• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.


 

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Lexington, Va: 3 June 1870

 

My dear Nephew

 

     I have just recd your letter of the 20th Ulto: & hasten to thank you for your Kind interest in my health & welfare. I returned to Lexington last Saturday, 28th Ulto: after an absence of two months & have been very much benefited by my trip I hope now with care that I may during the Summer recover my former State of health & regain my usual Comfort for a time at least. It has been raining ever Since my return & feels very Cold to me who experienced July weather in Georgia & Florida. I wish you Could receive some of our daily Showers to refresh your parched Soil which we well Could Spare. I fear their effects upon the wheat & crops generally. The grass crop is flourishing & every thing around the College looks very green. My garden though is not at all to my liking. It contains as many weeds as vegetables & the former outgrows the latter, while the ground continues So wet that it cannot be worked. I went as far into Florida as Pilatka[1] in the St. Johns river & found the climate delightful. The breeze from the Gulf Stream was laden with warmth & was soft & bland to the feelings. If ever you are obliged to seek a winter climate nephew, which I hope may never be the case, I advise you to proceed there at once & enjoy the balmy air, the fresh vegetables & tropical fruits & last though not least, the abundance of fish. I cannot pretend to give you an account of my journey. It was over ground that I had mostly traversed before but which I had not visited since it had experienced the disasters of war. The ravages it had then suffered were not equal to the depression & stagnation it has undergone since from the evil legislation of Congress, nor did I witness anywhere I went devastation equal to that felt by Virginia.  The energy & wisdom of the inhabitants will I hope restore all things in time & the good sense of the American people will brings [sic] things back to the principles of the old Constitution. I returned by way of Norfolk & in ascending James river stopped two days at Brandon[2] & Shirley I also went to the White House, where I found your Aunt & Miss Martha Williams in addition to the occupants & that was the most pleasant part of my journey. I visited Robert too & I think the rides over the two farms, seeing the mules ploughing, the wheat grow etc. benefited me much, I found Mildred here alone on my arrival. Custis had moved down from the Institute to protect her, but was only here at meals & at night. Mary had appointed to go out to St. Louis with Henry Turner, under the supposition that I would have returned before her departure, so when he called for her, as I had then reached Richmond on way up, she determined to set off. Agnes remained in Richmond to accompany her mother on her journey up & they were to have reached Bremo[3] in Fluvanna to day, Genl Cockes residence, & to be here tomorrow week. I have left myself no room to send the love I feel to my niece nor to express my regrets at not seeing her this summer unless she will Come over to see her Uncle as will not be able to visit her. I do not think that the summer would be the most propitious season for such a journey. Your Aunt is well. Agnes improved. Mrs. Fitzhugh as usual. Nannie in Baltimore & her boys at work. I saw Mr. Robert Hoffman in Savannah -well- but missed Mr. Frank Corbin.[4] With interested messages of love to my niece & to yourself in which all here join. I am truly your Uncle,

R E Lee

P.S. The fashion books recd.

Mr. Edward Lee Childe

 

Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.388, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 October 7

 

 



[1] Palatka. Today, it is a city in Putnam County in northeastern Florida.

[2] “Brandon,” located in Burrowsville in Prince George County.

[3] “Bremo,” on the James River, was the home of the Cocke family. During the war, Lee’s wife lived there with the Cockes. The plantation was raided by the Yankees in March of 1865. Lee himself stayed there off and on for much of 1865. In 1971, Brandon was named a National Historic Landmark.

 

[4] Francis Porteus Corbin (1801-1876), who was born in Middlesex County, Virginia. He died in Paris in 1876.

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