Robert E. Lee
Lee was cut from Virginia aristocracy. His extended family members included a president, a chief justice of the United States, and signers of the Declaration of Independence. His father, Colonel Henry Lee, also known as "Light-Horse Harry," had served as a cavalry leader during the Revolutionary War and gone on to become one of the war's heroes, winning praise from GeneralGeorge Washington.
Lee saw himself as an extension of his family's greatness. Raised mostly by his mother, he learned patience, control, and discipline. As a young man he was exposed to Christianity and accepted its faith. In contrast to the strong example of his mother Robert saw his father go from failed enterprise to failed enterprise. In part the young Robert was led to try harder and succeed. At 18, he enrolled at West Point Military Academy, where he put his drive and serious mind to work. He was one of just six cadets in his graduating class who finished without a single demerit, and wrapped up his studies with perfect scores in artillery, infantry and cavalry.
After graduating from West Point, Lee met and married Mary Custis, the great-granddaughter of George and Mary Washington. Together, they had seven children: three sons (Custis, Rooney and Rob) and four daughters (Mary, Annie, Agnes and Mildred).
Early Military Career
But while Mary and the children spent their lives on Mary's father's plantation, Lee stayed committed to his military obligations. His Army loyalties moved him around the country, from Savannah to Baltimore, St. Louis to New York.
In 1846 he got the chance he'd been waiting his whole military career for when the United States went to war with Mexico. Serving under General Winfield Scott, Lee distinguished himself as a brave battle commander and brilliant tactician. In the aftermath of the U.S.