Robert E. Lee (Jan 19, 1807 - October 12, 1870) was an American career military officer most famous for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War. Lee's brilliance as a military commander, despite his adamant opposition to both slavery and succession, nearly led to Confederate victory in the Civil War. His military achievements and significance are far too great for us to cover here. His role as a cartographer is on the other hand often overlooked. Lee was born to an aristocratic Virginia family that unfortunately fell on hard times in his youth. As a young man Lee attended Extern View School and later West Point Military Academy. His focus was engineering and after graduating he joined the Army Corps of Engineers. Initially Lee was stationed at Cockspur Island, Georgia, where he worked on plans to construct a fort to protect the Savannah River. Later he helped to survey the Ohio-Michigan Boundary. Promoted to First Lieutenant Lee was assigned to supervise engineering work on St. Louis Harbor and to map Des Moines and Rock Island Rapids, both major obstacles to commercial navigation on the Mississippi. Promoted to Captain for his successes he became resident engineer at Fort Hamilton. With the outbreak of the Mexican-American war Lee earned numerous distinctions, emerging form the war as one of America's boldest and most brilliant military commanders. In 1859 he put down John Brown's slave revolt at Harper's Ferry. With the election of Abraham Lincoln and the outbreak of the American Civil War, Lee took on his most significant role as commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The rest is, as they say, history.

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