Robert Edward Lee was a Confederate general best known for his service to the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, during which he was appointed the overall commander of the Confederate States Army. He led the Army of Northern Virginia, the Confederacy's most powerful and important field formation, from 1862 until its surrender in 1865. During the war, Lee earned a solid reputation as a skilled tactician, for which he was revered by his officers and men as well as respected and feared by his Union Army adversaries. Ultimately however, the Confederate military faced insurmountible odds and Lee proved unable to overcome the massive advantages the Union held in manpower, technology and resources.
A son of Revolutionary War officer Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee III, Lee was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years. During this time, he served throughout the United States, distinguished himself during the Mexican–American War, and served as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy.