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Robert E. Lee Time Line

September 29, 2009

General Lee Southern Steel


1807 January 19

Robert E. Lee is born at Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County, VA. * Lee’s father  Light-Horse Harry Lee was a hero of the American Revolution and a friend of George Washington.


Lee graduates 2ndin his West Point class. * He becomes the first student to graduate without having received a single demerit. * Fellow cadets give Lee the nickname “Marble Model”. * He is commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Corps of Engineers.


Lee marries Mary Custis (great-granddaughter of Martha Washington) at her family’s plantation Arlington House. * The Lees have seven children during their marriage.


The Mexican War begins.


Lee serves on the staff of General Winfield Scott and is promoted to brevet major.


Lee becomes superintendent of West Point.

1859 October 18

Lee leads troops in putting down John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.

1861 April

General Winfield Scott offers Lee command of the Union Army

1861 April 17

The Virginia convention votes in favor of secession.

1861 April 22

Lee resigns from the United States Army.


Lee accepts command of the military and naval forces of Virginia. * Virginia state forces become part of the Confederate forces. * Lee is sent to defend western Virginia. * Lee purchases his famous warhorse, Traveller. * Lee is called to Richmond to serve as a military advisor to President Davis.

1862 June 1

Lee is given command of the Army of Northern Virginia after General Joseph Johnston is wounded.


Lee leads the Army of Northern Virginia to multiple victories—Seven Days Battles, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville— but his two attempts to win battles in the North end in failure—first in Maryland (Sept. ’62) at the battle of Sharpsburg/Antietam and second in Pennsylvania (July ’63) at the battle of Gettysburg.


Lee faces Grant in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania Courthouse, and at Cold Harbor.

1864 May 13

The first step in making Lee’s Arlington home into a national cemetery occurs when Union soldiers are buried on the property.

1864 June 15

The siege of Petersburg begins. * For nine months, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia holds trenches outside of Petersburg faced by Grant’s Army of the Potomac.

1865 January 1

Lee is made general-in-chief of Confederate Forces.

1865 April 2

The siege of Petersburg ends when Grant attacks Lee’s position.

1865 April 9

Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.

1865 October

Lee becomes president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia.


October 12, The General dies after suffering a stroke at age 63.


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