Robert E. Lee 1807-1870
Born Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia
Robert E. Lee was born into a family prominent in Virginia society and early American politics. A young man with an intense desire to prove himself, he attained the highest rank available to cadets and graduated from West Point in 1829.
Initially, Lee opposed both secession and war. But when Virginia voted to secede from the Union, he resigned from the U.S. Army and went to his native state's defense. Placed in command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June 1862, Lee gave the Confederacy moments of hope with several early victories. His army was always severely outnumbered, so it was a triumph that he managed to keep it on the field for the duration of the war. By 1864, however, time and resources were working against him, and in May, Ulysses S. Grant became his last and fateful adversary.