Skip to comments.Happy Birthday-Robert E Lee
Posted on 01/19/2005 7:38:59 AM PST by Valin
The idol of the South to this day, Virginian Robert E. Lee had some difficulty in adjusting to the new form of warfare that unfolded with the Civil war, but this did not prevent him from keeping the Union armies in Virginia at bay for almost three years. The son of Revolutionary War hero "Light Horse" Harry Lee-who fell into disrepute in his later years attended West Point and graduated second in his class. During his four years at the military academy he did not earn a single demerit and served as the cadet corps' adjutant. Upon his 1829 graduation he was posted to the engineers. Before the Mexican War he served on engineering projects in Georgia, Virginia, and New York. During the war he served on the staffs of John Wool and Winfield Scott. Particularly distinguishing himself scouting for and guiding troops, he won three brevets and was slightly wounded at Chapultepec.
Following a stint in Baltimore Harbor he became superintendent of the military academy in 1852. When the mounted arm was expanded in 1855, Lee accepted the lieutenant colonelcy of the 2nd Cavalry in order to escape from the painfully slow promotion in the engineers. Ordered to western Texas, he served with his regiment until the 1857 death of his father-in-law forced him to ask for a series of leaves to settle the estate.
In 1859 he was called upon to lead a force of marines, to join with the militia on the scene, to put an end to John Brown's Harper's Ferry Raid. Thereafter he served again in Texas until summoned to Washington in 1861 by Winfield Scott who tried to retain Lee in the U. S. service. But the Virginian rejected the command of the Union's field forces on the day after Virginia seceded. He then accepted an invitation to visit Governor John Letcher in Virginia. His resignation as colonel, 1st Cavalry-to which he had recently been promoted-was accepted on April 25, 1861.
His Southern assignments included: major general, Virginia's land and naval forces (April 23, 1861); commanding Virginia forces (April 23 July 1861); brigadier general, CSA (May 14, 186 1); general, CSA (from June 14, 186 1); commanding Department of Northwestern Virginia (late July-October 1861); commanding Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida (November 8, 186 1-March 3, 1862); and commanding Army of Northern Virginia June 1, 1862-April 9, 1865).
In charge of Virginia's fledgling military might, he was mainly involved in organizational matters. As a Confederate brigadier general, and later full general, he was in charge of supervising all Southern forces in Virginia. In the first summer of the war he was given his first field command in western Virginia. His Cheat Mountain Campaign was a disappointing fizzle largely due to the failings of his superiors. His entire tenure in the region was unpleasant, dealing with the bickering of his subordinates-William W. Loring, John B. Floyd, and Henry A. Wise. After this he became known throughout the South as "Granny Lee. " His debut in field command had not been promising, but Jefferson Davis appointed him to command along the Southern Coast.
Early in 1862 he was recalled to Richmond and made an advisor to the president. From this position he had some influence over military operations, especially those of Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley. When Joseph E. Johnston launched his attack at Seven Pines, Davis and Lee were taken by surprise and rode out to the field. In the confusion of the fight Johnston was badly wounded, and that night Davis instructed Lee to take command of what he renamed the Army of Northern Virginia. He fought the second day of the battle but the initiative had already been lost the previous day. Later in the month, in a daring move, he left a small force in front of Richmond and crossed the Chickahominy to strike the one Union corps north of the river. In what was to be called the Seven Days Battles the individual fights-Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines' Mill, Savage Station, Glendale, White Oak Swamp, and Malvern Hill-were all tactical defeats for the Confederates. But Lee had achieved the strategic goal of removing McClellan's army from the very gates of Richmond.
This created a new opinion of Lee in the South. He gradually became "Uncle Robert" and "Marse Robert." With McClellan neutralized, a new threat developed under John Pope in northern Virginia. At first Lee detached Jackson and then followed with Longstreet's command. Winning at 2nd Bull Run, he moved on into Maryland but suffered the misfortune of having a copy of his orders detailing the disposition of his divided forces fall into the hands of the enemy. McClellan moved with unusual speed and Lee was forced to fight a delaying action along South Mountain while waiting for Jackson to complete the capture of Harpers Ferry and rejoin him. He masterfully fought McClellan to a stand still at Antietam and two days later recrossed the Potomac.
Near the end of the year he won an easy victory over Burnside at Fredericksburg and then trounced Hooker in his most creditable victory at Chancellorsville, where he had detached Jackson with most of the army on a lengthy flank march while he remained with only two divisions in the immediate front of the Union army. Launching his second invasion of the North, he lost at Gettysburg. On the third day of the battle he displayed one of his major faults when at Malvern Hill and on other fields-he ordered a massed infantry assault across a wide plain, not recognizing that the rifle, which had come into use since the Mexican War, put the charging troops under fire for too long a period. Another problem was his issuance of general orders to be executed by his subordinates.
Returning to Virginia he commanded in the inconclusive Bristoe and Mine Run campaigns. From the Wilderness to Petersburg he fought a retiring campaign against Grant in which he made full use of entrenchments, becoming known as "Ace of Spades" Lee. Finally forced into a siege, he held on to Richmond and Petersburg for nearly 10 months before beginning his retreat to Appomattox, where he was forced to surrender. On January 23, 1865, he had been named as commander in chief of the Confederate armies but he found himself too burdened in Virginia to give more than general directives to the other theaters.
Lee returned to Richmond as a paroled prisoner of war, and submitted with the utmost composure to an altered destiny. He devoted the rest of his life to setting an example of conduct for other thousands of ex-Confederates. He refused a number of offers which would have secured substantial means for his family. Instead, he assumed the presidency of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia, and his reputation revitalized the school after the war. Lee's enormous wartime prestige, both in the North and South, and the devotion inspired by his unconscious symbolism of the "Lost Cause" made his a legendary figure even before his death. He died on October 12 1870, of heart disease which had plagued him since the spring of 1863, at Lexington, Va. and is buried there. Somehow, his application for restoration of citizenship was mislaid, and it was not until the 1970's that it was found and granted.
Source: "Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis
After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.
I need not tell the survivors of so many hard-fought battles who have remained steadfast to the last that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen. By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged.
You may take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.
With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration of myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.
His lasting legacy is a great minstrel song: Waiting for the Robert E. Lee.
I pass by his boyhood home in Alexandria, VA often. I always salute as I do. His memory deserves no less.
And part of a lame Joan Baez song, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".
I have just posted this on Christian News in maine.com for our readers, I am adding a link back here so that our readers can enjoy Freeper comments.
Aw, come on. You just don't want to chip in on the birthday gift.
Happy Birthday General Robert E. Lee. He is the definition of a gentleman.
I don't know on which level to respond to this garbage. (not enough time while at work)
Happy Birthday Robert E. Lee!
From a PROUD Southerner!!!
I consistently fail to see why these losers are lionized.
Ignorance really is bliss, isn't it?
Go away newbie troll.
"If ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."
Maybe you two didnt catch this, but he was asked to be the Commander of US Forces. The only reason he didnt take it was because Virginia as a state suceded from the Union. And, although it doesnt say it, he lobbied for them not to.