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Robert E. Lee


Robert E. Lee


Robert E. Lee accomplished many things in his life since his birth in 1807. Many of these accomplishments have had an impact on the world today. Lee was a respected man, even during the Civil war the president and the opposing side (Union) admired him. General Robert E. Lee was the greatest war general in the history of the United States. When Robert was young, he was very close to his father. Harry Lee had taught his son, Robert, how to shoot a rifle. He would often tell his son about the exciting events that happened when he was fighting side by side with George Washington. Although they had fun these times, his father took a turn for the worst. In 1818, young Lee’s father died of old war injuries. He was left with his mother and four other brothers and sisters to take care of. As he grew older, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his father. With help from some of his relatives in the government, he got into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The school was hard. A lot of studying, bad food and hard bed could really mess up a person’s concentration, but at eighteen, his dreams of becoming an army engineer kept him going. Lee always strived to be the top student in his class, but never made it. At his senior year he was second best. He couldn’t wait to graduate. When the day finally came, in 1829 he was one of the best in the class to graduate they dubbed him Second Lieutenantant the Corps of Engineers. His first assignment was to assist in the design and construction of a U.S. army fort in Georgia. After his mission in Georgia, he went back to his home state, Virginia. There he met a woman by the name of Mary Anne Custis. Eventually, after courting, they fell in love and got married. With training at West Point, he was able to build many things for his country. Dikes, bridges and roads were some of the many things he made. An excellent engineer, Robert E. Lee was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1836 then Captain in 1838. During the time when slavery was an issue, Robert E. Lee released his slaves because he thought it was morally wrong. He helped stop John Brown from raiding Harper’s Ferry and distributing the weapons to the African American slaves. Brown was then hanged. Robert saw that the issue of slavery was tearing the nation apart and he was scared. He didn’t know what he would do if Virginia seceded from the nation. Would he stay loyal to the union or fight for the state he grew up in? The time came for him to make a decision. Virginia seceded in 1861. President Lincoln asked him to fight for the North… but it was too late. Lee made his decision. He was going to fight for the South. Just overnight he received command of the army of Northern Virginia. In 1862 Union soldiers had attacked Virginia. Along side General “Stonewall” Jackson he was able to drive the union soldiers out of his state. This war lasted seven days. After winning a couple of wars the Confederacy had changed their strategy. From the start they were only to fight a defensive war but now with their newly found confidence they decided to attack Washington D.C. General Lee lead the attack. Lee’s forces were cornered at Antietam creek. The south was out numbered, as they were on all wars, but Lee’s tactics made up for the lack of soldiers. The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest battle to ever occur in the Civil war. There were so many deaths in this battle that no side was really victorious. In February 1865, Lee was made Commander-in-chief of all Confederate armies. Tired and hungry he and his troops marched up to the Appomattox Court house. The General knew the war was over. He then made the best decision, in my opinion that he could make. On April 9, 1863 he surrendered. The Civil war was finally over. Many people had much respect for the war General, even the north. He then gave his speech, “ Lee’s Farewell to the army of Northern Virginia.”



Eventually he became the president of Washington College at Lexington, Virginia. Robert helped make that school very rich so they renamed it Washington and Lee College. One terrible day on October 12, 1870, Robert E. Lee, the greatest of them all, died. He was buried in a little chapel on the campus of Washington and Lee College.




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