To most Americans, the name Robert E Lee will be one which is very familiar. The decorated war general led Northern Virginia into battle in the American Civil War, representing the Confederacy. He would eventually surrender to Ulysses S Grant, representing the Union, but not without going down in history himself.
Here are some interesting facts about General Lee you may not be aware of – it’s always good to brush up on your history!
- General Lee came from a military background. His father, Henry ‘Light-Horse Harry’ Lee, was a war hero, and Robert was the fifth of his children.
- Henry Lee was also the governor of Virginia for three years up to 1794.
- President Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the role of commander in the Union Army in the mid-19th Century. However, as well all know, the General turned him down.
- Lee was often known for his complex plans, and he was often known to retreat if there was any chance of men losing their lives without cause. While a noble notion, many referred to him as ‘Granny Lee’ as a result.
- However, he would earn a new nickname, ‘Marse Robert’, after he succeeded over General George B McClellan over the Seven Days’ Battles. Overnight, it seems, Lee’s presence of a wary warrior had transformed into one of commanding respect.
- However, Lee’s intricate tactical planning likely helped America in their triumph over Mexico between 1846 and 1848. Lee was notably present on the frontline in at least four battles, and helped America find secret routes through the Mexican defences.
- This would, however, in fact lead to Lee resigning from the army in 1854, and he gave no clear reason for doing so.
- One for claiming nicknames, it seems, by 1862, Lee had earned himself the title of ‘Unconditional Surrender’, following further major victories.
- Lee married Mary Custis, who was actually related to the original First Lady of the US, Martha Washington. They would have seven children together.
- In fact, Custis’ father was very opposed to the marriage occurring at all. This, it’s believed, is as a result of Lee’s criminal record.
- Lee was eventually forced to surrender against Ulysses S Grant and the Union, therefore ending the Civil War. Many historians believe that Grant’s victory came so easily thanks to the access he had to various artillery.
- Believe it or not, Lee was actually opposed to fighting the Civil War, perhaps going alongside his ‘Granny Lee’ image. He felt that the conflict would be extremely hard to fight, and actually wanted to pursue more peaceful routes for reconciliation. However, he was a man of loyalty as well as principle, and refused to secede to the Union. Unfortunately for Lee and the Confederacy, history tells us exactly what happened next.
- Lee wasn’t arrested for his role in the war. However, he did go on to become the President of Washington College before his passing, and he had to give up his right to vote.
Do you know any interesting facts about Robert E Lee that we’ve not mentioned? Let us know in the comments section below!
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