The Cavaliers – Lee

Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
For a novice, and sometimes seasoned civil war enthusiast, the name Lee can be confusing. General Robert E. Lee’s father, Henry Lee, earned his nickname, “Lighthorse Harry”, for his splendid horsemanship and famous cavalry exploits during our war for independence. His youngest son Robert E. Lee very likely would have followed his father’s equestrian exploits had the opportunity presented itself. But the famous son chose the army engineering corps for his military profession after finishing second in his class at the US Military Academy. Never-the-less, he was a fine horseman in his own right.

Those two Lee’s are well publicized by history. But when one gets to the civil war the sir name expounds all-the-more. Robert E. Lee had three sons and a nephew, all serving in the cavalry which is the actual topic in this post.


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George Washington Custis Lee - Courtesy Wikipedia

George Washington Custis Lee, (or “Custis”) was Robert E. Lee’s older son. After finishing at the top of his West Point Class, he chose to serve in the US Cavalry where he gained recognition for his equestrian skill. When Virginia succeeded from the Union, Custis resigned his commission and followed his father in defense of his native Virginia at the rank of captain. He was initially assigned to the confederate engineers building fortifications around Richmond where he advanced to colonel. Although a fine horseman, he received a rank of Brigadier General, as aide-de-camp for President Davis. Custis was discouraged from taking command by the President, but encouraged by his father. But when he asked his father for a command, the elder Lee replied that his son’s duty was to obey his superior [Davis].


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William Henry Fitzhugh Lee – Courtesy Wikipedia

The second oldest Lee son, William Henry Fitzhugh (W.H.F. or Rooney or often spelled Roony by family and friends) would prove to be a more prominent cavalry leader and horseman than his older brother. He had mixed results starting as a captain in western Virginia, then promoted to Major under Thomas Jackson’s command in the Shenandoah Valley, followed by being assigned to Stuart, then his cousin Fitzhugh Lee. By the last year of war, he had risen to second in command to the Army of Northern Virginia cavalry, following Stuart’s death and Wade Hampton’s departure to South Carolina.


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Robert E. Lee Jr. Courtesy Wikipedia

At the on-set of war, Lee’s youngest son, Robert E. Lee Jr. (“Rob”) was a student at the University of Virginia. Being under military age at the start of the war, he joined the South Guard, a unit made up of students. When he turned eighteen, and despite his mother’s concerns, he left school and enlisted as a private in the Rockbridge Artillery where he rose to Captain. During the winter of ’62 –’63 he joined his bother “Rooney” cavalry command as aide-de-camp where he saw action at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Upon Rooney’s capture in 1863, he then transferred to the ordnance department in Richmond. Following the Union victory at Gettysburg, Rob rejoined his brother’s old regiment where he served until the end of the war.

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Fitzhugh Lee – Courtesy Wikipedia

There is yet another Lee, that can add confusion. Robert E. Lee’s brother, Carter Smith Lee’s son Fitzhugh (“Fitz”) Lee also served as an able cavalryman. After joining the confederate army in 1861 as a lieutenant in the cavalry, he served in nearly every major conflict in the east until the end of the war eventually rising to Major General. Cavalry Commander J.E.B. Stuart once sited Lee as “The finest cavalry officer on the continent”.
 

Carol

Private
Joined
May 26, 2019
Location
Western North Carolina
Thanks for stopping by Carol. If you get the opportunity I recommend you read Recollections and Letters - which Rob posted after the war. He tells a lot about him and his father
Thanks for the resource and I'll look into that. I've researched the Lee family over the years and I know there is more detail on this particular transfer. I've just not located the records as of yet. Thanks Again !!😊
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
An interesting thread about a remarkable family. Robert E. Lee worked very hard to be a better father than "Lighthorse Harry" for sure.
Regards
David
Sure enough. He wrote is entire family while away - rotating letters to each child- or addressing a specific issue individually if he knew of something on ones mind. I think that caring attitude was from his mother as Harry wasn’t around much.
 

TnFed

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Sure enough. He wrote is entire family while away - rotating letters to each child- or addressing a specific issue individually if he knew of something on ones mind. I think that caring attitude was from his mother as Harry wasn’t around much.
Thanks, this was very informative. Have you researched Mounted Infantry along with Calvary? I am interested in Eastern KY and Easter TN Mounted Infantry. Thanks. TnFed.
 
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Location
Spotsylvania Virginia
Thanks for stopping by TnFre.
I did spend a short amount of time researching mounted infantry when I was working on the manuscript for my book. But only ended up mentioning it in the published version.
That is an interesting thought you have though. I have been looking for new material and specifically in Tennessee or Mississippi. I will take a hard dive into that. Thanks for the idea
 

Kyle Kalasnik

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 3, 2014
Location
Potter County, PA
For a novice, and sometimes seasoned civil war enthusiast, the name Lee can be confusing. General Robert E. Lee’s father, Henry Lee, earned his nickname, “Lighthorse Harry”, for his splendid horsemanship and famous cavalry exploits during our war for independence. His youngest son Robert E. Lee very likely would have followed his father’s equestrian exploits had the opportunity presented itself. But the famous son chose the army engineering corps for his military profession after finishing second in his class at the US Military Academy. Never-the-less, he was a fine horseman in his own right.

Those two Lee’s are well publicized by history. But when one gets to the civil war the sir name expounds all-the-more. Robert E. Lee had three sons and a nephew, all serving in the cavalry which is the actual topic in this post.


View attachment 389059
George Washington Custis Lee - Courtesy Wikipedia

George Washington Custis Lee, (or “Custis”) was Robert E. Lee’s older son. After finishing at the top of his West Point Class, he chose to serve in the US Cavalry where he gained recognition for his equestrian skill. When Virginia succeeded from the Union, Custis resigned his commission and followed his father in defense of his native Virginia at the rank of captain. He was initially assigned to the confederate engineers building fortifications around Richmond where he advanced to colonel. Although a fine horseman, he received a rank of Brigadier General, as aide-de-camp for President Davis. Custis was discouraged from taking command by the President, but encouraged by his father. But when he asked his father for a command, the elder Lee replied that his son’s duty was to obey his superior [Davis].


View attachment 389060
William Henry Fitzhugh Lee – Courtesy Wikipedia

The second oldest Lee son, William Henry Fitzhugh (W.H.F. or Rooney or often spelled Roony by family and friends) would prove to be a more prominent cavalry leader and horseman than his older brother. He had mixed results starting as a captain in western Virginia, then promoted to Major under Thomas Jackson’s command in the Shenandoah Valley, followed by being assigned to Stuart, then his cousin Fitzhugh Lee. By the last year of war, he had risen to second in command to the Army of Northern Virginia cavalry, following Stuart’s death and Wade Hampton’s departure to South Carolina.


View attachment 389061
Robert E. Lee Jr. Courtesy Wikipedia

At the on-set of war, Lee’s youngest son, Robert E. Lee Jr. (“Rob”) was a student at the University of Virginia. Being under military age at the start of the war, he joined the South Guard, a unit made up of students. When he turned eighteen, and despite his mother’s concerns, he left school and enlisted as a private in the Rockbridge Artillery where he rose to Captain. During the winter of ’62 –’63 he joined his bother “Rooney” cavalry command as aide-de-camp where he saw action at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Upon Rooney’s capture in 1863, he then transferred to the ordnance department in Richmond. Following the Union victory at Gettysburg, Rob rejoined his brother’s old regiment where he served until the end of the war.

View attachment 389062

Fitzhugh Lee – Courtesy Wikipedia

There is yet another Lee, that can add confusion. Robert E. Lee’s brother, Carter Smith Lee’s son Fitzhugh (“Fitz”) Lee also served as an able cavalryman. After joining the confederate army in 1861 as a lieutenant in the cavalry, he served in nearly every major conflict in the east until the end of the war eventually rising to Major General. Cavalry Commander J.E.B. Stuart once sited Lee as “The finest cavalry officer on the continent”.
Very informative and concise. Thank you.
 
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