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Leadership and Strategic Challenges

Leadership and Strategic Challenges


A leader is a person whose responsibility is to give guidance or directions for others to follow. However, a military leader’s main responsibilities include welfare of the soldiers and mission accomplishment. General Robert E. Lee as a military leader accomplished his mission during civil war regardless of the hard economic times he faced. This paper focuses on strategic challenges that General Robert E. Lee encountered during civil war in order to outrun General Ulysses S. Grant to the west of Richmond and Petersburg (Virginia) until General Lee reached the decision to surrender to the Grant’s Union.

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Robert Edward Lee’s Biography

Robert Edward Lee hailed from America. He was well-known for his control over Confederate Army in the American Civil War between the years 1862-1865 before his retirement. (Moten, 2011). As for his background, his father was a revolutionary officer who had graduated from the United States armed forces institute (Lounsberry & Pearson, 2009). As a result, Lee spent 32 years of his life as a trained officer and warfare engineer in the United States defense force. Due to this fact he became well recognized in the US, especially during the War between Mexicans and Americans. According to his reports, he was a superintendent while serving at United States military institute. Lee also married Mary Custis at that time (Moten, 2011).

Robert Edward Lee’s Work

The state of Virginia declared its secession from the Union in 1861. Robert was offered the position in a high-ranking union authority, which he declined and opted to fight for his state of origin. Nevertheless, he was a superior military consultant to President Jefferson Davis for one year during Civil War. In 1862 (Lounsberry & Pearson, 2009) he took over the control of the central land forces. Moreover, General Lee used his tactics so well that he defeated his adversaries most of which were renowned unions. However, his rivals from the North were in doubt of his abilities until he defeated them.

Many people lost their lives during the time of proving his prowess thus robbing Confederacy of human resources. This move was met with much criticism afterwards (Moten, 2011). Unfortunately for Lee, Union coming together and General Ulysses S. Grant succeeding in taking charge over Confederacy made him completely unable to turn the situation around. The only option he had was to surrender to Grant. Although Lee had already earned the recognition as a superior control of the armies in the South, other associate forces gave in to the demands of their rivals after his giving in (Lounsberry & Pearson, 2009). When he was offered to maintain an armed rebellion against the North, he defied the odds by turning down the offer and settling for reconciliation between two parties instead (Moten, 2011).

Robert Edward Lee as President

Afterward Robert Lee joined hands with President Johnson Andrew. Their aim was to restore lost friendship (Stedman, Rothchild & Cousens, 2002). They objected to the radical proposals to entitle the slaves that had been freed to vote and confiscate the votes of the former Confederates. Robert engaged them in a dialogue to think along the line of bringing together the two opposing sides – the North and the South. Robert Lee’s next big move (Lounsberry & Pearson, 2009) was negotiating with Union General Ulysses S. Grant for assimilation of the previous Confederates into the political life of the nation. Robert Lee went down in history as the greatest southern hero during civil war. Sadly, others felt he was a loser because of his surrender. The beauty of it was the popularity that Lee’s name gained in the North even after his death. Nowadays he is the most endeared military icon in the United States (Stedman et al, 2002).

Robert Edward Lee Surrender

Robert Lee surrendered to the Union General Ulysses S. Grant (Coffman, 1998). It was a disappointment to the forces that were standing by him and hoping to fight to the bitter end. A great commander must be quick in thinking and realizing there is time to fight hard and time to surrender. It is not personal interests that fuel political wars, it is rather people’s interest. When it becomes clear that the people who are fighting are perishing in large numbers, it is good to give up the struggle for the sake of these people.

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Robert Lee was often blamed for the loss of many lives among Confederates. It reached a point when he decided to protect his fellows’ lives. The only way to do this was to surrender to the Union General Ulysses S. Grant because too many Confederate soldiers lost their lives during civil war. It weakened the defense force to the extent where there was a will but not possibility (Coffman, 1998).

Great People Recognized as Icons

Great people from the past are recognized as icons because of how they follow their way to achieve great heights not necessarily for their personal gain but for the sake of their countries. Robert was such kind of a man. However, it is in the human nature always to concentrate on the negatives. One must realize that even if he died fighting for other people, they would judge and criticize him in the end. Robert Lee decided to think of his life at first by surrender. His approach is a good one. The fact that he refused to be recognized as the supreme commander of the South and instead was advocated for dialogue with the North is enough proof that he had no lust for power. Every leader must follow the example of this great personality (Griffith, 2002).

Research Question

Given the fact that the animosity between the North and the South would not finish soon, was there a need for Robert Lee to urge the Union General Ulysses S. Grant to reintegrate former Confederates into the nation’s political life?

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Any sober politician understands that there is no permanent enmity in politics (Coffman, 1998). Since the interests of Robert Lee’s team and Union General Ulysses S. Grant lay in having control over the territory, they were both knowledgeable. Moreover, it was a good idea to form alliance in order to exchange ideas on how to handle people effectively. Consequently, it helped to prevent future wars between the disintegrated parties since the South was tempted to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Additionally, the help to have representatives of the Confederates in the government system would be offered in order to oversee their equal resources distribution. Moreover, it was a great opportunity for the Confederates to familiarize themselves with their former political enemies for a hopeful future support (Coffman, 1998).

Research Outline

Integration of the former Confederates would strengthen the Union General Ulysses S. Grant. A common goal forms the purpose of any political power. Once the former Confederates are engaged in the political activities, there would be harmony, all the people would speak one language, and no party would feel superior to the others. People will enjoy peace of mind as there will be no fear of political wars (Griffith, 2002). The economy of the country will rise because people will be willing to make long-term investments. Free population movement within the country will be assured and discrimination on the basis of political affiliations will disappear. Tourists and foreign investors will be willing to visit the country thus helping to advance its economy.

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Leader’s Action analysis

Political divisions that cause civil wars have adverse effects on the common citizens. The main characters are the powerful people who have enough machinery to offer themselves security. Furthermore, an average man fights on his own and acquires enemies while the big men cooperate once they have the political platform. An average man loses all he has during political wars because many industries stop their operations during this period thus creating zero turnover for businesses. Children miss school, which is the most expensive tool their poor parents can offer.

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A good leadership calls for considerations of the average man’s needs. Surrender to the rivals during political wars may be considered as a sign of cowardice. However, the benefits are obvious such as keeping the country in peace for a long time. Former rivals’ integration into the government system is healthy to a nation as it helps to observe the government operations and to do more for the interests of the common men.


Lee was an eminent man due to his bravery on the battlefield and his brilliant tactics. He was crowned a hero due to the outcome of U.S conquest over the neighbor. Moreover, his opponents praised him saying that the government should take an insurance cover for him as a commander if the United States would get involved into another war. Robert Lee went down in history as the greatest hero in the South during the American Civil War.