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The flags of General Robert E. Lee

Robert E Lee Photograph

Robert E Lee was born on January 19th 1807 in Stanford Hall Virginia. He was a Colonel in the US Army and a General in the Confederate States of America. He was best known as a commander of the  Confederate States Army. He commanded the Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. 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.

His father was known as “Light Horse Harry Lee”, a Revolutionary War hero. In 1812, Harry Lee was badly injured in a political riot in Baltimore and traveled to the West Indies. He would never return, dying when his son Robert was eleven years old.

His mother was the daughter of a plantation owner and grew up at Shirley Plantation, one of the most elegant homes in Virginia

Robert E. Lee graduated second in his class at West Point, earning no demerits for discipline infractions during his four years there. At the time, the focus of the curriculum was engineering; the head of the Army Corps of Engineers supervised the school and the superintendent was an engineering officer. In June 1829, Lee was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.

Robert E Lee 1938

Abraham Lincoln, who later became president of the United States, offered Robert E. Lee command of the Union Army in 1861, but Lee refused. He would not raise arms against his native state. Lee resigned his commission and headed home to Virginia, where he served as adviser to Confederate leader Jefferson Davis, and then commanded the Army of Northern Virginia.

After the death of Joseph Johnson in the Battle of Seven Pines, June 1st 1862 Lee became the commander of the army, which he renamed Army of Northern Virginia, his opportunity to lead an army in the field.

Lee’s fame soared when he beat back McLellan out of Virginia in a a series of battles. Subsequently he then pushed back into Maryland and Pennsylvania to the battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863. The Confederates suffered great losses and beaten back. McLellan flinched and did not finish the job allowing the war to continue. On February 6, 1865, Lee was appointed General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States.

After four years of death and destruction, on April 9th 1865  Robert E. Lee met Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, where the generals ended their battles. Lee told his comrades, “Go home and be good Americans”.

While Lee held slavery to be an evil institution, he also saw some benefit to blacks held in slavery. While Lee helped assist individual slaves to freedom in Liberia, and provided for their emancipation in his own will, he believed the enslaved should be eventually freed in a general way only at some unspecified future date as a part of God’s purpose. Slavery for Lee was a moral and religious issue, and not one that would yield to political solutions

Andrew Johnson issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon to persons who had participated in the rebellion against the United States. Though there were difficulties on December 25, 1868, Lee was fully pardoned. 

Amnesty Oath of Robert E Lee

Lee was asked to serve as the president of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia, and served from October 1865 until his death. His name was used in large-scale fund-raising which transformed the University’s curriculum. During his tenure he is depicted with dignity and respect he commanded among all.

Death:
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.

A number of monuments, heritage sites, and institutions (including schools) are named after General Robert E. Lee. Among the a prominent statue in New Orleans, sadly torn down in 2017. Arlington House, Robert E Lee Memorial was Lee’s home the Curtis Lee Mansion, the grounds were selected for Arlington National Cemetery in part to ensure that Lee would never again be able to return to his home. In 1953, two stained-glass windows – one honoring Lee, the other Stonewall Jackson – were installed in the Washington National Cathedral

Political leaders in modern history have been quoted to honor him. Winston Churchill said that Robert E. Lee was one of the noblest Americans who ever lived. Lee’s motto is known to be “Duty, Honor, Country.”

These are the flags of General Lee.

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