| Sidney Smith Lee was the older brother of General Robert E. Lee. He was the third child of Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee and Anne Hill Carter, born at Stratford Plantation, Westmoreland County, Virginia on September 2, 1802.
Sidney had a distinguished career in the US Navy. He was appointed a midshipman on December 30, 1820. He was promoted to lieutenant on May 17, 1828. During the Mexican War, he was at Vera Cruz. He was promoted to commander on June 4. 1850. He accompanied Commodore Perry to Japan in 1853, commanding the flagship.
Sidney served as one of the early commandants of the US Naval Academy (It had been established in 1845 by Commander Franklin Buchanan (Later a Confederate admiral). He was also the commandant of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. His last assignment in the US Navy was with the Coast Survey.
Commander Lee submitted his resignation from the Navy on April 17, 1861, the day that Virginia seceded. His resignation was not accepted, and he was dismissed from the Navy on April 22, 1861. He immediately accepted a commission as a commander in the Confederate Navy.
When the US Navy abandoned the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia, Sidney became the commander there. When Union forces regained it, Sidney was put in charge of batteries at Drewry's Bluffs, Virginia. On May 6, 1864, he became chief of the Confederate Navy's Bureau of Orders and Detail, replacing Captain John K. Mitchell. Sidney was promoted to captain, and remained at this post until the end of the war.
Sidney Smith Lee died at Richland, Stafford County, Virginia, on July 22, 1869. His wife was Anne Marie Mason of Virginia. One of their sons was Fitzhugh Lee, an 1856 graduate of West Point (45th of 49). Fitz Lee later became a Confederate major general, governor of Virginia, and even a major general of volunteers during the Spanish American War (But that is another story <g>.