Key facts about Fitzhugh Lee, a nephew of Robert E. Lee and a Confederate major general who served one term as governor of Virginia before commanding U.S. troops as a brigadier general during the Spanish-American War.
- November 19, 1835
- Family’s plantation, Clermont, in Fairfax County, Virginia
- Sydney Smith Lee and Anna Maria (Mason) Lee
- U.S. Military Academy (1856)
- Military officer
- Major General (CSA)
- Governor of Virginia
- Major General (USA)
- Ellen Bernard Fowle (1871)
Place of Death:
- Washington, D.C.
Date of Death:
- April 28, 1905
Place of Burial:
- Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia
- Fitzhugh Lee was the fourth of seven children born to Captain Sydney Smith Lee and Anna Maria (Mason) Lee.
- Fitzhugh Lee’s paternal grandfather, Harry “Lighthorse” Lee, was a Continental Army officer during the American Revolution, a delegate to the Confederation Congress, Governor of Virginia, and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Fitzhugh Lee’s father, Sydney, was a U.S. naval officer who served in the Mexican-American War and who accompanied Commodore Matthew C. Perry during his expedition to Japan in the 1850s.
- During the American Civil War, Sydney Lee commanded the naval forces of the Confederate States.
- Fitzhugh Lee’s uncle, Robert E. Lee, commanded the Army of Northern Virginia, and later, all Confederate ground forces during the Civil War.
- Fitzhugh’s maternal great-grandfather, George Mason IV, authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights (which served as a template for the American Bill of Rights), and he served as a delegate to the U. S. Constitutional Convention.
- Fitzhugh Lee attended the United States Military Academy from July 1, 1852, to July 1, 1856.
- Fitzhugh Lee graduated forty-fifth in his class of forty-nine cadets (but at the head of his class in horsemanship) at the U.S. Military Academy on July 1, 1856.
- Upon leaving West Point, Fitzhugh Lee was brevetted to second lieutenant and assigned to the Cavalry School for Practice, at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he served until 1858.
- On January 1, 1858, Fitzhugh Lee was commissioned as a second lieutenant with the 2nd U.S. Cavalry and deployed to Texas where he served under Albert Sidney Johnston, and alongside a who’s-who of future Civil War general officers including William J. Hardee, John B. Hood, Edmund Kirby Smith, George H. Thomas, Earl Van Dorn, and his uncle, Robert E. Lee.
- On May 12, 1859, a Comanche brave inflicted a near-fatal arrow wound on Fitzhugh Lee at Crooked Creek in the Kansas Territory. Despite considerable damage to one of his lungs, plus effusive internal hemorrhaging, Lee survived and was back on duty in Texas by January 1860.
- In December 1860, Fitzhugh Lee returned to West Point as an assistant instructor of tactics.
- Fitzhugh Lee was promoted to first lieutenant on March 31, 1861.
- Fitzhugh Lee resigned his commission in the U.S. Army on May 21, 1861, to accept a commission as a lieutenant in the Confederate cavalry.
- Fitzhugh Lee served as a staff officer under General Richard S. Ewell during the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861).
- Fitzhugh Lee joined the 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment in August or September 1861.
- On September 30, 1861, the men of the 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment elected Fitzhugh Lee as their regimental lieutenant colonel.
- On April 23, 1862, the men of the 1st Virginia Cavalry Regiment elected Fitzhugh Lee as their regimental colonel.
- During the Peninsula Campaign (March 17 – August 14, 1862), Fitzhugh Lee commanded the 1st Virginia Cavalry and he took part in Stuart’s “Ride around McClellan” (June 12 – 15, 1862).
- On July 24, 1862, Confederate officials promoted Fitzhugh Lee to brigadier general and placed him in command of a brigade in Stuart’s Cavalry Division of the Army of Northern Virginia.
- Fitzhugh Lee served in nearly all the major campaigns of the Civil War in the Eastern Theater.
- Commanding Lee’s Brigade of Stuart’s Cavalry Division of the Army of Northern Virginia, Fitzhugh Lee participated in the Northern Virginia Campaign (July 19 – September 1, 1862), the Maryland Campaign (September 4 – September 20, 1862), the Fredericksburg Campaign (November – December 1862), the Chancellorsville Campaign (April – May 1863) and the Gettysburg Campaign (June 3 – July 23, 1863).
- On August 3, 1863, Confederate officials promoted Fitzhugh Lee to major general.
- In August 1863, General Robert E. Lee reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia, elevating his cavalry to corps status and named Fitzhugh Lee as a divisional commander of J. E. B. Stuart’s Cavalry Corps.
- Fitzhugh Lee served as one of J. E. B. Stuart’s divisional cavalry commanders during the Bristoe Campaign (October 13 – November 7, 1863), the Mine Run Campaign (November 26 – December 2, 1863), and during the first week of the Overland Campaign (May 5 – June 24, 1864).
- Following J. E. B. Stuart’s death on May 12, 1864, General Robert E. Lee partitioned Stuart’s Cavalry Corps into independent divisions commanded by Major General Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee.
- On August 11, 1864, General Robert E. Lee merged the independent cavalry divisions of Major General Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee and placed Hampton in charge of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee remained a divisional commander.
- On September 19, 1864, during the Battle of Opequon, Fitzhugh Lee had three horses shot from under him before receiving a severe bullet wound to the thigh that took him out of the action for three months.
- On February 11, 1865, General Robert E. Lee appointed Fitzhugh Lee as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia’s Cavalry Corps.
- On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered most of his army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry corps was still attempting to cut its way through the Union forces when he learned that his troopers were included in his uncle’s capitulation. Consequently, he returned to Appomattox Court House in time to stack arms for the formal ceremony on April 12.
- Following the Civil War, Fitzhugh Lee returned to farming on his estate in Stafford County, Virginia.
- As was the case with other Confederate officers, the federal government eventually pardoned Fitzhugh Lee for participating in the rebellion.
- On April 19, 1871, thirty-six-year-old Fitzhugh Lee married eighteen-year-old Ellen Bernard Fowle of Alexandria, Virginia. Their marriage produced two daughters and three sons.
- Upon reaching adulthood, each of the sons enlisted in the United States Army and rode with the 7th Cavalry.
- In 1885, Virginia voters elected Fitzhugh Lee as the state’s governor.
- Serving as Virginia’s governor from January 1, 1886, to January 1, 1890, Fitzhugh Lee encouraged and supported legislative initiatives to improve Virginia’s public programs, especially education.
- Following his term as governor, Fitzhugh Lee made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1893.
- In 1894, Fitzhugh Lee published a biography of his uncle, Robert E. Lee.
- On April 10, 1896, U.S. President (and fellow Democratic Party member) Grover Cleveland appointed Fitzhugh Lee as Consul-General to Havana, Cuba.
- In 1897, President William McKinley reappointed Fitzhugh Lee as Consul-General to Havana, Cuba.
- When the Spanish-American War erupted, Fitzhugh Lee returned to the U.S. and joined the volunteer army, receiving a commission as a major general on May 4, 1896.
- During the Spanish-American War, Fitzhugh Lee commanded the 7th Army Corps. His unit saw no combat, but they were part of the occupation force that remained in Cuba to establish order and protect American interests after the war.
- Fitzhugh Lee served as military governor of Havana and Pinar del Río from December 30, 1898, through April 17, 1899.
- Fitzhugh Lee mustered out of the volunteer army on April 12, 1899.
- Fitzhugh Lee was commissioned as a brigadier general in the regular army on April 12, 1899, and subsequently commanded the Department of the Missouri in the U.S.
- Fitzhugh Lee retired from the U.S. Army on March 1, 1901.
- Fitzhugh Lee suffered a stroke in Washington, D.C., and died on April 28, 1905.