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Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) in OTL was a career United States Army officer, an engineer, and among the most celebrated generals in American history. Lee was the son of Major General Henry Lee III "Light Horse Harry" (1756–1818), Governor of Virginia, and his second wife, Anne Hill Carter (1773–1829). He was also related to Meriwether Lewis (1774–1809).
A top graduate of West Point, Lee distinguished himself as an exceptional soldier in the U.S. Army for thirty-two years. He is best known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War.
In early 1861, President Abraham Lincoln invited Lee to take command of the entire Union Army. Lee declined because his home state of Virginia was seceding from the Union, despite Lee's wishes. When Virginia seceded from the Union in April 1861, Lee chose to follow his home state. Lee's eventual role in the newly established Confederacy was to serve as a senior military adviser to President Jefferson Davis. Lee's first field command for the Confederate States came in June 1862 when he took command of the Confederate forces in the East (which Lee himself renamed the "Army of Northern Virginia").
Lee's greatest victories were the Seven Days Battles, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Chancellorsville, and the Battle of Cold Harbor but both of his campaigns to invade the North ended in failure. Barely escaping defeat at the Battle of Antietam in 1862, Lee was forced to return to the South. In early July 1863, Lee was decisively defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. However, due to ineffectual pursuit by the commander of Union forces, Major General George Meade, Lee escaped again to Virginia.
In the spring of 1864, the new Union commander, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, began a series of campaigns to wear down Lee's army. In the Overland Campaign of 1864 and the Siege of Petersburg in 1864–1865, Lee inflicted heavy casualties on Grant's larger army, but was unable to replace his own losses. In early April 1865, Lee's depleted forces were turned from their entrenchments near the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, and he began a strategic retreat. Lee's subsequent surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865 represented the loss of only one of the remaining Confederate field armies, but it was a psychological blow from which the South could not recover. By June 1865, all of the remaining Confederate armies had capitulated.
Lee's victories against superior forces won him enduring fame as a crafty and daring battlefield tactician, but some of his strategic decisions, such as invading the North in 1862 and 1863, have been criticized by many military historians.
In the final months of the Civil War, as manpower reserves drained away, Lee adopted a plan to arm slaves to fight on behalf of the Confederacy, but this came too late to change the outcome of the war. After Appomattox, Lee discouraged Southern dissenters from starting a guerrilla campaign to continue the war, and encouraged reconciliation between the North and the South.
After the war, as a college President, Lee supported President Andrew Johnson's program of Reconstruction and inter-sectional friendship, while opposing the Radical Republican proposals to give freed slaves the vote and take the vote away from ex-Confederates. He urged them to re-think their position between the North and the South, and the reintegration of former Confederates into the nation's political life. Lee became the great Southern hero of the war, and his popularity grew in the North as well after his death in 1870. He remains an iconic figure of American military leadership.
Alternate versions of Lee have been discovered in the multiverse:
- Robert E. Lee, 19th consul of the Commonwealth of Virginia (Federalist Failure)
- Robert E. Lee, 15th President of the United States (Our Revolution)
- Robert E. Lee, 19th President of the United States (President Lee)
- Robert E. Lee, 3rd President of the Confederate States of America (PS-1)
- Robert E. Lee, 2nd President of the Confederate States of America (The Found Order)