"With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make
up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army,
and save in defense of my native State, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed, I hope I may never
be called on to draw my sword..." Robert E. Lee, in a letter to his sister, April 20, 1861
Robert E. Lee originally joined the top engineering group in the US Forces, but soon after, he decided to move to the cavalry
because of slow progression in his original placing.
He didn't really have a chance to show others his true capabilities until the Mexican War (1846-1848), where he served
as a captain. General Winfield Scott later wrote about Robert's skills during this time, and said that he was "The very
best soldier I ever saw in the field."
In October of the year 1859, Robert E. Lee was sent to hold back an abolitionist and slave rebellion led by John Brown
into Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Robert had the problem solved within an hour, but through this realized the immense tension
that was growing between the Northern and Southern states.
Robert E. Lee was at his command post in Texas on February 1, 1861, the day Texas became the seventh Southern state to
break away from the Union and become independent (secede). All of the US Forces were ordered out of the state immediately,
including Robert E. Lee. With nothing really left to do, he went back to his home state of Virginia to wait out and see what
would happen. On April 18, 1861, he was summoned to Washington, DC, where he was offered a position in a new army that was
being created in order to force the seceded states to rejoin the Union.
Robert E. Lee pondered over this opportunity for a while, but after thinking it over, decided to decline the invitation.
He felt that he would not be able to fight against his own native state's men. Instead, he resigned from the US Army and joined
the services of his own state, Virginia.