ROBERT E. LEE
Robert E. Lee was born into a military family on January 19, 1807. He was the fifth child of Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee who was famous for his role in the Revolutionary War. After growing up in Virginia, the younger Lee was enrolled at West Point, where he graduated in 1829 without receiving a single demerit in the four years he was enrolled, all while achieving perfect scores in artillery, infantry and cavalry. Upon his graduation, Lee married Mary Custis, the great-grandaughter or Martha Washington, and they had seven children together.
As the military was his career, Robert E. Lee moved around a lot during the first few years after West Point, moving from Savannah to St. Louis to New York until he finally got the opportunity he was waiting for. Serving under General Winfield Scott in the Mexican War, Robert Lee was able to distinguish himself as a brave battle commander and strategic tactician. The thrill of being a successful military commander was not all good for Lee however, as after the fighting finished, the mundane tasks of normal life grew weary for Lee. The general struggled to maintain his wife’s family’s plantation, and could not find a way to make it profitable. Robert E. Lee was not a plantation owner, he was a military man.
In October of 1859, Lee was called upon to put an end to John Brown’s slave insurrection at Harper’s Ferry, and did so in such impressive fashion that he was put on the shortlist to be the lead commander of the Union army if time of war came to fruition. His loyalties were tested however when Virginia seceded from the Union, and his loyalties laid with Virginia over the U.S. Army. The general left the north and returned to Virginia, agreeing to help lead the Confederate army in the Civil War on April 17, 1861.
General Lee would yet again prove himself valuable in a military sense. On June 1, 1862, his army in Northern Virginia drove back the Union Army during the famous Seven Days Battles in the surrounding areas of Richmond. A few short months later and Lee secured another Confederate victory at the Second Manassas. Just when things seemed like they couldn’t go wrong for any army that was commanded by Robert E. Lee, he courted disaster after crossing the Potomac. As soon as he entered into Maryland, Lee suffered terrible casualties at the Battle of Antietam. Lee escaped, but the battle left 22,000 dead soldiers, the single bloodiest one-day battle of the war. After this, things started to go downhill for Lee’s army, losing multiple battles at Gettysburg in Pennsylavania, which firmly turned the tide in the Unions favor, and eventually leading to Ulysses S. Grant seizing Richmond from Lee’s hands. Although the Civil War did not go in the way of Lee and the Confederate Army, he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest military minds of his generation.