February 7, 1732: General Charles Lee Born in England

Feb 7, 2018

Lee made a name for himself during the early months of the war, defending Boston and Charleston, South Carolina.
Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

General Charles Lee was born in England on February 7, 1732. As a young man, he served with distinction in the British army before immigrating to America in the early 1770s. When the Revolutionary War began, he sided with the Americans and served as a major general in the Continental Army.

He made a name for himself during the early months of the war, defending Boston and Charleston, South Carolina. However, after being captured in 1776, he supplied the British with plans to defeat the Americans. Unaware of Lee’s betrayal, George Washington exchanged prisoners for him and placed him back in command.

At the time, Lee was the American army’s third-ranking officer. But he wasn’t quite the same general after his capture. His poor performance at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778 led to a court martial.

Lee left the army and moved to present-day Jefferson County, where he enlarged a pioneer home he’d bought right before the war. He died just four years later at age 50. Lee’s Jefferson County home, which he named Prato Rio, is one of the oldest structures still standing in West Virginia.