Lee - the Southern Gentleman. Seen here a week after surrendering to Ulysses S. Grant. Lee was the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War, but he was a true Southern man. Hailing from Virginia, he was offered the command of the U.S. Army at the beginning of the war by Winfield Scott, the aging commander at the time, but turned it down when Virginia seceded. He elected to stay with his state, no matter the cost, and after offering his commission to the newly formed Confederate States of America, he was made Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia in 1862.