The Civil War, Day by Day

Gen. Robert E. Lee

Gen. Robert E. Lee

When Northern forces prepared to invade the South, Lee accepted a Confederate command. His character, courage and honor - as much as his military genius - made him perhaps the most admired general in American history.

Born in 1807 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Lee was educated at West Point and distinguished himself in the Mexican War. When the Civil War began, Lee was offered the command of the entire Union army. Despite his opposition to slavery - the cause celebre of the war - Lee declined the post out of loyalty to his home state. Instead he served as an adviser to Davis in Richmond, guiding the Confederate Army with a superb command of military strategy.

With this new appointment, Lee was suddenly thrust into the front lines with a monumental task ahead of him. His soldiers were as headstrong and disorganized as their former commander, Johnston. With swift precision, Lee instilled a new semblance of order and discipline among his forces - which became known as the Army of Northern Virginia - and made his first priority the defense of Richmond.

Despite his brilliance on the battlefield, the gentlemanly Lee was a reluctant warrior. He fervently believed that “it is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.”

February's Archived Features:

Wednesday February 1, 2023
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Friday February 3, 2023
Saturday February 4, 2023
Sunday February 5, 2023
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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.