Last time I blogged about the four daughters of Robert E. Lee and Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee. Today I want to share about George Washington Custis Lee, the eldest child of the Lee’s. Known as Custis, this eldest son was born September 16, 1832 at Fort Monroe, Virginia.
Custis was educated at numerous boarding schools to prepare him to follow in his father’s footsteps. He entered West Point at the age of seventeen and graduated first in his class of forty-six in 1854.
Lee served in the U.S. Army until the spring of 1861 when Virginia seceded from the Union. At that time he resigned from the U.S. Army and was given a commission as Captain in the Confederate army. In August of 1861, Lee became aide-de-camp to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, when he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.
In 1863 Lee was promoted to Brigadier General. During the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee was given command of the troops in Richmond, Va. He did so well that he was given command of Richmond’s eastern defenses at Chaffin’s Bluff, where he remained for the next few months and in 1864 was promoted to Major General.
Three days before Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865, Custis was captured at Sayler’s Creek. I suppose with the end of the War, he was released as were other prisoners and sent home.
In late 1865 Lee became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute. He stayed there until the death of his father, at which time he was chosen as the ninth president of Washington and Lee university. He served between 1871 and 1897.
In 1877 Custis Lee sued to regain Arlington House, the Custis-Lee family home. Lee’s case was decided in his favor and he won both the house and the 1100 acres which had become Arlington cemetery. In 1883 Lee sold Arlington House to the United States Government for $150,000. I did not know that. I had always assumed that the Government had confiscated the house and grounds and had never returned them. That makes me feel better!