Many historians consider Robert E. Lee the greatest general of the Civil War, and it is generally agreed that his military genius, hampered though it was by lack of men and materiel, was a principal factor in keeping the Confederacy alive. Others point out, however, that he never developed a coordinated overall strategy, that he failed to provide an adequate supply system for his armies, and that he was reluctant to deal with difficult subordinates, such as Longstreet. Of admirable personal character, Lee was idolized by his soldiers and the people of the South and soon won the admiration of the North. He has remained an ideal of the South and an American hero, although some late 20th cent. historians have tended toward a more critical view of him as a general and as a man.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.