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War between the States
Robert E. Lee


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Seventy five years after the birth of George Washington, Robert Edward, the fourth son of General Henry Lee and Anne Hill Carter was born at Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia on the January 19, 1807.  If he inherited much from a long and illustrious line of paternal ancestors, he no less fell heir to the strong characteristics of his mother's family, one of the oldest and best in Virginia.  The unselfishness, generosity, purity and faithfulness of the Virginia Carters are widely known and they have always been "true to all occasions".   In his mother was personified all the gentle and sweet traits of a noble woman.   Her whole life was admirable and her love for her children beyond all other thoughts.  To her watchful care they were early confided by the long absence and death of her distinguished husband.

Robert was four years old when his father removed the family to Alexandria, six when they visited the West Indies for his health and eleven when he died.  If he was early trained in the way he should go, his mother trained him.  If he was "always good" as his father wrote, she labored to keep him so.  If his principles were sound and his life a success, to her, more than to any other should the praise be given.  This lovely woman, was the daughter of Charles Carter of Shirley Plantation, who resided in his grand old mansion on the banks of the James River, some twenty miles below Richmond, then as now, the seat of an open, profuse, and refined hospitality and is still in the possession of the Carters. 

Mrs. Henry Lee's mother was Anne Moore and her grandmother a daughter of Alexander Spottswood, the soldier who fought with Marlborough at Blenheim and was afterward sent to Virginia as Governor in 1710 and whose descent can be traced in a direct line from King Robert the Bruce of Scotland.

Robert Edward Lee could look back on ling lines of paternal and maternal ancestors, but it is doubtful whether he ever exercised the privilege, in a letter to his wife, written in front of Petersburg, February 1865, he says: "I have received your note.  I am obliged to the party that took the time and the trouble  to find the Lee genealogy.  I have no desire to have it published and do not think it would afford sufficient interest beyond the immediate family to compensate for the expense.  I think the money had better be applied to relieving the poor."

He felt a natural pride in their achievements, but no one knew better than he that in a republic and a great war, a man's ancestry could not help him and that place and promotion depended upon individual merit.  His lineage has been traced because the descent of a celebrate man excites attention, just as it is interesting to discover the source of a noble river whose blessings to commerce could not be measured.

In consequence of the absence of the elder brothers, the ill health of one sister and the youth of another, to Robert's care in a measure, his mother was committed.  After his father's departure to the tropics she watched over his daily life with tender solicitude and he was, as his mother said, both a daughter and a son to her.  With filial devotion to her comfort, his hours out of school were given.  He waited on her, nursed her when she was sick, drove with her, obeyed her every wish, and this reciprocal love was a goodly picture in old Alexandria to those who saw mother and son in those days.

As Robert grew in years, he grew in grace.   He was like the young tree whose roots, firmly imbedded in the earth, hold it straight from the hour it was first planted till it develops into majestic proportions.   With the fostering care of such a mother, the son must go straight, for she had planted him in the soil of truth, morality and religion, so that his boyhood was marked by everything that produces nobility of character in manhood.  The handsome boy was studious and sedate, popular with others, stood high in the estimation of his teacher and his early inspiration was good, for his first thoughts were directed  upon lofty subjects by an excellent mother.

His birthplace and that of George Washington were not only in the same county but only a short distance apart.  The landscape of that section of Virginia was the first that greeted the eyes of each.  The Potomac River in all its gradeur and beauty, flowed past Stratford as well as Pope's Creek.   Alexandria afterward became his town as it had been the town of Washington..   The married life of the two men was respectively passed at Mount Vernon and Arlington, the same river rolling at their feet, while the old town stood dignified and historic between the mansion proudly connecting the name and fame of their occupants.

The zeal and bloodline of this Scot proved him a great statesman, Army General and leader of new Confederate States of America.


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