General Robert E. Lee was one of the most single-handedly best tacticians and generals of his time. Some may say that he was a reincarnate of other great leaders such as Hannibal and Napoleon, but he had in fact done more with less than what those people did. However, despite many victories on the battlefield during the Civil War and his brilliance, General Robert E. Lee was forced to bow down due to overwhelming odds that the Union army brought.
Robert E. Lee was born in Virginia on January 19th, 1807 to an aristocratic family. He graduated from the Military Academy at West Point and married Mary Custis. When the Mexican War began Lee was assigned to Winfield Scott’s regimen and served amazingly there proving his brilliance after a long wait to finally reach this moment in his life. As a result of his exploits during the Mexican War, Lee was considered one of the most courageous and most intelligent of the officers during that time.
After the war, Lee served as a superintendent of West Point until 1855 when he left to take a cavalry position in Texas. In 1859 he was ordered to stop John Brown’s slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry which he easily managed to accomplish within an hour. Due to his feats, his name was one of few to be a general for the Union army in case the Union does split.
At the beginning of the Civil war, Abraham Lincoln asked Lee to lead the Union forces. Lee declined this offer and resigned due to his love of Virginia as he put it before all. Despite also being opposed to secession and viewing slavery as an evil, he would not take arms against his fellow southerners. Robert E. Lee did not fight for the south until his home state of Virginia was invaded, and that was the point where he joined the Confederate army.
Lee distinguished himself on the battlefield and took command of the force known as the “Army of Northern Virginia” in 1862. Robert E. Lee was able to defeat George McClellan in the Seven Days Battle forcing the Union army to retreat. Later in the second Battle of Bull Run in 1862 and the battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, Lee was dangerously outnumbered. Despite all odds, Lee whipped out his brilliant moves in order to outmaneuver and outplan managing to win these important battles for the Confederacy. With the battle of Antietam and Gettysburg in July 1863, the tide turned against the Confederate forces. By 1865 with little material and decreasing funds from the Confederacy, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Virginia on April 9th, 1865. After he surrendered to Grant, he instructs his men to simply go home; not to fight a guerrilla war. These words were ones that came from a great tactician who nowadays is despised as a traitor to the US.
Lee eventually became the President of Washington College in Lexington Virginia which is today Washington and Lee University. During this period of time, Lee did everything he could to create reconciliation between the north and south. While still president of the college, Robert E. Lee died on October 12th, 1870 in Lexington Virginia, leaving behind many controversies with his actions, but ultimately he died as a man of principle.