Robert E. Lee

One of the most iconic figures of the American Civil War has to be that of Confederate General Robert E. Lee who was the commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia during the war. He was known for leading a rag tag, under armed and poorly supplied army against a much larger foe and winning many battles. He was a graduate of West Point and one of the most highly regarded military minds when the war initially broke out. Lee was offered the post as the leader of all Union Army forces by Abraham Lincoln, and was sorely tested. However being from Virginia, he chose to throw his talent and support to the side of his home state.

Lee did not make this choice frivolously he definitely gave it a lot of thought, because he had been organizing and fighting for the United States for nearly thirty years. Lee was a highly decorated leader in the Mexican War and took great pride in training other officers to fill in the ranks. Leaving the Union was not a choice that he made easily because he believed in the concept of the United States. This was documented by his staunch support of the reconstruction efforts after the war was over.

General Robert E. Lee, had a home in Washington DC and he had to give this home up in order to lead the armies of the Confederacy. The northern politicians searched for a way to punish Lee for a traitorous act so they took his home and converted the grounds into Arlington National Cemetery, which to this day is the resting ground for those with military connections. In the Civil War there was a certain odd justice in turning the grounds around the home of Robert E. Lee into a cemetery. To this day the Lee home still stands, preserved as a constant reminder of the perceived treachery of Lee. What better reminder than the gravestones of those he was responsible for killing. As a military leader, it was hard to argue with the success of Lee. He was a leader that became an icon of the South during the war. Lee was able to use fast riding scouts to great effect, monitoring opposing troop movements and most always choosing the most advantageous locations for the military battles his army fought. So even though they were always outnumbered, they had the advantage of terrain and cover. With each victory, his troops gained a psychological edge over the Union and for years the outcome of the war was in doubt. In the end though, a lack of infrastructure for production and foreign allies, led to the fall of the South.

Conclusion

Robert E. Lee was a great general who led the Southern Armies in the Civil War. He was a great leader but was eventually overcome by a lack of resources and money that fueled the Northern war effort. His last act as leader was to surrender his army to General U.S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.

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