the Civil War. By the time 1864 summer arrived, the Confederates had been forced outside Petersburg. Later Lee was forced to surrender his army to Grant at Appomattox Court House thus ending the civil war. Then Lee returned home and later became the Washington College president in Virginia currently known as Washington and Lee University until his death on 12 October 1870 in Lexington, Virginia (Rable & Thomas, 1996).
Rable, G., & Thomas, E. (1996). Robert E. Lee: A Biography. The Journal of Southern History, 62(4), 809. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2211160
Woodworth, S., & Thomas, E. (1997). Robert E. Lee: A Biography. The American Historical Review, 102(1), 192. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2171411