Robert E. Lee had a reputation as one of the finest officers in the United States Army. Therefore, Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the command of the federal forces in April 1861. Nevertheless, Lee declined and tendered his resignation from the Army when Virginia seceded on April 17th. He argued that he could not fight against his people. Instead, he accepted a general’s commission for the newly formed Confederate Army.

His first military battle of the Civil War was at Cheat Mountain, Virginia (now West Virginia) on September 11, 1861. 

Although the Union won, Lee’s reputation withstood the public criticism that followed the battle. He then served as military advisor to the late President Jefferson Davis until June 1862. Following that, he was given command of General Joseph E. Johnston’s embattled army on the Virginia peninsula. 

This army also boasted some of the Confederacy’s most prominent military figures, including James LongstreetStonewall Jackson, and the cavalier J.E.B. Stuart.