George Washington Custis Lee
b. September 16, 1832, Fort Monroe, Va.
d. February 18, 1913, Fairfax County, Va.

The oldest of Robert E. Lee's three sons, Custis Lee graduated first in his class from the U.S. Military Academy. The U.S. Army assigned him to Washington D.C. to improve river harbors for the Chief of Engineers. He resigned in May of 1861 and joined the Confederate Army in July to serve as an engineer for Richmond's fortifications. He then served on President Davis' staff as an aide de camp. One of Davis' most valued men, he was promoted to brigadier general in June of 1863 and to major general in October 1864. He did not see much action until the end of the war when he surrendered at Sayler's Creek to save his troops from experiencing further causalities. He was later paroled.

After the war, he taught engineering at the Virginia Military Institute until 1871 when he became president of Washington and Lee College after his father's death. He retired in 1877 due to illness and lived out the remainder of his life at "Ravensworth," the family estate inherited by his brother William Henry Fitzhugh Lee. Custis Lee was unable to return to his family home, "Arlington House," because it had been confiscated by the Union during the war. In 1892, Custis Lee won a lawsuit against the Federal Government for return of his property but by that time hundreds of graves filled the land and surrounded the house. Arlington House is now part of the National Park Service and is located within Arlington National Cemetery. The Lincoln Memorial was built almost directly across the Potomac from the house.

Back to Collection

Next General


Generals Home Page  ||  Photos  ||  About the Collection  ||  List of Generals  ||  Bibliography  


A project of the Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections Division
Content and Design: Heather Muller