William Henry Fitzhugh Lee (May 31, 1837 - October 15, 1891)

Quick Facts

Quick Facts about the subject of this entry.

Birth Date: May 31, 1837

Birth Location: Arlington Plantation, family's plantation near Arlington, Virginia

Parents: General Robert E. Lee and Mary Anna Randolph (Custis) Lee

Education: Harvard University (1854 – 1857, did not graduate)

Occupation: planter, politician, military officer

Career Summary: Major General (CSA), Virginia state senator, U.S. Congressman

Spouses: Charlotte Georgiana Wickham (1859), Mary Tabb Bolling (1867)

Nickname(s): Rooney

Place of Death: Ravensworth plantation, Alexandria, Virginia

Date of Death: October 15, 1891

Place of Burial: Lee Chapel, Lexington, Virginia

W.H.F. Lee was the second son, and third of seven children, born to Robert E. Lee and Mary Anna Randolph Custis.

W.H.F. Lee was named for his mother's uncle, William Henry Fitzhugh, but at an early age his family members began calling him "Rooney" (sometimes spelled "Roony"), possibly to differentiate him from his first-cousin Fitzhugh Lee.

W.H.F. Lee attended Harvard University from 1854 to 1857, but did not graduate.

In 1857, W.H.F. Lee accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army.

From 1857 to 1859, W.H.F. Lee served with the U.S. 6th Infantry in the American West, under future Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston.

W.H.F. Lee participated in the mostly bloodless Utah War (also known as the Utah Expedition).

In 1859, W.H.F. Lee resigned his army commission to become a Virginia planter.

On March 23, 1859, W.H.F. Lee married his cousin, Charlotte Georgiana Wickham. Their union produced two children, both of whom died in infancy.

After resigning his army commission, W.H.F. Lee took up residence at White House, a 4,000-acre plantation on the Pamunkey River that Lee had inherited from his maternal grandfather, George Washington Parke Custis, in 1857.

After Virginia seceded from the Union, W.H.F. Lee organized a company of volunteers known as the Virginia Rangers or Lee's Rangers and joined the ranks of the Confederate forces as a captain on May 6, 1861.

W.H.F. Lee was promoted to major in June 1861.

During the second half of 1861, Lee's Rangers served under Brigadier General William H. Loring, sparring with Union troops commanded by George B. McClellan for control of passes through the Appalachian Mountains in western Virginia.

On January 18, 1862, W.H.F. Lee was assigned to the newly-created 9th Virginia Cavalry as a lieutenant colonel.

On April 28, 1862, the 9th Virginia Cavalry Regiment's enlisted men elected W.H.F. Lee as their colonel.

On June 30, 1862, typhoid fever claimed the life of W.H.F. Lee's two-year-old son, Robert E. Lee, Jr.

Throughout the Peninsula Campaign (March 17 - August 14, 1862), W.H.F. Lee commanded the 9th Virginia Cavalry, assigned to Brigadier General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry brigade.

W.H.F. Lee rode with his cousin, Colonel Fitzhugh Lee, during Brigadier General J.E.B. Stuart's daring "Ride around McClellan" (June 12 - 15, 1862).

W.H.F. Lee participated in the Seven Days Battles (June 25 - July 1, 1862), which turned the tide of the Peninsula Campaign in favor of the South.

Commanding the 9th Virginia as a part of Fitzhugh Lee's Brigade of Stuart's Cavalry Division, W.H.F. Lee participated in the Northern Virginia Campaign (July 19 - September 1, 1862) and the Maryland Campaign (September 4 - September 20, 1862).

On September 15, 1862, during the Confederate withdrawal from the Battle of South Mountain, W.H.F. Lee was injured when his horse was killed and fell on him. Two days later he was well enough to participate in the Battle of Antietam, but saw little action because Stuart used his unit as a diversion.

On October 3, 1862, W.H.F. Lee was promoted to brigadier general, to date from September 15, 1862.

On October 9, 1862, W.H.F. Lee's wife, Charlotte, gave birth to a sickly daughter who died on December 6.

In early November 1862, W.H.F. Lee led 600 troopers selected from his cousin Fitzhugh Lee's Brigade on a daring invasion into Pennsylvania.

On November 10, 1862, Confederate officials reorganized the Army of Northern Virginia's cavalry and they placed W.H.F. Lee in command of his own brigade consisting of the 5th, 9th, 10th, and 15th Virginia regiments, as well as the 2nd North Carolina Regiment (Special Orders, No. 238, Headquarters, ANV).

W.H.F. Lee's brigade saw limited action during the Confederate victory at the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11 - 15, 1862).

W.H.F. Lee's brigade played an important role in defeating the Union Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30 - May 6, 1863).

On June 9, 1863, during the Battle of Brandy Station, which was the largest cavalry engagement of the Civil War, W.H.F. Lee received a sabre cut and a more severe rifle wound to the thigh.

On June 26, 1863, Union cavalry troopers captured W.H.F. Lee at Hickory Hill plantation in Hanover County, Virginia, where he was recuperating from wounds he received during the Battle of Brandy Station.

Union officials confined W.H.F. Lee at Fort Lafayette, New York, until February 25, 1864, when he was exchanged for Neal Dow, a Union brigadier general from Maine who was a prominent prohibitionist before and after the Civil War.

While W.H.F. Lee was imprisoned at Fort Lafayette, New York, his wife, Charlotte, succumbed to tuberculosis on December 26, 1863.

Following his imprisonment, W.H.F. Lee returned to service with the Army of Northern Virginia.

On April 23, 1864, Confederate officials promoted W.H.F. Lee to major general on April 23, 1864, and placed him in command of the 3rd Division of General J.E.B. Stuart's Cavalry Corps.

Following J.E.B. Stuart's death on May 12, 1864, W.H.F. Lee commanded one of three independent cavalry divisions of the Army of Northern Virginia that reported directly to Robert E. Lee.

From August 11, 1864, until February 11, 1865, W.H.F. Lee commanded a division of General Wade Hampton's Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia.

From February 11, 1865, until April 9, 1865, W.H.F. Lee commanded a division of General Fitzhugh Lee's Cavalry Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia.

W.H.F. Lee participated in the Wilson-Kautz Raid (June 22 - July 1, 1864).

W.H.F. Lee participated in the "beefsteak raid" (September 14 - 17, 1864), which rustled nearly 2,500 head of cattle to feed his father's starving Confederate army.

W.H.F Lee's leadership was exceptionally conspicuous at the Battle of Five Forks (April 1, 1865) where his outnumbered men held off a Union assault for several hours in what turned out to be a losing effort.

W.H.F. Lee and his division, along with the rest of his father's army, surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.

At the conclusion of the Civil War, W.H.F. Lee returned to farming at White House plantation.

On November 28, 1867, W.H.F. Lee married Mary Tabb Bolling of Petersburg, Virginia. Their union produced five children, two of whom survived to adulthood.

In 1874, W.H.F. Lee and his family moved to Ravensworth manor, in Fairfax County, Virginia, which he inherited following the death of his great-aunt Anna Maria Fitzhugh.

W.H.F. Lee served one term in the Virginia State Senate from 1875-1879.

W.H.F. Lee served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 50th to the 52nd Congresses from March 4, 1887, until his death on October 15, 1891.

On the evening of October 15, 1891, W.H.F. Lee suffered a heart attack and died at his home, Ravensworth, while Congress was in recess.

W.H.F. Lee's remains are buried in the Lee Chapel at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, alongside his parents and siblings.

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