Today, in 1870, General Robert E. Lee succumbed to the effects of a stroke he had suffered two weeks prior. He was 63 years old.
Lee graduated from West Point with the class of 1829. He graduated with the rare distinction of having never received a single demerit. Lee, a colonel in the Union Army, resigned his commission when Virginia seceded from the Union. He became an advisor to the confederacy in Richmond. He assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862 when General Joseph Johnston was wounded in the Peninsula Campaign during the Battle of Seven Pines.
Lee’s aggressive campaign kept the Union Army on the defensive for over a year. Although widely debated it is generally agreed that after Lee failed to completely subdue the Union Army at Antietam and Gettysburg, the Army of Northern Virginia began to falter. Grant’s victory at Vicksburg the day following Gettysburg and the subsequent “March to the Sea” by Sherman sealed the fate of Lee’s Army and he surrendered in April of 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse Virginia.
After the war Lee became the president of Washington College in Lexington Virginia. Under his leadership the school grew from a few dozen students to well over 300. After his death the school changed it’s name to Washington-Lee University and is still operating to this day. A fitting testament to one of America’s Greatest Leaders.