October 12, 1870:
General Robert E. Lee Dies
"The education of a man is never completed until he dies" is a statement attributed to Robert E. Lee, whose education was completed in 1870 as death reached him only five years after surviving the U.S. Civil War as the head of the Army of the Confederate States of America (CSA).
General Lee died in Lexington, Virginia, on October 12
, 1870, at the age of 63. Mourners at his funeral
are pictured standing on the steps of Arlington House, residence of the Lee and Custis families for decades, and now known as The Robert E. Lee Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
Lee was born on January 19, 1807, at his family's Stratford Hall plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia. After attending West Point, he forged a promising military career and distinguished himself in the Mexican American War. Later, he would command the CSA Army and, in the last years of his life, serve as president of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University.
Prior to the Civil War, Lee headed a board of officers tasked with examining effective signal communications. His 1859reports begin here
and continue for 179 pages. When Virginia voted to secede from the Union on April 17, 1861, Lee felt obligated to fight for his home state and signed aresignation letter
three days later. In his new position, he wrote a letter to General McClellan
regarding an exchange of prisoners on July 24, 1862,
After his death, Robert E. Lee's legacy strengthened in both the South and the North. He is remembered as a brilliant military leader, a devoted family man, and a great American.