Robert E. Lee was a Confederate general during the(1861–1865) who led the from June 1862 until its at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Descended from several of Virginia’s First Families, Lee was a well-regarded officer of the United States Army before the war. His decision to fight for the Confederacy was emblematic of the wrenching choices faced by Americans as the nation divided. After an early defeat in western Virginia, he repulsed ‘s army from the Confederate capital during the (1862) and won stunning victories at (1862), (1862), and (1863). The and Pennsylvania campaigns he led resulted in major contests at Antietam (1862) and (1863), respectively, with severe consequences for the Confederacy. Lee offered a spirited defense during the Overland Campaign (1864) against , but was ultimately outmaneuvered and forced into a prolonged siege at (1864–1865). Lee’s generalship was characterized by bold tactical maneuvers and inspirational leadership; however, critics have questioned his strategic judgment, his waste of lives in needless battles, and his unwillingness to fight in the Western Theater. In 1865, his at Arlington having been turned into a national cemetery, Lee became president of (now Washington and Lee University) in . There he promoted educational innovation and presented a constructive face to the devastated Southern public. Privately Lee remained bitter and worked to obstruct societal changes brought about by the war, including the enfranchisement of African Americans. By the end of his life he had become of regional pride and dignity in defeat, and has remained an icon of the . He died on October 12, 1870.