Robert Edward Lee

.. momentous personal decision. After the firing on of Fort Sumpter, the first shots of the Civil War, Lee was offered command of the Federal Army by Abraham Lincoln. Lee was offered command of an army that was charged with the duty of invading the South. A south that included Virginia, a Virginia that Lee truly loved.

On the morning of April 19th, Lee returned from nearby Alexandria with news that Virginia to had seceded. The Lees had their supper together. Lee then went, alone, to his upstairs bedroom. Below, Mary listened as he paced the floor above, then heard a mild thump as he fell to his knees in prayer. Below, she also prayed (Kelly 41).

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Hours later he showed her two letters he had written. In one he resigned his commission in the United States Army. In the other, he expressed personal thoughts to General Scott. Later, his wife would write: My husband has wept tears of blood over this terrible war, but as a man of honor and a Virginian, he must follow the destiny of his State (Kelley 41). Only two days after his resignation from the United States Army, Lee travelled to Richmond to accept his commission as a General in the Confederate army J. Davis-Papers).

Lee’s impact was felt immediately on the confederacy. As a seasoned military strategist, he brought the most comprehensive, technologically advanced knowledge of warfare to bear against his own former army (Nash 257). General Lee’s first campaign in what was to become West Virginia was not a great success. Command of the Eastern Army was divided between the hero of Fort Sumpter, P.G.T. Beauragard, and Joseph Johnston who together won the first big battle of the East, Bull Run. Thus Joseph Johnston was in command when George B.

McClellan started his march on Richmond. When Johnston went down with wounds it was easy for Davis to replace him with General Lee. Lee immediately took charge and attacked, trying to make up for his numbers with audacity. He drove the Union army back about 25 miles, but was unable to destroy it in a series of continuous battles known as the Seven Days Battle. In September of 1862, McClellan attacked Lee at the Battle of Antietam. McClellan attacked Lee but failed to break his lines.

Lee, realising that he was in a dangerous position and far from his supplies, retreated and took up a defensive position behind the Rappangonnock River in northern Virginia. Here General Ambrose E. Burnside, who succeeded McClellan, attacked Lee in December at the Battle of Fredricksburg and met a bloody repulse. As the year of 1862 closed, Lee had given the Confederacy its greatest victories and had become an idol of the Southern people (Comptons). Lee’s Greatest victory was the Battle of Chancelorsville in May of 1863. Lee was faced with a larger army led by fighting Joe Hooker.

Lee and his most trusted lieutenant, General Stonewall Jackson, divided their forces and through a forced march around General Hooker fell on his exposed flank, rolling it up, and defeating the Union forces yet again (Brinkley 404). After Chancellorsville, Lee started an offensive movement he hoped would win the war, an invasion of Pennsylvania. This led to the greatest land battle in the Western Hemisphere, Gettysburg. The Army of Northern Virginia led by Lee, and the Army of the Potomac led by General George Meade, hammered each other for three days. On the 3rd day of battle General Lee hoping to end the war ordered the great frontal assault popularly known as Pickett’s Charge.

The attack was a huge failure (Brinkley 405). Lee blamed only himself. For the next two years, Lee commanded an Army that was poorly supplied and getting increasingly smaller. Lee had to go on the defensive. He inflicted heavy losses on Grant at the battles of The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor (Brasington). By April 9th 1865 Lee had no choice but to surrender to Grant.

Lee met Grant at Appomatox Courthouse. As Grant walked in the meeting room, wearing a dusty privates uniform, he must have been humbled by the man who rose to greet him. Lee was wearing a noble grey uniform with a polished sword at his side. Grant and Lee then decided on the terms of the surrender. Lee asked Grant if his soldiers could keep their horses. Grant answered, I insist upon it.

As Lee rode back to his camp, Confederate troops surrounded him saying, General are we surrendered? They vowed to go on fighting (Nash). After the war many men came to Lee and said: Let’s not accept this result as final. Let’s keep the anger alive. Lee answered by saying, Make your sons Americans. When the war was lost Robert E. Lee took a job as president of Washington College, a College of forty students and four professors. Over his time he had trained thousands of men to be soldiers, and had seen many of those thousands killed in battle. Now he wanted to prepare forty of them for the duties of peace (Redmond). ————————————————– ———————- Works Citied Brasington, Larry, The American Revolution-an HTML project. Http://odur.let.rug.nl~usa/B/relee/htm, 11/23/97. Brinkley, Alan, American History.

New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Computer Software. Compton’s NewMedia, Inc,1994. Connelly, Thomas L.

The Marble Man. New York: Knopf, 1977. Davis, Jefffers, The Papers.http://www.ruf .edu/~pjdavis/lee/htm, 11/6/97. Grimsley, Wayne. The Differences Deepen. Starkville, MS, 11 Nov.

1997. (Class lecture delivered at Mississippi State University.) Kelly, Brian. Best Little Stories From The Civil War. Charlottesville, VA: Montpelier Publishing, 1996. Nash, Roderick, and Graves, Gregory. From These Beginnings. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. National Park Service.

Http://www.nps.gov/gwmp/arl hse.html., 11/6/97. Redmond, Louis. He Lost a War and Won Immortality. Http://www-scf.usc.edu/~herron nva.html, 11/6/97. Thomas, Emory. Robert E. Lee. Http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/LEE.lifle.html, 11/17/97.

Bibliography ————————————————– ———————- Works Citied Brasington, Larry, The American Revolution-an HTML project. Http://odur.let.rug.nl~usa/B/relee/htm, 11/23/97. Brinkley, Alan, American History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia. Computer Software. Compton’s NewMedia, Inc,1994.

Connelly, Thomas L. The Marble Man. New York: Knopf, 1977. Davis, Jefffers, The Papers.http://www.ruf .edu/~pjdavis/lee/htm, 11/6/97. Grimsley, Wayne.

The Differences Deepen. Starkville, MS, 11 Nov. 1997. (Class lecture delivered at Mississippi State University.) Kelly, Brian. Best Little Stories From The Civil War. Charlottesville, VA: Montpelier Publishing, 1996. Nash, Roderick, and Graves, Gregory. From These Beginnings.

New York: HarperCollins, 1995. National Park Service. Http://www.nps.gov/gwmp/arl hse.html., 11/6/97. Redmond, Louis. He Lost a War and Won Immortality. Http://www-scf.usc.edu/~herron nva.html, 11/6/97. Thomas, Emory. Robert E.

Lee. Http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/LEE.lifle.html, 11/17/97.

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