Robert Lee
Robert Edward Lee is considered one of the greatest generals in the history of
the United States. Lee was opposed to many views of the south, including
succession and slavery, yet his loyalty to his native state of Virginia forced
him to fight for the south and refuse command of the Union armies during the

Civil War. Because of this, he was respected by every man in America including

Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Robert Edward Lee was born to parents,

Henry Lee of Leesylvania, and mother Ann Hill Carter of Shirley, in Stratford

Hall near Montross, Virginia, on January 19, 1807. He grew up with a great love
for country living and his state, which would be instilled in him for the rest
of his life. He was a very serious boy and spent many hours in his father's
library reading as many books as he could get his hands on. He loved to play
with his friends, swim and hunt. Lee looked up to his father and always wanted
to know what he was doing. George Washington and his father, "Light-Horse

Harry Lee," were his two heroes and he wanted to be just like them when he
grew up. In 1811 the Lee family moved to a larger home in Alexandria, Virginia.

The next year his father received injuries in a Baltimore riot from which he
never fully recovered and that also caused his leaving of Alexandria for a
warmer climate. He died six years later at Cumberland Island, Georgia when

Robert was only 12. Robert was forced to become the man of the family and cared
for his mother and sisters because his father and elder brothers had left.

Robert would stuff papers to block cracks in the carriage and go driving to help
his mother get out during her failing health. Years later, when Robert left for

West Point, Ann Lee wrote to a cousin, "How will I ever get on with out

Robert, he is both a son and a daughter" (

1). In 1825, at the age of 18, Lee entered the United States Military Academy at

West Point where his classmates admired him for his brilliance, leadership, and
love for his work. West Point was not his first choice for a school, but there
was no money left to send him to Harvard because his older brother, Charles

Carter, had used it for his own studies at Harvard. He graduated from the
academy with high honors in 1829 and was ranked as Second Lieutenant in the

Corps of Engineers at the age of 21. He headed for home at the age of 22 with
$103.58 (Thomas 54). Lee served for seventeen months at Fort Pulaski on Cockspur

Island, Georgia. In 1831 the army transferred Lee to Fort Monroe, Virginia, as
assistant engineer. While he was stationed there, he married Mary Anna Randolph

Custis, Martha Washington's great-granddaughter. They lived in her family home
in Arlington on a hill overlooking Washington D. C.. They had seven children,
three sons and four daughters. On September 16, 1832, Mary gave birth to George

Washington Custis Lee. Later in 1835 they had their second child, Mary Curtis.

They had five more children, William Henry Fitzgerald, Annie, Agnes, Robert and

Mildred. Lee served as an assistant in the chief engineer's office in Washington
from 1834 to 1837 and spent the summer of 1835 helping to lay out the boundary
line between Ohio and Michigan. In 1837 he got his first important job as a

First Lieutenant of engineers. He supervised the engineering work for St. Louis
harbor and for the upper Mississippi and Missouri rivers. His work there earned
him a promotion to Captain. In 1841 he was transferred to Fort Hamilton in New

York harbor, where he took charge of building fortifications. When war broke out
between the United States and Mexico in 1846, the army sent Lee to Texas to
serve as assistant engineer under General John E. Wool. All his superior
officers, including General Winfield Scott, were impressed with Lee. Early in
the war, Lee supervised the construction of bridges for Wool's march toward the

Mexican border. He then did excellent work on scouting trips. Lee later was
helping General Winfield Scott plan a great battle. The Army was about to attack

Vera Cruz, a large Mexican town on the sea. Soldiers fired huge guns at the
walls of Vera Cruz. One of the men at the guns happened to be Robert's brother,

Smith Lee. When he could, Lee went to stand by his brother's gun. "I could
see his white