CDV OF CONFEDERATE GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE

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Item Code: 1139-257

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Carte de visite photograph of Lee. Bust view in uniform. He wears a double-breasted frock with three-star insignia visible on the collar. Image is clear and very sharp. Mount remains in very good condition. Printed identification along lower edge on front. No photographer's backmark.

Born to Revolutionary War hero Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee in Stratford Hall, Virginia, Robert Edward Lee seemed destined for military greatness.  Lee secured an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated second in the class of 1829.  Two years later, he married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, a descendant of George Washington's adopted son, John Parke Custis.  Yet with all his military pedigree, Lee had not set foot on a battlefield.  Instead, he served seventeen years as an officer in the Corps of Engineers, supervising and inspecting the construction of the nation's coastal defenses.  Service during the 1846 war with Mexico changed that.  As a member of General Winfield Scott's staff, Lee distinguished himself, earning three brevets for gallantry, and emerging from the conflict with the rank of colonel.

From 1852 to 1855, Lee served as superintendent of West Point, and was therefore responsible for educating many of the men who would later serve under him - and those who would oppose him - on the battlefields of the Civil War.  In 1855 he left the academy to take a position in the cavalry and in 1859 was called upon to put down abolitionist John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry.

Because of his fine reputation, Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the command of the Federal forces in April 1861. Lee declined and tendered his resignation from the army when the state of Virginia seceded on April 17, arguing that he could not fight against his own people.  Instead, he accepted a general’s commission in the newly formed Confederate Army. His first military engagement of the Civil War occurred at Cheat Mountain, Virginia (now West Virginia) on September 11, 1861. It was a Union victory but Lee’s reputation withstood the public criticism that followed. He served as military advisor to President Jefferson Davis until June 1862 when he was given command of the wounded General Joseph E. Johnston's embattled army on the Virginia peninsula. Lee renamed his command the Army of Northern Virginia.

After the simultaneous Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of the Federal armies.  Rather than making Richmond the aim of his campaign, Grant chose to focus the myriad resources at his disposal on destroying Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. By the summer of 1864, the Confederates had been forced into waging trench warfare outside of Petersburg.  On April 9, 1865, Lee was forced to surrender his weary and depleted army to Grant at Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the Civil War.

Lee returned home on parole and eventually became the president of Washington College in Virginia. He remained in this position until his death on October 12, 1870 in Lexington, Virginia. He was buried underneath the college chapel.  [jet]  [ph:L]

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