Earlier this month, President Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the command of the Federal forces because of his reputation as one of the finest officers in the United States Army. Lee declined.
He tendered his resignation from the army when the state of Virginia seceded on April 17, arguing that he could not fight against his own people. Instead, he accepted a general’s commission in the newly formed Confederate Army.
Flash forward to September 11, 1861: Lee’s first military engagement of the Civil War occurred at Cheat Mountain, Virginia (now West Virginia). It was a Union victory but Lee’s reputation withstood the public criticism that followed. He served as military advisor to President Jefferson Davis until June 1862 when he was given command of the wounded General Joseph E. Johnston’s embattled army on the Virginia peninsula.
Lee renamed his command the Army of Northern Virginia, and under his direction it would become the most famous and successful of the Confederate armies. This same organization also boasted some of the Confederacy’s most inspiring military figures, including James Longstreet,Stonewall Jackson and the flamboyant cavalier J.E.B. Stuart. With these trusted subordinates, Lee commanded troops that continually manhandled their blue-clad adversaries and embarrassed their generals no matter what the odds.
Words of Wisdom for April 23, 2017
“The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy.”
— Robert E. Lee, (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) was an American soldier known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865.