Charles Lee was an Irishman born in February 1732 in England. By the age of twelve, Lee was already commissioned in the British Army. Lee served under Maj. General Edward Braddock along with fellow officers George Washington, Horatio Gates and Thomas Gage during the French and Indian War. He then served in Europe for several years. After returning to Britain and retired. He then left for America. Not long after his arrival Lee became involved in the Patriot cause. When war broke out, he offered his services. Lee expected to be named Commander-in-Chief, but had to settle for 3rd in rank behind Washington and Artemas Ward.
Lee joined Washington in Massachusetts and then in 1776, was named Southern Department Commander. He oversaw the Battle of Fort Sullivan, though he did not actively participate in the action. Lee was recalled north to aid General Washington, but during manuevers in New Jersey in December 1776, he was captured by a British patrol. He was finally exchanged in May 1778. Lee's military career came to an end at the Battle of Monmouth when he disobeyed Washington's orders and then addressed Washington inappropriately. He was courtmartialed and suspended from the command. He was later released from duty and died in Philadelphia in 1782 after a short illness.
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