The Civil War is extremely complex.
None of us were witness to it. We have to study it.
What we learn is filtered through the memories of the participants and the themes of authors.
Good, bad, right, wrong or indifferent, Lee won when the odds were against him.
He was a very good Commander.
Lee was an excellent general and he had many truly excellent generals on his staff.
Lee was brilliant at exploiting the weaknesses of his opponents. It just happens that the weaknesses of his opponents were their generals. Let’s face it, the generals he went up against; McClelland, Burnside, Hooker, and most of the rest were third rate. Primarily political promotes. It’s easy to come out on top when you’re a first rate general with first rate subordinates going against the third string.
Grant and Sherman were very good generals who knew their own shortcomings and they knew how to fight and when they failed they came back even more aggressively. Never give up.
They also knew that Lee was letting his fame influence his decisions. He proved that in spades with the decisions he made at Gettysburg. He came to believe he could not be beaten and convinced his troops of the same. Overconfidence is a fatal flaw in any commander.
Lee was playing for the wrong team. If a thief were to break into your home or hack into your computer, would you admire his ingenuity in doing it?
“He was a very good Commander.”
What helped Lee to be a great commander was that he had as a subordinate perhaps the greatest tactical general the United States has ever produced: Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Lee lost Gettysburg because he fought that battle as if he still had Jackson, who had died just weeks before. Longstreet was no Jackson.