Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War. The son of U.S. Revolutionary War hero Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee III and a top graduate of West Point, Robert E. Lee distinguished himself as an exceptional officer and combat engineer in the United States Army for 32 years before resigning to join the Confederate cause. By the end of the American Civil War, he was commanding general of the Confederate army. He became a postwar icon of the South's "lost cause", and is still admired to this day.