Robert E. Lee

Topics: Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Military Pages: 10 (3672 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Robert E. Lee


Few episodes in history are more painful to Americans than the Civil War, fought between the North and the South. This biography, Great American Generals - Robert E. Lee, by Ian Hogg, takes the reader through the life of one of the greatest heroes of that war, Robert E. Lee. It is a thorough, in depth record of the life of Lee and begins with a detailed account of his family history and his birth, through his college years, military experience and his work in later life to his death on October 12, 1870. The first few pages set the scene by listing a substantial amount of facts about the names and backgrounds of his parents Harry and Ann and Lee's wife, Mary Custis, with some reference to his father's army career and political life. After Lee's early years, the reader will learn of his schooling at the Military Academy, West Point, followed by his life in the Army before and after the Civil War. The biography ends in the latter pages with an account of his work after his military career came to an end, and finally, with his death after a prolonged period of ill-health, thought to be stress induced.

Author Ian Hogg is a prolific writer in the field of defense and military technology. He is a weapons expert, having written many books on all types of rifles, shotguns and small arms, such as Modern Rifles, Shotguns and Pistols, and Modern Small Arms. He is an acknowledged expert on infantry weapons and is thought to be the world's leading expert on this and artillery strategies. He is a well known author of military history, and works as a weapons evaluator in addition to his writing.

Robert E. Lee was born in Stratford, Virginia on January 19, 1807. His father, Henry Lee, had achieved fame with Washington's army as "Lighthorse Harry,"and it was a fame that rested not only on his cavalry exploits but upon sound strategic and tactical ability. A significant portion of his fame was credited to him for beating off a surprise British attack at Spread Eagle Tavern in January, 1778. Unfortunately Harry was egotistical and had a high opinion of his own abilities. Although he achieved the rank of lieutenant-colonel, he felt that he deserved more. When the war ended and he had not advanced in rank he resigned from the army to pursue a career in politics. Henry decided to run for the position of governor. He was elected Governor of Virginia for three terms. Retiring, as was then customary in Virginia, on the expiration of his third term, Henry Lee was enough in the public eye to be considered as a possible successor to Washington. He was, however, a poor manager of his affairs, and was constantly dodging his creditors, providing very little of substance for his family. He was a waster, with no thought for their welfare. A man with no sense of responsibility to his affairs, Henry Lee eventually ended up in jail for a year for non-payment of his debts. Upon his release, he spent every waking moment writing his memoirs, with no regard for his family at all.

Lee's mother was Ann Carter Lee, daughter of Charles Carter. She was an invalid, but possessed a strong and beautiful character, and Robert grew up with a keen sense of honor and responsibility. Robert was named after his mother's brothers, Edward and Robert Carter.

Lee's father, Henry, was separated from the family when Robert was only four years old. Lee's mother left Henry due to his lack of provision for them, and Lee assumed the responsibility of the household at a very early age. Henry subsequently died when Lee was only eleven, but Lee's struggle to maintain the household without the presence of a father, and with little money, taught him valuable lessons in self-discipline, lessons which supported him well in his military career.

Since there was no money for college, Robert entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1825 to pursue a career in the military. He was fortunate in becoming a Cadet at the Institution at a...
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