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Robert E. Lee: The Greatest General

2460 words - 10 pages

General Robert E. Lee was not only a great man, but also one of the greatest military leaders in American history. He led brother against brother, and he did it all for his home state of Virginia. Not because he agreed with all the politics of the South, but he loved where he had grown up and where his ancestors started in America.Robert E. Lee was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia on January 19th, 1807. He was the third son of Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee and Ann Hill Carter Lee. When the Lees started having financial trouble they moved to Alexandria, Virginia. There, Robert E. Lee distinguished himself in the local schools. In 1811 Henry Lee died and increasing responsibility fell on the Lee brothers. More responsibility was put on Robert because he had to care for his aging mother.In June of 1825, Robert E. Lee arrived at West Point Military Academy and at the end of four years; he graduated second in his class. ( 1)Although Lee did not finish at the head of his class, he still holds one unshakeable record. he never receiving a demerit or a bad mark, all four years of his schooling. ( 1) After West Point he was commissioned as a brevet lieutenant of engineers. Soon he was stationed at Fort Pulaski, Georgia and Fort Monroe, Virginia to build up their defenses. At Fort Monroe, Lee met his future wife Mary Ann Randolph Custis, and they were married on June 30th, 1831. ( 1) In November of 1834, they moved to the Arlington House where they raised their seven children. From 1834 to 1837, Lee worked in the chief engineer's office in Washington D.C. and was transferred to Fort Hamilton, New York until 1846. (Stern 54, 69)In August of 1846, Lee joined General John E. Wool's army, which was stationed in Mexico. During the Battle of Buena Vista, Lee's boldness caught the attention of his superiors and was transferred to General Winfield Scott's expedition to Veracruz. In the Battle of Veracruz and in General Scott's advance on Mexico City, Lee won more acclaim from his superiors. During General Scott's occupation of Mexico City, Lee worked on maps for any future military campaigns. Since Lee was a captain in the regular service, he was promoted to a brevet colonel for his gallantry in the war. ( 1)After the war with Mexico, Lee returned to his engineering post at Fort Carroll, Baltimore. During his time at Fort Carroll he fell ill with malaria, which was his first recorded illness. Soon in 1852, he was ordered to West Point to become the superintendent. During his time as the superintendent Lee watched his oldest son, Custis Lee, graduate first in his class at West Point. (Stern 93 - 94)One year later in 1855 Lee was made a lieutenant colonel of the 2nd U.S. Calvary, which was one of the army's elite units. From 1857 to 1859 he had to deal with some family business and had even considered resigning his commission. After he and his men had defeated the...

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