Robert E. Lee (1807–1870) was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. Lee graduated from West Point in 1829, and fought in the Mexican-American War. In 1859, Lee was ordered to suppress John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. After Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, Lee was offered and declined command of the US Army. Instead, he resigned his commission and accepted an appointment in Virginia’s state forces, and then joined the Confederate Army.

Lee served the Confederate Army in several positions before assuming command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862. With support from Stonewall Jackson’s forces, Lee soon led Confederate troops in the Seven Days’ Battles and the Second Battle of Bull Run. His forces experienced significant losses at Antietam in September 1862, which forced Lee to alter his offensive strategy. He had victories at Fredericksburg in December and Chancellorsville in May 1863. In 1864 Ulysses S. Grant was appointed command of Union forces. Grant’s and Lee’s forces met at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864, and Grant soon began a pursuit of the Confederate general’s forces. Lee was appointed general in chief of Confederate forces in February 1865, but by April he recognized that the Confederate effort was nearing its end. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House. After the war, Lee served as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. He died in September 1870.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to get free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Related Site Content