Monday, June 9, 2014

Wife and Sons of the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia: Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee, George Washington Custis Lee, William Henry Fitzhugh "Rooney" Lee & Robert E. Lee, Jr.

Although I'm not directly related to Robert E. Lee, I am distantly related to his wife, Mary Anna Randolph Custis through our mutual ancestor, Richard Cocke (1597-1665).  Richard Cocke is my 11th Great Grandfather and was Mary Anna's 3rd Great Grandfather.

Richard Cocke (1597-1665)

Richard Cocke was born in 1597 at Pickthorn, Stottesdon, Shropshire, England.  His actual birth date is not known, however it is known that he was baptized at Sidbury in Shropshire on December 13, 1597.  Not much is known of his early life in England.  There are records of him appearing in court as an attorney, so it is safe to assume he was both literate and well educated.

When Richard was 30 years old he left England and emigrated to the New World.  He arrived in the Jamestown Colony in 1627 on board the vessel "Saint Christopher".  The first record of Richard in The Colonies was his testimony in the Jamestown court on December 24, 1627.  On June 5, 1632, Richard married Temperance Bailey.  Temperance was the daughter of Cicely Jordan Farrar, who was one of the earliest settlers in the Jamestown Colony, having arrived in August of 1610 as a child on board the ship "the Swan"

Richard prospered in the New World, amassing over 10,916 acres of land that spread over three plantation sites; his home Bremo, Malvern Hill and Curles.  The Malvern Hill property was inherited by his son, Thomas and later became the site of the infamous Battle of Malvern Hill in 1862.  Nothing remains of his home Bremo, which was reported to have been destroyed by Federal gunboats during the Civil War. 

Richard served as a member of the House of Burgesses periodically throughout his life.  Records show he represented the Weyanoke district in 1632 and Henrico in 1644 and again in1654.  He was also a Colonel of the local militia and a justice of the court. Richard died on October 4, 1665 and was buried in the orchard of his Bremo plantaion. Other notable descendents of Richard Cocke are George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. 

Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee

Mary Anna Randolph Custis was born at Annefield in Clarke county, Virginia on October 1, 1807.  She is my 5th cousin 7x removed.  Her father, George Washington Parke Custis was the step-grandson and adopted son of George Washington.   Mary was the only surviving child born to George Washington Parke Custis and Mary Lee Fitzhugh.  She was classically educated, having learned both the Greek and Latin languages.  Mary also enjoyed politics and reading.  After the death of her father, she edited and published his writings as "Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, by his Adopted Son George Washington Parke Custis, with a Memoir of this Author by his Daughter".

On June 30, 1831, Mary Anna Randolph Custis and Robert Edward Lee were married at her parents home, Arlington House.  The following fall, the couple would have their first of seven children, a son name George Washington Custis Lee.  All three of their sons would follow in their fathers footsteps and serve in the Confederate Army. 

Arlington House

Upon her father's death in 1857, Mary inherited Arlington House.  While at Arlington House, Mary enjoyed entertaining guests and was a gracious hostess.  Like her father, she also enjoyed painting landscapes, some of which are still on display throughout the house.   Mary was also deeply religious and attended Episcopal services as often as possible.  She taught her slaves how to read and write and was an advocate of emancipation. Mary suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, which got increasingly more debilitating through the years.   By the start of the Civil War in 1861, she was using a wheel chair.


Mary Custis Lee late in life


Mary wasn't quick to leave her home at the onset of the Civil War, staying at Arlington up until May 15, 1861.  Earlier in the month she had received correspondence from her husband stating:

"War is inevitable, and there is no telling when it will burst around you . . . You have to move and make arrangements to go to some point of safety which you must select. The Mount Vernon plate and pictures ought to be secured. Keep quiet while you remain, and in your preparations . . . May God keep and preserve you and have mercy on all our people."

She sought refuge among the several plantations in her family.  In May of 1862, Mary was caught behind Federal lines at her son Rooney's White House plantation in New Kent County Virginia.  As Federal forces moved up the York and Pamunky Rivers, Union Commander George Brinton McClellan allowed her safe passage through the Federal lines so she could get to Richmond.  Mary and her daughters settled in Richmond for a time before moving west to her cousin, John Hartwell Cocke's plantation in Fluvanna County Virginia, also named Bremo. She remained at Cocke's Bremo plantation until November of 1865.

John Hartwell Cocke (1780-1866) was also my 5th cousin 7x removed.  I've previously written about John and his son, Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke.

Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke's blog entry

Following the war, Mary and Robert briefly lived in Powhatan County before moving to Lexington, where Robert became president of Washington College, later named Washington & Lee University.  She outlived Robert by three years.   Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee died in Lexington Virginia on November 5, 1873 at the age of 65.   She was buried next to Robert in Lee family crypt at Lee Chapel.

Mary's grave at Lee Chapel

Here's my relation to Mary:

Mary Anna Randolph Custis (1808 - 1873)
is your 5th cousin 7x removed
Mary Molly Lee Fitzhugh (1788 - 1853)
mother of Mary Anna Randolph Custis
Anne Bolling Randolph (1747 - 1805)
mother of Mary Molly Lee Fitzhugh
Lucy Bolling (1719 - 1767)
mother of Anne Bolling Randolph
Anne Meriwether Cocke (1685 - 1749)
mother of Lucy Bolling
Richard Cocke II (1639 - 1706)
father of Anne Meriwether Cocke
Richard Cocke (1597 - 1665)
father of Richard Cocke II
Thomas Cocke (1639 - 1696)
son of Richard Cocke
Capt Thomas Cocke (1664 - 1707)
son of Thomas Cocke
Brazure Cocke (1694 - 1770)
son of Capt Thomas Cocke
William Cocke (1715 - 1797)
son of Brazure Cocke
Sarah Sallie Cocke (1730 - 1785)
daughter of William Cocke
Nancy Ann Daniel (1776 - 1843)
daughter of Sarah Sallie Cocke
Benjamin Lucious Moss (1792 - 1847)
son of Nancy Ann Daniel
James C. Moss (1824 - 1891)
son of Benjamin Lucious Moss
William Allen Moss (1859 - 1931)
son of James C. Moss
Valeria Lee Moss (1890 - 1968)
daughter of William Allen Moss
Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis (1918 - 1977)
daughter of Valeria Lee Moss
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
daughter of Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce



George Washington Custis Lee


George Washington Custis Lee was the eldest son of Robert E. Lee and Mary Anna Custis.   He is my 6th cousin 6x removed.  Custis, as he was referred to during his life, was born at Fort Monroe, Virginia on September 16, 1832.  He was well educated from an early age in hopes to prepare him for his fathers footsteps.  When Custis was 16, he applied to the United States Military Academy at West Point but was not accepted.  This prompted his father to write a letter on his son's behalf to the Commanding General of the United States Army, Winfield Scott.  Scott had been Lee's commanding officer in the Mexican War.   After a few strings were pulled, President Zachary Taylor then nominated Custis to West Point, where he was accepted at age 17. 

Daguerreotype of Custis while attending West Point


Custis attended West Point from 1850 - 1854.  He was almost expelled toward the end of his first year after alcohol was found in his room.  He denied any involvement and was given a minor punishment.  Custis showed great aptitude both academically and militarily during his second year.  His father became the Superintendent of West Point at the beginning of his third year.  Certainly his fathers presence influenced his scholastics.  In 1854, Custis graduated first in his class of forty six.  Other notable people from his class include J.E.B. Stuart, William Dorsey Pender and John Pegram.

Following his graduation, Custis was commissioned as a brevat 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers, primarily serving in Georgia, Florida and California.  In 1855, he was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Regular Army.    Custis attained the rank of 1st Lieutenant in 1859.  He was stationed in Washington D.C. during the period of secession and the bombardment of Fort Sumter.  Following Virginia's secession in the Spring of 1861, Custis tendered his resignation about 2 weeks after his father.  He then offered his services to his home state of Virginia.

Custis served in the Virginia state forces until July of 1861 when he was commissioned as a Captain in the Confederate Army.   He would spend the next few months working with the Confederate Corps of Engineers to construct fortifications around the new capital city of Richmond.  In August of 1861, Custis accepted the position of aide-de-camp to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.  With this position came a promotion to the rank of Colonel.  During the next three years, Custis was often sent on missions to asses the Confederate forces and their opposition.  He would then return to Davis and render his findings.  Although Custis spent most of the war working in Davis's office, he did offer to take his brother, Rooney's place as a prisoner of war so that he could go home and be with his dying wife.

Robert E. Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia on June 1, 1862.  During the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, Custis supervised the engineers at Drewry's Bluff.  On June 25, 1863, Custis was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He initially sought out a command position in the field, but was discouraged by President Davis.  Upon asking his father to interject, Robert E. Lee replied that "his highest duty was obedience to his superiors", thus ensuring Custis would remain in a staff position.  During the Battle of Gettysburg, Custis was given command of the troops in Richmond.  In 1864, he was placed in command of Richmond's local defenses, which he supervised from Chaffin's Bluff.  On October 20, 1864, Custis was promoted to the rank of Major General.


Robert E. Lee with son Custis on the left


He was finally given a field command shortly before the end of the war.  His first field command came on April 6, 1865 during the Battle of Sayler's Creek.  This Battle was the death blow to the Confederate Army due to nearly 7,700 Confederate troops being taken prisoner.  Nine Confederate Generals were also captured, including Custis.  His father would surrender at Appomattox just three days later.


Following the war, Custis again followed in his fathers footsteps, this time following his path as an educator.  He was a professor at the Virginia Military Institute until his fathers death in 1870.  Custis then succeeded his father serving as the ninth President of Washington & Lee University.


 
George Washington Custis Lee while President of W&L University

Upon his mother's death in 1873, Custis inherited Arlington House, which had been taken over by the Federal Army in 1861 and used as a headquarters and cemetery during the Civil War.  In 1877 Custis sued for the title to his ancestral home.  In a case that went as far as the United States Supreme Court.  In 1882, the case was decided in his favor by a vote of 5-4.  The court agreed that Arlington had been illegally seized and returned the title to its lawful owner.   By this time Arlington House had become Arlington Cemetery.   Having respect for the dead and knowing he could not return Arlington House to its former glory as a plantation home, Custis sold the property to the United States Government in 1883 for $150,000.

Custis retired from Washington & Lee University in 1887 and moved into his late brother Rooney's platation, Ravensworth.   He remained there until his death in 1913.  George Washington Custis Lee died at Ravensworth on February 18, 1913.  He was 80 years old.   Custis was buried alongside his family in the Lee family crypt at Lee Chapel.


Grave of George Washington Custis Lee



The second son born to Robert and Mary was William Henry Fitzhugh "Rooney" Lee.  Rooney, as he was referred to during his life, was born on May 31, 1837 at Arlington House in Arlington, Virginia.


Robert E. Lee and son Rooney circa 1845


Much like his older brother Custis, Rooney was also well educated.  Unlike Custis and his father, Rooney chose to attend Harvard University.  Classmate Henry Adams described him as "Tall, largely built, handsome, genial, with liberal Virginian openness towards all he liked….For a year, at least, Lee was the most popular and prominent young man in his class, but then seemed slowly to drop into the background,".  It was rumored that Rooney also enjoyed a good time and was "apt to drink hard."  He was a skilled oarsman and was president of Oneida, a Harvard Rowing Club.  Lee family lore states that Rooney and his rowing mates are responsible for Harvard's crimson colors due to the fact they all wore red bandannas while rowing.


Rooney left Harvard in 1857 before graduation, accepting a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army.  It is said the reason he left school before graduation is because he wanted to make a living so that he could get married, which he did in 1859.  He served with the 6th United States Infantry under Albert Sidney Johnston, and served in the Mormon War in the Utah territory.  Rooney resigned from the Army in 1859 so that he could operate his White House plantation on the banks of the Pamunkey River in New Kent County Virginia.

Rooney Lee's White House

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Rooney also chose to join in the defense of his native Virginia.  He was a skilled horseman and accepted a commission as as Captain in the Confederate Cavalry.   Initially, he served in the western part of Virginia under Brigadier General William Loring before being assigned to J.E.B. Stuart's command where he rose through the ranks of 9th Virginia Cavalry, attaining the rank of Colonel on April 29, 1862.


William Henry Fitzhugh "Rooney" Lee


Under Stuart's command, he participated in the Peninsula Campaign and the famous ride around McClellan's army, where 1,200 Confederate Cavalrymen circled over 100 miles around Federal forces.  His troopers defeated the enemy's cavalry at Hawes' Shop on June 13th during this expedition.  Federal commander, George B. McClellan, took Rooney's White House plantation as a supply base during the Peninsula Campaign.

In July of 1862, his regiment was assigned to the brigade of his cousin, Fitzhugh Lee.  Under his cousin's command, he participated in the 2nd Bull Run/2nd Manassas campaign.  Following the Battle of South Mountain, Rooney was promoted to Brigadier General on September 15, 1862. He was unhorsed while crossing a bridge and was severely wounded during the action at Boonsboro .  Badly bruised, he lay unconscious on the roadside in full view of the enemy.  He managed to escape and met up with the Confederate forces at Antietam. 

He commanded the 3rd Brigade of Stuart's Cavalry Division, which consisted of the 5th, 9th, 10th, 15th Virginia Cavalry as well as the 2nd North Carolina Cavalry at the Battles of  Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. On June 9, 1863, during the Battle of Brandy Station, he was wounded in the leg while leading a series of valiant charges.  Following the engagement Stuart remarked of "the handsome and highly satisfactory manner" in which he handled his brigade, and the deplorable loss "for a short time only, it is hoped, of his valuable services. "  His helpless condition required months of convalescence.  Rooney was sent to Hickory Hill in Ashland, Virginia to recover from his wounds.  During his recovery, he was taken prisoner by Federal raiders.  Rooney was taken to Fortress Monroe and then shipped to Fort Lafayette in Staten Island, New York where he remained until he was exchanged in March of 1864.  He learned of his wife's death while he was in prison.

Upon his return to the Confederate Army, he was promoted to the rank of Major General on April 23, 1864.  Rooney was then given command of a Cavalry Division.  He was the youngest Confederate to attain the rank of Major General.  He proved to be a capable leader during the final year of the war.  During the Battle of Five Forks in April of 1865, he defended against a combined assault by Federal Infantry and Cavalry, while other Confederate commanders ate their lunch.  Despite his best efforts, he was ultimately overwhelmed.  Just a little over a week later, he surrendered his command alongside his father at Appomattox Court House.

Rooney Lee after the war

Following the end of the Civil War, Rooney returned to his White House plantation where he resumed farming.  He served as the president of the Virginia State Agricultural society for several years.  He was drawn back into public life in 1875 when he was elected to Virginia State Senate, where he served until 1879.  Rooney also served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1887 to 1891.  William Henry Fitzhugh "Rooney" Lee passed away shortly after the expiration of his term on October 15, 1891.  He was 54 years old when he died.  He was originally buried in Alexandria, Virginia before being moved to the Lee family crypt at Lee Chapel in 1922.


Grave of Rooney Lee


The third and youngest son born to Robert and Mary was Robert Edward Lee, Jr.  Rob, as he was referred to during his life, was born on October 27, 1843 at Arlington House in Arlington, Virginia.


Robert Edward Lee, Jr.


Like his brothers, Rob had a typical childhood at Arlington House.   He learned from an early age to swim and ride a horse.  When Rob was a younger child, he enjoyed spending time with his father and namesake.  He and his younger sister, Mildred were very close throughout their lives.  Rob attended various boarding schools throughout the 1850's.   In the fall of 1860, he enrolled in the University of Virginia.  Unlike his brothers, Rob is the only Lee son that did not pursue a military career prior to the Civil War.  However, when the war started much to his mother's dismay, he enlisted as a Private in the Rockbridge Artillery on March 28, 1862.


Civil War Era Picture of Rob


The Rockbridge Artillery was one of the artillery units that supported Stonewall Jackson's Brigade.  On June 9, 1862, at the Battle of Port Republic, the Rockbridge Artillery, commanded by Captain William T. Poague, supported the Confederate attack, and helped prevent the capture of Stonewall Jackson.   The following month, at the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, 1862, the Rockbridge Artillery expended all of it's ammunition in one of the war's fiercest artillery duels.  On August 9th, the unit again supported Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of Cedar Mountain.  Later that month, the unit assisted in repelling Federal forces at the Second Battle of Manassas.   On September 17, 1862, the Rockbridge Artillery sustained heavy losses on Nicodemus Heights and at the Dunkard Church during the Battle of Antietam .  Some Confederate gunners dubbed the battle "artillery hell."

Following the Battle of Antietam, Rob was promoted to the rank of Captain and was assigned as an aide to his older brother, Custis who was then serving as aide-de-camp to President Davis.  Rob assisted his brother in planning the defense of Richmond.


Postwar photo of Rob


After the war, Rob returned home to his Romancocke estate, which he had inherited from his Grandfather, George Washington Parke Custis.  In addition to farming his plantation, Rob became a writer.  He began to organize his fathers letters and memoirs.  His "Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee" was published in 1904.  It included memories and accounts of the day-to-day life at Arlington House.  In the book, Rob describes his fathers love of animals, particularly horses.  He also gives great detail to Robert E. Lee's agonizing decision to resign from the United States Army in order to defend his native Virginia.


Robert Edward Lee, Jr. died on October 19, 1916 at the age of 72.  He was buried with his parents and brothers in the Lee family crypt at Lee Chapel.


Lee Chapel at Washington & Lee University



Since I share the same relation to all the Lee brothers, I'm only listing one relationship chart.

Here's my relation to Robert E. Lee, Jr.:

Capt. Robert "Rob" Edward Lee Jr (1843 - 1916)
is your 6th cousin 6x removed
Mary Anna Randolph Custis (1808 - 1873)
mother of Capt. Robert "Rob" Edward Lee Jr
Mary Molly Lee Fitzhugh (1788 - 1853)
mother of Mary Anna Randolph Custis
Anne Bolling Randolph (1747 - 1805)
mother of Mary Molly Lee Fitzhugh
Lucy Bolling (1719 - 1767)
mother of Anne Bolling Randolph
Anne Meriwether Cocke (1685 - 1749)
mother of Lucy Bolling
Richard Cocke II (1639 - 1706)
father of Anne Meriwether Cocke
Richard Cocke (1597 - 1665)
father of Richard Cocke II
Thomas Cocke (1639 - 1696)
son of Richard Cocke
Capt Thomas Cocke (1664 - 1707)
son of Thomas Cocke
Brazure Cocke (1694 - 1770)
son of Capt Thomas Cocke
William Cocke (1715 - 1797)
son of Brazure Cocke
Sarah Sallie Cocke (1730 - 1785)
daughter of William Cocke
Nancy Ann Daniel (1776 - 1843)
daughter of Sarah Sallie Cocke
Benjamin Lucious Moss (1792 - 1847)
son of Nancy Ann Daniel
James C. Moss (1824 - 1891)
son of Benjamin Lucious Moss
William Allen Moss (1859 - 1931)
son of James C. Moss
Valeria Lee Moss (1890 - 1968)
daughter of William Allen Moss
Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis (1918 - 1977)
daughter of Valeria Lee Moss
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
daughter of Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce

***an interesting side note***   Robert E. Lee's aunt, Elizabeth Hill Carter (1764-1832) was married to my 3rd cousin 9x removed, Colonel Robert Faquier Randolph (1760-1825).  









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