Lee was born October 23, 1832. He organized Company C, 2nd Kentucky Infantry, of the famous Kentucky "Orphan" Brigade, CSA, during the War Between the States. He later became Colonel of the 2nd Kentucky Infantry, and commanded the regiment in the final battles of the war. After the war he returned home and practiced law, serving as Commonwealth Attorney from 1868 until his death.
He married Belle Bland Bridgeford and had four children. Margaret, William Bridgeford, Anabel, and Philip Lightfoot, Jr.