A SKETCH OF ROBERT E. LEE
Orville E. Jameson 13
Robert E. Lee was born on the 19 of January at Stratford,
Westmoreland County, Virginia in 1807.
His father was General Henry Lee who had been a chief in
Washington's army for some time. They sometimes called him Light Horse Harry Lee. His
Mother was Annie Hill Carter who came from one of the best families of Virginia.
The house that Lee was born in was built in the shape of a letter
"H", and is on the bank of the Potomac river.
Robert was always a good little boy. His mother once said that he
was a son and a daughter to her.
His father went to the West Indies for his health when Robert was
five years old and stayed until he was eleven years old. He never knew the care of a
father. His childhood was spent mostly with his mother.
When he was eighteen years of age he went to West Point so that he
might become a soldier. He was there four years and in that time never got a bad mark or
demerit. He kept the rules of the school and studied very well, and later he came out
second in his class.
At the age of twenty-two he entered the Engineer Corps of the United
States and thus became Lieutenant Lee. He did great service in building the Hampton Roads
and keeping the Mississippi River in its Channel.
In 1846 war broke out between the United States and Mexico. Lee was
sent at once as engineer with an army into Mexico. Here he was a great help to his army in
constructing forts and building roads.
After the Mexican war he was sent to West Point as Superintendent of
the academy. His duty was to watch over the studies and training the boys so that they
might become officers in the army some day. After being at West Point three years Captain
Lee was sent to Texas as Lieutenant Colonel of the second regiment of Calvary. Here his
duty was to keep the Indians from killing the whites.
In 1859 we found him at his home at Arlington from Texas. About this
time John Brown made a raid on Harper Ferry. The government ordered him to take a band of
soldiers and capture these men. He took them prisoners and they were hung.
In a short time after the John Brown raid the Civil War broke out.
Lee was offered the chief commander if he would remain in the "Union" service.
He knew that if he went with the south he would loose his home. His only wish was to know
that he might walk the path of duty.
He said if he owned all the states of the south he would give them
all up to have the "union", but he could not draw his sword on his own country.
He went at once to Richmond and was made Major-General of Virginia
troops. Lee was now fifty-four years of age.
For four years with only half as many men as the north had he fought
for what he thought was the best. In all the battles he fought he was never really
defeated, but at last he gave up because he had no more men and food. He was with out a
doubt the greatest General of his time.
He was always ready to do his duty. He went home from the battle
field to take up the hard task to build up the [ ] place of his land. His beautiful home
was gone. A home was given to him and his family with a friend in Powhatan County.
He did not rest long in the fall of 1865, he became President of
Washington College in Lexington. Many places of trust offered him, but he chose to lead
the young men of the south in learning.
In his life as college president duty was ever his watch word. He
knew every student by name and how well he studies.
Early in 1870 in the midst of his labor his health gave way. He went
south but on his return he grew worse, and on the morning of October 12, 1870 news flashed
over the wires that General Lee was dead. He is buried in the College Chapel at Lexington.
These are some of the many beautiful things were said of him after
his death, not only from his own land but from the north and other lands.
The New York Sun said, "In General Lee an able soldier, and a
sincere Christian, and an honest man had been taken from the earth".
The London paper said that the land never brought forth a nobler
soldier gentleman and Christian than Robert E. Lee". Some one else said "We
place the name of Lee by that of Washingtons because they both belong to the
It is the picture of this noble man that hangs on our school wall,
and we love it for the beautiful life it was.