Portrait of Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee was a prominent officer in the U.S. Army prior to the Civil War. When Virginia seceded from the Union, he resigned his position and accepted leadership of the Army of Northern Virginia. Near the end of the Civil War, he was named General-in-Chief of Confederate forces. [Wikimedia Commons]

Robert Edward Lee - Facts

January 19, 1807 - October 12, 1870

Key facts about Confederate General Robert Edward Lee.


Full Name:

  • Robert Edward Lee

Birth Date:

  • January 19, 1807

Birth Location:

  • Stratford, a family plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia


  • “Lighthorse” Harry Lee and Ann Hill Carter Lee


  • United States Military Academy (1829)


  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Colonel (USA), General (CSA), General-in-Chief (CSA), Army of Northern Virginia commander


  • Mary Custis (1831)


  • Granny Lee, Bobby Lee

Place of Death:

  • Lexington Virginia

Date of Death:

  • October 12, 1870

Place of Burial:

  • Campus of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia


  • Robert Edward Lee was born January 19, 1807, at Stratford, a family plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
  • Robert E. Lee was the son of Revolutionary War hero, “Lighthorse Harry Lee” and Ann Hill Carter Lee.
  • Robert E. Lee attended the United States Military Academy and graduated number two in his class in 1829.
  • Robert E. Lee married Mary Custis (daughter of Martha Washington’s grandson) on June 30, 1831.
  • Robert E. Lee served in the engineering corps during the Mexican War.
  • Robert E. Lee served as superintendent at West Point from 1852-1855.
  • Robert E. Lee was appointed lieutenant colonel of the United States 2d Cavalry in 1855.
  • Robert E. Lee was a slave-owner, reputed to have been complicit in instances of harsh treatment of slaves he deemed to be troublesome, despite his assertions that he found slavery to be “a moral & political evil.”
  • Robert E. Lee led U.S. forces against John Brown’s attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859.
  • Robert E. Lee was appointed colonel of the 1st U.S. Cavalry in March 1861.
  • Due to his loyalty to his home state of Virginia, Robert E. Lee rejected an offer from General Winfield Scott to serve as field commander of the United States Army in 1861.
  • Robert E. Lee became commander of Virginia’s forces in the Civil War when Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861.
  • Robert E. Lee succeeded Joseph E. Johnston as commander of the Confederacy’s Army of Northern Virginia in 1862.
  • Robert E. Lee was appointed as a military advisor to Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1862.
  • Robert E. Lee was appointed general‐in‐chief of Confederate forces in February 1865.
  • Robert E. Lee commanded victorious Confederate forces at the battles of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville.
  • Robert E. Lee commanded defeated Confederate forces at the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865.
  • Robert E. Lee served as president of Washington College, in Lexington, Virginia, from September 1865 until his death in 1870.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Robert Edward Lee - Facts
  • Coverage January 19, 1807 - October 12, 1870
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 4, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021