In the spring of 1861, he was described as the most promising officer in the United States Army. Hero of the Mexican War, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, capturer of the radical John Brown.
On April 18th, at the request of Abraham Lincoln, Lee was summoned to Washington and met with Francis P. Blair, where he was offered field command of the entire Union Army. Lee politely declined. Virginia had voted to secede the day before.
At midnight Saturday the 20th of April, Lee wrote his letter of resignation from the United States Army. On the 21st the Governor of Virginia asked Lee to take command of the state militia. Lee explained that he could never draw his sword against his native state. When he was called upon to take command of Confederate forces, Lee left his beloved Arlington behind, destined never to return.
Photo: John Paul Strain Art…It was in this garden that Union invaders first buried their dead after 1st Manassas and then throughout the property. Robert and Mary were never able to return to their home and many of the momentos of George Washington and family were carried off by Union soldiers after the battle...