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CDV, General Fitzhugh Lee

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Confederate Cavalry Leader, Army of Northern Virginia

General Fitz Lee, was "one of the finest cavalry leaders on the continent." Quote from General J.E.B. Stuart

Severely wounded at the battle of Winchester, Virginia

Governor of Virginia


(1835-1905) Born at Clermont, in Fairfax County, Virginia, he was the nephew of General Robert E. Lee, the son of Captain Sydney S. Lee, [R.E. Lee's brother] C.S.N., and his first cousins were George Washington "Custis" Lee, W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee, and Robert E. Lee, Jr. He graduated in the West Point class of 1856, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, (later re-designated the 5th Cavalry Regiment), which was commanded by Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, and in which his uncle, Robert E. Lee, was lieutenant colonel. As a cavalry subaltern, he distinguished himself by his gallant conduct in actions against the Comanches in Texas and was severely wounded in a fight in Nescutunga, Texas, in May 1859. In May 1860, he was appointed instructor of cavalry tactics at the United States Military Academy, but he resigned his commission upon the declared secession of his native Virginia. A favorite of General J.E.B. Stuart, Fitz Lee played a gallant role in all of the operations of the Cavalry Corps, of the Army of Northern Virginia. During the Confederate raid on Catlett's Station, Va., he captured the headquarters tent, and dress uniform of General John Pope, and presented Pope's coat to General Stuart as a gift. Fitz Lee performed very well in the Maryland Campaign of 1862, covering the Confederate infantry's withdrawal from South Mountain, delaying the U.S. Army advance to Sharpsburg, Maryland, before the Battle of Sharpsburg around Antietam Creek, and covering his army's recrossing of the Potomac River into Virginia. Stuart's cavalry made its second ride around the Union Army in the Chambersburg Raid before returning in time to screen General Robert E. Lee's movement towards Fredericksburg, where the cavalry defended the extreme right of the Confederate line. Fitz Lee conducted the cavalry action of Kelly's Ford, on March 17, 1863 with great skill and success, where his 400 troopers captured 150 men and horses with a loss of only 14 men. In the Battle of Chancellorsville, fought May 1,2 & 3, 1863, Fitz Lee's reconnaissance found that the Union Army's right flank was "in the air" which allowed the successful flanking attack by General "Stonewall" Jackson, a movement led by Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry, who routed General O.O. Howard's 11th Corps. In the Gettysburg Campaign, his most significant contribution was at the Battle of Carlisle. He did not fare as well on East Cavalry battlefield, on July 3, 1863, where Stuart's troopers tangled viciously with the Union cavalry led by General David M. Gregg who saved General Meade's rear. General J.E.B. Stuart wrote in his after battle report that no officer in his command deserved more praise than Fitz Lee, who he said was "one of the finest cavalry leaders on the continent, and richly [entitled] to promotion." During the withdrawal from Gettysburg, General Fitz Lee's cavalry brigade held the fords at Shepherdstown, Va., to prevent the Federal Army from following across the Potomac River. Lee was promoted to major general on August 3, 1863, and continued to serve under General Stuart's command. While his uncle maneuvered the Army of Northern Virginia back into central Virginia, Lee's division launched a successful ambush on the Union cavalry at the Battle of Buckland Mills, Va., that fall. In the Overland Campaign of spring 1864, Fitz Lee was constantly employed as a divisional commander under Stuart. Following the Battle of the Wilderness, Lee's cavalry division played a pivotal role in impeding the Union Army in its race to ultimately get to Spotsylvania Court House first. Lee particularly distinguished himself at Spotsylvania, where the stand of his division made it possible for the 1st Corps, A.N.V., to secure the strategic crossroads in advance of Grant's arrival with the main Federal column. While fighting at Spotsylvania, J.E.B. Stuart was detached from the army to thwart Union cavalry General Phillip H. Sheridan's raid on Richmond. The mission ultimately ended in the mortal wounding of General Stuart at the Battle of Yellow Tavern, Va. After Stuart's death, Lee served under General Wade Hampton, who had been Fitz Lee's peer for much of the war, and was promoted to replace Stuart due to his seniority, and more significant experience; some observers at the time had expected General Robert E. Lee's nephew to receive the command. At the Battle of Trevillian Station, Va., Hampton's cavalry prevented General Sheridan's cavalry from aiding General David Hunter's force in western Virginia, where it was sure to have inflicted significant damage on General Robert E. Lee's supply, and communication lines. The battle also served to screen General Jubal A. Early's move from Richmond to aid Lynchburg, which General Hunter was set to besiege. At the Third Battle of Winchester, on September 19, 1864, three horses were shot out from under Fitz Lee, and he was severely wounded. When General Hampton was sent to assist General Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina, the command of the whole of General Robert E. Lee's cavalry force devolved upon his nephew, General Fitzhugh Lee, but the surrender at Appomattox Court House was soon to follow as General U.S. Grant had surrounded General Lee's vaunted Army of Northern Virginia, making further battle fruitless, and only leading to many more deaths. Fitzhugh Lee himself led the last charge of the Confederates on April 9, 1865, at Farmville, Virginia. He was elected the 40th Governor of Virginia in 1885, serving until 1890, and was later appointed Consul General at Havana. At the outbreak of the Spanish American War, he was commissioned Major General, U.S. Volunteers, and once again donned the old blue United States Army uniform that he had taken off in 1861 when he joined the Confederacy! He died on April 28, 1905, at Washington, D.C., at the age of 69, and was buried at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

Wet plate, albumen carte de visite photograph, mounted to 2 3/8 x 4 card. Bust view in Confederate uniform. "Genl. Fitz Hugh Lee" is written in period ink on the front of the card. Back mark: E. & H.T. Anthony, 501 Broadway, New York. Very fine. Extremely popular Confederate cavalry general, and a prominent member of the famous Lee family of Virginia.



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