Both Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston were appointed to West Point by President John Quincy Adams in 1825, and quickly became friends during their four years there. Lee graduated second in his class and with no demerits; when Virginia withdrew from the Union in 1861, Johnston was the highest-ranking US officer to resign his commission. The evident patriotism and devotion of these two Virginians, Lee descended from Light-Horse Harry Lee and Johnston’s father the Speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates, may cause one to wonder why those in the US Army in 1861 would take up arms against such men seeking political liberty.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Lee’s Confirmed Superiority
“In June of that year  the two young Virginians successfully passed the examinations to become members of an entering class of 105 cadets. Although Lee was slightly older the two soon became fast friends. Years later Johnston wrote of this relationship:
“We had the same intimate associates, who thought, as I did, that no other youth or man so united the qualities that win warm friendship and command high respect. For [Lee] was full of sympathy and kindness, genial and fond of gay conversation, and even of fun, that made him the most agreeable of companions, while his correctness of demeanor and language and attention to all duties, personal and official, and a dignity as much a part of himself as the elegance of his person, gave him a superiority that everyone acknowledged in his heart. He was the only one among all the men I have known who could laugh at all the faults and follies of his friends in such a manner as to make them feel ashamed without touching their affection for him, and to confirm their respect and sense of his superiority.”
[On June 28, 1860, the US Senate confirmed Johnston’s appointment as Quartermaster General of the United States Army, with the rank of brigadier-general]. Lee wrote with a magnanimous interest, in view of the fact that his promotion elevated Johnston for the first time above him in rank:
“My Dear General: I am delighted at accosting you by your present title, and feel my heart exult within me at your high position. I hope the old State may always be able to furnish worthy successors to the first chief of your new department; and that in your administration the country and army will have cause to rejoice that it has fallen upon you. May happiness and prosperity always attend you . . . “
(General Joseph E. Johnston, CSA: A Different Valor; Gilbert E. Govan and James W. Livingood, Konecky and Konecky, 1956, Bobbs-Merrill Company, excerpts, pp. 14; 25)