Robert E. Lee 1807-1870. Lee, one of the great generals in history, was a Virginia native. He was graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, the second in rank in his class. In 1852, he became superintendent in the Academy. When the Civil War broke out, he was tendered the command of Federal forces but refused and offered his services to his native state. After the war, he served as president of Washington College - later renamed Washington and Lee University.