By | 19 Jan 2023 at 1:31 PM
Robert E Lee Day 2023: Date, History and Facts

On Robert E. Lee Day, several southern states of the United States recognise and memorialise the renowned Confederate general Robert E. Lee on his January 19 birthday. As January has two well-known state holidays, the other of which is Martin Luther King Day, several states have elected to celebrate both on the third Monday of the month. Even though this day is not a federal holiday, many public outreach programmes, educational events, and other activities are held to educate individuals about its significance.


Many of Robert Edward Lee’s ancestors were military legends in the United States military. Lee joined the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated second in his class in 1829, following in his family’s history.

After this, his military career did not entail any direct action for an extended period of time. That is, until the United States’ war with Mexico in 1845. He met and collaborated with a number of future army high-ranking officials, including George Pickett, Ulysses S. Grant, and Winfield Scott. Lee also served on Scott’s staff during the 1847 capture of Mexico City. Lee’s activities during this war astonished his superiors and peers alike, and he gained promotion after promotion, rising from major to lieutenant colonel and then to colonel.

Subsequently, the United States was engulfed in a bloody civil war, with the entire nation divided between two major factions: the Union Army and the Confederate Army. Abraham Lincoln recommended Lee to head the “Union Army” in April 1861 based on his reputation as one of the top members of the United States military. Instead of leaving his command and returning to Virginia, where the Civil War was rapidly beginning, Lee declined this position. In 1862, he joined the newly constituted “Confederate States Army” as the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia in favour of his native state. He had previously advised Confederate leader Jefferson Davis. He held this position until his capitulation three years later.

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  • Mary Lee, the wife of Robert E. Lee, was a descendant of John Parke Custis, George Washington’s adopted son.
  • He served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 26 years, assisting in the construction of the St. Louis waterfront and coastal forts in Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia.
  • He was nicknamed the “Marble Model” by his fellow cadets at West Point, most likely due to what historians describe to as Lee’s “striking good looks.”
  • ‘Gray’ derived from his grey horse and the colour of his Confederate clothing; ‘fox’ meant to emphasise his military strength and cunning.
  • Due to his service in the Confederate Army, Lee is also commemorated on Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Heroes Day, which is held on varying dates in each state.


Year Date Day
2023 January 19 Thursday
2024 January 19 Friday
2025 January 19 Sunday
2026 January 19 Monday
2027 January 19 Tuesday