Born: January 19, 1807
Dead: October 12, 1870
High of His Life: Beating two Union generals back-to-back in the the Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Chancellorsville. At Fredericksburg on December 1862, he beat General Ambrose Burnside with only 5,000 Confederate casualties to Burnside’s 12,600 casualties. And at Chancellorsville on May 1863, he whooped General Joseph Hooker despite being outnumbered two to one by dividing his already smaller force and attacking Hooker’s flank. By this time his men – and many of the Union soldiers – believed him to be unbeatable in combat.
Low of His Life: His foolish decision to attack the fortified and advantageous position held by George G. Meade at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1863 all but destroyed his army and completely destroyed the illusion he could not be bested in battle. Noted Civil War historian Shelby Foote once said, “Gettysburg was the price the South paid for having Robert E. Lee as commander.” The only other thing I can think of that tops this is Lee’s surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
Who Sees Him as a Hero: Many Southerners after the war and even now revere him as a consummate soldier and man of high character. Military historians and soldiers alike admire his tactics and ability to move men in the battlefield.