ON THIS DAY IN UNITED STATES HISTORY
April 20, 1861
Robert E. Lee Resigns His Commission in the U.S. Army
to Command Forces of His Home State of Virginia
On this day in 1861, Robert E. Lee made the difficult decision to resign his commission in the United States
Army. The decision did not come lightly. On many occasions he had criticized the south for talk of secession and
had declared he would never take up arms agains the Union but in the end, his loyalty to his state of Virginia was
too strong to ignore.
On April 23, he took up command of the Virginia state forces. Although he got off to a rocky start, Lee eventually
became well respected and is considered by some historians as one of the best Generals in American history
(although he technically was not an American general during the Civil War).