Charles Lee (general)

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British Army: 1746–1763

British Army: Lieutenant Colonel
Polish Army: Major General

Seven Years' War

American Revolutionary War

Charles Lee (February 6, 1732 – October 2, 1782) was a British soldier turned Virginia planter who was a general officer of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War.


Early life

Lee was born in Cheshire, England, the son of General John Lee and Isabella Bunbury (daughter of Sir Henry Bunbury, 3rd Baronet). He was sent to school in Switzerland and became proficient in several languages. He returned to England in 1746 at the age of fourteen to attend grammar school at Bury St Edmunds. That same year his father, then colonel of the 55th Foot (later renumbered the 44th), purchased a commission for Charles as an ensign in the same regiment.

Seven Years' War and after

After completing his schooling, Lee reported for duty with his regiment in Ireland. He purchased a lieutenant's commission in 1751. He was sent with the regiment to America in 1754 for service in the French and Indian War under Major General Edward Braddock. Lieutenant Lee was apparently not with the regiment when it suffered disastrous defeat at the Battle of the Monongahela. During this time in America, he married the daughter of a Mohawk Indian chief. His wife (name unknown) gave birth to twins. Lee was known to the Mohawks as Ounewaterika, or "Boiling Water".

Lee purchased a captain's commission in the 44th in 1756. The following year he took part in an expedition against the French fortress of Louisbourg, and in 1758 he was wounded in a failed assault on Fort Ticonderoga. After recovering, he took part in the capture of Fort Niagara in 1759 and Montreal in 1760. Lee went back to Europe, transferred to the 103rd Foot as a major, and served as a lieutenant colonel in the Portuguese army, fighting against the Spanish invasion of Portugal (1762). He returned to England in 1763 at the end of the Seven Years' War. His regiment was disbanded and he was retired on half pay as a major. (In May 1772, although still inactive, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.)

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