General Robert E. Lee

Robert Edward Lee was acknowledged as the most outstanding officer in the U. S. Army at the start of the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln offered him the command of the Federal forces, an honor that, due to Virginia's secession, Lee declined. The Gettysburg Campaign was Lee's second major incursion into the northern states; the first, in 1862, led to the stalemate at Sharpsburg. Lee ignored his own experiences at Malvern Hill and at Fredricksburg, and ordered the assault on Cemetery Ridge on 3 July. After the battle, Lee took full blame for the failed assault, and submitted his resignation to President Jefferson Davis who, of course, declined to accept it.

Shelby Foote has described Pickett's Charge as "the price the South paid for having Lee as commander".

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Photo credit: National Archives
Created 20 MAY 1996; Revised 23 JUL 2014