Rob Lee Robert E. = Lee They say you had to see him to believe that a man so fine = could exist.=20 He was handsome. He was clever. He was brave. He was gentle.
He = was=20 generous and charming, noble and modest, admired and beloved. He had = never=20 failed at anything in his upright soldier’s life. He was born a winner, = this=20 Robert E. Lee. Except for once. In the greatest contest of his life, = in a=20 war between the South and the North, Robert E.
Lee lost (Redmond). = Through=20 his life, Robert E. Lee would prove to be always noble, always a = gentleman,=20 and always capable of overcoming the challenge lying before him. = Robert Edward Lee was born on January 19, 1807 (Compton’s). He = was=20 born into one of Virginia’s most respected families. The Lee family = had=20 moved to America during the mid 1600’s.
Some genealogist can trace the = Lee’s=20 roots back to William the Conqueror. Two members of the Lee family = had signed=20 the Declaration of Independence, Richard Lee and Francis Lightfoot. = Charles=20 Lee had served as attorney General under the Washington = administration=20 while Richard Bland Lee, had become one of Virginia’s leading=20 Federalists. Needless to say, the Lees were an American Political dynasty = (Nash=20 242). Lee’s father was General Henry Light-Horse Harry Lee. He had = been=20 a heroic cavalry leader in the American Revolution.
He married = his=20 cousin Matilda. They had four children, but Matilda died in 1790. On = her death=20 bed she added insult to injury upon Henry Lee by leaving her estate = to=20 her children. She feared Henry would squander the family fortune. = He was=20 well known for poor investments and schemes that had depleted his = own=20 family’s fortune (Connelly 5). Henry Lee solved his financial problems by marrying Robert’s = mother=20 Anne Carter, daughter of one of Virginia’s wealthiest men (Nash = 242). Henry=20 Lee eventually spent his family into debt.
Their stately mansion,=20 Stratford Hall, was turned over to Robert’s half brother. Anne Lee moved = with=20 her children to a simple brick house in Alexandria. Light Horse = Harry=20 was seldom around. Finally, in 1813 he moved to the West Indies. = His=20 self-exile became permanent, and he was never seen again by his family=20 (Thomas). Young Robert had other family problems.
His mother became very = ill. At=20 the age of twelve he had to shoulder the load of not only being the = family’s provider, but also his mother’s nurse. When time came for = Robert to=20 attend college, it was obvious his mother could not support him = financially.=20 She was already supporting his older brother at Harvard and three = other children in school. In 1824 he accepted an appointment to the = United=20 States Military Academy. During his time at West Point Lee = distinguished=20 himself as a soldier and a student. Lee graduated with honors in 1829 = (Nash=20 245).
His graduation was dampened by a call to the bedside of his = ailing=20 mother. When he arrived home he found his fifty-four year old mother = close=20 to death. A death caused by struggles and illnesses of her = difficult=20 life. Robert was always close to his mother. He again attended to her = needs=20 until her death. On July 10, 1829, Anne Lee died with Robert, her = closest=20 son, at her side. Forty years later Robert would stand in the same room = and=20 say, It seems but yesterday that his beloved mother died (Connelly = 6).
While awaiting his first assignment, Lee frequently visited = Arlington,=20 the estate of George Washington Parke Custis. Custis was the = grandson of=20 Martha Washington and the adopted son of George Washington. After = Martha’s=20 death Custis left Mount Vernon and used his inheritance to build = Arlington=20 in 1778. Arlington was set on a hill over looking the Potomac = river=20 and Washington D.C. (NPS Arlington House). Custis had only one = daughter,=20 Mary Anna Randolph.
Mary had been pampered and petted throughout her = life.=20 Lee’s Courtship with Mary soon turned serious, before long they were = thinking=20 of marriage. However, before Robert could propose he was assigned = to=20 Cockspur Island, Georgia. Robert returned to Arlington in 1830. He and Mary decided to = get=20 married. The two were married on June 30, 1831(Nash 248). Shortly there = after=20 the Lees went to Fort Monroe.
Mary was never happy here. She soon = went back=20 to Arlington. Mary hated army life. She would, for the most part, = stay=20 at Arlington throughout the rest of Robert’s time in the United = States=20 Army. The fact that he was separated from his family, and that he was = slow=20 to move up in rank, left Lee feeling quite depressed a great deal = of the=20 time.
Over the next decade Robert became very frustrated by his = career and=20 life. Lee’s life had become a mosaic of dull post assignments, long = absences=20 from family, and slow promotion. Lee began to regard himself as a = failure=20 (Nash 248). Lee was on the verge of resigning from the army all = together,=20 when on May 13, 1946, word came that the United States had declared war = on=20 Mexico. The outbreak of war with Mexico provided Lee his first real = chance at=20 field service.
In January of 1847 he was selected by General Winfield = Scott=20 to serve with other young promising officers. These officers = included:=20 P.G.T. Beauregard and George McClellan on his personal staff (Connelly = 8).=20 During the Mexican War Lee won the praise and respect of Scott as well = as=20 many other young officers that he would serve with and against = later. As the years passed Mary Lee was left at Arlington. She was = left to=20 manage her fathers grand estate, plantation really, by herself.
Time = had taken=20 its toll on Mary Lee. She had become an ageing woman, crippled with = arthritis, and left alone by her career Army officer’s duty assignments=20 elsewhere (Kelly 39). At the news of his father-in-laws death, Lee was = able to=20 take official leave and hurry home. Upon his arrival he was shocked = by the=20 state of his wife’s health. As she herself had written to a friend, = I=20 almost dread his seeing my crippled state(Kelly 39).
Lee was able to = extend=20 his leave indefinitely. He became, in essence, a farmer. He was = still able=20 to some dut …