The Death Of Robert E Lee

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The United States was in a war against itself and the nation was divided between the North and Southside. The Northern and Southern states had different thoughts and beliefs during this time, which was one of the main causes of the Civil War. This war was also known as the bloodiest four years of war in American history. The Civil War had started on April 12, 1861, and ended on April 9, 1865. The North wanted to change the economics of slavery and political control over it; which most of the southerners were not too fond of. One of the most historical and important figures of this time was Robert E Lee. Although he has served for the North’s army before the war and was offered to serve as a general for Abraham Lincoln, he declined. Robert felt if he became a general for the Union, he was betraying the South, so he joined the South instead. He was a great general and fought many battles for the Confederate side.

Robert Edward Lee was born in Stratford, Virginia on January 19, 1807. The parents of Robert were Henry Lee III and Anne Hill Carter Lee, both were from rich and prestigious families. However, when Robert was around 2 years old his father Henry had lost most of their money to business deals. This lead to Henry being arrested and put in debtor’s prison for a couple of years. When Henry was freed, he travelled to the West Indies and never came back to his family. The best option for Robert’s future was to enter the military and join the army at West Point, Virginia as a teenager. Robert was assigned as an engineer and later became a lieutenant in the army. Robert E. Lee was then accepted into the United States Military Academy and gained second in his class with no demerits. At the academy, he spent around 4 years learning military education, then graduated in 1829. The Mexican American War came around in the 1840s; Robert was about to experience combat(Robert E Lee | Biography). For his efforts during this time, he was promoted to Colonel and was one of the best soldiers General Winfield Scott had seen.

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In April 1861, Virginia seceded from the Union which made Robert leave them and join the Confederate side as a general(Robert E.Lee | History)As general he lead many battles such as the Battle of Antietam, Gettysburg, Appomattox, Cold Harbor, Cheat Mountain, Fredericksburg, the Wilderness, Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania, Bull runs, and the Seven Days Battle. Many of these he won, except for the battle of Gettysburg, Petersburg, and Appomattox. Even though the Confederates were almost always outnumbered during these battles, Robert was a brilliant general and managed to win most of them. Lee was nicknamed the “Grey Fox” because his uniform and horse were coloured grey, also he was smart as a fox. Robert was “devising a strategy that combined bold field manoeuvres and defensive earthworks that later led to some calling him ‘King of Spades’”, quoted Elizabeth Brown Pryor.

On April 6, during the Appomattox Campaign, the Confederates suffered a costly defeat at sailors creek which left them desperately short of men and supplies. With this situation, Lee had to abandon Richmond and decided to tell General Ulysses S. Grant he was going to surrender at a private home in Appomattox, Virginia. Before his surrender on April 9, 1865, Lee quoted to one of his soldiers,“I suppose there is nothing for me to do and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths.”Although Robert was fighting for the confederation and was considered a traitor to the U.S., Lincoln spared him. Instead of imprisoning him or facing execution, Lincoln took his land and money to make a cemetery and let him live his life. Years after the Civil war he became the president of the Washington College at Lexington. While not that big of a school during that time, Lee’s self-goal was to teach the new generation the right path. He later on in his life regretted ever becoming a military leader and living without the trauma of the war. Decades after the war he was remembered as a heroic figure to Southerners and many monuments were made for his efforts. In September of 1870, Lee had a massive stroke and needed to stay home, but on October 12, he had sadly died in his bed surrounded by family members (Robert E. Lee | Biography).

The United States was indeed in a troubled time and needed to fix itself. The Civil War was the result of the problem, in which many people lost their lives fighting(Robert E.Lee | History). During this time there was a fearsome general named Robert E. Lee who arose to become known as one of America’s greatest generals. From a young age, he was trained in the military army with not much money. Later on in his life, he would serve an important role in the Civil War as a Confederate general and lead many battles. He was a smart leader who was seen as a strategic master by his soldiers in battle, Robert put effort into every fight and used what he had learned(Micheal Korda). While he seemed to be outnumbered in troops by the Union side he somehow manages to manoeuvre around it and conquer. However, this does not mean he was a perfect general and won every battle he has been in. For example, the Appomattox campaign was one of the most important battles in the war but lost. This lead to his surrender at the Appomattox courthouse and retired as a general for the Confederate(Robert E.Lee | History). Robert became a teacher at a college and later died at his bed in October of 1870 due to a stroke. Many people still see him as one of the greatest generals to emerge and some believe he was fighting for the wrong cause.

Works Cited

  1. Elizabeth Brown Pryor.“Robert E.Lee.”The New York Times.February 21,2019,1-1.
  2. “Robert E. Lee | Biography” February 1,2013, February 23, 2019)
  3. “Robert E.Lee | History ”October 29,2009. (accessed February 24, 2019.)
  4. Micheal Korda.Clouds of Glory: The life and legend of Robert E. Lee Harpercollins, May 13, 2014.


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