7 Decr '62
I have recd dear Mary your letter of the 1st Inst: by Major Taylor. When he went to Richmond I supposed you were in Hanover, & as his departure was sudden I did not write. I am very sorry to hear of Robs attack. I hope it has been slight & that he is now well. I have not Seen Fitzhugh since I last wrote. He has moved his Camp to the vicinity of Port Royal & is some 20 miles from me. I hear he is well & his Command has been active. Sixty of his old regt: under Major [Thomas] Waller, dismounted & crossed the Rappk a few nights since, & captured 49 of the enemys Cavalry Picket, & brought them over with their horses, &c. A bold expedition & well planned by Col [Richard L. T.] Beale of the 9th [Virginia Cavalry], F[itzhugh]’s old Regt: His Horse arty too aided the other day in driving away the Gunboats that had been lying opposite P[ort]. R[oyal]. very much to my dissatisfaction. I fear though they were not as much damaged as I Could wish. We had quite a snow day before yesterday & last night was very cold. It is thawing a little this morg though the water was freezing as I washed. I fear it will bring much discomfort to those of our men who are bare-footed & poorly clad. I can take but little pleasure in my comforts for thinking of them. A kind lady, Mrs. Sally Braxton Slaughter of Fredg (who is she?) sent me a mattress, & some catsup & preserves, during the snowstorm. I was quite warm last night. You must thank Miss Norvell for her nice cake which I enjoyed very much. But tell her I preserve kisses to cake. I had it (the cake) set out under the pines the day after its arrival & assembled all the young gentleman around it, & though I told them it was a present from a beautiful young lady, they did not leave a crumb. I want a good servant badly but I do not think it is worth while to Commence with Fleming at this late day. He would have to learn a good deal before he would be useful, & on the 31st of December I wish to liberate all of them. Those in Richd & those at the W[hite]. H[ouse]. I have asked Custis to have the papers prepared for my signature, as I cannot attend to it myself. The greatest trouble will be to get at those hired on the R.R. I wish you would ask C[ustis] if he has found out where they are. Perry is very willing & I believe does as well as he can. You know he is slow & inefficient & moves much like his father Lawrence, whom he resembles very much. He is also very fond of his blankets in the morg. The time I most require him out. He is not very strong either. I hope he will do well when he leaves me & get in the service of some good person who will take care of him. I sent F[itzhugh] word that Rob was sick. You must give much love to Chass & Agnes for me & give my Grddaughter a kiss. I am sorry I cannot give it myself. I hope her sweet mother is well now, but she must be very careful this winter & take all the exercise & breathe all the fresh air she can. Present my kind regards to Mr. & Mrs. [James M.] Caskie & all friends.
Very truly & affly yours
R. E. Lee
Source: Photocopy of original, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51c 412, Section 20, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 December 6