Gen. Robert E. Lee, CSA

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Gen. Robert Edward Lee, Sr.

Birthplace: Stratford Hall, Westmoreland County, Virginia, United States
Death: October 12, 1870 (63)
At home, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia, United States (pneumonia and congestion of the brain)
Place of Burial: Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Maj. Gen. Henry Lee, "Light Horse Harry", Governor of Virginia and Anne Hill Lee
Husband of Mary Ann Randolph Lee
Father of Major Gen. George Washington Custis Lee (CSA); Mary Custis Lee; Maj. Gen. William Henry Fitzhugh Lee, CSA; Anne Carter Fairweather; Capt. Robert "Rob" E. Lee, Jr. (CSA) and 16 others
Brother of Algernon Sidney Lee; Charles Carter Lee; Anne Kinloch Marshall; Captain Sydney Smith Lee, I (CSA Navy) and Catharine Mildred Childe
Half brother of George Washington Custis Lee; Nathaniel Greene Lee; Philip Ludwell Lee, III; Lucy Grymes Carter; Henry "Black Horse Harry" Lee IV and 13 others

Occupation: General of all Confederate Armies, General in the US Army, College President
Managed by: Tina Marie Brown
Last Updated:

About Gen. Robert E. Lee, CSA

Robert E. Lee was an American Confederate general who served in the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, during which he was appointed the overall commander of the Confederate States Army. He led the Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy's most powerful army, from 1862 until its surrender in 1865. During the war, Lee earned a solid reputation as a skilled tactician, for which he was revered by his officers and men as well as respected and feared by his Union Army adversaries.

A son of Revolutionary War officer Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee III, Lee was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years. During this time, he served throughout the United States, distinguished himself during the Mexican–American War, and served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy. Lee married Mary Anna Custis Lee, great-granddaughter of George Washington's wife Martha. When Virginia's 1861 Richmond Convention declared secession from the Union, Lee chose to follow his home state, despite his desire for the country to remain intact and an offer of a senior Union command. During the first year of the Civil War, he served in minor combat operations and as a senior military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign following the wounding of Joseph E. Johnston. He succeeded in driving the Union Army of the Potomac under George B. McClellan away from the Confederate capital of Richmond during the Seven Days Battles, although he was unable to destroy McClellan's army. Lee then overcame Union forces under John Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run in August. His invasion of Maryland that September ended with the inconclusive Battle of Antietam, after which he retreated to Virginia. Lee then won two decisive victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville before launching a second invasion of the North in the summer of 1863, where he was decisively defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg by the Army of the Potomac under George Meade. He led his army in the minor and inconclusive Bristoe Campaign that fall before General Ulysses S. Grant took command of Union armies in the spring of 1864. Grant engaged Lee's army in bloody but inconclusive battles at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania before the lengthy Siege of Petersburg, which was followed in April 1865 by the capture of Richmond and the destruction of most of Lee's army, which he finally surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House.

In 1865, Lee became president of Washington College (later Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia; in that position, he supported reconciliation between North and South. Lee accepted "the extinction of slavery" provided for by the Thirteenth Amendment, but opposed racial equality for African Americans. After his death in 1870, Lee became a cultural icon in the South and is largely hailed as one of the Civil War's greatest generals. As commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, he fought most of his battles against armies of significantly larger size, and managed to win many of them. Lee built up a collection of talented subordinates, most notably James Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson, and J. E. B. Stuart, who along with Lee were critical to the Confederacy's battlefield success. In spite of his success, his two major strategic offensives into Union territory both ended in failure. Lee's aggressive and risky tactics, especially at Gettysburg, which resulted in high casualties at a time when the Confederacy had a shortage of manpower, have come under criticism.

Family life

Lee was born at Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to Henry Lee III and Anne Hill Carter Lee on January 19, 1807. His ancestor, Richard Lee I, emigrated from Shropshire, England to Virginia in 1639.

Although brought up to be a practicing Christian, he was not confirmed in the Episcopal Church until age 46.

While Lee was stationed at Fort Monroe, he married Mary Anna Randolph Custis (1808–1873), great-granddaughter of Martha Washington by her first husband Daniel Parke Custis, and step-great-granddaughter of George Washington, the first president of the United States. Mary was the only surviving child of George Washington Parke Custis, George Washington's stepgrandson, and Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis, daughter of William Fitzhugh and Ann Bolling Randolph. Robert and Mary married on June 30, 1831, at Arlington House, her parents' house just across the Potomac from Washington. The 3rd U.S. Artillery served as honor guard at the marriage. They eventually had seven children, three boys and four girls:

  1. George Washington Custis Lee (Custis, "Boo"); 1832–1913; served as major general in the Confederate Army and aide-de-camp to President Jefferson Davis, captured during the Battle of Sailor's Creek; unmarried
  2. Mary Custis Lee (Mary, "Daughter"); 1835–1918; unmarried
  3. William Henry Fitzhugh Lee ("Rooney"); 1837–1891; served as major general in the Confederate Army (cavalry); married twice; surviving children by second marriage
  4. Anne Carter Lee (Annie); June 18, 1839 – October 20, 1862; died of typhoid fever, unmarried
  5. Eleanor Agnes Lee (Agnes); 1841 – October 15, 1873; died of tuberculosis, unmarried
  6. Robert Edward Lee, Jr. (Rob); 1843–1914; served in the Confederate Army, first as a private in the (Rockbridge Artillery), later as a Captain on the staff of his brother Rooney; married twice; surviving children by second marriage
  7. Mildred Childe Lee (Milly, "Precious Life"); 1846–1905; unmarried

All the children survived him except for Annie, who died in 1862. They are all buried with their parents in the crypt of the University Chapel at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

Lee was a great-great-great-grandson of William Randolph and a great-great-grandson of Richard Bland. He was a second cousin of Helen Keller's grandmother, and was a distant relative of Admiral Willis Augustus Lee.

Death & legacy

On September 28, 1870, Lee suffered a stroke. He died two weeks later, shortly after 9 a.m. on October 12, 1870, in Lexington, Virginia, from the effects of pneumonia. According to one account, his last words on the day of his death, were "Tell Hill he must come up! Strike the tent," but this is debatable because of conflicting accounts and because Lee's stroke had resulted in aphasia, possibly rendering him unable to speak.

Among the supporters of the Confederacy, Lee came to be even more revered after his surrender than he had been during the war, when Stonewall Jackson had been the great Confederate hero. By the end of the 19th century, Lee's popularity had spread to the North. Lee's admirers have pointed to his character and devotion to duty, and his occasional tactical successes in battles against a stronger foe. Military historians continue to pay attention to his battlefield tactics and maneuvering, though many think he should have designed better strategic plans for the Confederacy. He was not given full direction of the Southern war effort until late in the conflict.

The birthday of Robert E. Lee is celebrated or commemorated in several states. In Texas, he is celebrated as part of Confederate Heroes Day on January 19, Lee's birthday. In Alabama and Mississippi, his birthday is celebrated on the same day as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, while in Georgia, this occurred on the day after Thanksgiving before 2016, when the state stopped officially recognizing the holiday. In Virginia, Lee–Jackson Day was celebrated on the Friday preceding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day which is the third Monday in January, until 2020, when the Virginia legislature eliminated the holiday, making Election Day a state holiday instead.

All of the above text is obtained from Wikipedia, CC BY-SA. Please see their article for more detailed information, including about his extensive military service.


  • Virginia, U.S., Death Registers, 1853-1911 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2022.
    • Library of Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912.
      • Name: Robert Edward Lee; Gender: Male; Race: White; Age: 64; Birth Date: abt 1806; Death Date: 12 Oct 1870; Death Place: Lexington-Fayette, Rockbridge, Virginia; Cause of Death: Congestion of the Brain; Occupation: President W[ashington] College; Spouse: Mary Custis.
  • Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.
    • Name: Robert Edward Lee; Enlistment Age: 54; Birth Date: 19 Jan 1807; Birth Place: Westmoreland County, Virginia; Enlistment Date: 14 May 1861; Enlistment Place: Richmond, Virginia; Enlistment Rank: Brig General; Muster Date: 14 May 1861; Muster Place: Confederate States; Muster Regiment: Gen & Staff; Muster Information: Commission; Rank Change Date: 14 Jun 1861; Rank Change Rank: General; Muster Out Date: 9 Apr 1865; Muster Out Place: Appomattox Court House, Virginia; Muster Out Information: Surrendered; Side of War: Confederacy; Survived War?: Yes; Last Known Residence Place: Lexington, Virginia; Death Date: 12 Oct 1870; Death Place: Lexington, Virginia; Burial Place: Lexington, Virginia; Occupation: US Army Officer; Title: Heitman: Register of United States Army 1789-1903; Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders; Index to Compiled Confederate Military Service Records.
  • Lundy, Darryl. "General Robert Edward Lee." ThePeerage, published 20 April 2022. < link > Accessed 27 April 2022.
  • Mosley, Charles and Hugh Brogan Charles. American Presidential Families, p. 23. London: Alan Sutton and Morris Genealogical Books, 1994.
  • "Robert E. Lee." Biographical Summaries of Notable People via MyHeritage. < link > Accessed 27 April 2022.
  • "Robert E. Lee." FindAGrave, published 31 December 2000. < link > Accessed 27 April 2022.
  • "Robert E. Lee." Wikipedia, revision of 27 April 2022. < link > Accessed 27 April 2022.
  • Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.
    • Name: Robert Edward Lee; Gender: Male; Birth Place: VA; Birth Year: 1807; Spouse Name: Mary Anne Custis; Spouse Birth Place: VA; Spouse Birth Year: 1808; Marriage Year: 1831.

Additional reading

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Gen. Robert E. Lee, CSA's Timeline

January 19, 1807
Stratford Hall, Westmoreland County, Virginia, United States
- 1861
Age 21
United States Army
- 1861
Age 21
United States of America
April 1831
Bristol, Washington, Virginia, United States
Bristol, VA, United States
September 16, 1832
Arlington Plant., Alexandria, Fairfax, VA.
July 12, 1835
Arlington House, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, United States
July 12, 1835
Alexandria, Fairfax, Virginia, United States