Monday, August 31, 2009

W&M's Confederate General..... the OTHER General Lee

The College of William and Mary counts among its alumni at least two men who served as generals in the Confederate army during the Civil War. One of these men was Brig. Gen. Edwin G. Lee, who was a second cousin of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

"Edwin Gray Lee was born in Jefferson County, Virginia on May 27, 1836. He attended school in Alexandria and graduated from William and Mary College in 1852, and earned his law degree in 1859 from Washington College.

Lee is reported to have practiced law in Shepherdstown (in what is now West Virginia). He entered the Confederate Army with the Virginia Infantry, and following the Battle of Bull Run, was promoted to major and then lieutenant colonel. Lee was involved in the Seven Days battles, Second Manassas and Cedar Mountain. He was captured at Sharpsburg. Paroled on September 26, 1862, he rejoined his unit and led the Virginia Infantry at the Battle of Fredericksburg on Dec. 13, 1862. He resigned soon thereafter due to his bad health.

When his health recovered he rejoined the Confederate cause as a colonel where he served on the staff of Gen. Robert Ransom Jr., who was in charge of the defense of Richmond. In late spring, 1864, he took up command at Staunton and with troops he recruited for the defense of the Shenandoah Valley, he fought at the Battle of Piedmont, June 5, 1864. For his efforts at Staunton, Lee was promoted to brigadier general on Sept. 23, 1864. He then served with Gen. Rosser, but his health again failing, Lee and his wife made their way to Canada where he lived in Montreal until the spring of 1866.

Lee found no cure for his persistent lung disease and he died at Yellow Sulphur Springs on Aug. 24, 1870. He was 34 years old. He is buried at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery."

[This biographical sketch was drawn from Bob Driver, "Brigider General Edwin Gray Lee," The News-Gazette, Dec. 13, 2002 and is used here with the gracious permission of The News-Gazette]

NOTE: While multiple historical sources place General Lee in Canada during the Civil War's closing months, to this day no one is exactly sure what he was doing there. The gossip at the time was that he was doing top-secret espionage work for the Confederate Government. Lee is definitely a figure who merits further study!

TRIVIA QUESTION: Brig. Gen. Edwin G. Lee was referred to as one of two W&M alumni who went on to serve as a Confederate army general. Can anyone identify the second general?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.