Behold his bio:
LEE, Robert Edward, soldier, born in Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia, 19 Jan., 1807; died in Lexington, Virginia, 12 Oct., 1870. He was the son of the Revolutionary general Henry Lee (q. v.), known as " Light-Horse Harry," was graduated from the U. S. military academy at West Point in 1829, ranking second in a class of forty-six, and was commissioned as a 2d lieutenant in the engineers.
At the beginning of the Mexican war he was assigned to duty as chief engineer of the army under General Wool, his rank being that of captain. His abilities as an engineer, and his conduct as a soldier, won the special admiration of General Scott, who attributed the fall of Vera Cruz to his skill, and repeatedly singled him out for commendation. Lee was thrice brevetted during the war, his last brevet to the rank of colonel being for services at the storming of Chapultepec.
In 1852 he was assigned to the command of the military academy at West Point, where he remained for about three years. He brought great improvements in the academy, notably enlarging its course of study and bringing it to a rank equal to that of the best European military schools. In 1855 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 2d regiment of cavalry, and assigned to duty on the Texan frontier, where he remained until near the beginning of the civil war, with the exception of an interval when, in 1859, he was ordered to Washington and placed in command of the force that was sent against John Brown at Harper's Ferry.
On 20 April, 1861, three days after the Virginia convention adopted an ordinance of secession, he resigned his commission, in obedience to his conscientious conviction that he was bound by the act of his state. His only authenticated expression of opinion and sentiment on the subject of secession is found in the following passage from a letter written at the time of his resignation to his sister, the wife of an officer in the National army; "We are now in a state of war which will yield to nothing. The whole south is in a state of revolution, into which Virginia, after a long struggle, has been drawn; and though I recognize no necessity for this state of things, and would have forborne and pleaded to the end for redress of grievances, real or supposed, yet in my own person I had to meet the question whether I should take part against my native state. With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission m the army, and, save in defense of my native state--with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed--I hope I may never be called upon to draw my sword." (read more)