Confederate General Custis Lee is born - HISTORY
Year
1832

Confederate General Custis Lee is born

George Washington Custis Lee is born to Robert E. and Mary Custis Lee in Fort Monroe, Virginia.

The eldest son and the second of seven children, Custis Lee, as his family called him, followed his father’s footsteps to West Point. At age 16, Custis had been denied entry into the military academy, but his father wrote an appeal to General Winfield Scott and so he was admitted the following year. Though he had needed his father’s influence to gain admission, once in West Point Lee made the most of his opportunity. He graduated first in his class of 46 in 1854. For the last two years of his studies, his father was superintendent of the academy.

Lee served in the Engineering Corps until 1860, primarily in California. When Fort Sumter, South Carolina, fell in April 1861, he was stationed in Washington, D.C. Lee resigned his commission on May 2, 1861, about two weeks after his father resigned from the U.S. Army, and became a captain in the Confederate Army, assisting in the construction of fortifications for Richmond, Virginia.

In August 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis selected Lee to serve as his aide-de-camp, and he was soon promoted to colonel. Custis Lee spent the next three years in this position, gathering military information for Davis and conferring with him on a wide variety of military issues. For his service, he was promoted to brigadier general in 1863.

During the Gettysburg campaign, when his father’s army was in Pennsylvania, Lee commanded part of the force defending Richmond, and he oversaw the Richmond defenses during Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s Virginia campaign of 1864. He also assumed leadership of a division in October 1864, but his command saw action only when the Confederates evacuated Richmond in March 1865. He and his force were captured at Sayler’s Creek, Virginia, a few days before his father surrendered the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865.

After the war, Custis Lee taught engineering at the Virginia Military Institute. In 1871, he replaced his late father as president of Washington College (later renamed Washington and Lee University). Custis Lee retired from that post in 1897, and died in Fairfax County, Virginia, on February 18, 1913.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Gunman kills 12 in D.C. Navy Yard massacre

On this day in 2013, a 34-year-old man goes on a rampage at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., killing 12 people and wounding several others over the course of an hour before he is fatally shot by police. Investigators later determined that the gunman, Aaron Alexis, a computer ...read more

Massacres at Sabra and Shatila

Hours after the Israeli forces enter West Beirut, Phalangist militiamen begin a massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Within two days, 1,000 men, women, and children were dead.The Phalangists, a Christian faction in Lebanon, were closely allied with ...read more

Mayflower departs England

The Mayflower sails from Plymouth, England, bound for the New World with 102 passengers. The ship was headed for Virginia, where the colonists–half religious dissenters and half entrepreneurs–had been authorized to settle by the British crown. However, stormy weather and ...read more

Mexican War of Independence begins

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, launches the Mexican War of Independence with the issuing of his Grito de Dolores, or “Cry of Dolores,” The revolutionary tract, so-named because it was publicly read by Hidalgo in the town of Dolores, called for the end of 300 years ...read more

Maria Callas dies

Celebrated soprano Maria Callas dies in Paris at the age of 53.Born in New York City in 1923 to Greek immigrants, Callas demonstrated her talent for singing at an early age. When she was 13, she went to Athens to study under the noted soprano Elvira de Hidalgo. Her first major ...read more

Settlers race to claim land

On this day in 1893, the largest land run in history begins with more than 100,000 people pouring into the Cherokee Strip of Oklahoma to claim valuable land that had once belonged to Native Americans. With a single shot from a pistol the mad dash began, and land-hungry pioneers ...read more

Opera star Maria Callas dies

“Diva” is a word used rather freely these days to describe those whose talents are matched or exceeded by their tendency to maximize the drama in every situation. But the term originated in the world of opera as shorthand for divina, or “goddess”—a label reserved for the greatest ...read more

James Alan McPherson is born

James Alan McPherson, the first black man to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is born in Savannah, Georgia.McPherson overcame the crushing poverty of his childhood and ultimately attended Harvard Law School. At age 25, he entered a short story contest sponsored by The Atlantic ...read more

Frasier debuts

On this day in 1993, Frasier, a spin-off of the long-running mega-hit sitcom Cheers, makes its debut on NBC; it will go on to air for 11 seasons and win multiple Emmy Awards. Frasier starred Kelsey Grammer as the erudite, snobbish Dr. Frasier Crane, a radio psychiatrist who ...read more

Killer quake shakes Iran

An extremely deadly earthquake rocks Iran, killing more than 25,000 people on this day in 1978. The 7.7-magnitude quake struck the northeastern part of the country, an area that has traditionally seen much seismic activity.Ten years earlier, a 6.5-magnitude quake centered in ...read more

Murder in Illinois

Phineas Wilcox is stabbed to death by fellow Mormons in Nauvoo, Illinois, because he is believed to be a Christian spy. The murder of Wilcox reflected the serious and often violent conflict between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the surrounding communities. ...read more

United Nations essay contest angers Soviets

On this day, Soviet representatives condemn an essay writing contest sponsored by the United Nations. The incident, though small, indicated that the Cold War was as much a battle of words as a war of bombs and guns. In 1950, the Public Information Department of the United Nations ...read more