Robert E. Lee (1807–1870) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. Lee graduated from West Point in 1829, and fought in the Mexican-American War. In 1859, Lee was ordered to suppress John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. After Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, Lee was offered and declined command of the US Army. Instead, he resigned his commission and accepted an appointment in Virginia’s state forces, and then joined the Confederate Army.

Lee served the Confederate Army in several positions before assuming command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862. With support from Stonewall Jackson’s forces, Lee soon led Confederate troops in the Seven Days’ Battles and the Second Battle of Bull Run. His forces experienced significant losses at Antietam in September 1862, which forced Lee to alter his offensive strategy. He had victories at Fredericksburg in December and Chancellorsville in May 1863. In 1864 Ulysses S. Grant was appointed command of Union forces. Grant’s and Lee’s forces met at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, and Grant soon began a pursuit of the Confederate general’s forces. Lee was appointed general in chief of Confederate forces in February 1865, but by April he recognized that the Confederate effort was nearing its end. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House. After the war, Lee served as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. He died in September 1870.

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